by David Carr #11818281
by David Carr #11818281
On the blog Sketchy Thoughts, we read more background information about Virginia prisoner Rashid Johnson, incarcerated in Snake River Intensive Management Unit (IMU).
Please read it here:
The blog also mentions this article that was published yesterday:
“This is about Rashid. We need a lot of help. They are trying to kill him. On Jan. 31 they put something in his food that made him crazy. On Feb. 2 he took 30 pills. They did not do anything to get the pills out of him…. On Jan. 4 [sic; I assume he means Feb. 4] he ate 3 razor blades. This is all on videotape. They lied and said the X-ray showed nothing. The [blades] are still in him right now.
He has not eaten since Feb. 3. He has not drunk anything since Feb. 5…. He is passing out and they won’t do anything to help him…. Said he is the one that won’t eat or drink so they are not helping him at all. He is peeing blood and has bad kidney pains…. Med staff will not give him IV fluids…. [As of Feb. 10 he had] lost over 16 pounds. His blood pressure is 191/100 and his urine is the color of coffee….”
It is of the upmost importance to put ALL POSSIBLE PRESSURE on the Oregon DOC AS SOON AS POSSIBLE in order to protect this comrades life!
Please call Snake River at 541-881-5000 and dial 0 to speak with a staff member and express your concern over the situation:
Also call the DOC Inspector General at (877) 678-4222 and Oregon DOC at 503-945-9090.
Fax number for Snake River Superintendent’s Office is (541)881-5460.
Email address of Snake River Superintendent Mark Nooth is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snake River is open 8-5 MST. Further details on the situation and support actions will be posted here as they become available.
November 22, 2011
SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has imposed a moratorium on the death penalty for the remainder of his term, saying he’s morally opposed to the capital punishment and has long regretted allowing two men to be executed in the 1990s.
Kitzhaber announced the decision on Tuesday, giving a reprieve to a twice-convicted murderer who was scheduled to die by lethal injection in two weeks. His decision makes Oregon the fifth state to halt executions since 2007.
The Democratic governor says he has no sympathy or compassion for murderers. But he says Oregon’s death penalty system is broken and applied unevenly. Since voters reinstated capital punishment in 1984, two people have been executed and both voluntarily waived their appeals.
Prison officials had been preparing to execute Gary Haugen, who also had waived appeals.
Read the rest here.
Oregon to close prison, lay off 63 workers in $2.5 million budget cut
Published: Thursday, September 30, 2010, 10:13 PM
By Les Zaitz, The Oregonian
For the first time in its history, Oregon will shut down an operating prison as part of a $2.5 million budget cut that lays off 63 people, relocates 120 prisoners and ends alcohol and drug treatment for 50 of those inmates.
By the end of the month, the state Corrections Department will shutter the Salem minimum-security prison it operates in the shadow of the Oregon State Penitentiary. The smaller, 176-bed unit opened in 1964 as the state’s first women’s prison.
The closure means 35 state workers will lose their jobs. At the same time, the Corrections Department is laying off an additional 28 workers, including nine at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras where most were hired in anticipation of opening 1,228 medium-security beds. That move is postponed indefinitely.
Corrections officials say three of the layoffs will come out of the inspector general’s office, which handles internal investigations, including abuses by staff, inmate crimes and drug trafficking within the state’s 14 prisons.
Agency officials say they also are giving back funding for 13 jobs currently vacant. Together, the 76 job cuts will save the agency $2.5 million out of a $1 billion budget.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski has twice ordered state agencies to make across-the-board cuts because the state expects to collect $1 billion less than expected for its current two-year budget, which ends next June. The governor’s order has triggered layoffs at several state agencies, but many have reduced spending by not filling vacant jobs.
Some agencies expect to announce additional layoffs in the coming months, said Lonn Hoklin, spokesman for the state Department of Administrative Services.
Last week, legislators said they would find money to prevent such deep cuts to Corrections that prisoners had to be released. Earlier this summer, Corrections Department Director Max Williams projected that he would have to free 1,000 inmates if his agency had to take cuts as deep as other state operations. Kulongoski has steadfastly refused any option that would force that step.
Williams notified his staff of 4,400 in an email Wednesday that layoff notices had been delivered. He said it was “worth noting that we have been careful to ensure that position eliminations are distributed among both represented and non-represented staff, from both institutions and administrative offices .”
But the eye-opening development is closure of the medium security prison. Kulongoski has vowed not to cut his prison agency so much that it had to free inmates.
Read more here.
Staff writer Michelle Cole contributed to this report.
June 4, 2010
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway
A reader recently called our attention to an article that appeared back in April in the Salem (Oregon) Statesman Journal, titled “Oregon State Penitentiary Adapts to Mental Illness.” According to the Oregon Department of Corrections, about half of the state’s 14,000 prisoners— 6,797—are mentally ill. This is ten times greater than the population of the state’s primary psychiatric hospital, the 627-bed Oregon State Hospital in Salem–which happens to be located just north of the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP) in Salem, the state’s only maximum security prison.
