[Ppnews] Voices from Solitary: 13.5 Square Feet

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 20 11:03:33 EDT 2013

  Voices from Solitary: 13.5 Square Feet

June 20, 2013

/Menard Correctional Center is the largest maximum security prison in 
the state of Illinois. A December 2011 report by the John Howard 
Association <http://www.thejha.org/menard>, a prison watchdog group, 
depicts Menard as decrepit, overcrowded, violent, and subject to 
frequent lockdowns. In the Segregation Unit, two men are housed, often 
in continuous 24-hour-a-day confinement, in cells designed for one 
person. The cells are less the five feet wide, with most of that width 
being take up by bunks. //When the Howard Association visited Menard in 
December, many men expressed concern about being housed with "aggressive 
cellmates." In the three subsequent months, three men at Menard were 
<http://www.pjstar.com/free/x715746674/Report-Menard-prison-inmates-troubled-by-aggressive-cellmates#axzz2Wizi9lHm>, allegedly 
by their cellmates. A fourth, an apparent suicide, died in solitary 
May. The following piece is by an individual serving a year-long 
stint in the Segregation Unit. He wrote to Solitary Watch describing the 
deaths, the overcrowding, the lack of physical exercise, and the 
psychological toll of life in isolated confinement at Menard. --James 

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Here's a little insight on the conditions, mistreatments and violations 
that been occurring here at Menard Correctional Center Segregational Unit.

Since January 2013 Menard Correctional Center has had (4) four 
murders/deaths. The first one occurring on or about January 31, 2013 -- 
the second occurring on or about Februrary 17, 2013 -- the third 
occurring on or about March 28, 2013 -- and the fourth occurring on or 
about May 27, 2013, all due to the malignant conditions and housing that 
us prisoners are placed in.

In Menard Correctional Center Segregational Unit 90% (percent) of the 
cells are double-man celled, and more than half of those cells are 
encased behind iron doors. (Note: many of the prisoners back here in the 
segregational unit are suffering from periodically being beaten, maced 
and abused at the hands of racist guards and ranking officials whim.) 
The measurements of the cells in this segregational unit are, from door 
to toilet (in the back of cell) is approximately 8 ft. 6 in. -- from the 
wall to the edge of the bunk is 1 ft. 10.5 in. -- the accessible floor 
space in this area for (2) two prisoners is only about a total of 13.5 
square feet, from the cell entrance to the beginning of the bunk the 
measurement is or about 1 ft. 4 in. by 1 ft. 10.5 in. a total of about 
2.8 square feet of non-accessible floor space.

Prisoners at Menard Correctional Center Segregational Unit are being 
forced to share a cell that the administration well knows are too small 
to house (2) two people, for these cells are all actually one man cells. 
Plus the fact, that many of us prisoners are sharing a cell with 
prisoners that's on some type of psychotic medication and mood altering 
drugs, leaving some of us prisoners in a very dangerous and unsafe 
environment/situation. Now us prisoners must play psychologist with the 
institution mental and emotional disordered prisoners that we are forced 
to be housed with an more tan often this condition leads to violent and 
physical altercations between the two. (Note: (3) three of the deaths 
which occurred since January was because of cell mate--on--cell mate 
physical altercations which lead to one cellmate killing the other or 
one cellmate causing so severe bodily harm which lead to the other 
cellmate dying once returned from the outside hospital.

This institution's (Menard C.C.) arbitrary policies are systematically 
denying myself and other prisoners that are housed in the North 2 
segregational unit out of cell exercise  (1 hour a day out of cell 
exercise to segregational/solitary confined prisoners or at least 5 hour 
a week minimum per state and federal law; see -- Fogle v. Pierson, 435 
7.3d 1252, 1259-60, Federal court ruling which entitles that all 
segregational/solitary prisoners be given at least 5 hour a week -- or 1 
hour a day out of cell exercise.) The Illinois Constitution Art.II 
states in pertinent part, "in the Department of Correction (IDOC) must 
provide a healthy environment for the residents of its prisoners." 
Though this institution clearly violates all state and federal laws. 
This facility (Menard C.C) not only does not provide us with the 
adequate out of cell exercise, it also denies us prisoners our adequate 
showers and barber to groom ourselves in the absence of this institution 
not allowing us prisoners in segregation to possess our personal trimmers.

This institution (Menard C.C.) is in blatant violation of our eighth 
amendment constitutional rights not only amounts to cruel and unusual 
punishment, but it lacks the legitimate penological interest necessary 
to impose it.

In the case of Lightfoot v. Walker 486 7. Supp 528; The Illinois 
Department of Correction had a former medical Director of the IDOC, by 
the name of Dr. Ron Shansky, who testified that depriving prisoners of 
the minimum civilized measures of out of cell exercise and showers that 
is necessary to maintain a person's physical as well as mental health; 
(especially those of us whose conditions are such that we are already 
confined to our cells 24 hours a day.) Dr. Shansky's testimony being the 
local point of a successful civil suit brought by prisoners at both 
maximum security prisons -- Stateville and Menard C.C., plainly served 
to give actual knowledge of an excessive risk to prisoners exhibiting 
the adverse psychological effects or deterioration of the cardiovascular 
system, hardened arteries, atrophying muscles, and musculo skeletal 
problems. Dr. Shansky specifically warned Menard Corrections what would 
eventually occur if these conditions continue and many of us prisoners 
are already exposed to these conditions both psychologically and physically.

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