PRISONS

By Julian Heicklen

Rotary Club Speech

Holidaysburg, PA

September 19, 2000

About five years ago, I became aware of the enormous prison population that has developed in our country. It has swelled from 200,000 in 1972 to 2 million today. We have the highest per capita prison population of any country. With 4.6% of the worldÕs population we have 25% percent of the worldÕs prisoners. Nine percent of American males will be sentenced to at least one year in state or federal prison during their lifetimes. Currently 5% of adult males are under the supervision of the criminal justice system.

I decided that something was wrong and that I should do something about it. I joined many groups involved in prison work to see if I could aid in rehabilitation. I became an official visitor to the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Rockview through the PA Prison Society and Congregation Brit Shalom. While visiting prisoners, I heard some alarming stories. At first, I did not believe them. However as I heard more of them and started checking them, I became aware that they were true. I have corresponded with about 200 inmates in the PA state prisons. I would like to share some of their stories.

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 2­5, 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.

Alfonzo Salley

Alfonzo Salley CC­6796 poses a problem for the Department of Corrections (DOC). He is 44 years old and has been in prison 29 years. Mr. Salley claims that he is medically impaired, that he cannot walk without experiencing excruciating pain, and that he needs a wheel chair. The Medical Department claims that there is nothing wrong with Mr. Salley and refuses to give him a wheel chair, though he is housed in a handicapped cell.

Mr. Salley claims that he cannot walk or stand, because his legs and feet are numb since April 7, 1998, when he was injured while handcuffed and in leg irons. He fell off a sheriff's van at Montgomery County Courthouse injuring his neck, back, and spine. Dr. Charles Reiner and Dr. John Doe had prison guards David Shugart and John Doe lift him up and drop him to the dirty concrete floor twice, aggravating his injuries. Dr. Charles Reiner refused to issue a wheel chair, walker, cane, or crutches. Lt. Hicks and Lt. Lear left him crying for 6 hours on a cold dirty cell floor.

On August 13, 1998, Montgomery County Sheriff Whiting was returning Mr. Salley to the custody of State Correctional Institution (SCI) Huntingdon officials. Guard Kurt Granlund rammed the front end of the wheel chair into a curb, throwing Mr. Salley into the air, causing him a busted mouth, bruised face, arms, knees, hands, back, neck-head, and shoulder pain.

Mr. Salley was transferred on October 21, 1998, from SCI Huntingdon to SCI Greene County. Dr. Stanley Falor confiscated his wheel chair on December 16, 1998. As a result, Mr. Salley does not take showers, get his daily 1-hour exercise, have access to the law library, or have the Program Review Committee reviews every 30­90 days like other men. There are affidavits from other inmates that say that there has been many a night when Salley has awaken hollering in pain.

On June 3, 1999, Captain George Banks and Dr. Falor had the extraction team drag Mr. Salley out of his cell, stick a foreign object up his rectum, left him naked overnight with a bleeding rectum in a non-handicap cell which was freezing cold. He was denied five days of food trays. He has 10 witnesses who saw him physically abused by guards and Dr. Falor. Four days later on June 7, 1999, Dr. Falor and Lt. Dukes forced him into a medical isolation strip cell for 7 days.

On October 26, 1999, at about 6:30 AM, male nurses John High and Bruce Polka choked Mr. Salley around the neck, dragged him to the floor out of bed, kicked and stomped him, called him nigger, and threatened to kill him if he stays in Medical.

On February 23, 2000, Mr. Salley refused to go with Caldwell and Shaffer for fear of his life. They returned him to his cell at about 10:40 am. His property was lying on the tier floor in a pile. When Mr. Salley had asked them who had given them authority to search his cell, Kosvalchuk and Shaffer picked him up and threw him down hard on the concrete floor. Mr. Salley fell over backward on his side while handcuffed with a belt. Shaffer and Kosvalchuk started pulling him and the belt and cuffs hurting his wrists with the cuffs. When Kosvalchuk uncuffed him, Shaffer stomped him in the center of his chest knocking him to the floor and knocking the wind out of him. When Mr. Salley tried to grab his foot and leg, he kicked him hard. Kosvalchuk hit him on the shoulder and neck and arm with his club, and Shaffer spit on him. COs Shaffer and Kosvalchuk were calling Mr. Salley nigger names and dragging him on the floor. The COs gave Mr. Salley two Misconduct Reports. Every week Mr. Salley gets a Misconduct Report because he can't stand or walk for count. So far he has 27 such Misconduct Reports.

