1 in every 20 Americans will spend time in a jail cell at least once in their lifetime. No nation jails more of their citizens per capita than the United States of America. 10% of Americans will be arrested in their lifetime. Less than 2% have been tortured – so far. This is almost 300% more than China and 400% more than Russia – per capita.
Because our national news media is heavily biased and regularly manipulated (proven by award-winning CNN journalist/whistle blower Amber Lyon) we often hear about the human rights abuses of other countries like China, Turkey, Iran or Russia, but we never hear about all the American citizens, over a thousand of them that are tortured and abused on a daily basis – right here on American soil. No, I am not talking about Muslim terrorists, or some Russian spies. I am talking about military veterans, pilots, crooked accountants, tax evaders, and many white-collar thieves, and even a few dozen people who were wrongly convicted, or have not even had their trial yet, and are supposed to be “presumed innocent” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XvU_PNCjhE
I personally both witnessed and was subjected to both physical and psychological torture some of which is outlined here http://WhyUncleSamHatesBruce.blogspot.com, others I summarized in a 2 page report I submitted to Amnesty International in Toronto in the summer of 2000 at 56 Temperance Street, only 3 days before a swarm of police descended upon our Canadian home (where I had sought sanctuary). 20 armed SWAT guys came to “help” a sole Immigration Canada man with a clipboard “detain” me. For what? Even he wasn’t sure, but over the next week while I was locked up in maximum security detention, we learned the USA “made a request” for the “enforcement action” without providing an explanation. Was it retaliatory for blowing the whistle on the torture in America? Yes, but only in part.
Anyway my profile is not one you think of when you imagine someone being tortured. I have zero history of violence and was a former air traffic controller, former employee of the U.S. Justice Department, a former U.S. Treasury Agent, and amongst other things a former Fortune 500 Executive, Red Cross Volunteer, and honorably discharged military veteran. I was imprisoned 30 years ago for something I never did, but had to deal with due to political corruption. I have to admit that my visit to a U.S. prison was shocking and a bit scary at first. But most all people quickly adapt to their environment and so did I. It was not my world mind you, but I had to live in it. Some memories never fade with time.
I heard the horror stories but frankly, I blew them off as urban legend myths – until I saw my first brutal beating of a prisoner who had four guards kicking, clubbing, and stomping the poor bastard as he lay on the ground with no way to defend himself. His hands were bound behind his back with nylon tie-wraps. his face and jumpsuit were covered in blood – a real mess. They dragged him behind one of the housing units – out of general view. After a few more punishing minutes, he was taken not to the clinic, but to the solitary confinement unit. “My God! This guy must have done something horrible!” I thought to myself. As a new arrival I just assumed he simply must have deserved this beating. But later, when we all got wind of the whole story, I was sick to my stomach. The prisoner confronted a guard who had made some suggestive sexual comments to his wife as she entered the visiting room and demanded to know the guard’s name. Apparently the guard and his three friends, persuaded him not to file any report with the warden! They clearly believe actions speak louder than mere words.
Even women prisoners get beaten or raped without provocation, or for refusing to provide sexual favors. Four guards in Georgia had to resign for beating this woman below but they never spent jail time for it. “Detainees” at an Immigration Center in Florida (Krome) where I briefly worked myself, got abused in much the same way (I resigned from Krome after reporting a supervisor for raping young Latino immigrants) Did you know that fully one-third of all the jailed women in the world are in U.S. jails?
But this would prove to be the most mild abuse and torture I would see and experience. In fact, I would see/hear two prisoners actually murdered at MCC MIami and then their deaths falsely made to appear as suicides. One of the victims was Ralph Steele. I gave sworn statements to the police when I was released and never saw a single police report written up. The FBI station Chief in Miami (Paul Miller) actually had the audacity to tell me the FBI had no legal jurisdiction to investigate the murders I tried to report! Getting back on point… I saw prisoners locked in a closet and then the closet was filled with pepper spray as the prisoner could do nothing but gag, scream, vomit, and beg for mercy. His offense? Calling a guard an “asshole” for stealing his library book from his cell so he could read it himself. Books are rare gold in solitary confinement cells.
