This following piece was written by Scott Van Bergen, while he was held at Southport Correctional Facility, a supermax prison in Pine City, New York, where about 700 men are held in isolation in the “Special Housing Units,” or SHUs. It was written in response to an article in a recent Solitary Watch newsletter on efforts by advocates to bring about solitary confinement reform in New York. Van Bergen describes the emotional and psychological tolls exacted by solitary confinement, including the sense of disorientation caused by extended periods of isolation. Yet, like many others in his situation, he describes not wanting to share his suffering with others, even with the mental health worker (“MHU person”) who occasionally stops by his cell. He can be reached by writing: Scott A. Van Bergen 07A6361, Clinton Correctional Facility/ 1156 Rt. 374/ P.O. Box 2001/ Dannemora, New York 12929-2001.  —Maclyn Willigan

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A SHU cell at Southport Correctional Facility | Voices from Solitary

A SHU cell at Southport Correctional Facility

My name is Scott Andrew Van Bergen, I am serving a 15 year sentence in NY. I just read your article today on isolated confinement. Good Work!! Never Stop!

I truly thought nobody on the outside really understands or cares about the type of condition a person is exposed to. Like myself. I am currently doing 18 months at Southport Corr. Fac. confined to a cell no bigger then ones bathroom at home. 23-24 hours a day. Locked in the cage! Sometimes you don’t get your one hour recreation in a cage smaller then my cage I sleep in. Depends on the CO.

There are times how I think it’s not at all bad doing months on end in Southport, SHU. And then there are times I think, Is it normal for me to think that?? I have lost all communication skills. I mean I have the very little I’ve kept. I don’t even want to talk to any body at many times. I don’t even want to talk to a MHU person [mental health worker].

I feel like a caged in animal. Get treated like an animal. At times I can buy candy bars on Level 3 after being a good boy for several months. I feel like a dog who gets treats every once in a while. I receive my food through a feed-up slot, (like a caged in animal) in old dirty trays that have been around for years. No telling what kind of germs are on the trays. I’ve gotten so paranoid. I switched to kosher food. That way I felt a[t] piece with myself knowing my food now comes in packages. I’ve worried CO’s have done GOD knows what to my food.

I sleep next to an old sink toilet combination for crying out loud. What is normal in that? As I sit here and write this letter, it’s a sham because I am really saying to myself, “The SHU life ain’t all that bad!” And yet, what does that tell you? Not one person with a sain mind and level headed will agree with me. I’ve been in and out the SHU all my bid so far. And yet every so often a MHU person walks down the company and not stop at times. Times he or she stops at my cell, he or she asks, “AM I OK?” I say to myself, “OK!?! Ha!” Then I tell her, “Just fine.” That right there will show you my communication skills have gone for south.

I must stop my letter here because, still I’m questing myself on why would I say the SHU is all bad? This will show you also that my mind is so back and fourth, I think at times not normal things are normal for a person to survive in the SHU. Which is beyond me.

  • Erika Zauzig

    Will write Scott today.

  • http://1prophetspeaks.com prophetess d

    I spent over 7 years in psych wards (on the drugs) and 8 months in solitary in the psych ward of a women’s prison. The patients in solitary were weeping and wailing in emotional torment. God said to me “Spirits in pain” It was a taste of hell. I know hell is real from this experience. We had no clocks so it was like being in a timeless void which is what eternity is. God allows tastes of hell on earth so we will believe the real place exists. Wars, holocausts, jails and psych wards are all tastes of hell.

    The psych drugs interfere with clear thinking prayer and creativity. I am a lifelong composer. on drugs I heard no music in my head. They block thoughts and inspiration.
    The word “inspiration” means “A spirit goes into it” Al thoughts come from the spiritual realm. The bible says either from God or the demonic.

    Everyone hears voices, as thoughts in our heads. Psychiatrists & psychologists are mostly atheists. They are trained to think ‘hearing voices” is a symptom of schizophrenia – an ‘auditory hallucination” i.e imaginary. They tell prisoners this so they get more distressed since they think they are going crazy, when they are not. If they were told “don’t worry, it is just God talking to you and the demons trying to upset you – ignore them or rebuke them ” they would be OK!

