Still in illegal limbo

Ramu, Changa Asa

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Still In Illegal Limbo I have been in solitary confinement on the D.O.C's restricted release list (RRL) for twelve (12) uninterrupted years. I never received a notice, hearing, or written reason why I been designated on this "list". It been assumed a prior assault on a correctional officer is the reason for this designation. I have made numerous of attempts to legally challenge the conditions of my confinement, and its psychological damage. The arbitrary and capricious nature of these conditions, without due process, resulting in carceration under conditions that constitute significant and atypical hardship. The D.O.C is aware of but are indifferent to the serious consequences of long term solitary confinement. The serious detrimental psychological effects of long term solitary confinement are well recognized. Prisoners held in solitary confinement on the RRL experience rage, withdrawal, insomia, and aggression, depression, hallucinations, and thoughts of suicide, as the cumulative result of long term solitary confine ment. The discretion and procedures for being taking off the RRL are vague and overboard, and are applied in a perfunctory manner, violating prisoners due process rights under the fourteenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Prisoners can comply with a descriptive program plan, have no misconduct reports, and still not be recommended for release off the RRL. They are arbitrarily deny without being given written reason, or opportunity to defend themselves. This exactly what happen to me for the last two years. Inspite of my activity with the school department, through participation in the G.E.D course, work with the group counselor doing anger management, alcohol and other drug programming, and accumulation of positive adjustment reports. Sci-Smithfield have not supported, or recommended my release off the RRL. It make one speculate the intent of this policy procedures, which is still another formality and pretext for indefinite solitary confinement. It cause one to think how pass administrators recommened my release, (which Secretary Jeffrey Beard ultimately denied), yet these present administrators at Sci-Smithfield consistently decline to support or recommend me for release. In civil litigation Secretary Beard's response to the plaintiff's interrogatories stated: "Placement on the RRL is essentially based on staff recommendations with central office approval". My declaration in that litigation directly contradicted Secretary Beard statement, and it's no suprize I havn't received another recommendation since. It raise questions of retaliation and violation of my first amendment rights. Additionally, the Department of Corrections' code of ethics, section B-1 Specific Rules and Regulations, states: "Each employee in the correctional system is expected to subscribe to the principle that something positive can be done for each inmate". My twelve (12) years on the RRL suggest nothing positive can be done for me. The D.O.C's decision to continue my placement on the RRL is contradictory to it's own code of ethics principle. I am not incorrigible or incapable of being rehabilitated from prior assaultive behavior. My work with the school department and group counselor are just steps in a positive direction, which I would continue in general population if given the opportunity. Physical contact in group activity, especially visitation with close family is conducive to rehabilitation, emotional, and mental health. It's a basic human need essential to one's mental health, and the maintenance of close family relationship. These state sanctioned violations of constitutional rights, are attacks on my own humanity and dignity as a man. The stripping of all constitutional protection, has reduce me to the status of the so-called enemy combatant held at Guantanamo Bay. Although the courts have not close it's doors on me, the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions on solitary confinement practice has given prison officials the authorization to hold prisoners indefinitely in these hell holes. The similarity between Guantanamo's detainees and RRL prisoners are the absence of concrete evidence that they pose a security threat, and the rendering of arbitrary and capricious decisions with lack of oversight, or consideration for the humanity being lock away in these dungeons. It's obvious that prisoners on the RRL pose no threat of mass murder and destruction. How is it deem constitutional to treat us as such, condemning us to indefinite isolation, sensory deprivation, and mental torture. The prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement have serious psychological and emotional effects, hinder rehabilitation and family ties. While I have access to the phone, mail, and non-contact visitation, there are no replacement for natural physical contact, being embrace by the loving arms of family and love ones. The D.O.C's decision to continue my placement on the RRL under the pretext of a security threat, is base on pure speculation, exaggerate fear, and retaliatory in nature. There is many of prisoners with worse prison records, who is not designated on the RRL. This decision indicate that the D.O.C have no intention to uphold the principle, "that something positive can be done for each inmate". Rather the D.O.C choose to hold me and other similar situated prisoners in illegal limbo, without a clue what our future hold.

Author: Ramu, Changa Asa

Author Location: Pennsylvania

Date: October 10, 2013

Genre: Essay

Extent: 3 pages

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