Witness to a Reprehensible and Uncaring Prison System

(from Joe Power-Drutis)

Hello, 
Twenty four hours ago I visited Sr. Jackie Hudson at the Blount County Correctional Facility in Maryville Tennessee, and the information she conveyed was deeply disturbing. By bravely speaking the truth about a reprehensible and uncaring system, Jackie chose to take a personal risk and I want to honor this by passing her message on to you.

This is an account of the struggles of four inmates and their attempts to receive basic medical care.

First is the indomitable and quick-witted (soon to be 84), Jean Gump. Like Bix, Jean’s age and physical presence conceal an interior spirit deeply rooted in the power of love that will always be underestimated by the dark forces so prevalent in our world.

She, like the others, would rather be home with family and friends but is not afraid to pay the price of following the dictates of her conscience. She like the others, consented to going to jail; but, expects these places of confinement to follow the law regarding human rights and rules of imprisonment. But, in the Blount County Correctional Facility, expectations and reality part ways.

Jean is a relatively healthy woman who has obviously taken care of herself; however, she is also under the care of a Nurse Practitioner in Portage Michigan. Jean has been diagnosed with hypertension and carotid artery disease; in other words, the high pressure in her arteries is further complicated by the narrowing of the large carotid artery that feeds her brain. Jean must take one anticoagulant and 2 blood pressure medications to thin her blood and lower her pressure. Failure to do so puts her at high risk for a stroke.

For these chronic conditions she has faithfully taken her medications each day – each day that is until she was remanded to the Blount County Correctional Facility. Though she has made numerous requests for help, she has received no medical assistance, not once has her blood pressure been taken, and she received no medication for nearly 2 weeks. She filled out paperwork for the jail to notify her husband, health care provider and pharmacy; they have received no calls from the jail.

Just for the record, Ralph Hutchison, Erik Johnson and I sang one verse of a less than spectacular barber shop quartet Happy Birthday to You. Moved beyond herself by emotion Jean said, “Don’t give up your day job boys.”
The reality is much the same for 63-year-old Sr. Carol Gilbert. Carol has taken an antihypertensive medication for many years. She too has gone without her medication and no one at the jail has taken her blood pressure.

Three months ago, 76-year-old Sr. Jackie Hudson underwent surgery that left her with residual periodic left-sided chest pain. Several days ago she began to experience severe musculoskeletal pain and made repeated requests for medical assistance. Eventually a nurse arrived and said “Your just one of 500 people here and I am way behind in my work.” Jackie received nothing. That night, many hours after the onset of pain, the night nurse provided her with 2 tabs of Tylenol. Well after this acute onset of pain she was able to receive a “one time” packet of 20 tablets of Tylenol and Ibuprofen due to her indigent status; but was informed she would receive no more. Jackie also suffers from asthma. She was able to take one of her inhalers in with her but is without the needed second one. Jackie also filled out paperwork for the jail to notify Sue Ablao, her health care provider and pharmacy; they also have not received any calls from the jail.

75-year-old Sr. Ardeth Platte is also under the care of a doctor. I do not know the extent of her medical needs but, like Jackie and Jean, Ardeth is receiving no medications or health care.

Though serious, the above matters are straight-forward and easily resolved.
The following is not so.

A woman in the jail experienced a Grand Mal Seizure. Apparently in the early stages of the seizure she was able to tell other inmates a seizure was about to occur, and as the seizure commenced and she was falling they were able to catch her and guide her to the concrete floor.

They called for medical help and the nurse and another woman arrived and stood next to the woman. Several minutes later – while the seizure was still in progress – a half-dozen large men entered the cell block. While a younger guard began yelling at all of the inmates “return to your cells” another of the men kicked the woman repeatedly. Later, inmates reported that kicking a person undergoing a seizure was commonplace, “They think someone is faking it.”

The following day the woman began to experience similar symptoms that occur prior to a seizure and she related to the inmates that another seizure may occur. The inmates called for assistance and a voice over the intercom instructed the inmates to put her on the concrete floor. No staff person, medical or otherwise ever responded. Fortunately the woman’s premonitions did not result in a seizure.

Complicating the health picture even more, the inmates know that, if a medical problem or emergency occurs during the weekend, they are out of luck. No nursing staff are available during the weekend. During weekends, either non medical, non licensed jailers perform nursing duties or inmates get no response at all.

