Today brings relief from the pressure of being incarcerated in a maximum facility. The ACLU filed a classaction lawsuit in Federal Court in 2012 claiming that the medical, mental health and dental care in ADC's state-run prisons and the conditions in the maximum security units are unconstitutional. Arizona Corrections and the lawyers reached a settlement. To fix the egregious health care and living conditions. I am a member of this class. I have been housed in Arizona SMU-1 maximum security unit on and off for nine years. I have watched the unfortunate deplorable conditions of both mentally ill inmates and the unit itself. SMU-1 has become the dumping grounds for the mentally ill. Faith, Family and communication helps one keep his sanity. Private prisons are popping up all over Arizona, even though crime in AZ has dropped. It has become a place where the rich exploit Americas poor. The minuscule amount of education in this maximum facility is barely enough to satisfy a curiosity. There are no religious activities offered here at SMU-1. Administration has to much power in determining how long inmates stay in isolation.
I have watched officers use excessive force and abuse mentally ill prisoners. Mentally ill prisoners flood the prison runs with toilet water, urine and feces. Scream, yell and bang on steel doors in a desperate attempt to get the attention of mental health personel. I have experienced the dismal emotions that come with a human being taking his own life. I have witnessed prioners with serious health conditions wait six months to see a health care provider only to return with asprin. A few weeks later they end up in an outside hospital or dead in a cell. Verminous insects and rats plague this unit. The way the law libary is set up in here keeps prisoners uninformed and uneducated. We cannot check any legal resource material out of the libary. In turn the majority of inmates do not know their basic human rights.
I found that faith, family and communication has spared me from insanity. Having something to believe in, something to have faith in has kept my spirit from being broken. My family is pivotal to my successful service of my prison sentence and re-entry into society. The mounting pressure of incarceration maximum security lockdown for years away from family and friends, the visual wretchedness in this place can take a toll mentally on any individual. The frequent visits from my beloved mother, the letters, cards and pictures help curb the built up tension. I look at my mother and I see courage and determination. My momma is my inspiration for a better life and a better future. Her words of encourgement and wisdom create a strong bond between mother and son. They keep me looking forward to tomorrow. I believe communication is key to the survival of incarcerated beings. It has helped me through some trying times. To be able to hold a conversation, laugh and smile with another person helps alleviate the pressures. Some would argue; "prison is supposed to be punishment." 95% of inmates in the United States will be released from prisons and jails. To take that population and torture them physically and mentally and just release them into society with no map or compass for a successful re-entry is opaque in so many ways. Social intercourse and laughter is food for the soul.
The settlement in the class action lawsuit Parsons v. Ryan says inmates here at the Florence maximum unit will be allowed out of cell time, jobs, more food and better health care. It is a huge accomplishment in protecting human rights but a small step in correcting corrections. Prison officals see prisons, prisoners and prisoners families as an easy and quick way to make millions. The vending machines in visitation are outrageously priced for food and beverage items. ADC charges a $25.00 fee for a application to visit, $12.00 fee everytime family or friends debit money into an account for our phone calls, $5.00 each 15 min. phone call, $5.00 minimum fee plus surchges to refund our families money from the phone account upon release. The price hike up on the prison commissary is ridiculous. There is a $6.95 fee for family and friends to put 20 bucks on our account. The ban on money orders which were virtually free forces our families to pay the price gougers. All the private companies signing contracts with ADC offer up fat kickbacks to ADC on a systemic level. I believe some strong family policies should be implemented into our penal systems. At this point and time there is none. Unprivatization of the prison system will curb greedy corporations from digging into our families pockets at an unfair rate for doing the very thing research suggests will lower crime in America and the recidivism rate. i.e. staying in touch with family and friends. The Department of education says, "prisoners have the lowest academic skill level and highest disability and illiteracy rates of any segment of our society." I believe the system is geared toward keeping things this way. Docile and uneducated masses of people are easy to control and the account of recidivism is high in percentage and dollar signs. Education is key to our future and success. Administration abuses their power. This maximum custody facility is for the most dangerous prisoners in Arizona. There are guys here for years on petty disciplinary infractions. On 04-07-2013 I was placed in SMU-1 maximum custody unit because of my attitude and my history disciplinary infractions from 2010. I have not had any major disciplinary in five years.
I am incarcerated for a D.U.I. I am going home next year in 2016. I have been in this maximum security unit for almost two years now on opacity reasoning by administration. ADC has to much power in determining how long a prisoner must suffer in isolation for minor offenses. In this max unit there are no religious opportunities to congragate for bible studies or any religious activities. Implementation of religious activities out side of our isolated cells will be beneficial now and in the future for everyone.
ADC has taken a step in the right direction with the help of human rights activists. Prison reform for ADC is at it's infancy. Prisoners here in ADC have had their basic human rights violated for years by the ones the federal government has sadly misplaced their trust in. For years the system thats funded by taxpayers dollars has displayed inequitable and unjust egregious actions. Sadly inmates have suffered serious life changing consequences for the negligence of prison officials. The realization of prison officials not protecting our human rights and not having our best interests at hand is disappointing. Reformation to the policies on Education, family-focused policies, religious services etc. will bring down the recidivism rate in America, our national debt will drop, and crime in the U.S. will decline. Inmates need to be informed of their basic human rights and learn to navigate and litigate in the difficult federal arena. If not, prison officals will not be held accountable for their actions. Our human rights will be violated. Cruel and unusal punishment will follow. Prisoners become angry and frustrated etc, etc. It's a huge negative domino effect on our society that over 14 trillion dollars in national debt says we cannot afford.
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