Prisoners are human beings. Human beings are animals. All animals, no matter how docile, will tolerate only so much abuse before they snarl and snap back in self-defense. When that happens in a prison however, the animal that dares to defend themself will be swarmed upon by a wolf pack of guards and then bound like in the above photo and get “a full body massage compliments of Uncle Sam” Thank God I was foolish enough to make this mistake only once. The next day my testicles were swollen the size of tennis balls and I had blood in my pee and turds for almost a week. From that day forward I would only defend myself against prisoners – not a guard. No matter how abusive one guard can be, fighting back, even in self defense will certainly quadruple the pain since at least three or more guards will “join the party” as they call it.
Some torture is slow and not so obvious. It may be just chaining someone to their bed for a a few days or in an awkward position for only a few hours that puts a strain on your back muscles and causes painful cramps. Above are a few favorite positions and another that I personally dreaded was handcuffing the right wrist to the left ankle and the left wrist to the right ankle, Learning how to pee in this configuration is a real challenge!
The above may look like a toilet to you, and on a good day it is. On a bad day it is a torture device. American citizen prisoners have a worse version of water-boarding than Al-Qaeda prisoners. Imagine this… 4 or 5 guards come into your cell and decide to use your toilet and all take a healthy pee in it. They then grab you and handcuff your hands behind your back and make you kneel in front of this unflushed toilet. The smell is nauseating but it gets a lot worse when they now slam your face down into the toilet and submerge your face in the pee! While you gag, they laugh. They usually want something from you when they do this – either information, a phone number, cigarettes, etc. In my case they wanted a signature. So until you give them what they want, they keep dunking your head and then will start repeatedly flushing the toilet until you gag or drown. At least one prisoner drowned like this at Dade County Jail where they moved me to hide me from a news reporter. Here below is what a Federal Solitary Confinement cell looks like – when they are new…(the glass is frosted or opaque so there is nothing to look at outside, and only half of these cells have windows at all)
Nine of my 38 months in prison were spent in solitary confinement, but fortunately my torture period was no more than 3 months and I was kept in a cell similar to the one below during the abuse. These solitary confinement cells are where 80% of all torture takes place in America. Why? There are no witnesses here and nobody but other prisoners can hear you scream in pain. My 3 week hunger strike put an end to most of the abuse.
Torturing American prisoners is not at all new. In the 1860s prisoners at Arkansas State Prison often got to talk on the “Tucker Telephone” – getting their genitals electrocuted with high voltage wires that caused excruciating pain, sterility, and bleeding. But today, the torture used is less noticeable and easy to hide from witnesses or even police investigators.
Freezing prisoners to the point of Hypothermia is very common and something I experienced a handful of times at MCC Miami and elsewhere. The effects of Hypothermia aside from uncontrollable shivering is gradual and complete disorientation and extreme stress. Prisoners who fall asleep during this torture can easily die and dozens have every year. Those that survive the Hypothermia may then lose their life to Pneumonia if their body is not strong enough to resist the water build up in their lungs.
I was personally kept hog-tied and naked on the concrete floor with handcuffs for 4 days. Unlike duct tape, steel handcuffs dig into your skin and cause bleeding within a few hours of movement. Today 30 years later, I still have the scars on my wrists to remind me of the ordeal. All these tortures were an attempt to get me to sign a false statement. During those four days I had no choice but to urinate and defecate on myself and to eat like dog from a tray of food put in front of me. Nylon tie wraps are also used and are only slightly less painful. Both cut off circulation in your arms and put a huge amount of stress on your lower back. Veteran prisoners who heard of my plight advised me to roll over on my side to ease the pain a bit. I was extremely grateful for that tip.
At FCI Talladega a federal prison in Alabama I saw a prisoner with his head duct-taped between two jail bars while he was forced to kneel with his hands cuffed behind his back. Two guards tormented him for over an hour. One would kick his face while the other would spray him with pepper spray when he screamed and vomited. When we other prisoners would protest, we’d also get hit with a blast of the burning spray.
Getting sprayed with pepper, mace, or bear spray is very easy to do in an American prison. Just argue or disagree with a guard or refuse to call him “sir” and you have 50% chance of getting third degree burns in less than 30 minutes. This is one time you will actually want to stick your face into a flushing toilet!
