The New Forgotten Men and Women-Elderly Prisoners Appeal for Help!

Received via email from JusticeforMajorTillery.org on March 16, 2018:

In December 2017, Major Tillery, sixty-seven years old and imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole in Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Frackville made a proposal to Superintendent Kathy Brittain for remedial policies and to stop the disrespectful and abusive treatment of the seniors.

“On behalf of all the Elderly Members of the General Population” Major Tillery asked for “humanistic consideration for health reasons” to implement some commonsensical, little or no cost changes: housing unit adjustments for the elderly; modifying shower times; providing additional blankets and cold-weather clothing items like gloves and long-johns; virtual visitation with even older parents. He also suggested a pilot program that combined seniors mentoring younger prisoners while getting their help in escorting the elderly in the prison. This program would “bridge the gap between the elderly and youth, create meaningful interaction—now and in the future with family and friends—and educate about diversity of true ethnic cultural differences.”

Pennsylvania has the second highest percentage of elderly prisoners in the U.S., related to the fact that it is one of six states that have prison sentences of life without the possibility of parole. In 1980 there were 370 elderly people in PA’s state prisons, as of 2014 there were 8000, which was 16% of PA prisoners over the age of 55. As of January 1, 2018, the DOC reported 10,442 inmates over the age of 50. The consequences of lack of adequate health care for any and all prisoners is exacerbated when it comes to elderly prisoners; years of prison life, including the food and quality of the water. The leading causes of death in the state’s prisons are heart disease, cancer, and liver disease. Studies establish that the elderly prison population is at higher risk for self-harm, suicide and victimization by staff and other prisoners
On January 3, 2018, Major Tillery re-submitted his proposals to Sup. Brittain, the Office of Legal Counsel to the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Deputy Secty for the Eastern Region stating the denial of accommodations for elderly prisoners is a violation of the American Disabilities Act as applied to the Elderly. He said:

“It is cruel and unusual punishment for the elderly to be abused and mistreated by correctional staff, our primary caretakers…. Medical and elderly care is part of reasonable care, custody and control [by the DOC] under color of law.”

The prison response is a once-a-week activities program and to limit participation to the twenty-two prisoners at SCI Frackville who are over 65. This doesn’t even comply with the DOC recognition that in the prison system, 50 is considered elderly.

With the support of other elderly prisoners, Major Tillery on February 16, 2018 gave notice to the Office of Legal Counsel for the PA. Department of Corrections (DOC) and Sup. Brittain:

“I am required to try and solve the Elderly Prisoners’ Issues by law under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act before seeking class action Litigation. Supt. Brittain you know this is a real issue, and I realize changes take awhile. However, not being taken seriously for something this important I have no other choice, to save my life and others. I’ve been housed in the hardest control units in the U.S. I have issues from years of isolation, starvation and other abuses while at Marion [infamous federal lock-down prison], they fed me one meal a day, in the dark and now I’m old and still going through it.”

Major Tillery asks for “proper medical care opposed to dismissing our concerns and needs.” This complaint is for consideration of aging prisoners, eliminating lengthy periods of standing for count, or in line for medications and commissary or out in the cold between buildings or in the cell without long johns, gloves, sweaters, extra blankets. It is also a demand to stop staff bullying and harassment of elderly prisoners for memory loss, inability to hear announcements, or time needed to walk through the prison from the cell to the mess hall to the infirmary. The proposals repeated the need for a mentoring program with younger prisoners that would also provide assistance to seniors.

YOU CAN HELP:

TELL PRISON OFFICIALS:
Elderly Prisoners Need Respect and Additional Care
Implement Major Tillery’s Proposals, including an elderly housing unit and a mentoring program with younger prisoners; more medical attention; and appropriate clothing and additional blankets in cold weather

CALL:
SCI Frackville Superintendent Kathy Brittain 570 874-4516
Dep. Secretary, DOC Eastern Region Michael Wenerowicz 717 728 4122 or 4123

EMAIL: Ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Excerpts of testimonials from Major Tillery, Terrence Poles and Clifford Smith below. Read these in full on Justice for Major Tillery

The New Forgotten Men and Women!
Major Tillery AM978, January 18, 2018

Now we have a group of “New Forgotten Man and Women,” the elderly held in Pennsylvania state prisons. Take myself– in 1983 at the age of 33 I entered the prison with a life sentence, without the chance of parole. At that time I was both mentally and physically strong. Even back then I noticed how older people were being treated; the lack of concern [for] programming for elderly assistance didn’t exist.

