[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
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.
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