[Pnews] Let’s talk about torture - What would compel a man to try to cut his own face off?
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 30 15:39:08 EST 2015
What would compel a man to try to cut his own face off?
January 30, 2015
*/by Kevin ‘Rashid’/**/Johnson/*
I recently witnessed a man try to cut his own face off. For me this
wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but as it played out, I imagined
the reactions and questions that might arise in the mind of someone in
society if they’d observed the same.
They would probably wonder in shock, “What sort of conditions could be
so unbearable that they’d drive a person to suffer cutting through the
skin, nerves, muscles and arteries of his own face, at the risk of
permanent disfigurement, disability or even death?”
I, of course, knew the answer: torture. More specifically, the torture
by official design of living in one of the many solitary confinement
units in Amerika’s vast prison system, which is why seeing this sort of
thing isn’t uncommon for me – I’ve lived in solitary for nearly two decades.
And, yes, Amerika inflicts such extreme torture on prisoners that they
routinely commit such acts as could never be expected of a sane and
stable mind. And this is the point: Solitary confinement drives people
*Let**’s talk about torture*
There are two types of torture: the physical and the psychological.
Mental health and torture experts unanimously agree that psychological
torture is the worst and most damaging of the two.
We all recognize that pain alerts and protects us against injury and
possible death. Aversion to pain is therefore an instinct wired into
most healthy living things. Torturers deliberately render one powerless
to avert pain, which is what makes torture an effective method of
crushing a person’s will and driving them to shameless desperation.
Pushed hard enough and it will also drive one insane, which is why
psychological torture is the worst sort.
Sensory deprivation – or cutting one off from the sensory stimulation of
normal social environments – is the worst type of psychological torture.
Experts also agree on this. It’s like isolating a wildflower and
starving it of natural sunlight. It will become feeble, wither and die.
Amerika inflicts such extreme torture on prisoners that they
routinely commit such acts as could never be expected of a sane
and stable mind. And this is the point: Solitary confinement
drives people into insanity.
Sensory deprivation is the exact form of torture inflicted by design and
without relief in the multitudes of U.S. solitary confinement units.
Even the United Nations has denounced the practice.
So, one can imagine that these units are places of the greatest
tragedies. And life in them is never uneventful. Like witnessing a man
try to cut his face off and prison officials’ indifference to such
tragedies. Here’s what happened.
*Todd Hines strikes (himself) again*
On Oct. 20, 2014, I observed two guards here at Clements Unit prison in
Amarillo, Texas, move a white prisoner into the cell across from me
(cell H231). A few minutes after the new occupant moved in, he got my
attention and asked if I had an extra used razor he could have to shave
with. I did not. “How about a shot of coffee?” he asked. I did, so I
sent him some. He thanked me and we both retreated to the backs of our
cells in our own worlds. We never exchanged names.
After a bit of writing, I nodded off to sleep. I was awakened some time
later by the explosive echoes of someone nearby repeatedly kicking his
cell door. Each kick sounds off and reverberates like a gun blast inside
an echo chamber.
Kicking cell doors is a common occurrence in solitary, most often done
by one or more prisoners in protest against some guard abuse, or in an
attempt to get them to respond to a serious situation. So I got up to
see what the matter was and lend my support to the prisoner, if necessary.
Upon reaching my cell door, I immediately observed it was the new
occupant of H231 kicking, that his face was covered with blood and blood
was streaming down his torso like a scene from a slasher movie.
His face was covered with blood and blood was streaming down his
torso like a scene from a slasher movie.
Several prisoners, also seeing him, began yelling to the guard working
the pod, Jesus Cruz, that the man in H231 was bleeding badly and to come
check on him and call medical staff. Cruz replied, “I don’t give a fuck!
Fuck him!” The din got louder as I and others joined in the demand to
get attention to the situation.
Cruz replied, “I don’t give a fuck! Fuck him!”
After several minutes of our yelling and banging wearing at him, Cruz
finally got up from the desk, however not to go to cell H231, but
instead to stage making a security round in the pod. Guards are required
to make security rounds at least hourly, walking around the pod looking
into each cell to ensure the prisoners’ safety. However, rounds are
typically made several hours apart if at all by the guards, who would
rather sit at their desk nodding off, reading magazines stolen from
prisoners or talking on the telephone.
