My mind is still reeling, after attending a small break-out session Saturday at the National Alliance on Mental Illness conference in Grand Rapids.
The American Friends Service Committee graciously allowed me to speak, and I begged the mental health professionals to help those of us in prisoner advocacy as we try to deal with mental illness issues.
But the testimony of persons with mentally ill loved ones in Michigan prisons was startling!
-A teenaged mentally-ill lad locked up 30-45 days at a time in one cell, 24-hours a day, with nothing to do
-a 34-year-old man strapped to the top of a steel bed with four-point restraints, lying, nude, in his own waste, for four days
-A mentally ill, but savvy teenager, who knew that he should not be taking 14 pills when his regimen was 3 per day
-The increasing use of pepper gas by guards to control all mentally ill, given them blast after blast, despite warnings of nurses
-The storming of a mentally ill prisoner on his knees praying in a cell by four guards with a shield, to beat him down so the nurse could give him a shot.
HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, the AFSC, and other fine agencies can help; parents and loved ones must be aggressive; but the buck stops with each voter in Michigan! You and I elect the people who run this state. If we don't contact them and inform them that torture in Michigan prisons is no more acceptable than international torture, we are remiss.
Please remember the mentally ill in prison, and please remember those of us on the front lines.