As a LPN I have worked in a number of medical venues over the past 35 years and I have seen nothing to compare with this. How did this high risk, cruel “medical response” become commonplace? These standard operational procedures are not only inhumane; they are illegal.
I wish to share this with you, as I seek guidance and support from leaders in the local community here in East Tennessee about where to go from here.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Epilogue: As I was being given this information yesterday, prison eyes (cameras) and ears (phone surveillance) were upon us; as we spoke between a wall of glass, I wrote down each detail.

It is important to remember that the playground bully is one filled with fear, and the need to control; but, knowing he/she must be careful to protect themselves from the truth.

I just received phone calls from Joe Gump and Sue Ablao; someone from the Blount County Correctional Facility phoned them today inquiring as to what medications Jean and Jackie were on. They were told that Jean and Jackie’s prescriptions will be filled by day’s end and they will be receiving all of their prescribed medications no later than tomorrow, May 23rd.

The Sentencing of Lynne Stewart

The Sentencing of Lynne Stewart
by Michael Steven Smith, in MR Zine
21 July 2010

“At all times throughout history the ideology of the ruling class is the ruling ideology.” — Karl Marx

Lynne Stewart is a friend. She used to practice law in New York City. I still do. I was in the courtroom with my wife Debby the afternoon of July 19th for her re-sentencing. Judge John Koeltl buried her alive.

We should have seen it coming when he told her to take all the time she needed at the start when she spoke before the sentence was read. It didn’t matter what she said. He had already written his decision, which he read out loud to a courtroom packed with supporters. It was well crafted. Bulletproof on appeal. He is smart and cautious.

After about an hour into his pronouncement, he came to the buried alive part. He prefaced it by citing the unprecedented 400 letters of support people had sent him, all of which he said he read. He noted Lynne’s three decades of service to the poor and the outcast. He stressed that she is a seventy-year-old breast cancer survivor with high blood pressure and other serious health problems. And then he laid it on her: 120 months.

Everyone in the courthouse divided 120 by 12. He had given her a death sentence, we all thought. She’ll never get out. He almost quadrupled the 28 month sentence he had originally pronounced. She had told him that 28 months was a horizon, that she had hope. But no more.

Lynne’s granddaughter gasped. Then started sobbing. She kept crying even as Judge John Koeltl kept reading. And reading. And reading. It was awful. The sentence was pitiless and cruel. How to understand it?

Lynne’s lawyer Jill Shellow Levine rose after the judge finished. She asked him why. He was candid. He was told to do it by his supervisors, the judges on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This court is an institution of the elite. It is considered the second highest court in America next to the Supreme Court because it presides over the financial center of the empire, not its capital, that is in D.C., but its real capital. This court makes policy and Lynne Stewart was to be made an example of in “the war against terrorism” just as a half a century before, in the same court, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were condemned to death in the war against communism, told that they had caused the deaths of 50,000 U.S. soldiers in the Korean War, and found guilty of the ridiculous charge of “stealing the secret” of the atomic bomb, when there was no secret, it was only a matter of technology. The sentencing Judge Kaufman knew they would leave behind two orphan children, Robert and Michael, ages six and three.

In 1947 George Kennan, the ideological father of the cold war, wrote that the United States had but six per cent of the world’s population and fifty per cent of its wealth. The problem was to keep it. Anti-communism served as the ideological cover the U.S. ruling classes used. But communism ceased to exist after capitalism was restored in the Soviet Union in 1991. A new ideological cover has been constructed in the wake of the September 11th criminal attack on the World Tread Center and the Pentagon: the War against Terror. Nationalist opposition to U.S. economic and foreign policy in parts of the Arab world is no longer led by communists but by fundamentalist Muslims.

Lynne Stewart represented one of them, Sheik Abdel Rahman, who was the leading oppositionist to the U.S.-sponsored Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, which gets more money from America than any other country in the world except Israel. In 1993, at the behest of the Egyptian government, Sheik Rahman was criminally indicted and later convicted of the crime of “sedition” for suggesting to a government informer that rather than blow up New York City landmarks he choose “a military target.” It was on the occasion of a post-conviction prison visit that Lynne helped her client. She released his statement to Reuters press service announcing his withdrawal of support for a ceasefire between his group and the Egyptian government. This was in violation of a Special Administrative Measure (SAMs) that Lynne had agreed to with the U.S. Government. She wasn’t supposed to be a medium for communication between her client and the outside world. She should have challenged the constitutionality of the SAMs, she now realizes, and not just have violated them.