Although I was 33 then, it struck me as wrong and on several occasions I complained to the administration on behalf of the elderly and mentally ill prisoners. This bothered me to the point that I filed a civil lawsuit on these issues. [Tillery v. Owens, a federal a lawsuit that ended double-celling (4 in a cell) in PA prisons and required the Pa. Department of Corrections to provide additional mental and medical health care to prisoners.] …

The DOC has a humanitarian problem as it relates to how people treat other people.
Now I face the same fears. Not dying, but to die among people and medical staff who would treat one of the dogs up here with more care and compassion than me. I’m not exaggerating, it’s true. I have it a little better than most older prisoners here, because after 35 years I helped raise a lot of these young brothers, so they check on me daily. But what about the others, the older people who are not Major Tillery? They get pushed around, cheated for phone time, medical treatment just flat out dogged by both staff and other prisoners. I only get problems mostly from administration. So when the old people come to me, I try to bring their grievances with mine. And like I started— ‘Forgotten Men and Women in 1983’ and now ‘Forgotten in 2018’ … .

Aging in Prison
By Bro Tacuma/Terrence Poles BL5740

NEGLECT, CARELESSNESS and DISRESPECT, are the main aspects of aging in prison that the general public isn’t fully aware of. First and foremost my name is Terrence Poles. I’m 55 years old, and I’ve been serving a DBI sentence since 1989. (Death By Incarceration: AKA LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE.)

We’re NEGLECTED because the state doesn’t offer any meaningful or therapeutic programs for the elderly.

Because of their CARELESSNESS and callousness, they won’t even give/allow me to use an extra mattress (for back pain and arthritis).

The DISRESPECT is manifested in so many ways. We aren’t given thermals, vitamins, or nutrients and other things that will prolong our health and well-being. There isn’t even a housing unit for the elderly. Some older individuals have serious medical issues, which may cause them to have to get in the showers at certain times. Instead of having to wait until 3 pm standing for sometimes 15 minutes to 20 minutes just to get into the shower.

A Summary of Life, My Life as an Old Man…
By Clifford Smith AM8913 (AKA) Robert Amin Atkins

It’s 2018: I’ve been incarcerated for 36 years, watching my life, my hopes, dreams, and visions slip away. That’s my perception. It’s a reality that society, my correctional community see me, and all the elderly at SCI Frackville.

Is it unreasonable to request civil, fundamental, basic human rights for the elderly? Fair treatment programs that inspire growth? Awareness of how to transition to old age? It’s a difficult task, with deliberate indifference from staff, and other inmates who don’t understand that they will eventually grow old, and die in prison. Why can’t we die with respect and dignity?

I’m fighting for the right to be treated fairly as we grow older. I’m afraid I will have my job taken from me because I am an old man and continue to question, challenge our treatment.

When you speak truth to power there are consequences; but we won’t be silent. The simple things we do day to day are a challenge, like walking to the dining hall. I’m bumped, pushed just because I don’t move fast enough. If I don’t chew fast enough, I’m not allowed to finish my meal. I’ve outlined many examples of abuse and questions about the treatment of the elderly.

In struggle, Amin The (Old Man)

Write separately to:

Major Tillery AM9786
Clifford Smith AM8913
Terrence Poles BL5740

SCI Frackville
1111 Altamount Blvd.
Frackville, PA 17931

For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org
Call/Write:
Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009,
Kamilah29@yahoo.com

Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com

JusticeForMajorTillery.org

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Update on Political Prisoner Robert Seth Hayes – June 2017


Update on Seth Hayes, via Moorbey’s blog, Sept 16, 2017:

Jericho Medical Alert! Code Blue Called on Robert Seth Hayes

I received a call from a friend of Seth’s at Sullivan at 2:35 p.m. today, Saturday, September 16, 2017.

Seth was in his cell looking like he was passed out, so the brother told the C.O., who called medical. It took the nurse 20 minutes to arrive. They asked Seth to stand up, which he obviously could not do. They called a Code Blue and rushed him to the clinic.