    Hearing voices is NORMAL CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Jesus said “my sheep hear my voice” John 10:27 God sends Christians into these places to help others. ALL Christians would be called schizo by atheist psychiatrists. THis is exactly what the Nazis did. They called them mentally ill. The holocaust started with Christians falsely called mental patients. It has continued worldwide since. The Jewish psychiatrists are mostly biblical illiterates – ignorant of NEW TESTAMENT theology which says it is normal to hear voices.

    I was a Christian who had a strong relationship with God when I went to both places, so my experience of those situations was very different than people who don’t yet know God. God sent me there as a witness to them and a testimony to others about what goes on in the atheist psych system and prisons.

    HE had me write a free book
    Manual for Transformational Healing-Gods Answer to Psychiatry
    http://www.1prophetspeaks.com/Manual%20for%20Transformational%20Healing%20REVISED.doc
    also in chapters on my blog http://www.1prophetspeaks7.blogspot.com

    CONTENTS
    http://www.1prophetspeaks7.blogspot.com/2014/03/contents-manual-for-transformational.html

    The book exposes atheist psychiatry which falsely calls Christians & anyone with spiritual beliefs or experiences schizophrenic, a nonsense label, and their genocide by drugs which are deadly by design, and tells how to heal mental and physical illness thru prayer/worship.

    The connection between eugenics & euthanasia & mental health is this;
    the Nazis killed mental patients with psych drugs in the t4 euthanasia program. This genocide has continued worldwide since using mental health as a cover. OMH (office of mental hygiene) comes from Nazi Germany. They changed the name institute of Racial Hygiene to Mental Hygiene after WWII because the public started to make the connection between eugenics & genocide. THe social engineers in the US & UK who supported eugenics, euthanasia, sterilization & abortion of the “feeble-minded” (mentally ill and retarded), poor, blacks & others funded Hitler and RUN mental health & education.

    Bernhard Shrieber’s book THe Men Behind Hitler – a German warning to the world names names.

    see articles, free books on my website http://www.1prophetspeaks.com

    articles in most recent order on my blog http://www.1prophetspeaks7.blogspot.com

    NEVER AGAIN? IT NEVER STOPPED! The mental health system is a FRONT for Nazi Genocide
    http://www.1prophetspeaks7.blogspot.com/2014/04/never-again-it-never-stopped-mental.html

    Solitary is a misnomer.
    It implies lack of communication. People have their own cells and can spend all day talking to others in nearby cells by shouting if they wish. I preferred my own cell to a cellmate since it was safer. I did not have to worry about being physically attacked by someone else, or having my prayers cross-talked. It is liked being at home and only talking on the phone. My view of the situation is this; people would not go crazy, and they do, if they had a different understanding of their experience. People THINK they are going crazy since they hear voices and are TOLD by the mental health people that they are ‘hallucinating”. This is a lie. THey are NOT. God and demons are both real and talk to them 24/7. The task is knowing who is who. God comforts us, if we don’t THINK it is a hallucination! THe REMEDY for this is to give EVERY PRISONER in all jails/prisons/psych wards a BIBLE so that they can treat the whole experience as an opportunity to get to know God by praying & reading the bible so they will have a ministry when they leave. THEN it will truly be “corrections”. Someone in a psych ward had told me about nuns who lived in rooms in solitary and had their food slipped thru a slot in the door – which is just what solitary was like. The remedy for demons is to learn to ignore them or rebuke them in Jesus name. God taught me this and when I got out He said “use what you’ve learned”. I called it SPIRITUAL BOOTCAMP.
    see
    Spiritual Bootcamp – my experience in solitary launching prayers
    http://www.1prophetspeaks7.blogspot.com/2014/02spiritual-bootcamp-my-experience-in.html

    Demons can harangue a person in our thoughts, but they can use another person to physically attack so it is safer to have one’s own cell. They should let people out every nite for dinner with others as training in being a family I have also spent time in prisons in pods where this is the case. This is the best remedy.

    Isolating people who are violent is simple common sense to prevent them from attacking someone else. They need to see solitary as a time-out and opportunity to find the peace of God. So Seabrook has a point.

    if EVERY Cell had bibles, the PEACE OF GOD would be in the prisons and there would absolutely be less violence. Demons have authority in jails and psych wards. If there were bibles, this would NOT be the case. I have been in jails and psych wards with and without bibles. The torture came from NOT having a bible. It gave authority to demons, which harangue people with negative thoughts, which is what causes homicides and suicidal thoughts. I have experienced incredible fellowship with God in jail cells after singing/praying. It is really an opportunity for each person to FIND and experience that REALITY OF GOD, if they HAVE the tools they need – which are a BIBLE.