She wasn’t prosecuted for what she did, not under the Clinton administration, nor during the first years of George W. Bush. Then came 9.11. Bush’s Attorney General John Ashcroft flew into New York City in 2003 and announced Lynne’s indictment on the David Letterman show. The crime? A novel one. Conspiracy to provide material aid to a terrorist organization. What was the material aid? Her client. When Ashcroft did that, as the nation’s highest law enforcement officer, he committed an ethical violation for which any other attorney would have been sanctioned. He made sure that from the very beginning of her ordeal Lynne Stewart never had a chance. Not with the level of fear the government was able to generate and the scare they put into her jury.

In 2006 she was convicted and sentenced. The maximum was 30 years, but thanks to the superb legal work of National Lawyers Guild attorneys Elizabeth Fink and Sarah Kunstler and the outpouring of public support Judge Koeltl gave her 28 months. The government appealed the sentence to their U.S. Court of Appeals. Game over. The selective prosecution of Lynne Stewart was accomplished.

Judge John Walker, George W. Bush’s first cousin, sits on that court. His family made their fortune selling munitions during WWI. He wrote that the 28 months was “shockingly low.” Judge Koeltl was given his orders. The seemingly kindly boyish-looking jurist about whom it was said that he walks to work and looks after an elderly mother — not exactly a sadistic old lady killer — then reversed himself and on the same evidence nearly quadruped the sentence, putting a seventy-year-old grandmother on chemotherapy away for ten years and two years’ probation after that for good measure. This is much more than meanness. It is ideology.

Michael Steven Smith is the co-host of the WBAI radio show Law and Disorder and sits on the Board of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Mother’s Day: Pregnant Behind Bars