Captain Kingston and Lt. Martin retaliated by turning off SalleyÕs water and toilet for 3 days. If the entire pod had not banged on the cell doors, there is no telling when the water would have been turned on in SalleyÕs cell. Mr. Salley was in a strip (empty) cell from March 22­29, 2000.

On June 6, 2000, between 6:15 and 6:30 AM, inmate Royster was awakened by a loud noise from someone kicking on a door. Nurse High was kicking SalleyÕs door. He was using derogatory words. Nurse High called Salley a black bastard and nigger about something concerning a grievance.

On June 7, 2000, at 1:00 PM, Mr. Royster saw Major Hassett and CO Brown come on the block and go to SalleyÕs door. He heard them say "Crawl a little harder. Keep coming." They cuffed Salley. Then they threw the cell contents out on the floor.

Salley does not eat his food on the 6AM to 2:00 PM shift, because he has seen staples and spit in his food. He sent me three staples that were found inside of his Strawberry cake on July 13, 2000.

Michael Forrest

Prison officials at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, PA did not want inmates Clifton Fruster or Michael Forrest to leave prison alive. Inmate Ronald Truesdale AY­4601 was asked personally by Superintendent Donald Vaughn on April 21, 1996, to kill these two inmates. Truesdale refused.

Fruster was murdered in July 1996. There have been several attempts to kill Michael Forrest, both by inmates and guards. So far they have been unsuccessful, though Forrest has been hospitalized twice in intensive care outside the DOC. He now has seizures in which he blacks out and cannot remember anything. He successfully sued the Department of Corrections in a federal civil suit for excessive physical abuse and deliberate indifference toward medical care.

Legalization of Drugs

1n 1996, I formed Smart on Crime, a citizen lobby to reduce the prison population and reform the prisons. In my opinion the largest group of prisoners who do not belong in prisons is that of non-violent narcotics violators. This group constitutes 1/3 of all people entering state and federal prison. I advocate the legalization of drugs, not because I advocate drugs, but because I believe our drug policy is both unconstitutional and has failed to accomplish its aim. I spoke with a number of state and federal legislators or their staffs, but to no avail. Some even said that they agreed with me, at least in part, but would never vote for drug legalization because of the political consequences.

I became a plaintiff on a class-action law suit with 165 medical marijuana users to get medical marijuana legalized. We lost that suit, but I would like to tell you some of their stories.

Greta Slovensky

Greta Slovensky is 32 years old. She started to experience slurred speech, body tremors, and distorted eyesight in 1990. Her motor skills were impaired. She started drooling. Over the next two years, she stumbled and fell often, had severe headaches, felt dizzy, and had trouble speaking. Finally she was diagnosed with Wilson's Disease. By the time she was treated, she could no longer talk, was informed that her vocal chords were paralyzed, and put on a feeding tube. The drugs that she was given for treatment were ineffective and had serious side effects. She had not been able to talk for two years, when she started smoking marijuana. Her speech returned after seven days, and her symptoms are improving. The tremors are almost gone. Her walking is stabilized.

Cathy Jordan

Cathy Jordan is 48 years old. When she was 36, she was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). She was told that she would not live for 5 years. After two years on prescribed medication, her condition was deteriorating. She experienced bouts of uncontrollable crying and stopped using the prescribed medicines except for Clonapin to aid in sleeping. She started smoking two marijuana cigarettes per day. Her appetite returned. The marijuana eases the constant twitching in her extremities, the pain from muscle spasms, the ache in her hands and neck, and the headaches. Not only is she alive after 12 years, but she still can talk as much as ever.

