[Pnews] Let’s talk about torture - What would compel a man to try to cut his own face off?

Prisoner News 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?
    <http://sfbayview.com/2015/01/what-would-compel-a-man-to-try-to-cut-his-own-face-off/>

January 30, 2015
*http://sfbayview.com/2015/01/what-would-compel-a-man-to-try-to-cut-his-own-face-off/*

*/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 
into insanity.


      *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 
<http://sfbayview.com/2014/11/prison-assisted-suicide-the-texas-way/>, 
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/ 
<https://secure.leftwingbooks.net/index.php?l=product_detail&p=653>/,” 
with a foreword by Russell “Maroon” Shoats and afterword by Sundiata 
Acoli, can be ordered at //leftwingbooks.net/ 
<https://secure.leftwingbooks.net/index.php?l=product_detail&p=893>/, by 
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 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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