Cruz began his round downstairs at cell H101. Cell H231 is upstairs at
the very opposite end of the pod. Walking with exaggerated slowness,
Cruz completed the downstairs round, being cursed by a number of
outraged prisoners as he passed their cells. He then slowly climbed the
stairs to stage a round on the top tier, again beginning at the opposite
end from H231.
When finally he made it to the bleeding man’s cell, Cruz peered in and
asked nonchalantly, “What’s the problem?” The blood-covered occupant was
sitting silently on his bed leaning forward with blood running onto the
floor from his face. Cruz stood looking at him for a moment then ordered
him to, “Kick the razor blade under the cell door,” which he did, then
returned to sit on the bed.
When finally he made it to the bleeding man’s cell, Cruz peered in
and asked nonchalantly, “What’s the problem?”
Cruz at that point took out his portable canister of OC gas, opened the
hatch on the cell door and emptied the can of gas into the cell spraying
the cell floor, bed and occupant at length. When the canister was
completely empty, he closed the slot and called over his walkie talkie,
again nonplussed that a prisoner had cut himself and a supervisor and
medical staff needed to report to the pod.
Gradually, other guards trickled in. Among the first was Desmond Finney,
a guard well known for his loud mouth and going out of his way to
impress his colleagues with bragging compulsively and assaulting
prisoners upon the slightest pretext, typically when they are in
handcuffs or locked inside a cell.
Upon reaching and peering into cell H231, Finney let loose a litany of
curses and insults directed at the prisoner. “What type of dumb
motherfucker tries to cut his face off?” he bellowed. “You stupid
asshole, you shoulda cut your throat!” Other guards also came to the
cell and joined in the insults. A few were visibly shaken.
In came a lieutenant, Narciso Sanchez, and two sergeants, Candace
Martinez and Dustin Anderson – Sanchez and Anderson also joined in the
insults and name calling, and threatened to gas the bleeding prisoner
from a large canister, “just for being stupid!” – and finally a nurse
and portable audio-video camera. When the camera was activated, the
verbal abuses abruptly stopped and all the guards instantly put on
“professional” airs and gas masks for their own protection against the
large amount of Cruz’s OC gas that was now circulating outside the cell
and throughout the pod contaminating everyone.
When the camera was activated, the verbal abuses abruptly stopped
and all the guards instantly put on “professional” airs.
Finney, ever eager to play HNIC, positioned himself to be the one to
order the bleeding prisoner around, beginning with compelling him to
perform a lengthy strip search, as he bled profusely from the face.
Finney ordered him first to hand out his bloody boxers, then open his
mouth, move his tongue around, run his index finger between his lips and
gums, permit view into his nostrils, manipulate his genitals, show the
bottom of each foot and wiggle his toes, bend at the waist and spread
his buttocks; he was then given back his boxers to put on. He was warned
if he’d faltered, the entire search process would be repeated until he
got it right, his medical state notwithstanding.
He was warned if he’d faltered, the entire search process would be
repeated until he got it right, his medical state notwithstanding.
The search completed, he was ordered to put his hands out the slot
backwards to be handcuffed. He was then made to kneel and, when the cell
door was opened, ordered to crawl out backwards on his knees. Shackles
were placed on his ankles and he was made to stand. There were large
pools of blood all over the cell floor and more gathering where he
kneeled and stood outside the cell.
He was ordered to put his hands out the slot backwards to be
handcuffed. He was then made to kneel and, when the cell door was
opened, ordered to crawl out backwards on his knees. Shackles were
placed on his ankles and he was made to stand.
The nurse came over to examine his face, wiping blood away to see the
cuts. Long, deep gashes ran down both sides of his face and across his
forehead, with one or both temple arteries possibly cut. He was made to
walk out of the pod.
Long, deep gashes ran down both sides of his face and across his
forehead, with one or both temple arteries possibly cut. He was
made to walk out of the pod.
The incident began at 2:40 p.m. and took until 2:53 p.m. for Cruz to
reach his cell. It wasn’t until 3:12 p.m. that he was finally brought
out. Obviously, all involved staff were content to see him bleed to
death. Their concern, as noted, extended only to insults and
indifference. All else was just a perfunctory performance and with
deliberate malicious slowness.
The next day Finney worked the pod and marveled loudly to anyone who’d
listen that the prisoner required 95 stitches to his face.
The incident began at 2:40 p.m. and took until 2:53 p.m. for Cruz
to reach his cell. It wasn’t until 3:12 p.m. that he was finally
brought out. Obviously, all involved staff were content to see him
bleed to death.
As disturbing as the overall situation was per se, it was no less
disturbing to discover /who/ the prisoner was. His name was Todd Hines,
No. 588382. The very same Todd Hines I’d just written an article about
who’d attempted suicide by cutting his throat and temples on Sept. 4,
2014, and guards and a nurse deliberately tried to allow to bleed out.
Although the Oct. 20th incident had a distinct feel of déja vu, I didn’t
recognize Todd initially because, ironically, the last and only time I’d
seen and taken notice of him before then was on Sept. 4 when his face
was also covered with blood.
Apparently, when he was moved into H231, he’d just returned to Clements
Unit from a temporary transfer to a mental health prison which routinely
follow serious suicide attempts. So he was brought right back to
solitary and interestingly placed in the cell directly in front of me.
And only a few hours back at the unit he’d cut himself up again.
*A land of laws?*
As my prior article noted, Todd is a mentally ill prisoner who by law
has no business in administrative segregation, like over half the
prisoners housed in this prison’s segregation unit, which for every
responsible official is a criminal act. Texas federal courts long ago
recognized and condemned the Texas prison system, holding that
“administrative segregation is being utilized unconstitutionally to
house mentally ill inmates whose illness can only be exacerbated by the
depravity of their confinement,” according to Ruiz v. Estelle, 37 F.
Supp. 2d 855, 915 (S.D. Tex 1999). The violation of any person’s
constitutional civil rights is a federal crime. See 18 United States
Code, Section 242.
Worse still, the federal courts recognized that Texas’ segregation units
inflict psychological pain that causes both the mentally ill and the
mentally healthy psychological damage. The court stated in Ruiz v.
Estelle, “Texas’ administrative segregation units are virtual incubators
of psychoses – seeding illness in otherwise healthy inmates and
exacerbating illness in those already suffering from mental infirmities.”
What does such brazen official lawlessness say of a country that
promotes itself as being a land governed by the rule of law and an
example of democratic freedoms to be emulated by the world, that
imprisons and criminalizes more people than any other country in the
world – past and present, and furthermore proclaims itself the rightful
overseer and policeman of the world?
What does such brazen official lawlessness say of a country that
promotes itself as being a land governed by the rule of law and an
example of democratic freedoms?
The answer is: it is a country ruled by hypocrites, liars and dictators
– indeed by fascists no less heinous than those it is so good at
self-righteously vilifying. Only such people could subject their own
subjects and anyone else to such tortuous conditions as would lead a man
to try and cut his own face off.
Only such people could subject their own subjects and anyone else
to such tortuous conditions as would lead a man to try and cut his
own face off.
Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!
/Rashid Johnson, a prisoner in Virginia who was transferred to Oregon in
2012 and to Texas in 2013, has been held in segregation since 1993.
While in prison, he founded the New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison
Chapter. As a writer, Rashid has been compared to George Jackson, and he
is also the artist who drew the image that became the icon of the
California hunger strikes. His book, “//Defying the Tomb/
with a foreword by Russell “Maroon” Shoats and afterword by Sundiata
Acoli, can be ordered at //leftwingbooks.net/
writing to Kersplebedeb, CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne, Montreal, Quebec,
Canada H3W 3H8, or by emailing //info at kersplebedeb.com/
<mailto:info at kersplebedeb.com>/. His writing and art is at
//rashidmod.com/ <http://rashidmod.com/>/. Send our brother some love
and light: //Kevin Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591,
Amarillo, TX 79107. /
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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