Voices from Solitary: “A Sort of Solitary Psychosis”

The following comes from an inmate at Utah State Prison, Draper’s Uinta 1 facility. Uinta 1 serves as Utah’s death row, long-term supermax, as well as the Draper institution’s disciplinary segregation unit. The writer wrote over a period of days detailing a particularly violent few days in his unit requiring multiple cell extractions following several inmates covering their windows and flooding their cells. –Sal Rodriguez

Saturday

3:00 PM

It’s around 3:00 PM Saturday here. Last night my neighbor flooded his cell by flushing his toilet a lot with socks in toilet so it flooded the whole section, except my cell (I plugged it off with plastic and towel). Then another neighbor slipped in his cell on water, hit head on sink, had seizure, and was extracted, then returned to cell. I notice that a lot of these guys have seizures. I don’t think this is a faked issue. You can tell a true seizure by just listening to their head bounce off the cement floor.

8:30 PM

Cells 1, 2, 3, 4 have all proceeded tonight (8:30PM–it’s almost 10:30pm) to pull all their sprinklers, cover all their windows, and flood cells by running sink and flushing toilets repeatedly. The damn sprinklers emitted no water for some reason. This means if there was truly a fire the captive would burn to death. They are going to fight the SWAT teams. So pepper spray/blood/maybe death is on the roster tonight. Water’s barely seeping into my “house” but it’s plugged off pretty good. I don’t mean to sound like a sportscaster. This shit’s not cool one bit. People die fucking around doing this shit.

A sort of solitary psychosis, no person can stop these guys.

Guess they are now shitting and pissing into the water. We now wait for SWAT. Pretty soon they’ll become hip to the skip and shut off the water. I’m going to fill juice bags with water to drink! Almost forgot.

10:35 PM

SWAT called cell 1 and 3 “unresponsive.” Could be hanging from the sprinkler. Cells 2 and 4 aren’t going through with it. Negotiator didn’t work. Just sprayed a grip of pepper spray…Cops are scared to go in! They sprayed each cell five or six times then they both cuffed up. Both alive. It’s over for today–or not.

Sunday

5:00 AM

The cops put them back in the cells at 5:00 AM on “strip cell” and now cell 3 is going to pull his sprinkler again. The cells were soaked when they put them back in them. They are complaining of not being able to see from pepper spray. They were “put on a wall”–handcuffed behind back this whole time 8:45 to 5:00 AM. Both had to just piss on themselves. I’m tired from just watching, not as young as I used to be, and those dudes got three/four days of strip cell to look forward to. Hateful shit.

One of them had a seizure when “put on the wall.” They’ve refused him medical attention for this. The cops haven’t fed them today. This is what I mean by subtle abuse. The “blowers” (big fans) are on in section. This trips temperature a good ten degrees. They do this to make these two on strip cell suffer. The blowers are off all other times.

Cells 2 and 4 are preparing to battle here Wednesday.

Hours later

It’s been decided. I wouldn’t say we do these things for attention. It’s more “getting back at them the only way possible.” And the cops have to scrub our shit, squeegee the water up. Actually work.

8:30  PM

Cell 4 is unresponsive. Windows covered. Guards are talking of using “C.S.” gas, which is a grenade. We had the Sgt. admit that he cannot be the man in charge of extraction because he used too much O.C. gas on the two yesterday.

9:30 PM

The true SWAT tream came in on cell 4. Last night it was just staff in bio-hazard suits. They deployed the gas grenade. I can’t breathe or see right now. Whole section, all cells, are smoked up. There’s a big fan blowing the shit, supposedly out of our section. But it’s just blowing it around and its coming in the cells.

3:00 AM

Fans still blowing. Smokes still burning face, eyes, throat. Seems like we’re in for a long smokey couple days. The CS gas is so strong it leaves black smudges on the cell door frames. Got a pain in my left lung or heart. The smells lingering here in my cell but can’t pinpoint exactly where its coming from.

Wednesday

4:45 PM

Cell 3 is “unresponsive” again. Cell windows covered. Cells flooded. Sprinklers pulled. SWAT team has been called again. Negotiators negotiating. Its a standoff. They took Cell 3 to medical center after standoff  to remove staples. I’m going to try and mail this to you. I’m tired.

Welcome to my world.

8:30 PM

Cell 2 covered window. Officers brought a stick (stick used to push mattresses away from door) and opened cuff port to see into the cell to make sure he isn’t dying. SWAT called and we just barely got rid of the CS gas from earlier.

Cell 3 has been moved to Section 4, which has cameras in the cells. Now we wait.

They CS’d him (Cell 2) and he had a seizure…Its pretty bad in here…

Later

You know, I didn’t realize…Now that I’ve read it all back to myself I see…this shit isn’t cool. What is it thats caused me to become used to all this? I remember as a boy growing up wanting to be cool with a burly Raiders jacket and tattoos with a cool bowl cut. I wanted to emulate an older kid named Steve. Now Steve is dead. He hung himself with a string in his trailer closet in my hometown with a power extension cord.

It’s now 1:00 AM Thursday.

I made a list once of all those I’ve known and grown up with and most have died horribly and they never went through this type of hell. My family considers me crazy. So do my captors. So do my fellow captives. So do I at times but I must be crazy to make it. Strong crazy not weak crazy. I’ll turn thirty in four months. Can you see the isolation I’m drowning in?

I remember as a boy I loved to play in the stream behind our house. Chase “water-skeeters.” Pile rocks and dam up the river to play in. Lie on the grass. Build little huts out of old discarded wood. Play spin the bottle with the neighbor girls. Drink homemade root beer and eat homemade ice cream with my grandma.

I’ve never killed anyone, and I won’t. I’ve never hurt a soul and I will not. I slipped my handcuffs while drunk and got caught with two grams of dope and now I’m here. Punished…

Comments

  1. my heart aches. for this young man.

  2. I’m not buying it.

  3. How do I respond to this? The old saying seems to apply here…..The only difference here is, who has control of the keys…..

  4. I can tell you from being in solitary myself that is standard issue. For those who don’t understand why people force cell extractions besides the solitary torture and process in to never get out, I’ll explain. As if solitary isn’t bad enough where you stay in the cell 22 hours a day, often times you don’t even get that. In California prisons you are supposed to get yard ( Kennels that dogs use ) 3 days a week every other day, and showers 3 times a week every other day. One day a week is dead where they run I.C.C. and pretend. See that’s the problem. Often the prison administration decides they are to busy not doing anything to give those showers, or yard. So already stuck in slow motion, hardly ever getting out of the cell, the little you are supposed to get really matters! Check out my books to see what’s really going on.

  5. I think Ren needs to go to hell in a very large hand basket, w/ large purple cushions… and I hope that he enjoys the trip.

    You don’t have to ‘buy it’ Ren. You aren’t there. You haven’t ever been there. You might end up being one of the kinds of individuals that puts people there, or the next thing to it – if you aren’t already.

    So be quiet, Ren. So that the rest of us can stay focused, in case the 29 year’s young old person who wrote this piece stops breathing and writing for any reason at all. Then, maybe there will be just one more person or three that actually cares.

  6. serious2020 I’m in complete agreement with you. I would even point to the fact it’s exactly this kind of attitude some (maybe all??) of the holders of the keys have. the very kind of moral thinking that allows these nightmares to take place with no end in sight.

  7. as the wife of a SHU prisoner, Ren needs to have his ass ki9cked by a woman, one for coming here and trash talking those who cannot speak out freely. and two for undermining the sufferings of others.
    I bet Ren has no idea what he is talking about .. has never been in a prison or had to deal with the heartache of wrongful conviction

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