[Ppnews] California Prison Conditions Driving Prisoners to Suicide
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Mar 15 11:05:40 EDT 2013
California Prison Conditions Driving Prisoners to Suicide
March 15, 2013 By Sal Rodriguez <http://solitarywatch.com/author/sal2329/>
A court-appointed consultant, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Raymond
Patterson, has reported
that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)
has failed to effectively combat the large and escalating problem of
suicides in the California prison system. According to reporting by
KPCC, Patterson despondently asserted that his making any
additional recommendations would be "a further waste of time and
effort," as recommendations over many years have gone unheeded.
The report comes as U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton is preparing a
decision on whether or not California's mental, mental health, and
dental care must continue to be monitored by federal courts. In August
2012, then-CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate issued a plan to end federal
oversight of California prison health care. "My goal is to end federal
court oversight of medical, mental health and dental care by next year,"
Though Cate resigned in October, his enthusiasm for lifting federal
court oversight has been championed
by California Governor Jerry Brown. Brown has argued that California has
made significant leaps in improving prison health care and addressing
According to reporting by the /Los Angeles Times/, the March 13 report
by Patterson and give other experts reviewed 15 of 32 suicides in 2012.
The report notes that prisoners housed in segregation units,
Administrative Segregation Units and Security Housing Units, have a 33
times higher chance of suicide. According to Amnesty International
between 2006 and 2010, there was an average of 34 suicides in the
California prison system a year, with 42 percent occurring in
According to the /LA Times/ reporting
"13 of the 15 deaths showed some form of inadequate assessment,
treatment or intervention." Three of the 15 prisoners had already
undergone rigor mortis, meaning hours had gone by from the time of their
death to the time they were found. Further, the California prison
suicide rate of nearly 24 per 100,000 exceeds the national state prison
average of 16 per 100,000.
The report comes weeks after news
that the state of California had "suppressed a report from its own
consultant warning that California's prison suicide-watch practices
encouraged inmate deaths." In 2011, suicide prevention expert Lindsay
Hayes found that the conditions of California's suicide watch units
contributed to suicides. The units, described by the LA Times as "dim,
dirty, airless cells with unsanitized mattresses on the floor," were
inadequately operated. In reviewing 25 suicides, Hayes found that seven
prisoners killed themselves within hours of release from suicide watch.
Calling the suicide watch practices "anti-therapeutic," he found that in
17 of the suicides there were notable lapses in care, including
infrequent checking in on prisoners and failure to conduct CPR.
Solitary Watch is aware of and has reported on five suicides in the
California prison systems segregation units.
On September 16th, 2011, Johnny Owen Vick
committed suicide in the Pelican Bay State Prison Administrative
Segregation Unit. Vick's family has told Solitary Watch that he had long
had mental health problems, and had been incarcerated for over twenty years.
Four days later, Armando Cruz
28, committed suicide at California State Prison, Sacramento's
Psychiatric Services Unit. Cruz, incarcerated as a 17 year old, had
entered the prison system with a diagnosis of schizophrenia following an
attack on a police officer. Over the course of a decade, he would spend
years in solitary confinement largely following disruptive incidents
seemingly instigated by his heavily documented mental health problems.
On October 24th, 2011, Alex Machado
committed suicide in Pelican Bay State Prison's Administrative
Segregation Unit. Validated as a gang associate in 2010, he was
transferred to Pelican Bay. The man who was once known for his
intelligence and helping other prisoners file legal documents gradually
deteriorated in isolation. Hearing voices and perceiving visual
hallucinations at times, he attempted suicide in June 2011.
Nevertheless, he remained in isolation until the day of his death.
Fellow prisoners on his cell told California Prison Focus that Machado
had been screaming for help on the day of his death.
In November 2011, the San Francisco Bay View reported
Calipatria State Prison Administrative Segregation Unit prisoner Hozel
Blanchard had been found dead in his cell. Blanchard, who had
participated in the widespread hunger strikes protesting against
long-term solitary confinement and demanding a litany of reforms, had
reportedly feared for his life before his death.
In August 2012, Corcoran State Prison SHU prisoner Armando Morales
was found hanging in his cell. A Watts, California native, Morales had
been incarcerated since he was a teenager. He had spent at least six
years in the SHU.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews