Darrell Cannon discussion

The discussion that the class had with Darrell Cannon last week was amazing.  Darrell was able to tell us so much information that we would not be able to get anywhere else.  I’m sure bits and pieces of his story are around, but the best information always comes from the main source.  The thing that made me think the most was when Darrell talked about being in Tamms.  He said that Tamms was made to mentally and even physically break the prisoners. I found this to be very disappointing.  The prison system should break people; it should help them.  It was reassuring to know that some of the guards were nice though.  It was nice to hear that some people were understanding and that they knew that the prisoners were people too.  I’m sure not all prisoners go to prison wanting to change and become different people, but they should have the chance if they want to.  If DOC officials and guards treat the prisoners badly and don’t give them a chance for rehabilitation then what is the point of the prison?….to keep them locked up for the rest of their lives without a chance to become a better person?

Timothy Souders; punished to the point of death?

I just read the article about the death of 21-year-old Timothy Souders while he was incarcerated in a segregation cell at Southern Michigan Correctional.  The article horrified me because of the multiple injustices involved in the case.  First of all, TS shouldn’t have been in solitary confinement when his conditions of bipolar disorder, hyperactivity and depression (which had caused him to attempt suicide several times) were known to the staff. Also, he had a couple of physical conditions such as bedsores and urine burns, but they were not properly treated. Second of all, I really don’t understand the point of “top of the bed restraints” even if they are supposed to only be used for an hour or two when an inmate is severely acting up.  Don’t inmates have any freedom of movement?  Nevertheless, the “top of the bed restraint” went on far longer than it ever should have- 17 hours, with no breaks.  TS urinated on himself, was kept in a room that was over 100 degrees and had trouble eating, drinking and even sitting up and walking.  Once they let him up to shower, he could barely walk and ended up passing out/falling while in the shower.  After he was wheelchaired back to his cell, he was yet again put on “top of the bed restraints,” even though it seems pretty obvious he was in no condition to be any kind of a threat to anyone or anything.  A couple hours later, he was taken off restraint and fell off of the cement block.  They helped him back up and a little while later he fell off of the toilet and was not helped for 46 minutes.  What are the personnel doing at this prison? Why wouldn’t they be watching in inmate that they knew was in such weak condition? A little while later, he was found dead in his cell.  This treatment is just intolerable to me, and Timothy Souders isn’t a special case of severe mistreatment.  In 2006, the prison system in California lost one inmate a week to malpractice or neglect.  I can’t figure out what the problem is- is there not enough staff to check up on all of the inmates at least once every half hour?  Or is it that many of them just disregard the inmates’ human rights, like those soldiers at Abu Ghraib? Whatever the case, this problem needs to be fixed. It is simply inhumane and unconstitutional for the system to let such instances happen.