Wednesday, October 9, 2019

FFUP October 2019 INTAKE REPORT on SOLITARY


FFUP OCTOBER 2019 INTAKE REPORT

ON SOLITARY in the WI DOC



Below are a few excerpts and summaries of letters from the many people writing to us from solitary confinement or restrictive housing units (RHU) in recent months. We are sharing this so you may view the breadth of the problems in these units.


Bobby Coil, 518792 CCI (born 1988) Spent many years in solitary no treatment, released with no support, then revoked.

Bobby was in solitary for years without treatment before being released with no support. Now he is back, revoked. One of his ailments is ADHD and he does serious self harm. He is friendly and open and would do well with wise guidance. Bobby’s letter describes horrendous conditions ends with “They push you to committing suicide under current supervisor Dr Torria Van Burren, 5 or 6 inmates have died, overdoses, hangings, cutting. Just last month my friend (RIP) slit his throat. They found him hours later. We need help from people. Inmate’s lives matter too.”

Ryan Long 659120 WCI (born 2000) release date 4 20 21 From letter dated August 13, 2019...

The reason I am writing you is because I don’t understand why the doc has policies sending MH2B ( mental health code) inmates like myself and many others who have disabilities and mental issues to adult institutions where staff shut my water off for 19 hours and the harassment and threats from staff are an everyday thing. I was at RYOCF in Racine, they sent me to WCI because of some not true words put into conduct reports (tickets). I have wide support from PSU and most staff. However, there were staff who saw other staff being kind to me and wrote false tickets. Mrs Swan, I ‘m scared, I’m hurt and I’m very very tired of how they treat me. I’m so depressed and alone. I’m considering putting an end to myself. I miss RYOCF so much. I
have a best friend, my only friend who I may never get to see ever again. I’m sorry for writing all this and I know this probably won’t go out because staff tamper with my mail because I told them I will file a lawsuit. Even if you get this you won’t want to write back. I understand, no one does. All I’m asking if you would be willing to, could you contact federal law enforcement and let them know there are many abuses going on in RHU at WCI and have them come talk to me. The officers have threatened lives and safety, shut off water for long periods of time, call us names, stolen property, tampered with mail. They won’t even let me call my dying mother who had a liver transport and is not recovering well. Please don’t do it for me, do it for helping inmates who staff make suffer emotionally and physically. Can you please also send reform newsletters and copy of the jailhouse lawyers handbook. I appreciate it. Please I am asking with all my heart. I may not last long.

Brandon Bradley 644115 CCI
“I just transferred from a warzone at WCI to a blood bath at CCI.”

Brandon says he’s been target of assaults and abuse by staff since he reported rumors that Srg Joseph Beahm assisted in the suicide of Margues Childs. On Oct 1, 2019, he won a jury trial after being accused of assaulting two staff when he actually was the victim. Important here is that video of the staff assisted strip search had been altered. They used a body double of him, put a spit mask on him and used the real audio. The case number for this is 18 cf 158.
The actual incident was brutal (6-2-18) while on OBS status Brandon was assaulted. He was wearing a “kilt” (skirt) which was ripped off him. He was beaten, “grouped” and called the N-word in front of fellow inmates and female CO, then tazed while standing in water. He also starved for 4 days, received no medical attention. He says he “went rogue” – lost a lot of weight, stopped bathing and went after staff “until I wrote a suicide letter to judge and got moved to CCI.”
He reports terrible conditions at CCI, where he was celled with multiple people who were scared of him because of his poor condition. Some cut themselves, one guy was assaulted by staff for trying to get out of the cell. “Self harming at CCI is the worst I have ever seen. I just transferred from a warzone at WCI to a blood bath at CCI. I now suffer from PTSD and cannot function anywhere except Seg.”
Brandon was refused transfer to WRC because “it’s a process.” He thinks he does not fit any of their formats so is “warehoused” in “restricted housing.”
“I’m positive I’m the reason multiple institutions are using rubber pencil.” Brandon wrote a judge requesting an attorney because he could not write his case with a pencil. Case was discharged to a detainer and Brandon was immediately sent to supermax isolation. Lights on 24-7, no books, no pencil, no mail. He got pencil or hour out- “had to choose between preparing my legal case or shower.” He says a lawyer was zero help, only interested in “my life, my litigation and sex.” He ended up with another 2 years, has ERP’bootcamp and sits in max prison in seg. Wonders what the pubic would think.


Derrick Smith 344250 CCI
PREA is a JOKE”

I have known Derrick for many years. He was released several years ago only to be picked up and jailed on a new charge of an alleged assault many years ago- has appeal in court- expert witness and eyewitness not allowed at trial, and no DNA evidence- he thinks he has a good chance of winning. He was raped repeatedly in WCI and now again twice since his recent move to CCI:
PREA a JOKE: This man claims he has been repeatedly homosexually raped. The process is: he is drugged with pills or meals, sleeps and wakes up to great pain and pools of blood. Reports and complains to all, but is not given a rape kit, sees no nurse till days later, too late to prove anything.
ONE IMPORTANT RULE SHOULD BE THAT RAPE KITS BE USED IN A TIMELY MANNER BY AN INDEPENDENT OUTFIT and people need to be able to report directly to someone outside the DOC. Using the so-called hot line for PREA just gets the accuser into trouble and retaliation. When Peg inquired, she was told the prisoner is not usually even interviewed- the case is closed and considered fake before it gets that far.