    NOT having a bible is CRUEL & UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT. Every jail cell should have one, just like a toilet. THAT would make “corrections” actually be what goes on in prisons. If a person wanted a Koran they could have that too – to compare. But bibles are God’s truth and HIS presence is ON them – HIS PEACE.

    Solitary is torture because it is solitary without GOD and mostly fellowship with demons. If there were reforms and bibles, it would not be that type of experience. Every person who finds themselves in jail should see it as an opportunity to train themselves in ministry. Whatever our mistakes are is part of our testimony – the worst cases are the most powerful testimonies. A mass murderer who finds God has an important testimony.

    This is one reason Gov Cuomo should pardon David Berkowitz, the SON OF SAM who killed people in NYC in the 70s. He has been a Christian for 20 years and his testimony is important for the world to hear. JESUS heals mental illness. NOT PSYCH DRUGS _ which CAUSE mental illness. All the mass shooters were on psych drugs. They cause suicides & homicides. NObody can think clearly on them. THey are physical torture. They turn people into zombies; they block bad thoughts by blocking ALL thoughts. The atheist dr’s tell people they are hallucinating and then drug them. People are safer in jails than psych wards since they are not drugged involuntarily in jails. But I am concerned that they are ignorantly moving in that direction – thinking more “treatment” i.e. drugs is a solution. It is NOT. it is the problem I know many who died from the drugs. I almost did. They are openings for the demons which torture people. Nobody gets better on them. Patients don’t want to take the drugs since they are torture. People in jails get distressed when they ‘hear voices” because they THINK they are going crazy when they are NOT! the solution is so simple. Just rebuke the demons.

    There was a woman on the prison unit who was wailing in torment, as many of them were, who screamed “someone is supposed to talk to me”. I knew it was me – to help her. I did not speak then so God sent us both to the same psych unit where the nurse, who knew me, put me in the same room with her, saying “maybe you can help her” I prayed with her. She told me her favorite song was Amazing Grace and her chest got warm when she sang it. I told her that was the Holy Spirit. She said “Oh I thought that was the devil” Ironically the devil was telling her in her thoughts, that that was the case. So ignorance was her problem. She was peaceful after we spoke; then left the room and encountered a dr who got her upset and suicidal, so they drugged her, and then she committed suicide by drowning herself.

    I used to listen to people next to me in cells being interviewed by drs. They were quiet before, but afterwards were WORSE due to the dr’s asking negative questions like “are you having negative/suicidal thoughts?” which acted like curses and did exactly that to them. Writing it down also fixated it in the spiritual realm which meant they were more attacked mentally. Which brings me to another REMEDY to stop recidivism and mental health issues. ERASE PEOPLE’s RECORDS. Writing down bad stuff that they did or that happened to them invokes it in the spiritual realm which makes it repeat. It acts like a curse. I was abused by some folks in the psych ward. I was traumatized. I had a dream that nite that I was gang-raped which is what it felt like. When one of them was on the ward I was shaky before I even knew he was there. One day I got a hold of my chart and ripped it up and flushed it down the toilet. Immediately the peace of God came to me and I no longer was traumatized. I was able to sit next to him and have peace. So erasing records of trauma removes the trauma.

    Prison systems should operate more like mental health systems – no specific times for incarceration – just time to read a bible, pray and be transformed and let people assess whether they are ready to leave. This is THEORETICALLY what the mental health system does except it does NOT – in reality they hold people in psych wards for YEARS just to use them as involuntary guinea pigs for the drugs. The state hospitals all hold people for YEARS for the insurance money. It is all insurance fraud. The drugs make people worse rather than better. People can not pray on the drugs so they can not get better on them.

    The guards should be trained to think of it as a ministry – use them to check in on prisoners, pray with them, read bibles too and carry them – it will protect them.

    Those who are selling drugs in prisons should be fired. Hire ministers to be prison guards instead.

    The gang members can be reformed. Every prisoner, especially gang members, should be given a bible AND a copy of THE CROSS & THE SWITCHBLADE by Rev David Wilkerson, founder of Times Square Church. It was his testimony of converting Nicky Cruz, a gang leader, to Jesus and ministry.

