PENNSYLVANIA PRISON SPEECH
By Julian Heicklen
Presented at the Penn State University Main Gate
July 13, 2000
Hello Folks. Welcome to the third annual 30-hour Marijuana Smoke Out. I am Julian Heicklen, the Libertarian Party Candidate for Attorney General of Pennsylvania. I say to you that it is immoral to arrest someone for owning a vegetable. It also is unconstitutional. The Ninth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution says: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be considered to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The most fundamental of all human rights is the right to control one's own body. As U. S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis put it: "The right to be left alone." It required a Constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol. Why doesn't the same apply for marijuana? The issue here is not marijuana. Marijuana is the messenger, not the message. The issue is whether we are going to live in freedom or under tyranny.
The United States has 4.6% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners. We are the number one police state in the world. We have the highest per capita prison population in the world. It is the war on drugs that brought us to this point. In 1972, when President Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs, we had 200,000 prisoners. Now we have 2 million prisoners.
I. HEPATITIS C EPIDEMIC
We have turned our prisons into vehicles for spreading infectious disease. Hepatitis C is spreading throughout our prisons. It is a highly contagious disease. It ultimately leads to death in about 80% of cases.
The incidence of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the free population is about 1.3%. In the California state prisons, the incidence of HCV among male inmates is 39%; among female inmates, 54%; in Texas, 29%; in Maryland, 40% of those entering. A knowledgeable inmate in the Pennsylvania prisons has informed me that the incidence of HCV among inmates is 40%. When I requested accurate information from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC), I was informed that the information was not for public disclosure. I have sued the DOC under the Freedom of Information Act to get that information.
Presumably other state and federal prisons have an incidence of HCV of about 40%. Most of these inmates will not die in prison. They will be released to infect the rest of the population before they die.
I have seen court documents from 30 inmates at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Rockview. These stories are all the same, except for the names and dates. Each of them tested positive for HCV when they were tested by the Pennsylvania DOC in the late 1980s or early 1990s. They were not informed of these positive results. They received no counseling, no treatment, no follow-up monitoring, no liver biopsies, and no hepatic diets.
In the late 1990s, they were all re-tested for HCV, probably as a result of lawsuits filed by two of them. They all tested positive and were informed of the positive results of the earlier blood tests. Still none of them receives treatment, follow-up monitoring, liver biopsies, or hepatic diets.
Some of these inmates report that they were released on parole after the first blood test, but before they were informed that they had HCV. They subsequently returned to prison for parole violations. At least two of them believe that they unknowingly infected family members and/or loved ones with HCV, because they were unaware that they were infected.
Most of the inmates that enter prison do not have HCV. This means that those leaving prison have a much higher incidence than the average (probably about 70%) of HCV. In 1996, the number of inmates leaving state and federal prison was 232,000; about 94% were males. From 1986 to 1996, the prison population grew at an average rate of 8.4% per year. If this rate is maintained, the number of prisoners leaving our state and federal prisons between 2000 and 2030 will be 24 million. About 17 million will be infected with HCV.
The 17 million figure does not include those released from county prisons or jails. About ten times as many people will be released from county prisons and jails as from state and federal prisons. The incidence of HCV in the county facilities is not known, but some of these inmates must also have the virus.
In March 2000, California passed a law that will treat 14—17 year old offenders as adult criminals. They will be sent to adult facilities where all of them will be raped several times, which is a main route of transmitting the virus. All of them will leave prison infected with HCV when they will be in their sexually active years.
Currently there are an estimated four million people with HCV in the United States. At the present rate of growth, in thirty years that number will increase by at least a factor of ten. We have embarked on a peculiar public health policy. We are going to infect tens of millions of ourselves with HCV. About 85% of those will develop chronic HCV infection, which leads to cirrhosis of the liver in 10—30 years. They will die of liver failure or hepatocellular carcinoma. No other political party understands this or wishes to stop it. Only the Libertarian Party advocates prison reform and a reduction in prison populations.
It is time to start worrying about physical survival. I am the Libertarian Party candidate for Attorney General of Pennsylvania. By supporting my candidacy for Attorney General, you will not be doing me a favor. I am 68 years old. I will die of some other cause before I die of hepatitis C. You will be doing yourself a favor. It is you who are going to be infected by hepatitis C, not me. The Libertarian party is not your best hope for survival. It is your only hope.
II. TALES FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA PRISONS
One of my objectives, if I get elected Attorney General of Pennsylvania, is to reform the prisons. Here are some tales from the Pennsylvania state prisons, that I would like to see not recur.
A. Larry Albury
Larry Albury, a black male inmate at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Rockview, died March 19, 1997, at 10:59 PM of hepatic renal failure. He was 43 years old. He was found dead by a staff member at SCI Rockview. There was no autopsy, but there was a coroner's report.