Note:Years ago Peg did much research into PREA act and how it works in prison. Talking to volunteer organization who help victims of sexual abuse and investigators from the sheriff’s office and found they do nothing unless asked by the DOC. This renders the law useless in most cases. In 2014, WI Watch published a series of articles on abuses, many sexual at WCI. The upshot is the main accused abuser, Sergent Joseph Beahm, now heads the seg unit at WCI.

Phil Keller 395959 WCI
From letters 5/19 and 10/3

Phil is in imminent danger. He was denied health care for HIV+ condition. All his psych meds were taken away. He has a history of self harm, was sexually assaulted 14 times. Suicide is looming big for him, and rubber pencil makes litigation impossible. Release date comes and goes.
From 5/19 letter: “PSU even retaliated as well as the security staff that I’ve complained of assaulting me on April 11, 2109, by keeping me in bed restraints for 22 hours because I spit blood on wall immediately after placed in restraints. Also, PSU refuses to help me as I FEAR FOR MY SAFETYCOMING OUT OF CELL. Those I’ve reported of sexually assaulting me have been the ones to escort me, and thus I refuse to come out of the cell.”
From 8/26/19 dated letter, post marked 10/3/19 (but not received until 10/8). Written in rubber pencil letter:
1) I’m gay and HIV positive (of 19 years)
2) been sexually assault 14 times since being here by RHU staff.
3) I am hearing impaired and it took me 9 months to get 1 (not 2) hearing aids. They searched my cell in June and took my hearing aid, saying I would use it to harm myself (a lie). They refuse to give me a second one.
4) They took me off my psych meds for anxiety and depression which I was on for 10 years. Then they put him on new meds which is is allergic to and make him more suicidal.
5) Been off and on his HIV meds 9 times (once for 4 months)
6) denied my HIV appointments from October 2018 to May 2019 at UW Madison.
7) cause me to get food poisoning by giving me green black molded meat, meat with hair on it, spoiled meat and refused to treat me as I receive a snack bag.
8) They return 90% of the complaints I file.
and the list goes on and on”
On day he wrote this letter was supposed to be released and was not, then was passed up for bag meal. Says he is “constantly cutting” himself.
I don’t want to live anymore. This treatment has been the worst of my 14 year initial confinement (2000 – 2014) and my revocations (June 21 2016 – October 2017). I have NEVER been treated like this.” As he was finishing up the letter, a guard refused to give him his snack bag that he takes for his HIV meds. He was denied meal tray for dinner also- he kicked the door and his leg began to profusely bleed. His PSU clinician is Marie Miller.

Timmy Johnson 616546 WCI/bd 1988
from 9 10 19 letter:

In seg for assaulting a guard who used racial slurs “boy” and “monkey around.” He felt he acted in self defense. In seg, staff broke his tv, radio, tablet, and ripped his clothes. He was refunded for the radio and charged restitution which he feels is not right.
I seriously fear for my life here, I feel like these people are almost untouchable, I’ve written DHS, local police, FBI, Governor’s office, warden, security director, the only thing the Governor’s office and DHS did was send the prison a copy of my letter. The other people I wrote did nothing at all. NO response. I even went on a hunger strike – no food or water for nearly three weeks. They got a court order to force feed me, at my court hearing I told the judge I fear for my life, nothing happened. I’ve been skipped for medications, meals, etc. I went from 268 to 197 pounds in 2 months. The officer I had the incident with even serves my food. It’s weird… I also have serious mental health issues and I got proof of the psych workers not seeing me one time. Even before getting incarcerated I was chapter 51 and the police forced me to say I was guilty and promised me a mental health facility not prison. They clearly lied. And I can’t afford a real lawyer. I know if I don’t get help soon I will eventually kill myself and I’ve told everyone this

Marcus Cotton 610057 CCI-
I have been in Lincoln Hills from 2013-2016. I was there for all the abuses and mistreatment and it ain’t got nothing on the abuse and the mistreatment that go on at CCI.”