The brother says he will call at about 7 p.m. with an update. As soon as I have more information, I will update everyone.

PLEASE SHARE WITH OTHER SUPPORTERS!

Love and Rage,
Anne Lamb
NYC Jericho Movement

This was emailed by Prisoner News, and the link to where it was originally posted is here, by Jericho Movement.

For more information on political prisoner Robert Seth Hayes, who has been in prison since 1973, check out this video/audio.
Or read this bio on Prisonersolidarity.

As people know, Seth has been having serious problems with his blood sugar levels in the past month, especially since finally receiving the insulin pump. While the process of properly calibrating the pump is rather complex, there has also apparently been some medical incompetence in the use of the pump (without the monitor).

Seth’s sugars have, if anything, always tended to run too low, leading to incidents of him passing out, having “Code Blues” called, and being rushed to an outside hospital on an emergency basis. However, since the installation of the pump, his sugars have been running high (in the 200+ to 400+ range). In one recent incident, the infusion set was improperly inserted, and Seth was receiving no insulin whatsoever. His sugars were in the 500-600 range, which is life-threatening.

After one of the nurses arbitrarily removed the pump more than a week ago, stating that Seth was “too delicate” to have it, Dr. Wolf (the prison doctor) has been very concerned, since this is totally undermining her authority as a physician. This occurred during a weekend, when Dr. Wolf is not at Sullivan. (Also, the pump was removed, but the infusion set was still inserted into Seth’s body for 2 days after that. Luckily, he did not develop an infection.)

Dr. Wolf had Seth in the “infirmary” all last week, and that is where I visited him on Father’s Day. The last time I visited Seth when he was in the “infirmary,” he was allowed to come up to the regular visiting room. However, this time I had to visit in the “infirmary,” which was an educational experience for me. When I arrived to the visiting room, the Sergeant called down to the “infirmary” to ask if Seth could come up to the visiting room. I also asked if I could at least bring down some water and light snackage, and was told that I could not.

When I was on the elevator to the infirmary, I asked the CO, who was not wearing his name badge, when visiting was over, and he told me “We will kick you out of here at 2 p.m.” This was fine with me, as the bus driver had requested we all come out with the 2:30 escort.

So Seth and I are in a locked glass-walled small visiting room right in front of the COs’ desk. At around 11:30 a.m., the technician came to do the finger stick. He was very professional, placing the vial of insulin on the table so Seth (and I) could see exactly what he was being injected with. Seth stated that his sugars had been at 70 in the morning, but the fingerstick monitor showed his sugars were 280+. The technician then injected him with 6 cc’s of insulin.

So, the standard practice is that the patient is to eat shortly after receiving the insulin, even if the sugars are high. This is to prevent a precipitous drop and allow for a gradual decline in the sugars. Since the food cart had gone by shortly before that, we had to make sure that Seth got his lunch. Luckily, one of the nurses happened to arrive at that time, and I knocked on the glass to gain her attention. I asked for the lunch tray, but she could not hear me, so I made an eating motion, and she went down to the hall to speak with the COs, and then shook her head. So I made the motion of Seth getting an injection, and she nodded her head and the CO arrived with the food tray within 5 minutes. So kudos to the nurse who did the right thing and did not let herself be intimidated!

So I finally got to see the infamous “Class B” diet that Dr. Koenigsmann insists is an adequate diabetic diet. I don’t know where he went to medical school, but he obviously doesn’t know much about diabetes and nutrition. The lunch consisted of white pasta, a large hamburger on a white roll (with ketchup), and beets, all of which were cold by the time Seth got to eat. (Of course, since Seth’s sugars are high, let’s make sure we give him even more sugar!)

Since they keep giving Seth milk with every meal even though he is lactose intolerant (Seth has had diarrhea off and on for almost a week), I took the little milk container. This caused the CO (same one who brought me down to the infirmary on the elevator: a tall, slim white guy with glasses) to leap out from behind the desk, rush into the visiting room and come within an inch of physically assaulting me. He was screaming at me “That’s what I thought! You did this on purpose so you can eat his food!” with his fists up as if he was going to hit me. I haven’t seen anyone so enraged in a long time. I remained calm and replied, “I was told when I came in that I could not bring anything to eat in here. I’m only drinking the milk because Seth is lactose intolerant, and this gives him diarrhea.” The thought of anyone actually wanting to eat this food (which I would not serve even to a rat) was so hilarious that Seth and I burst out laughing. We couldn’t help ourselves. We were laughing so hard we were practically in tears. Meanwhile, CO FNU LNU (First Name Unknown Last Name Unknown) quickly locked the bathroom door before once again locking us into the visiting room and Seth literally forced himself to eat the hamburger and some of the beets.

