The madness within the madhouse

Griffith, Douglas L., Jr.



“The Madness Within The Mad House” Little did I suspect or know that one day I would be part of the madness within the mad house. So, what am I referring to? I am referring to jails and prisons which house the mentally afflicted who committed violent crimes. The madness within is the poor, inhumane treatment I experienced in Sacramento County Jail psychiatric ward, Folsom State Prison Psychiatric Ward, Mule Creek State Prison Psychiatric Wards, California Medical Facility Prison Ward, PBSP, Salinas Valley State Prison Ward. The Mad House represents prisons. You see, I believe the solution to treat me, mentally afflicted who committed crimes, is to dump me in a deprived environment and drug me, and supply a very poor, ineffective group therapy called Enhanced Out Patient (EOP). I say I believe and it is more than a belief; I experience it. The solution began on December 30th, 1994, the date of my crimes. Yes, almost 25 years ago. A lot has changed since then but the treatment of the mentally ill continues to be ineffective and inhumane due to the lack of adequate facilities, and treatment. The facilities were not designed to meet my needs. In fact, they aggravated my condition because of the isolation I found myself experiencing. To make things worst my crimes are considered heinous and put me at risk for violence from fellow prisoners. This is the madness within. It is madness within because those who don’t like rules (prisoners) love to make rules. In addition they love to judge when they don’t like judges. Oh wow! What madness. I have managed to avoid gangs, but at the price of my mental health. This is also part of the madness within because by operating alone, I face the pain of being alone though surrounded by people. My journey of the madness within the mad house began in Sacramento County Jail. I can see myself cast down on the floor, surrounded by other prisoners. As I look back, I now know I was simply depressed, fearful, suicidal, emotionally detached, angry, in denial, hopeless, powerless, confused. In short, I was a lost soul. The very same night of my arrest I was placed in the jail’s psychiatric ward. This should have been enough to signal that there was something wrong with me, but not so. There was no desire on the part of prosecutors to recognize such afflictions as I was diagnosed with. Doctors simply began drugging me with anti-psychotic and anti-depressants. The madness within started it solution. The mad house would house me for three and a half years… The duration of my two trials to find me guilt of rape, murder, attempted involuntary manslaughter, use of a fire arm. Please understand, I am making no excuses because ultimately I must own up to good and bad decisions I have made. All I ask is a fair consideration that I simply failed in my decision making process due to difficulties with my psychiatric condition. I am aware that I was advised by a doctor to see a psychiatrist; however, I was in denial as I said to myself, “I am not crazy, you are the ones crazy!” Such denial was part of my condition and it went unrecognized until about 2013 when I started journaling. This awareness resulted from self effort guided by the word of God, not treatment because from 1994 to 1998 I was in psych isolation and two man small cells. And isolation took its toll because I did not have meaning or purpose back then. Worst, there was no one to talk to who cared; I mean, who really cared or whose love for people was evident. So, I suffered. I experienced madness (disconnection from reality. Since I had no one, my heart and mind made up a world to cope with the isolation and depravation). I was simply locked in a cell 24 hours a day and drugged. Wow, what a treatment… what a solution. I went mad and to deal with it doctors, my society locks me up and drug me in hope that I become better. Is this humane treatment? Who invented this solution. Whoever did is mad; whoever did created the madness within TMH (Sacramento County Jail) (SCJ). There is difference of approach in how to treat the mentally afflicted, and this disagreement impacts patients negatively because there is not a curriculum to help patients from start of treatment to maximum benefit possible. My experience was 21 to 24 years ago; I suspect not much has changed because the SCJ facility has not changed in design. Design plays a major factor in mental illness because being restricted in a small area is simply not healthy. To make things worst, I was mistreated (put in a torture chair {restraints}) because of disciplinary purpose when the real reason for my disciplinary problems was my mental illness. I sustained injury to my left wrist in the chair after one cell extraction; I sustained a chipped tooth and swelling to my forehead in another cell extraction. A cell extraction is a procedure the SCJ used to dress in riot gear to remove a prisoner/patient from a cell. Twenty four years ago there was no education about mental illness in SCJ, so I went through the jail in ignorance about what was afflicting me; it is no wonder I refused to accept there was something wrong with me. This mentality followed me into my next prison. The madness within the mad house continued with my assignment to Folsom State Prison (FSP). This time I decided to stop taking the medications (drugs). You cannot imagine the mental distress I began to experience. I felt I was losing my mind, I was restless, I could not even concentrate or read. I simply struggled with whatever negative thoughts flooded my consciousness. In addition, a cell companion smoked. Ok wow, I could not breathe. I moved a couple of times and then I made a resolution to exercise myself to health. I started doing burpees (push up, knee up). I could not do 10 when I started. However, I continued. One day, my cell companion informed me that they wanted to stab me, so I told the Correctional Officers and they moved me from B-Facility to C-Facility. I continued to exercise while I applied for a clerk job. I got the job and my mind began to improve. I then began to listen to my radio while reading law. Also, I began to experience pressure at the office. Little did I know that I was pushing myself into too much stress. Back then I did not understand the need for me to rest or that a quiet environment was the optimal environment for study. So I pushed myself at FSP C-Facility into a mental breakdown. Again, the solution… A cage and offer of drugs. I refused it by throwing the pill from my cage. The solution, put me in a cell to deal with myself; the outcome - madness. I just realized that “The Madness Within The Mad House” can also be viewed as me being mad in prison. Yes, the madness within - losing my mind, and the mad house - prison. There it is… environment contributing to madness, and self… thoughts contributing to madness. Once I was restored to health to a certain extent I now had to deal with the twisted reality of prison. You see, I became known by God in county jail for the first time. I had experienced joy, freedom, and temporarily forgot about my past or troubles. But in prison the fear of God I had received in county jail reversed. I now developed the fear of man due to the politics of retaliation against people with crimes like mine. I was ignorant and lacked good judgment which led me to go to the main-line (politically, racially driven yard) versus seeking a yard for protection (Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY)). By the way, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) recently dismantled SNY and instituted Non-Designated Programming Yard (NDPY), also known as integration. These prisons mix prisoners regardless of safety concerns… It’s a dangerous experiment. The mad house (FSP) took a twist when I joined a cell companion who played his radio day and night, whether he was in the cell or not. I lived with these conditions for two years. I coped by reading self-help books. I did not understand back then that that was my coping mechanism, and when my supervisor got notice for the second time that I was going to be moved to another prison, I was happy because it meant leaving this radio playing in the cell when I tried to read. The next experience of the madness within the mad house were a series of trips from Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) and California Medical Facility (CMF) Prison. My arrival to MCSP was a joyful one; however, I quickly fell apart in 2003 because I faced a different environment and knew no one neither did I continue with exercise. So, I fell apart mentally because I had no spiritual connection with Jesus. I used to believe in Jesus, read the Bible, but I had no relationship with Him. I fell apart, was placed in a Correctional Treatment Facility (CTC). Again, the solution… lock me up in a deprived, isolated cell where there was nothing but a weekly interview, 24 hours locked in a cell, except for a shower three times a week. When CTC could not stabilize me I was move to CMF for treatment to be returned to MCSP. I have lost count how many times this occurred, at least three times. This put me at 2006. From 5/2008 to 1/2009, I was at CMF and it was the same basic kind of inhumane treatment… From cell to cages for group therapy or from cell to dayroom (a room with chairs and a TV). Oh wow! What a solution… TV, the babysitter. Groups which were superficial because I could not discuss what was really ailing me, so it went brewing. I returned to MCSP. 1/2009 and by 10/2009 I found myself walking behind a sergeant because a thought directed me to do it. He turned around, asked for my ID, and placed me in a cage in the Program Office. I was sent to the Observation Housing Unit (OHU). I was then moved to Administrative-Segregation (Ad-Seg) due to indecent exposure. Again, the solution… Lock me up and drug me, not kind, loving treatment to tackle the source of the problems. By 2010 I had committed another indecent exposure. This in addition to two batteries on staff in CTC in the same month 11/2009. This qualified me the punishment of Psychiatric Security Housing (PSU). A form of isolation with group therapy and drug therapy. This treatment will take place at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). At PBSP, the worst prison in California, I was not with the main-line population but rather in PSU for treatment & punishment. What treatment? Twenty hour lockdown, cage group, and isolation. I lost it; I was sent to CMF; I could not deal with the noise at CMF or the treatment because when I had banged at the food port; they pulled me out, drugged me while handcuffed, and placed me in the cell again. Yes, they drugged me in retaliation for banging. You see, I had stopped, so there should have been no reason to extract me. I asked to be returned to PBSP and they did. I spent one year at PBSP, from 2011 to 2012. During this period of time, I began to question everything I had learned, so I now believe this is why I became unstable, yet I began the true journey of self discovery… of awareness of self… from Jesus is my thoughts. I am a walking miracle in many respects because no drug could have restored my sanity in the mad houses. I credit Jesus, the word of God and my prayers to bless the drugs that God’s power transform them into nutrients which do no harm. By crediting Jesus’ intervention during my stay at the mad houses, I glorify God, and look for the positive like studying His word in a very deprived, evil, twisted environment. Does the public know about this inhumane treatment of the mentally ill? I am an example of how the mentally ill have suffered during the period of time and policy of criminalizing the deed of the mentally ill. Let me know what you think. But before you do, visit a mental health clinic/hospital like Atascadero State Hospital (ASH). This hospital is an exception to the mad houses I have lived in. My last trip to a hospital was ASH; it changed my life. I was there from 6/2018 to 4/2019, and I need to go back to 2013 before I conclude. Two thousand thirteen was the period of time I spent at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) Department of State Hospitals. Oh wow! Fancy name for labeling a high security prison which was used to administer mental illness treatment. What a solution… Again, yes, again the solution this time is to group the mentally ill, regardless of affliction, into a yard, again a poor solution. A simple bandaid to deal with a growing problem… the mentally afflicted criminal. During my stay, I was as anxious that when I awoke I could not sit or lay on my bunk; I had to pace in my cell. The solution, I realized was that if I did not discipline myself, I would never be able to survive, so I started a practice of memorizing Bible scripture and forcing myself to close my eyes as I sat on my bunk to recite/meditate on the scriptures. Five minutes, ten minutes, half-an hour. I made progress until I complained to the Dr, who advised me to take a break. Oh boy, it got worst. So, I am now back to recitation/meditation since June 2018. I now experience better days. I have presented “The Madness Within The Mad House.” It has been nothing but suffering after suffering, but since June 2018, I have gained an insight into my creator who has helped me to recognize His love for me, not my love because I simply did not know how to (1 John 4:10-11). I have also gained insight into reasons for my criminal acts, and why I lost control. It is a complicated issue; nevertheless, I had accepted guilt. Now that I am in Christ I am no longer guilty because of forgiveness. I am very, very remorseful and empathetic toward my victims and society and I am preparing myself to accept the decision of the Board of Parole Hearing (BPH) concerning my upcoming Parole hearing in 2021, whether I am recommended for release or not I will continue to self-rehabilitate. On that note I recognize that I am, with Jesus’ help, the one who must change the madness within the mad house. In other words, don’t allow myself or the environment to rule my life. Douglas L. Griffith, Jr; 10/7/2019 through 10/8/2019 Mule Creek State Prison; Bldg 6: 110L P.O. Box 409040 Ione, CA 95640

Author: Griffith, Douglas L., Jr.

Author Location: California

Date: November 4, 2019

Genre: Essay

Extent: 8 pages

If this is your essay and you would like it removed from or changed on this site, refer to our Takedown and Changes policy.

Takedown and Changes Policy
Browse More Essays