[Ppnews] Mentally Ill Utah Prisoner Sentenced to 20 Days in Solitary for Not Moving Cup Fast Enough

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 13 12:15:08 EST 2012

    Mentally Ill Utah Prisoner Sentenced to 20 Days in Solitary for Not
    Moving Cup Fast Enough

December 13, 2012 By Sal Rodriguez 

Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah currently holds over 91 prisoners in 
solitary confinement in the Uinta One facility. They have described the 
facility as "a place of pain and terror 
and a place where inmates "expect tragedy 

While Utah Department of Corrections admits that the facility on 
occasion houses prisoners diagnosed as "mentally ill", they also point 
to the prisons Olympus Mental Health Forensic Facility.

According to the Utah Department of Corrections website:

    Prisons and jails have become primary mental health care providers
    for mentally ill offenders in the criminal justice system. The
    mental health services provided by the Utah Department of
    Corrections is comprehensive and wide-ranging in its scope. Our
    mission is to provide comprehensive and cost-effective mental health
    treatment to those offenders who suffer from a serious mental illness.

    The Clinical Services Bureau manages a 155-bed stand-alone housing
    unit for offenders with the most severe mental illnesses. This
    facility is designated to provide a therapeutic environment that
    promotes appropriate stabilization and behavioral change.

Solitary Watch has been in contact with an individual in the Olympus 
facility.  In his late 50s, he has been routinely transferred between 
Uinta One and Olympus for a decade. His medical documents indicate 
diagnoses for "Paranoid States (Delusional Disorders)...Other and 
Unspecified Protein-Calorie Malnutrition...Self-inflicted Injury By 
Cutting and Piercing Instrument" and other health issues. He reports 
constant harassment by the guards, who he says, among other things, 
falsely accused him of rules violations. In support of this, he provided 
documentation indicating that he was accused of a charge of 
"Abuse/Misuse Medications" based on "Some Evidence." He was ultimately 
found not guilty of the charge, despite not participating in the 
Disciplinary Hearing.

"When people do wicked things to you and you complain, that isn't 
paranoia, it's circumstance driven. When you refuse to trust those whose 
conduct does not improve, that's not paranoia. It's recognition of 
active unremitting threat," the prisoner writes. He reports having been 
placed in a wheelchair and being "upended onto my face" when the guard 
pushing the wheelchair "made a typical fast hard turn." After the 
incident, he received "No apology from anyone whatsoever...I was told to 
wait until a nurse came to check on me...back in this cage I sat 
unmoving. I couldn't get off the chair and on the 'bed'...My ears are 
ringing incessantly...I can't sleep more than two-hours...My eyes aren't 
properly focusing," he reports.

A month before this, he was found guilty of "Refuse Order" (see image), 
because he did not "fully and imediatly[sic] comply" with an order to 
remove an "empty cup and hand from the cuff slider." When chastised for 
his behavior, according to the report, he was "disrepectful" to the 
staff. For this, he was ordered to 20 days in "Punitive Isolation" and 
assessed a $150 fine.

When asked to provide the policies that guide such punitive measures, 
Department Spokesman Stephen Gehrke was unaware that such policies are 
in writing. "I'm not aware whether there is some sort of document or 
guideline that lists offenses and punishments or repercussions on a 
case-by-case basis. I believe the response to each incident is specific 
to the individual details of each circumstance and takes into account 
aggravating or mitigating factors, which is why the prison employs 
hearing officers to listen to the offender's account, review documents, 
and take into account all other forms of information," he wrote via email.

"'This is prison medicine--we don't care and we don't have to!'," 
the prisoner in Olympus characterizes the approach of the prisons 
medical officials.

This kind of treatment of people in prison is all too common in the 
United States. A 2003 Human Rights Watch report 
<http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2003/10/21/ill-equipped> estimated that 
one-third to one-half of individuals in American isolation units were 
diagnosed with a mental health problem. As of September 2011 
one-third of Virginia's Red Onion State Prison supermax population had a 
mental health diagnosis. The individual in Olympus is among many in 
isolation units who attempt suicide while in solitary confinement. In 
it was noted that in California and Texas, suicides in prison 
disproportionately occurred in solitary confinement units.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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