Resistance Has Become My Ethical Obligation
By, Hybachi LeMar with contributions from IWOC
It's more effective to confront the issues that cause the illnesses in society's minds, than to attack the mentally ill people who those issues affect.
On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, I write this from a sense of ethical obligation.
Hidden from the public and the media, there are people being tortured in jails and prisons across the land.
Three-fourths of the 2.3 million prisoners in this country are functionally illiterate*, and many who know how to write live in fear of retaliation. It’s rare to find a frank and informed description of the torture that happens. For those who are conscientiously curious, this essay will surely draw you to the edge of your seats.
The horrors of institutional torture in North American prisons are laced with interlocking oppressions of physical and psychological abuse many in this country and around the world may find shocking to know.
My cell neighbor in the Restricted Housing Unit (the hole) at SCI-Greene, was the 2nd person I knew who drank water from his cell toilet to survive, after Corrections staff cut the water off in his cell. Deliberate water deprivation made him afraid to file further Grievance Forms for the institutional assaults directed against him by correctional staff. He was rightly fearful of more retaliation.
Every part of the environment is a tool of control, and too often used as a means of torture. There's a bone chilling irony in the way the perpetual blast of air through cell vents in winter can feel just as cold as them being deliberately turned off at the start of Spring.
Many Prisoners are indigent— unable to purchase the fans sold in commissary (the prison store). That minimal relief from the oven-like conditions is a stretch even for those with income— a salary of just 19 cents an hour.
Moreover, the seizing of life-sustaining medication - like asthma inhalers - is nothing short of respiratory torture and tantamount to attempted murder for many with asthma. At least (3) people on the unit I was just released from (in SCI-Greene) had their inhalers taken from them by institutional medical personnel— and this despite the covid outbreak happening in the tier directly below us, as indicated by the Quarantine sheets taped to cell doors.
I was given my inhaler back only because I had conscientious outside supporters who pressured the facility with a series of phone zaps. I sincerely appreciate those efforts — while I lost my fear of death in 2008/2009, I’m grateful to keep breathing so I can continue to live to help liberate those tortured by oppression, inside & out.
Inside, solitary confinement is one notorious means of torture. A person is sealed inside of a cave as an attempt to "correct" their behavior. The click of electronic doors leave many of the 60,000+ people sealed behind them to develop symptoms including paranoia, involuntary twitching, and stuttering due to lack of an interpersonal rapport for months, years, and many times, decades, on end!
What You Can Do:
This moment and these conditions call for Direct Action in a united struggle against the institutional torture as well as coordinated steps toward liberation such as abolishing the state’s right ro enslave people as described in the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution.
Many imprisoned union members, those who are working and those who are stored in cells for profit, have documented countless instances of torture, slavery, religious persecution, and many other forms of inhumanity in American prison cells. The institutions of torture need to be abolished. They need to be seen and understood.
We encourage legal professionals to take on winnable cases from inside the walls and encourage everyone to demand that body cameras be worn by Corrections Officers to assist in the path toward abolition.
Transparency into the nature of the prison industrial complex is bound to disillusion even the most unaware. As more people learn of the cruel realities inside, they’ll surely see enough to join in dialogue. Look up the Industrial Workers of the World’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee to help us destroy these oppressive systems!
People in prison can learn more by writing to us at:
PO Box 414304
Kansas City, MO 64141
For Freedom from every form of torture Worldwide,