    Any situation in our lives is an opportunity,t seek God for help and to find a personal relationship with HIM. God puts people in situations precisely to give us an incentive to do so. SO one can argue that any person in jail is actually CALLED BY GOD into ministry. They need training. Prison is certainly an opportunity to find God. Prisoners should ALSO be given instruments if they are not suicidal – guitars or electronic pianos. That would RADICALLY transform the situation. Then they could WORSHIP GOD.
    I used to sing. One day I did so while all the women were in chapel. They came back screaming “The church is on fire” THey had seen tongues of fire, a manifestation of the Holy Spirit while they were there, while I was praying .GOd had TOLD me to pray for them.

    If a person commits a crime and is sent to jail, there should be no record after, so that they are NOT induced to repeat it, and there is less likelihood of not being able to get jobs, etc because of having a record. Some people learn after one experience, not to repeat a mistake. If someone needed to repeat the experience 20 times, so be it. NOT having a record would actually make this LESS LIKELY rather than MORE.

    I know about the spiritual mental effect of having records for several reasons. I was able to fast and pray while awaiting trial. However AFTER having a trial and being found “GUILTY” I was more attacked in my mind by negative thoughts and found it much harder to fast. Furthermore, ever since my experience, I have had problems with isolation in society since my name which is on my records, invokes people to act bizarre and call the police for no reason.

    I am sure many former prisoners have nightmare stories of bizarre relationships and situations for the same reasons – having records. If I could erase all police records, this nonsense would stop. THe words invoke this stuff. In psych wards people get worse the more they write down. When they say someone did something bad, the person is more likely to repeat it or to have it happen to them again. This is the dilemma with writing down bad things

    God led me somewhere to fix something and there was a magazine article he wanted me to read – about man in solitary for 30 years. He said he had not seen another human in that long. I WEPT. But the bigger tragedy is that he apparently did not have the tools to have fellowship with God that he needed. All God’s prophets spent long amounts of time alone with God.

    I have. It is part of the training of prophets. I am named after one. Anyone named after a prophet is called by God to be one. EVERYONE Has a calling.

    Your name is often a sign of the call on your life by God
    http://www.1prophetspeaks7.blogspot.com/2014/02/your-name-is-often-sign-of-call-on-your.html
    The Power of words Revised – ch 11 of Manual for Transformational Healing
    http://www.1prophetspeaks7.blogspot.com/2014/03/ch-11-power-of-words-revised.html

    If my reforms were instituted, the entire criminal justice system would become TRAINING IN MINISTRY. I would argue that everyone in such places HAS such a calling if they are given the right tools. The prisoners could then be guards and minister to others.

    My experience in solitary was torture because I did not have a bible. When I spent time in jails and I did, it was an entirely different experience. The psych drugs had ruined my memory – I used the jail time after to read bibles and re-learn scriptures.

    This whole subject is also related to what goes on in schools. Since they took prayer out of schools in l962 we have generations of biblical illiterates. We need to put God back in. THe mass shootings etc are a result of the lack of training in knowing God. Kids have a RIGHT TO AN EDUCATION. NObody has a right to ignorance. People who do not know who God is and have never read a bible ARE IGNORANT Of GOD – which is ignorant OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE EVERY HUMAN NEEDS TO ADDRESS – whether God is real and if heaven and hell is real and how to get there. Life is temporary but eternity is not.

    The kids are going on mass shooting sprees as a prophetic warning that our education system is killing them – by the social engineering, atheism, which is the religion of public schools, and the psych drugs which also destroy people. And the social engineering indoctrination into homosexuality. People’s biggest fears in jails is being sexually abused, yet children in schools are being TOLD that it is normal and they should enjoy it. This is abomination. Most people who are gay have been sexually abused which is an opening for a spirit of homosexuality to enter them. It can be cast out in Jesus name. I know people who have been delivered from it. I had gay dreams in jail because I was being mentally attacked by that spirit, which is rampant there. Many women become gay in prisons.

    When I was in solitary the women near me had ALL been horribly abused, like raped by family members. THey ALL Needed to forgive. Being there was a warning to do so or they would end up in hell or purgatory. Jesus warned us that if we don’t forgive others God won’t forgive us and we could end up in hell.