Shaikh Muhammad BB6231 lived in the cell next to Albury at one time. Albury continually complained that the prison would not give him a kidney operation. Most of the time he couldn't walk and would swell up. In August 1996, Albury was placed in the restricted housing unit (RHU) for arguing with the nurse about his condition. Dr. Solomon came to see Albury and transferred him to the infirmary. He returned to RHU, but after a few days was in bad shape, so they sent him back to general population. When Muhammad was in the infirmary (May 2—5, 1997), he questioned CO Kuhns about Albury. He said Albury was on a list to get a kidney operation at home after he was released. Kuhns also stated that because of the delay in the operation, Albury's liver failed, and he died.
In January 1997, Michael Redding AY8999, a personal friend of Albury, reports that Albury told him that he was not being treated because he was due to be released in 6 months. Albury died two months later.
B. Anthony Williams AY6759
On the evening of November 22, 1995, Anthony Williams was in his cell at SCI Greene County doing some legal work. Lieutenant Richard Bell repeatedly ordered Williams to come out of his cell with his hands out to be handcuffed and taken to the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU). Williams refused. Four guards entered his cell, claimed that Williams threw a typewriter at them, wrestled him to the floor, and placed him in iron-restraining handcuffs behind his back and iron leg shackles. Then eleven guards clothed in riot gear beat inmate Williams with their hands, shoes, and night sticks, and sprayed tear gas, mace, and pepper gas.
After the beating he was denied medical treatment. He received two Misconduct Reports, one for refusing an order and one for assault.
Anthony Bennett BP8943 witnessed the beating. He saw a sergeant rush into Mr. Williams’ cell. Mr. Bennett heard a big crash (possibly the typewriter falling to the ground). Then the rest of the extraction team entered. This is when the screaming began from inmate Williams. Mr. Bennett heard loud banging noise. After about 3 minutes, the extraction unit came out of the cell carrying Inmate Williams by the chains that are around his ankles and wrists. His feet and arms are spread out wide. Blood is coming from his head as he is being carried out of the cell across the block. His body is not moving, and it looks as if he is dead.
Mr. Bennett lost the view of them carrying Inmate Williams through the doors, but he saw them out of the back of his cell window again when they got Mr. Williams outside the housing area. That is when Bennett saw them drop Inmate Williams to the ground face down. Mr. Bennett saw the sergeant kick and punch Inmate Williams. The rest of the extraction team joined in the beating. Mr. Bennett never saw inmate Williams even lift his head. Mr. Bennett was sure that the guards had killed Inmate Williams. After about 30 seconds, the guards lifted Inmate Williams by the chains and carried him away. Williams still was not moving.
C. Aaron Penn DA9796
Aaron Penn DA9796 is a 20-year old male inmate at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) in Greene County. On December 10, 1997, he was brought to the prison hospital to see the doctor. Mr. Penn was hadncuffed and sitting on a bed with a guard in attendance, when Lieutenant Matzyn came into the room with 8 other guards. Lieutenant Matzyn removed the handcuffs and said to Penn: "You like to hit my staff." As soon as he said that, he swung and smacked Mr. Penn across his face. Then Lieutenant Matzyn and 3 other guards lifted him from the hospital bed and slammed him on the floor. While he was on the floor, all of the guards started punching and kicking him in the stomach, back of his legs, and the top of his head. Penn was lying in the floor curled up with his hands covering his face. During the beating, the guards were calling Mr. Penn names and using profanity. Then they lifted him and slammed him back on the bed.
One of the guards had Mr. Penn's face pinned to the bed, while the other guards started punching him in the back and ribs. He felt one of the guards crack him in the back with a nightstick. Then they stood him up and handcuffed him. When he was handcuffed, Lieutenant Matzyn asked him if he was alright. Penn responded yes. Then Lieutenant Matzyn said "Oh yeah" and hit him about 4 more times in the stomach. They rushed outside the doctor's office and slammed him against the wall. Lieutenant Matzyn told him that if he said anything to anyone, he would see to it that he would be beaten on a regular basis. Then he slammed Penn's head on the wall. CO Gibson took Penn to his cell.
Mr. Penn returned to his cell crying Mr. Penn did not have a pen or paper to record the incident, so someone smuggled him these items. Mr. Penn was placed in his cell with no underclothes, socks, tee shirt, underwear, soap, toothpaste or linens. He was left like that for the entire evening. His back has been killing him ever since. He never said anything to the nurse for fear of being beaten again. He asked for a Grievance form, but the request was ignored.
D. Debtors Prison
Debtors prison was abolished in most civilized countries, including the United States, by the 19th century. It is prohibited by Article I, Section 16 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, which states: "The person of a debtor, where there is not a strong presumption of fraud, shall not be continued in prison after delivering up his estate for the benefit of his creditors in such manner as shall be prescribed by law." Nevertheless, debtor prison was reintroduced into Pennsylvania in 1991, when the state legislature passed P.L. 335, No. 35 §3. This was incorporated as an amendment into Statute 71 P. S. §1807 as Statute 71 P. S. §1807.15. This amendment requires that, in order to be paroled, an inmate must pay a minimum of $30 toward his restitution fine, which will be shared by the Crime Victims Compensation Board and the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
I received a letter dated November 30, 1997, from inmate Jeffrey L. Lanager DB5391, which informed me that Mr. Lanager was in the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Rockview for a parole violation. He had a parole hearing on July 14, 1997. The Board of Probation and Parole rendered a favorable decision on August 8, 1997. He received his "green sheet" on October 14, 1997, which stated that he is to be paroled subject to a number of conditions. One of these conditions was to pay at least $30 to comply with Statute 71 P. S. §1807.15. However he did not have the $30, and his family either could not or would not pay it.
Mr. Lanager submitted 4 Request slips to Francis M. Dougherty, the Business Manager at SCI Rockview, throughout the month of November asking for funds from the Inmate Welfare Fund. He received no answer to 3 of the Requests, but he did receive an answer to the 4th one. Mr. Dougherty stated "that it is not the Institutions responsibility to pay Act 27 for inmates to be paroled and that the Inmates' Welfare Fund is not for that purpose."
I called the parole office at SCI Rockview on December 10, 1997, and spoke with Edward Burke. He told me that Mr. Lanager was cleared for parole except for two things. His home plan of living with his mother had not been approved yet. It was sent to an investigator on November 17, 1997. The investigator has 35 days to return the report. Also Lanager has to pay the $30 towards fines. After all the paper work is in to the parole office, it will take one week to release Lanager.
On December 18, 1997, I again spoke to Mr. Burke, who said that Mr. Lanager's home plan was approved and that all was needed to release Mr. Lanager was the $30. If the $30 was not paid, Mr. Lanager would remain in prison until the date of his maximum sentence, April 11, 1998. It costs about $72 per day to keep an inmate in a state prison. The maintenance cost from December 18, 1997, to April 11, 1998, is about $8208. In addition it is not clear why it took from the date of the parole hearing, July 14, 1997, until October 14, 1997, to notify Mr. Lanager that he would be released. That delay cost the taxpayers about $6624 in prison maintenance costs.
The final irony is that if Mr. Lanager had been released, he could be working and might be able to pay the $30. The folly of this situation was more than I could bear as a taxpayer. I went to the Centre County Department of Probation and Parole Office on December 18, 1997, and paid the $30. Mr. Lanager was released on January 1, 1998.
E. Kenneth Charles CD1697
Here is an example of American justice. Kenneth Charles CD1697 at the State Correctional Institute at Rockview, was arrested in his cell. He was charged with being one of three inmates that assaulted a fourth inmate, Glenn Porter CM8194. Mr. Charles was placed in the Restrictive Housing Unit pending a hearing. Mr. Charles claimed that he did not know Mr. Porter. He asked that Mr. Porter be present at the hearing, so that he could question him.
At the hearing, the only people present were the accused (Mr. Charles), the hearing examiner (J. Stidd), and a guard that took no part in the proceedings. The hearing examiner did not require that Mr. Porter be present at the hearing, even though Mr. Charles requested that he be present. When Mr. Charles was shown a picture of the victim, he claimed that he did not know him. No evidence was presented that Mr. Charles had a weapon. Until the hearing, Mr. Charles did not know who identified him as the assailant. At the hearing Mr. Charles was informed that Mr. Porter had identified him from a photo identification as one of the assailants. Of course Mr. Charles had no opportunity to question Mr. Porter, since he was not present. Mr. Charles was found guilty of assault and possession of the assault weapon (a screwdriver), even though the assault weapon was found in the possession of another inmate.
Mr. Charles was sentenced to disciplinary custody for 90 days in RHU. The assault was reported to the state police and the district attorney, but the district attorney did not file criminal proceedings, presumably because of lack of evidence.
I spoke with Mr. Charles' cellmate, who stated that at the time of the assault, he and Mr. Charles were returning from the dining hall to their cell to play a game of chess. That is what they were doing when Mr. Charles was arrested. Mr. Charles cellmate was not present at the hearing and did not testify, because he was not called.
While Mr. Charles was serving his sentence in RHU, he learned from a guard that the state police had filed a report that the screwdriver was on another individual. The report also stated that the three assailants were wearing hoods, and that Mr. Porter could not identify the other two assailants. The report was not presented at the hearing. I checked with the state police trooper that filed the police report, and she confirmed that the assailants were masked. This raises two questions: 1) How could Mr. Porter have identified Mr. Charles from a photo identification? 2) Why was Mr. Charles not provided with this information, and why was it withheld from the hearing proceedings?