Kyle Mathy

Kyle Mathy sustained trauma to his back. He underwent back surgery in 1988 and 1989 and cervical surgery in 1991 and 1995. He contracted arthritis in both hips. In 1996, he began to have epeileptic seizures, averaging one every two weeks. In 1998, he needed another operation to fuse the vertebrae that were operated on in 1988 and 1989. He has been prescribed Parafon Forte and Darvocet in the past, and currently receives Neurontin, Dilantin, Vicodin, Percocet, Valium, and Flexeril, which causes nausea.

Kyle began using marijuana in 1997. He has not suffered a grand mal seizure since then. Marijuana also relieves the pain and stiffness from the arthritis and makes it easier to sleep.

Myron Mower

Myron Mower has had diabetes since he was nine years old. By the age of 21, the disease caused him to lose most of his sight, and he is legally blind. In 1992, MyronÕs condition caused paralysis of the stomach, which causes unbearable pain. He has been prescribed every painkiller available, including morphine and Demerol injections on a daily basis. He currently takes three 12-hour morphine pills every day, as well as "a raspberry flavored morphine syrup when the pain is really intolerable."

Myron also suffers from gastroparesis so that his stomach cannot empty itself. Thus he vomits every time he eats. Myron began using Stadol and became addicted to this morphine-derivative spray. He had to endure severe withdrawal symptoms to kick the habit. According to his mother, "he was actually screaming with pain."

Myron feels nauseous all of the time. He throws up every morning. He also experiences almost complete vision loss whenever there is excess fluid in the blood vessels of his eyes. Whenever the edema is relieved Myron can see blurry figures.

Myron began using marijuana when he was 18 years old. With marijuana, he hardly needs any other medicine except insulin. When he wakes up, he immediately smokes a marijuana cigarette, so that he does not throw up. Then he can eat. The build-up of fluids in the eye is relieved with the marijuana. When he smokes a marijuana cigarette, he can see.

Myron was arrested for growing marijuana, and is now serving five-years probation. When he was in jail for three days without his marijuana, he went completely blind. The only other medicine that he uses are morphine when needed and insulin.

Daryl Paulsen

Daryl Paulsen has had cerebral palsy from birth. He has been confined to his wheel chair since his early teens. The disease causes severe spasticity, continuous nausea, and lack of appetite. He was always underweight.

Conventional treatment did not help. Some of the drugs even increased his nausea. Marijuana almost eliminated the spasticity, improved his appetite, and controlled his nausea. He has gained 30 pounds.

Daryl is a respected businessman in his community and runs a foundation to benefit the disabled. He was arrested for possession of marijuana and sentenced to community service.

Marijuana Smoke Outs

I decided to smoke marijuana in public to get arrested, go in front of a jury, and have the jury nullify the law by finding me not guilty. Jury nullification has been supported over and over again by the Supreme Court, but Judge Brown prevented me from using that defense.

For the last 2-1/2 years, I have smoked a marijuana cigarette every Thursday at noon in front of the main gate at Penn State University in protest of the war on drugs. I announce what I am doing on a bullhorn.

I have been arrested six times for publicly smoking marijuana. Once I was arrested for using a bullhorn at a political rally. As a result, Judge Kistler declared the municipal bullhorn ordinance unconstitutional and dismissed my case. I sued the Borough of State College and was given $8,000 in an out-of-court settlement. I have been arrested twice for distributing campaign literature in front of a Wal-Mart store and held on $75,000 bail. Judge Kistler dismissed those cases also. Twice I was found in contempt of court, because I requested indictment by a grand jury.

I have been arrested 15 times and incarcerated 5 times in the last 2-1/2 years. Based on arrest record, I am the number one criminal in the U. S. I am the most dangerous man in the U. S., because I intend to restore the Bill of Rights, stop prosecution of consensual acts involving mentally-competent adults, reduce the prison population, and reform the prisons. But I need your help.