Now, the Department of Corrections has announced plans to convert the OSP’s “supermax” unit, which is officially called the “Intensive Management Unit,” will be converted into what the Statesman Journal calls ”three therapy-minded units.”
For two decades, the IMU has operated as a tightly controlled compound within the now-2,000-inmate prison. It corrals belligerent and disruptive inmates–some mentally ill–in their cells for more than 23 hours per day.
By the end of this year, the two-story IMU facility will get a facelift to soften its austere environment, and will begin serving a therapeutic role….Mental health services are planned for three of the four units in the IMU building:
• A 49-bed mental health infirmary will provide “crisis stabilizing” treatment for acutely mentally ill offenders, including inmates who attempt suicide or commit other acts of self-harm.
• A 65-bed day-treatment unit will provide mental health services for inmates coming out of the crisis-care unit. The so-called “step down” program also will provide preventative mental health services for inmates, designed to help them cope with their illnesses and avoid crises.
• A 73-bed behavioral unit will provide specialized services and supervision for disruptive mentally ill inmates who otherwise might end up in isolation cells.
The plan is far from perfect: Creating 187 new places in a system with 7,000 prisoner suffer from mental illness is a drop in the bucket, and it’s too soon to say how effective the mental health units will be. (In addition, the renovation calls for Oregon’s death row to occupy one part of the former IMU.) But any provision for prisoners with mental illness–especially one that replaces solitary confinement cells–has to be viewed as progress.
The article provides a brief (and all too typical) history of how mentally ill prisoners have fared in Oregon’s prisons. Its author, Alan Gustafson, investigated prison suicides–most of which took place in the IMU–back in 2007; his extensive reporting on that subject is well worth reading as well.
While reading the Sacramento Bee prison abuse series (9-10 May 2010), I was forced to recall the stretch I served in solitary confinement while incarcerated in the Michigan Department of Corrections. The series reveals some horrible abuses of inmates in California’s prisons, many of which mirror the units we have here in Michigan.
One of the more troubling findings is the lack of redress for prisoners who have been mistreated. When a prisoner’s grievance process is meaningless, or when the grievance is simply never processed, there is no good resolution. Either the prisoner must accept the abuse or find an alternative method of registering his complaint. Often, the alternative method does not work out well.
Beginning my ten-year run in solitary, I was placed next to an inmate called “Brown Dog” who endured the “gas and a cell rush” about three times a week, mostly out of boredom. (By “gas and a cell rush,” I mean a correction officer shooting massive quantities of pepper spray into the cell, opening the door, then a rush of five or six officers – all geared up in helmets, chest protectors, shin shields, and arm padding – who would tackle, twist, and restrain the inmate.) Brown Dog had numerous sheets of paper hanging outside of his cell which I found out later listed restrictions of many sorts. He was not allowed paper in his cell. The water for his toilet/sink fixture was shut off. He was not allowed the three weekly showers everyone else was allowed. He was not allowed to go outside at all, and he was on food loaf, where everything from the meal – say, for instance, ham, yams, two slices of bread, butter, an orange, and red Kool-aid – are blended together into a puree, then baked into a “loaf”. I wondered why he would continue to cause more trouble. “I’m on detention for five more years, and I’ve got nothing better to do,” he’d tell me. Certainly, he had nothing at all to do. He was not allowed anything.
In the many years that followed, I learned how people came to dig such deep holes. Many times I saw simple problems mushroom. If a dinner tray lacked an item, the inmate would request a replacement. If the officer replaced the item, everyone was happy. Sometimes, however, the officer would not. The inmate would ask to speak to the sergeant. The officer would not tell the sergeant. So when the officer came around to pick up the trays, the inmate would refuse to return his tray in an attempt to get the sergeant up onto the cellblock. By this time, of course, the sergeant would come, but he would bring with him the rush squad and a can of pepper spray. Instead of the replacement food item, the inmate received food-loaf for seven, 14, even 30 days.
I don’t know what started Brown Dog down that long road that he traveled, but I have always wondered how many cases such as his could have been stopped if one person had attempted to solve the problem rather than simply resort to force. I don’t pretend that guards are mostly bad and inmates are mostly good. Real life is rarely as simple as that. But many of the problems that crop up in prison could be resolved if the parties involved would muster the effort to try to understand each other. Oft-times, however, those with authority simply choose force.
If we demanded better dispute resolution skills of the officials, we not only might see less need for isolation units but also better outcomes for inmates when they leave. I believe the only way we can achieve that, however, is to improve oversight of those officials we vest with so much power over inmates. The Bee investigation supports this conclusion. And if inmates found that they could achieve a reasonable solution through a grievance procedure instead of having their grievances discarded or ignored, they may choose that route instead of the gas and cell rush method.
By Peter Martel
Criminal Justice Program Associate
American Friends Service Committee
1414 Hill Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Office: 734-761-8283, ext 2