Mr. Charles claims that he is innocent, and that he had no reasonable opportunity to prove it. Because of the discipline for assault, Mr Charles not only served 90 days in RHU, but he was denied parole.
F. Amnesty International
On the eve of the U.S. Government’s first-ever appearance before the U.N. Committee Against Torture in Geneva (May 2000), Amnesty International released a 45-page report briefing the U.N. on its continuing concerns about torture and other forms of ill-treatment which regularly take place in the U.S.
"Certain forms of torture or ill-treatment of men, women and children by U.S. police or custody officials, as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading prison conditions, are fast becoming institutionalized across the country," said William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA).
Although the U.S. ratified the Convention Against Torture in October 1994, its increasingly punitive approach towards offenders has led to practices which facilitate torture or other forms of ill-treatment prohibited under international law.
The spiraling prison and jail populationwhich recently hit two million for the first timeand the resulting pressures on incarceration facilities have contributed to widespread ill-treatment of men, women and children in custody. Police brutality is rife in many areas, and it is disproportionately directed at racial and ethnic minorities, the report says.
"Cruelty to detainees and prisoners is widespread in the U.S.including the routine use of chemical sprays to subdue suspects and prisoners and the use of electro-shock weapons in local jails and courts," said Schulz. "The U.S. is standardizing practices which undermine the aim of the Convention to eradicate state torture and ill-treatment from the planet."
The organization charged that there are laws and practices authorized in the U.S. which not only directly flout international standards, but also facilitate torture and ill-treatment. Furthermore, sanctions against police or prison guards responsible for such abuses are frequently inadequate, leading to a climate of impunity in many areas.
Reports of abuses received by Amnesty International and documented in their report to the U.N. include those of prisoners being strapped into four-point restraint chairsa metal-framed chair that immobilizes prisoners with restraints, securing arms, legs and chest with straps. Prisoners strapped into such chairs for minor acts of non-compliance have been hooded and tortured, stripped naked and left for hours in the chair in their own waste and shocked with stun guns or pepper sprayed while still in the chair.
"This kind of treatment is simply unacceptable in any society that purports to be civilized," said Schulz. "The UN Committee Against Torture should condemn this behavior, thereby telling the world that the U.S. must adhere to international law and accept the same minimum standards for its own conduct that it so often demands from other countries."
In its report, Amnesty International also noted its concerns regarding the ill-treatment of prisoners held in private correctional facilities in the USA run by Corrections Corporation of America (CAA)the country’s largest private prison operatorand super-maximum security prisons.
The organization claims that conditions in many super-maximum facilities constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that are in violation of international standardsparticularly conditions involving prolonged isolation. Amnesty International’s findings have been echoed in the U.S. itself. Last year, a federal district judge ruled that the stark conditions in administrative segregation units in Texas "deprive inmates of the minimal necessities of civilized life" and were "virtual incubators of psychoses-seeding illness in otherwise healthy inmates and exacerbating illness in those already suffering from mental infirmities." Court-appointed experts who had visited the units described an environment in which "smeared feces, self mutilation and incessant babbling and shrieking are almost everyday occurrences."
"As with other international human rights treaties, U.S. respect for the Convention Against Torture is only half-hearted when it is applied to itself. If all countries were to take this approach, the global system for protecting fundamental human rights would quickly collapse," warned Schulz. "The U.S. Government, which so often labels itself as a champion of human rights, must take serious steps to ensure that international standards are respected throughout the country."
On May 15, 2000, the United Nations publicly rebuked the United States over brutality in its prisons and called for an end to chain gangs and to the use of electro-shock belts for restraining inmates. The U.N. Committee against Torture said it was concerned about breaches of the international convention against torture in the United States, citing the alleged sexual assault of female prisoners by law enforcement officers and the holding of minors in adult jails.
This is where the war on drugs has brought us. But it is not the only result. We are spending $100 billion per year to destroy families. We have lost our Bill of Rights. We are fighting a war against the people of Columbia. Sick people are being deprived of their medicine. Because drugs are illegal, they are pushed onto our school children by the black market. Teachers lie to our children about the dangers of drugs. Babies are taken away from their mothers. The war on drugs must end.
We have been here every Thursday for 2-1/2 years smoking marijuana to protest the war on drugs. I have been arrested 15 times and incarcerated 5 times. Based on arrest rate, I am the number one criminal in the United States. Do you know why I am so dangerous? Because I own a vegetable. Well let me tell you something. I am the most dangerous man in the United states, because when I am elected Attorney General of PA in November, I intend to restore the Bill of Rights, stop prosecutions of consensual acts involving mentally-competent adults, reduce the prison population, and reform the prisons.
The lighted marijuana weed is the torch of freedom. Now I am going to light that torch. If you wish to join me, please do so. But no minors, please. We appreciate your support, but you would only be hurting our cause.