Since the inside bathroom was locked, I asked to use the bathroom and thus got an informal tour of the infirmary. One thing I can certainly say is that it is freezing in there. Seth said that luckily, since all the beds are not occupied, he can grab an extra blanket from one of them.

Since I had been told by this same CO when I came in that visiting in the infirmary ended at 2 p.m., I was not concerned about the time, but it certainly seemed longer than it should have been. (There is no clock.) When the escort came to get me, it was already 3 p.m., so of course that meant I was late for the bus. I guess this was FNU LNU’s petty revenge for me having made sure, with the assistance of the nurse, that Seth was given his food (if you can call it that) in a timely manner.So I commented to the escort that I was late for my bus, and she replied, “That’s your responsibility.’ I replied, “Well, since I was told that infirmary visitation ends at 2 p.m., and since I have not yet developed the ability to pass through locked doors and walls, there wasn’t too much I could do about it.”

So I went back up to the regular visiting room with this young woman CO and waited for the rest of the visitors who were there. As we were walking out, we visitors were conversing. People asked where I had been, and I explained that we were visiting in the infirmary, where visitation is supposed to end at 2 p.m. I also commented the FNU LNU seemed to be hyperactive and extremely aggressive and possibly should be given some antipsychotic medication to calm him down.

When I finally arrived outside, it was 3:15 p.m. and the bus was not there. Since the prison now insists we cannot even put our cell phones in the lockers, my phone was also on the bus. I nice woman offered me a ride if I was going toward Albany, and I replied: “Oh, the bus probably went to Woodbourne to pick up people there and will come back for me.” Then I saw the bus coming up the hill. Jeff, the bus driver, said the COs said to leave me behind, and I said, “Yes, they did that once at Mohawk when a visitor was caught in the count and they wouldn’t let him leave. I went inside to see what the delay was, and the COs said to leave without him. I replied; “You are COs. You do that. We are community; we don’t leave our people behind.” Jeff smiled and said, “Exactly. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and have never left anyone stranded in the middle of nowhere!”

Seth called as I was getting off the bus in the Bronx to see how I was doing. He was concerned because I had not had anything to eat. So I told him not to worry about that and asked what his sugars were at 4 p.m. At that time, his sugars were at 202, but if he hadn’t eaten, they probably would have been at around 60 or 70. Seth is to see Dr. Wolf today, June 19, 2017, to discuss the current situation and see what next steps are. Of course, Seth wants to have the insulin pump and monitor and so does the endocrinologist at Coxsackie.

We have an update from Seth this evening, Monday, June 19, 2017 on the outcome of that conversation with Dr. Wolf. When I asked him what his sugars were today, he told me that not everyone is as professional as the technician who was there on Sunday, and he was not told what his glucose level was. He is still in the infirmary, but hopes to be out of there soon. In the meantime, people can write to Seth:

Robert Seth Hayes #74A2280
Sullivan C.F.
P.O. Box 116
Fallsburg, NY 12733-0116

Send him a get well card or write him a letter. Seth loves corresponding with people, and it also shows the prison that people are paying attention.

Also, you can call the facility at 845-434-2080. Ask to speak with the Superintendent and state you are concerned about Robert Seth Hayes #74A2280. Be polite but firm and say you are calling to make sure Seth gets the insulin pump and monitor returned to him as a life-saving measure for his diabetes.

Anne Lamb
NYC Jericho Movement

Seth wants to start a campaign about the issue of the COs, not the doctor and nurses, making medical decisions in the infirmary. Sullivan is supposed to be a regional medical hub, but the doctor and nurses are mostly upstairs in the clinic, and the COs are running the show in the infirmary. I will write this up in a follow-up shortly.

To contribute to ongoing efforts supporting Robert Seth Hayes, please donate online at:
https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/810a58

NYC Jericho received word on May 9, 2017 from Seth’s lawyer, Eve Rosahn, that his Article 78 appeal of his parole denial was also denied. You can read the decision here.