    The Need for Forgiveness
    http://www.1prophetspeaks7.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-need-for-forgiveness.html

    I was raped by a cop. I stopped him by preaching to him. Then we prayed for each other and I forgave him. If I had not done so I would have been killed since he later told me he told his superiors what he had done and they offered to kill me so I wouln’t tell the papers and embarrass the police force. He said he told them to leave me alone since he loved me. So forgiving him saved my life. It also healed any trauma.

  • http://1prophetspeaks.com prophetess d

    If Scott sees this here is a message (I will also write him) PRAY God can do miracles. You could pray that the judge is told by GOD to let you out! OR that you escape OR that they give you parole. GOd can move in many ways. Jesus said NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD. But you are not crazy to think “THis is not so bad” since it IS an opportunity to talk to God who WILL talk back and to learn to pray. GET A BIBLE and read it if you can.
    We DO have weird thoughts in those places. I remember thinking What is the point of relationships with people – it is just God or demons speaking thru them – it is easier to just hear directly From God or demons. THEN I thought “now I know I’m WARPED” after YEARS OF TRYING TO TELL WHETHER VOICES ARE GOD OR DEMONS, BOTH INSIDE AND OUT OF PRISON, I CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT PERHAPS God is trying to induce me to want a relationship with my own species. If a person had a spouse they wouldn’t wonder every time they entered the room “Is that really them or an imposter” like God or lying demonic spirits. On the other hand, relationships all can get weird since God and demons speak thru others and speak TO them to try to mess up our relationships. Drugs are openings for demonic spirits. People’s “MOODS are usually just spirits playing with them

    Scott your middle name ANREW is the name of one of Jesus’ disciples. So I would say that you are there because YOU ARE CALLED TO KNOW GOD and have a ministry later – as a disciple, which is why God is reassuring you that it isn’t so bad to be there for now. Look for the positive in any situation. THAT is from GOd. Negative thoughts are demons trying to manipulate our emotions and upset us. Demons harangue, mock, tempt us to sin, confuse us, tell lies, etc. God comforts us and brings peace. He is also funny sometimes.

    I

  • Melinda

    I can’t imagine what it’s like to have that much isolation. I hope you can keep writing, and I hope even more that one day you are free.

  • Judy Mish Jentz

    People would not do this to their dog; leave then alone in a cage and possibly let them out in another cage for recreation. Recreation which is all by themselves with no interaction with a human being or another dog.
    This is cruel and inhuman treatment, it should be abolished and other alternatives ways found.
    I’m totally against it. I presently write to 10 inmates for 1 year now. It started out as Pen Pals but our relationship has grown far beyond that. One of the has been in the SHY for 5 years and another going on 4 years. It’s as if they lock you up and completely forget about you, as if you don’t even exist.
    I plan to write to more inmates in hopes that I can be of some comfort in their loneliness, give them support, and hopefully be some comfort to them from the outside to let them know some one cares and they are not forgotten people. To help them know their life does have value and if possible, to let them know that Jesus Christ is always with them if they have accepted Him into their lives.

  • Erika Zauzig

    Perfectly said. It’s very nice you want to help.

  • Judy Mish Jentz

    Thank you Erika. My heart really goes out to these people. We all know there are some who should never get out of prison, but there are way man more who have truly changed their lives and deserve a second chance.

    Those that I write to have come forward to me, without my even asking, and told me the story of their crime, have accepted full responsibility, and show remorse. They have taken many self-help courses and Bible Studies as well as even obtaining 2 Degrees while in prison. When they told me there story, it created in me a deep respect for them. It takes a man to own up to this and to have formed the trust in me which they had.

    None have asked me for anything, not even money.
    I stated in my initial contact that I was not looking for a romantic relationship, I was married for 21 years, and was 60 years old. Those whom I write to are all in their 30’s. They have shown a deep respect for me and I respect them ad well. WE love each other as brother and sister in Christ and as brother and sister.
    I can honestly say I feel deeply rewarded in what got has given me as a blessing.

  • Erika Zauzig

    Hi Judy, you are clearly writing people in prison for the right reasons. I do the same. I’m not doing it for the false fantasy of romance. Like the prisoners who write you, they clearly know this, therefore, we’ve developed genuine friendships.