The Nation
December 10, 2009
Rachel Roth
Over the past year, incarcerated women and their allies have achieved a remarkable string of victories against inhumane treatment. First, they persuaded the Bureau of Prisons to issue a new policy in October 2008 limiting the use of restraints on women who are in labor, giving birth or recovering after childbirth; the Marshals Service, which transports people in federal custody, followed suit. Next, they won legislation in the spring and summer of 2009 restricting the use of restraints on pregnant women in New Mexico, Texas and New York. Finally, they successfully petitioned the US Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit for a rehearing of the full court in a case from Arkansas, which resulted in a ruling in October [1] that shackling women in labor is unconstitutional.
These developments send a strong signal to the rest of the country to stop subjecting women to this dangerous and degrading practice. But what happens to pregnant women in prison before they wind up in chains at a hospital? 
When women are brought to a hospital in shackles, the pain and humiliation they endure likely caps months of difficulty from being pregnant behind bars, months without adequate prenatal care or nutrition, or even basics like a bed to sleep on or clothes to accommodate their changing shape.
The lack of common sense and compassion with which imprisoned pregnant women are treated is chilling. Three stories illustrate the dangers women face when they cannot get anyone to take their medical needs seriously.
First, some women are not taken to the hospital until after they have already given birth, despite having informed staff members that they are in labor. Women wind up giving birth in their cells with the assistance of a nurse, corrections officer or cellmates. Others give birth in their cells with nobody to help. Both situations endanger the woman and her baby. Nineteen-year-old Terra K. screamed [2], pounded on the door and asked for the nurse in the Dubuque County Jail in Iowa, only to give birth alone in her cell. Afterward she asked, “How does somebody have a baby in jail without anybody noticing?”
Next, some women never see their pregnancy result in a live birth. In the Collier County Jail in Florida, Joan S. repeatedly sought medical attention because she was near her due date and leaking amniotic fluid; this went on for almost two weeks. By the time she got an ultrasound, the doctor informed her that all of her amniotic fluid was gone and her fetus’s skull had collapsed. Jail officials then delayed taking her to the hospital, putting her at risk for septic shock the longer the dead fetus remained inside her. As if this were not bad enough, the jail delayed giving her a shot she needed because she has RH-negative blood, which could cause complications if she becomes pregnant in the future. She is only 22.
Finally, corrections personnel neglect women who have had miscarriages. Michelle M. was punched repeatedly in the stomach [3] by two other prisoners in the Maricopa County jail in Arizona. Guards denied her access to the infirmary. Three days later, she was bleeding so heavily that she was finally taken to a hospital, where doctors told her she had miscarried and instructed her to return for a checkup. But the jail wouldn’t bring her back for the checkup–that is, not until three weeks later, when she began bleeding so much that the jail finally called an ambulance. At the hospital, she needed a blood transfusion as well as a surgical procedure to remove the remains of the pregnancy from her uterus.
These are not isolated events; they are just a few that recently made the news. Institutions of confinement are not required to report the pregnancy outcomes of women in their custody. Until elected officials mandate such reporting, we will have to rely on the efforts of imprisoned women, journalists, human rights investigators, researchers, lawyers and advocates to document the reality of life for pregnant women inside prison walls. Reflecting on more than thirty years of experience, ACLU National Prison Project director Elizabeth Alexander says, “In virtually every case that I have handled involving healthcare claims of women, I have found women who lost their pregnancies or newborns due to the prison’s atrocious neglect.”
The denial of appropriate care to pregnant women is part and parcel of the general state of medical neglect in prisons in the United States. Access to timely, appropriate medical care is further undermined by the trend to contract out medical services to private, for-profit companies [4].
When women suffer inadequate pregnancy-related care, seeking redress is extremely difficult, given the many hurdles imposed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. As one example, a federal court dismissed a woman’s lawsuit over her failure to comply with the jail’s internal grievance procedure. She persevered, and the court of appeals overturned the lower court. The court of appeals compared the case to something out of Alice in Wonderland, because all the parties agreed that the jail’s grievance procedure was never made available to anyone being held in the jail, and, therefore, compliance would be impossible.
This state of affairs is even more disturbing when we consider that most women do not pose a threat to public safety. They are serving time–or stuck in jail because they are too poor to make bail–for nonviolent crimes, and could be supervised in the community instead of being incarcerated.
The purpose of prison is to punish and control, not to tend to people’s medical needs, although prisons and jails are constitutionally obligated to do so. Leaving women to give birth all alone in their cells, or to suffer the consequences of a miscarriage or stillbirth without proper medical attention, surely violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The United States has no real system of prison oversight to ensure accountability for the treatment of people in custody. As Joan S. said of her decision to bring a lawsuit against the jail and private company that denied her medical care, “I want them to make changes. I don’t want this to happen to other mothers.” 


Links:
[1] http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights_reproductive-freedom/federal-appeals-court-condemns-shackling-pregnant-prisoners-la
[2] http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=243341
[3] http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2008-10-30/news/arpaio-s-jail-staff-cost-ambrett-spencer-her-baby-and-she-s-not-the-only-one/
[4] http://www.democracynow.org/2005/3/4/harsh_medicine_new_york_times_exposes

Scott Watch: Mississippi – State of Grace?

This in from the Scott Sisters Campaign today. Consider forwarding a copy of the letter to the Kidney Foundation (below) on to the Governor, along with a letter support the Scotts’ petition.:
——————-
2/8 Addendum — Mrs. Rasco reports that the building Jamie is in has had no heat or hot water all weekend! Still no word of if/when she will be taken to the hospital.
————-
Greetings all,

Please continue to call and write to support the Scott Sisters and particularly Jamie Scott during this period of medical emergency. Specifically this week we are asking that a special focus be placed on COMPASSIONATE RELEASE for Jamie Scott through the governor’s office. As was reported on 2/5/10 the level of medical care that she is receiving in that prison is ATROCIOUS, she missed a dialysis treatment!, has a possibly infected and malfunctioning temporary catheter, and just prior to that went into shock due to malpractice on the part of the prison medical staff!

Jamie was told that she would be going back to the hospital for surgery to have a permanent shunt installed on Monday or Tuesday, but we don’t know that this will occur or if it will even be appropriately used given the circumstances surrounding the failures of the prison to properly care for her to date. The family and legal supporters are pressing to get Jamie released based on her frighteningly declining health ever since her initial imprisonment!