This is from Prisonersolidarity.net:

Seth has always maintained his innocence.

Life in Prison

Jailed for over 30 years, Seth has long since served the time he was sentenced to and while in prison he has worked as a librarian, pre release advisor, and AIDS councilor. He has remained drug and alcohol free throughout his entire period of incarceration and has maintained a charge free record in prison. Seth first came up for parole in 1998, but prison officials refused to release him and gave him another two years, after which he was again denied parole. Prison officials are effectively punishing him for having been a member of the Black Panther Party, and of having remained true to his ideals after 30 years behind bars.

Seth has been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and adult onset Diabetes since the year 2000. Unfortunately, despite his repeated requests Seth has not been receiving adequate health care from Clinton Correction Facility, (the prison where he is currently being held) and his condition has steadily deteriorated.

Are elderly prisoners really a threat to public safety?

Nursing homes with razor wire
Are elderly prisoners really a threat to public safety?
By David Fathi
LA Times
December 23, 2009

Sometime in the 1970s, the United States began a love affair with incarceration that continues to this day. After holding nearly steady for decades, our prison population began to climb as criminal justice policy took a sharply punitive turn, with the massive criminalization of drug use, “three strikes” laws and other harsh sentencing practices. More people were going to prison, and staying there longer. By 2005, the prison population was six times what it had been in 1975.

One little-known side effect of this population explosion has been a sharp increase in the number of elderly people behind bars. According to the Justice Department, in 1980 the United States had about 9,500 prisoners age 55 and older; by 2008, the number had increased tenfold, to 94,800. That same year, the number of prisoners 50 and older was just shy of 200,000 — about the size of the entire U.S. prison population in the early 1970s.

People age 50 or 55 may seem a bit young to be classified as elderly. But because their lives have often been characterized by poverty, trauma and limited access to medical care and rehabilitative services, most prisoners are physiologically older than their chronological age would suggest, and more likely to have disabling medical conditions than the general population. One study cited by Ronald H. Aday in his 1994 article in Federal Probation concluded that the average prisoner over 50 has a physiological age 11.5 years older than his chronological age.

With 1 in 11 U.S. prisoners serving a life sentence — in some states, the figure is 1 in 6 — it’s no surprise that the number of elderly prisoners is skyrocketing. In 2007, the New York Times profiled then-89-year-old Charles Friedgood, a New York state prisoner who had served more than 30 years of a life sentence for second-degree murder. Although he had terminal cancer and had undergone several operations, including a colostomy, he had been denied parole five times before being released in 2007. Friedgood at least had the opportunity to apply for parole; in some states, parole has been abolished, and a life sentence means exactly that.

Being in prison is hard on anyone, but the elderly face special dangers, particularly if they are ill or disabled. Some have complex medical and mental health needs that prisons are ill-equipped to handle. Many prisons are not accessible to persons with mobility impairments; for them, bathing, using the toilet or even getting in and out of their cells can be a difficult, dangerous challenge. And older prisoners are more likely to be robbed, assaulted or otherwise victimized.

Some states have so many elderly prisoners that they have built special facilities to house them. Several years ago I visited the Ahtanum View Corrections Center, Washington state’s prison for the elderly. Everywhere I looked were aged, frail, disabled people, some of whom could barely move without assistance. The prison’s webpage helpfully points out that a volunteer clergy team is available to assist prisoners with “end-of-life issues.”

The main justification for incarceration is to protect public safety. But it’s hard to see the public safety rationale for keeping so many elderly people in prison.

It’s even harder to understand the economic justification. Incarceration is expensive — about $24,000 per year for the average prisoner, according to a 2008 Pew Center on the States report. Keeping someone over 55 locked up costs about three times as much. Given that criminal behavior drops off dramatically with advancing age, this is a major investment for very little return.

As the United States faces its worst fiscal crisis in decades, many states are taking a hard look at their prisons, which consume a large and increasing portion of state budgets. As part of this long overdue re-examination, lawmakers should ask whether so many elderly people really need to be in prison and whether the state should be in the business of operating nursing homes with razor wire.

David Fathi is director of the U.S. division at Human Rights Watch.

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-fathi24-2009dec24,0,1216548.story