This is my first adult prison incarceration and it be tough. I came to prison from Milwaukee County Jail 1-22-18 . On 2-11-18 , I went to the “hole” in Dodge and to this day I’m still in the hole - It been 15 months, I done did everything that can possibly be done: done self harmed; assault officers, hung out my trap, fought my cellies, got gassed by officers and supervisors and beat up. I exposed myself to female officers, overdosed, stripped naked with no mattress or blanket just me inside an empty cell for 5 days eating seg load. I been on observation “suicide watch” and control (status).
I am only 20 years old and i was sentenced to 3 years in prison and 3 years on supervision. I have been in Lincoln Hills from 2013-2016. I was there for all the abuses and mistreatment and it ain’t got nothing on the abuse and the mistreatment that go on at CCI. Like just 10 days ago I self harmed and was placed on observation when i self harmed it was Friday after dinner i self harmed two times Friday- Monday, so Monday came and PSU staff came to see and she said do to my over the weekend self- harmed incident she was going to keep me on observation now me and her had this conversation at 7 o’clock in the morning and at 3 o’clock, another PSU staff released me off observation when the first PSU extended my placement for 24 there was no way the 2
nd one was supposed to release me so I kept telling the white shirt that i wasn’t in the right state of mind and that I was going to try and kill myself and like at CCI. They do what they always do and keep walking or just ignore you i cut my arm open and cut a vein and went to the hospital and got 6 stitches and when i came back the same psu that released me off observation said I “just want some attention.” I continued to self harm, was placed on control status = not observation. The difference is there is no monitoring and no psych staff comes to see you. “  I wrote this incident up and is going to file a lawsuit I got so many incident where i was abused and mistreated but when inmate file complaints it get shot down and its like our voice never get heard outside of this institution its feels like this is a self -  governor prison it is crazy living life in this hole in this institution . I have 13 months into I go home. I go home June 20 , 2020”

Failure to protect from gangs: is another reason why many prisoners end up in solitary- the administrations, especially at WCI will not lift a figure to help a prisoner who is being extorted ( one victim told me usually Native American are threatened with harm as many inmates think “ all Indians are rich)In order to protect themselves. The inmate under threat then “puts himself in seg” by purposely disobeying a rule. then he is , for at least awhile, protected.


Recommendations:

FFUP has long maintained that The WI DOC uses solitary confinement as a way to maintain abusive control of their over-crowded prisons. There are a few “takeaways “ we hope you will consider as you read these cases.

  1. Follow the lawsuit settlement made for the Women’s prison in Taycheedah- A former DOC Psychologist who works with us tells us the treatment center at TCI works well. All people held captive by the DOC deserve access to therapeutic treatment on request or when diagnosed. The treatment center should be staffed by mental health professionals and operate with complete rule changes. The settlement agreement in the Flynn case can serve as a template.
  1. Investigate the changing of diagnoses from MH1 (serious) to MH2 (not serious) in the WI DOC- According to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, in 2015 Deputy Secretary Cathy Jess ordered the reevaluations of the mental health classification of the most seriously mentally ill people in solitary confinement. This was part of a push by the administration of Gov. Scott Walker to limit the use of solitary for inmates with serious mental illnesses and to improve conditions for inmates there. Since that order came out this “cure by diagnosis” has been used to facilitate the punishing of now “malingering” prisoners for self harm (under the “not serious” classification a person can be subject to more time in seg, more abusive condition standards, and indefinite segregation time under AC classification). They are also denied treatment at the Wisconsin Resource Center. Social workers do not refer people with reduced diagnosis to organizations like DOES and OARS (non-profit organizations that help released people with seriously mental illness). These organizations all require referral from the DOC social workers to help soon to be released inmates.

  1. Increase transparency and accountability around solitary confinement- We need an investigation into who is on AC in the WI DOC: why they are there and the due process given in their continued placement. Also, we have reports of a large uptick in AC placements at CCI, these without due process or real justification. The newly won class action Indiana lawsuit on no due process with AC (ISBY-ISRAEL v. LEMMON et al; 2:12-cv-00116-JMS-MJD), gives us all hope and should push the WIDOC to get its own house together.

  1. Support people being released directly from solitary confinement- Revocation of newly released solitary prisoners is almost assured. This is a particular problem with people sentenced under TIS. They get out on a certain date, ready or not, and few “make it”. They are pulled back into an endless no-hope cycle. Here is a listing of SOME of the recently revoked prisoners FFUP is working with who spent years in solitary before release: Timothy Sidney, Bobby Coil, Michael Pietila, Tommy Carter (in revocation process now), Louis Keys ( in revocation process now).
    All were released without treatment while in prison and got very very little support while out. Most state they were revoked for minor infractions, misunderstandings or false accusations. Community supervision agents have few tools to really help people with reintegration. They tend to be non-supportive and eager to revoke. When FFUP makes efforts along with other nonprofits to help the newly released, agents react negatively, often thwarting or making advocacy or basic assistance very difficult .

  1. Create and support an independent group to work with people before release and quickly connect them to support systems upon release- Much concern is voiced over the danger of releasing prisoners. Those sentenced under the old law are continuously denied release, regardless of supportive families and arrangements. Meanwhile, people sentenced under TIS are released from torture in solitary confinement without support, endangering themselves and others. FFUP has been researching the POPs program in CA and think it would be a good template for WI. In that system, volunteers do research for specific soon-to-be-released people, seeing that they get housing, job placement and government aid as is appropriate. Also, people need to be able to apply for DOES and OARS support directly, without going through their social worker. Many are given no help because of hostile relationships with social workers in the DOC.

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