Executive Paralegal with Advocate Associates, Sis. Shakeerah Abdul al-Sabuur, has filed for Compassionate Release for Jamie and we need to request that Gov. Haley Barbour act on that and immediately release JAMIE SCOTT, #19197, from CMCF. He is under a budget crisis, has stated that releasing inmates from the prisons are a possibility, and has released inmates in the past. Jamie Scott must get the medical care that she needs to survive OUTSIDE of those prison walls! The link to the paperwork that was submitted is at http://www.scribd.com/doc/26252282/COMPASSIONATE-RELEASE-FOR-JAMIE-SCOTT.

The other contacts are definitely still very important, particularly mainstream media, but we absolutely must make certain that the governor’s office hears and reads from a whole lot of people to bolster the efforts of our legal advisers. PLEASE PASS THE WORD AND HELP TO LIGHT UP THAT OFFICE THIS WEEK!

Thank you so much, everyone!
———————
Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205
1-877-405-0733 or 601-359-3150
Fax: 601-359-3741
(If you reach VM leave msgs, faxes, and please send letters)

Mississippi Kidney Foundation: Appeal for Imprisoned Patients

This is the slightly edited version of the letter I sent off to the Mississippi Kidney Foundation today, as well as to some media connections and other possible allies. I’ve been ill for awhile and may not be following up for a few days, and worry that everyone will just think someone else is acting on this – in which case no one will – so everyone needs to, and report what you’ve done to the Scott Sisters campaign. Please use this post and email copies of this letter wherever else you can think of that these concerns need to be raised. Just click on the email icon at the bottom. 

—————————————————————
Margaret Jean Plews
Prison Abolitionist
Arizona Prison Watch
1809 East Willetta St.
Phoenix, AZ 85006
480-580-6807
February 7, 2010
Gail G. Sweat, Executive Director
Lynda Richards, Director of Patient Services
Mississippi Kidney Foundation
3000 Old Canton, Suite 110
Jackson, MS 39216
PO Box 55802
Jackson, MS 39296

Dear Gail and Lynda,

I wasn’t sure who best to address this to, but didn’t want it getting lost in the void, so I’m sending it to you both if I can find your emails, and via snail mail. This is a fairly complicated story, so if it’s new to you, hold on. I’m also passing it on to a few other folks, in hopes they might have some ideas or be able to offer support. I really hope that once we figure out exactly what’s going on with care for kidney patients in the Mississippi Department of Corrections (which is contracting medical services to Wexford) Professor Capron in particular will help facilitate some kind of critical analysis and dialogue about the ethical issues involved in treating kidney patients who are prisoners – this is not an issue unique to Mississippi. That’s just where Mrs. Rasco’s daughter happens to be dying right now.

I don’t know if anyone has already contacted you about Jamie Scott or issues with dialysis care for Mississippi state prisoners in general yet. I don’t know my way around your state: your politics, charities, media, etc., and have already stepped on a few toes. I’m a prisoner rights activist in Arizona (from Michigan, actually) with a few websites critiquing the prison industrial complex, and I hear from prisoners and families in trouble all the time, including the Scotts, asking for help by amplifying their voices and reaching out to others. The Scott family has been working on getting these women exonerated for awhile, but now there’s a crisis with one of the sisters going into renal failure. They really need your help. 
I’m concerned that the difficulty the family is having getting a response on Jamie’s care is partly because it’s not clear they or Jamie really know what her diagnosis or prognosis is. I think they’re all so terribly traumatized, and now desperately afraid that they’ll lose Jamie after working so hard for long on her freedom. But they need to be able to articulate what’s going on medically in order to know what kind of treatment to ask for, or who to turn to for help. As is so often the fashion when others control our health care, poor women (especially of color) are the last to know about our medical conditions and treatment options, and we pay the highest price for it. I’m worried that Jamie’s criminalized, marginalized status already places her at considerable risk; not many people value the humanity or gifts of a woman doing double-life in a Mississippi state prison. Add to that her race, poverty, family’s limited resources; some would say she’s lucky to get dialysis at all.
We need to get someone in there who can both educate Jamie and her family about kidney disease, what appropriate care is (which for all I know she’s actually receiving, depending on her diagnosis and prognosis), and how she can assert her rights as a patient while still a prisoner, as well as someone who can help get the resources needed into the MDOC to provide the rest of these women with appropriate medical care. I’m an antagonist, an outside instigator, an organizer – this family needs you, not me, fighting for them on the local level. I’ve probably already pissed a few people off. 
Besides, I’m also fairly ill myself right now, and don’t know that I can see this family through.
This also isn’t about crime and punishment or “prisoner rights” so much as it’s about who we decide is deserving and undeserving of resources we’ve decided to ration in this world – resources that could be made more plentiful – and therefore whom is allowed to suffer, and for whom is such suffering “unconstitutional”. I know that’s pretty loaded, but I don’t know how you can possibly avoid addressing that in your business, anyway. It seems like a conversation that the larger community should be having together, with the Scott Sisters and their mom participating. Especially now, with state services for the poor being hit so hard across the country.
If you can somehow manage to lead the community in an outreach to that prison – refusing to take no for an answer when you knock on the door – and help connect the women in there with the same kind of educational, medical and peer support that free women might be able to access, you could make an impact on women’s health care in jails and prisons that I could never equal in all my years of community activism. It will improve their likelihood of survival while in prison, their success transitioning back to the community once released from prison, and their sense of human connection if it turns out that they are going to be dying in prison. At least then, perhaps, their last days will be witnessed, and even if they have no family left to grieve them, someone can speak to their struggle and courage. That matters a great deal to people; most of us take it for granted, though.
You are in a unique position to command the attention and respect of people who will just otherwise ignore this family and let Jamie suffer and die. I’m not suggesting that you charge in with any accusations – just please find out from the Scotts’ what’s up, try to find out what health care access is really like for women there, and step back and assess the situation with the MDOC and Wexford(chronically ill patients who could be maintained for years are a drag on profits, if allowed to linger.) 
 I suspect diabetes is a major issue for many men and women in prison alike. I have a number of links to research and documents about prisoner health care on my websites (prison Abolitionist and Arizona Prison Watch). Whatever you think you can do yourselves, please see who else there might be natural allies for those women fighting for better health care, and speak publicly to the issue of the treatment of prisoners with kidney disease. I don’t know who else will speak for their health care rights; I’m afraid no one even notices them there. Many more may step up if you do, first, however.
 
You would be able to articulate the consequences of Jamie not receiving proper care, in a way unlike prisoner activists – most of whom don’t know what it feels like to be toxic and dying. You could gauge better than I could whether or not withholding certain medical options might constitute cruel and unusual punishment; you don’t have to be an attorney to question that – the Supreme Court says the definition changes as society morally evolves. I hope we’ve all come at least this far by now. If Jamie will authorize the prison/medical services provider to discuss her diagnosis, prognosis, and course of planned treatment with you with her, then you would know whether or not she’s been offered treatment that’s consistent with community standards of care. Most importantly, perhaps, if Jamie and her family are at least well-informed, then perhaps they do not need to be quite so afraid. There is already so much for them to be afraid of.
At the very least these women should be fully informed about their illness, treatment options, and rights – not reminded of how expendable and of little value their lives are. They matter to the people who love them, and to those whose lives they’ve touched in positive ways. We have much to be thankful for, out here, to the good souls in prison for life who help others make it through intact, and not on a track right back there. It may well be that Jamie’s crisis is the catalyst that gets so much needed focus on the critically and terminally ill in prison; without her voice, countless others may suffer in invisibility. And her example of survival and resistance is an inspiration to other women living and dying there, too.
There’s more history on this at  Mississippi Prison Watch– the latest post announcing my intent to contact you is in email format below. I received the accompanying note from Jamie Scott’s mother, though, and wanted you to see it – to hear the urgency in her voice as she’s trying to save her daughter’s life. I need to make a personal connection with someone there, to know whether or not you’ll step up on this as an advocate for Jamie and the other women there in terms of their right to access health care. The whole issue of whether or not the state would allow a prisoner to donate a kidney to another prisoner troubles me. Especially while both prisoners still have wrongful conviction cases hanging out there – that seems like taking the chance of executing the innocent.
 
Please drop us a line and let us know if you can do anything to help on this matter (Call me if you need to if I don’t respond to email; I may not make it back to my computer in the next few days.). You don’t need to comment on their convictions or sentences – no one should be made to suffer needlessly or subjected to substandard medical care when subject to the total custody and control of the state. That’s not a medical or legal judgment – it’s a moral one. It takes mainstream Americans to say that for anyone to listen, however – not left-wing radicals like me.
Thanks for your time and consideration,
Sincerely,
Peggy Plews
480-580-6807
cc: Professor Alexander Capron, National Kidney Foundation
     American Association of Kidney Patients
     National Kidney Disease Education program
     Mississippi ACLU
     (and several Mississippi and national media outlets)
    
“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)

Prison Abolitionist
http://prisonabolitionist.blogspot.com

 

Arizona Prison Watch
http://arizonaprisonwatch.blogspot.com

 

Free Marcia Powell
http://freemarciapowell.blogspot.com

 

Scott Watch: Jamie back in Hospital

I’m not sure how the prison can withhold her hospital location from Mrs. Rasco, or what action the campaign would like us to take on it. If anyone out there has a connection with the kidney foundation, an organ donation group, a politically active women’s health clinic or rights organization, a disabity rights group – anything like that in Mississippi (we need the locals) – we need some community organizations with an appropriate stake in these issues to begin making concerned inquiries of their state legislators, requesting some immediate relief for Jamie that includes her family in the treatment planning process and allows Gladys to donate a kidney, if that’s necessary. I think right now we may still just be the usual suspects. 

The men’s medical care is bad too, but if we focus most closely on women’s health care in the Mississippi prisons – including getting documentation about rights’ violations and grievances from other prisoners – we may be able to help get more voices lobbying for Jamie’s health care from different places in the Mississippi community  by expanding our characterization of her identity. 

That is, while Jamie is a wrongfully-convicted victim of the state at risk of dying in prison before her innocence can be proven, she is also a mother (we could use help from groups that advocate for moms in prison, even though her son is an adult now),  a black woman (whose health care is notoriously substandard), a poor woman needing medical care (is it her poverty, her sentence, her specific illness, or standard MDOC policy that is preventing her from getting the proper treatment?), as a critically ill adult child (parents’ groups of disabled children may be helpful), as a woman with a major mood disorder (Alliance for the Mentally Ill may help advocate), as a woman with a disability (disabled rights activists in Mississippi would be able to see quickly that the value of Jamie’s life to society has been diminished not just by her criminalization, but also by virtue of her disabilities – they don’t like it when disabled people are cut out of the health care rations, and get left to die when life-saving measures are still available). 

That Jamie appears to have advanced kidney disease is significant – the Kidney Foundation should be interested to hear that she can’t get her special diet, and that her sister offered her a kidney and that the prison won’t allow the transplant…so many people suffer and die waiting for transplants, I don’t see how the prison could make that a blanket policy. It should at least be seriously explored. Would they prohibit Gladys from making a donation to a non-prisoner? Would they permit the transplant if costs could be mitigated in some way? 

Someone who knows more about these details needs to contact the kidney foundation and organ transplant groups in Mississippi and ask them to make a formal inquiry into prison policies and what treatment options kidney patients and people needing transplants in prison do and don’t have available to them. They can probably make a legal and moral case which may be more compelling than what we can come up with. help the DOC figure out other resources for treating these patients.


Nancy Lockhart (January 30 at 5:18pm)

Mrs. Evelyn Rasco has confirmed through a sergeant and nurse at the prison that Jamie was rushed to the hospital due to a decline in her condition earlier today. The prison will not confirm anything further, whatsoever, not even whether Jamie is still alive or where specifically she has been taken (the hospitals will not confirm whether Jamie is a patient at any of them either).

We had received a report a few days ago that Jamie should have been  returned to the Medical Bldg. at the prison due to severe weakness and difficulty carrying out her activities of daily living, however this did NOT happen.

Jamie Scott should have remained hospitalized long ago due to her kidney failure and other health issues that are impacted by such a serious development!! The prison has played games with Jamie’s life long enough and should have never moved her back from the hospital to begin with!

We need to know Jamie Scott’s condition and what is happening to her. She must not, once again, be returned to the prison to continue to deteriorate, her medical care must be taken out of the prison’s hands!

Updates will follow as soon as they are available! Please keep checking in as much as you are able!

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BACKGROUND INFO AT: http://www.freethescottsisters.blogspot.com

A decent plea for life-saving health care

From: Free the Scott Sisters

Saturday, January 23, 2010
JAMIE SCOTT TAKEN BACK TO PRISON!

JAMIE SCOTT

Mrs. Rasco was informed at 6:00 a.m. that Jamie Scott was returned to the prison infirmary after having been told that her body was full of toxins and that the medication she had been receiving at the prison contributed to the condition she is in today! In typical sadistic fashion, the prison told Jamie that they are not paying for her to have a special diet and that they will be moving her back to the horrible, leaky and moldy building where she was living. As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, she was further informed that she will be taken to a trailer to receive dialysis instead of the hospital!

While Atty Jaribu Hill is working on legal support for Jamie, we MUST continue to advocate for her. Mrs. Rasco wants us to flood the governor’s office as he has released inmates in the past who have been convicted of far worse crimes than which
Jamie and Gladys are accused. Mississippi is also making deep budget cuts which have included discussions around the release of inmates, and there is no reason on this earth why Jamie Scott should continue to be locked down in her serious
medical condition, it is cruel, inhumane, and DEADLY, she has many aggravating conditions, is severely depressed, and there
must be COMPASSION!

If you work in the medical field please make that known when calling/writing so that it can be made plain that there are medical professionals aware of this prison’s culpability in this previously healthy young woman’s deterioration into such a serious condition, which they continue to downplay to this very moment!

We also continue to feel strongly that if we could put the light of mainstream media on this case that it would make a huge difference. PLEASE include calls and e-mails to the media. If you’re from overseas, please make sure that they know that fact.

Thanks again to you all, we have an enormous fight on our hands and we need all of the help we can get! We know that they
expect us to give up, but we must push even harder!


JAMIE SCOTT, #19197, IS SUFFERING CRUEL AND INHUMAN PUNISHMENT!

BE DIRECT BUT PLEASE BE COURTEOUS

Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205
1-877-405-0733 or 601-359-3150
Fax: 601-359-3741
(If you reach VM leave msgs, faxes, and please send letters)

(FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ANY AND ALL MAJOR MEDIA YOU HAVE INFORMATION FOR, DON’T BE LIMITED BY THESE LISTINGS AT ALL!)


Background Information about The Scott Sisters
From: Case Summary

Jamie and Gladys Scott are blood sisters and have been wrongfully convicted of armed robbery. The sisters received double life terms each. No one was murdered or injured during this robbery. One witness testified that the robbery netted about $11, another said that around $200 bucks was in his wallet. Witnesses and the two alleged victims testified that the sisters had absolutely nothing to do with this robbery. Witnesses also testified that the sheriff coerced and threatened them to lie on the Scott Sisters. The sisters have been in prison since October of 1994.

The father of the Scott Sisters moved his family from Chicago, Illinois to Mississippi for a better life. He had no idea of the tragedy that awaited the family in rural Mississippi. On a cold December morning the Scott Sisters left their modest home to purchase heating fuel as Jamie had run out of fuel and had a very young baby in the home. As a result, they experienced car trouble which lead to being framed for armed robbery.

The transcripts state that one witness ( a teenager) testified that the sheriff told him he would be sent to Parchman (the notorious Mississippi Prison), to be made out of a woman (raped by men) if he did not lie on the Scott Sisters. There exists, several affidavits which state that The Scott Sisters had nothing to do with this crime. The witnesses received very short sentences in this crime while Jamie and Gladys have completed almost 15 years of double life sentences each.

Scott County Mississippi was a dry county, meaning no alcohol could be sold in the county. A relative of the Scott Sisters turned state’s evidence on Sheriff Glenn Warren which placed the sheriff behind bars. The Sheriff had been accepting payoffs to allow business owners to sell alcohol. Deputy Sheriff Marvin Williams briefly worked under Sheriff Warren and is alleged to be the deputy responsible for fabricating this robbery. Deputy Williams is said to have promised the father that he would “get” him, even if through his daughters. This robbery with double life terms is the method which Deputy Marvin Williams allegedly used to “get” Mr. Rasco.

Judge Marcus Gordon Presided over this trial. Judge Gordon is the judge who presided over Edgar Ray “Preacher” Killen’s trial. Edgar Ray “Preacher” Killen is a Ku Klux Klansman who assisted in the murders of three civil rights activists, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in 1964. Killen was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter on June 21, 2005, which was the forty-first anniversary of the crime. Killen’s punishment was 3 times 20 years in prison or 20 years for each murder – which was reduced by Judge Gordon to manslaughter.

The father of The Scott Sisters passed away of a heart attack, knowing that he could not help his daughters out of the great injustice. Their mother left Mississippi out of fear of additional injustices.