When MCC Miami guards got their new Taser Guns in 1987 they needed to have a demonstration. I supposedly was selected at random to be their target – twice. There are no words to describe the painful tingling sensation you feel all over your body as you lose all muscle control and pee and shit on yourself. For 10-15 minutes you remain totally incapacitated, flopping around on the floor like a fish out of water. https://ca.screen.yahoo.com/tech—science/taser-effects-bare-skin-super-214609480.html
One of the most brutal tortures I ever witnessed are the “gladiator fights” many guards force prisoners to participate in. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/27/san-francisco-prison-guards-forced-inmates-game-of-thrones-style-fights The one I saw at Atlanta FCI resulted in a prisoner having his eye gouged so badly that it had to be surgically removed. Some of these prisoners forced to fight one another don’t even know each other. Others belong to rival gangs. Fortunately I was never subjected to this brutality. But still I was attacked, and even stabbed after one of the prison guards decided to leak to all the other prisoners that I was a former U.S. federal agent. As a result I was stabbed with a pencil in my stomach and my neck, but neither wound caused serious injury and I recovered within a week. Had a metal shank been used instead of a pencil, you would not be reading these words right now.
Other torture involves making prisoners eat feces or drink pee mixed in with their kool-aid drinks. Not so funny when you remember how HIV, Hepatitis and other diseases are spread through body fluids. https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2007/aug/15/rhode-island-pays-120000-to-prisoner-forced-to-eat-feces/ I thank God they only pulled that stunt on me once,, although I was deliberately given diarrhea many times by guards who would spike our drinks with Visine for a good laugh and then give us the “bad news” that there is no more toilet paper! Their twisted sense of humor was not much appreciated by the prison residents. Sometimes our assholes were sore for 2-3 days at a stretch. From time to time we found a few other surprises in our food – namely dead or live insects (flies and roaches) and having worked in the prison kitchen which we kept spotless, I knew the special condiments were courtesy of the guards in solitary.
This Ohio woman was sentenced to 54 years in prison for exactly what prison guards did to me at MCC Miami http://murderpedia.org/female.C/c/carroll-liz.htm This took place just before I went on my hunger strike, the only effective way a prisoner can protest and get the warden’s attention.
Guards made me strip naked and cuffed my hands behind my back and then rolled me inside a wool blank that wreaked like urine. I did not know for an hour that the blanket was infested with lice and crabs. For good measure the guards also sprinkled in some fiberglass fibers from some insulation. Then they wrapped me as tight as possible with two rolls of duct tape and left me in my cell to roast. Within 2 hours the heat was the good news! Sweating profusely was bad yes, but having crabs and lice biting away at me in my crotch, armpits, neck, and hair was unbearable, especially since I had no way to scratch. I was screaming for release within 4 -5 hours. This was not a happy place for me, and I still get flashbacks to this episode and the toilet diving. But the most painful was being hog-tied and pepper-sprayed.
Not all the torture of U.S. citizens is physical. A good portion of it is psychological, like locking up a prisoner in a completely white room, withholding mail and visits from loved ones and lawyers , or telling a prisoner he tested positive for HIV or tuberculosis, or that while you are locked away in solitary confinement, your parents, children, or spouse died in some horrible accident. One prisoner in Memphis committed suicide after a guard told him that his parents and children died in a house fire and that his wife was probably not going to make it either. They had me convinced that my mother had passed away, and that I had contracted TB in prison and would probably die within a year or two. I lived in despair for six months until I learned the truth… my mother was quite alive and worried sick about me. I also tested negative for TB.
I was subjected to 4 days of sleep deprivation which damn near drove me insane. It is one of the most cruel things that you can do to a human body and after 2 days you do not even respond to loud noises and after 3 days can even sleep through a bucket of ice water thrown on you. By day 4 they had to keep me awake with cigarette burns. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dreaming-in-the-digital-age/201412/why-sleep-deprivation-is-torture
Some of the worst cells have no windows at all and are actually several feet underground. They are cold, damp, and dark. At times you could hear a pin drop and yet you will hear grown men weep and scream at least once a day. Just because we were isolated from the public, family, and friends did not rob us of our emotions. Regretfully, we could not rid ourselves of them even if we wanted to. Sometimes the only friendly face and semblance of kindness came from a caring nurse, visiting pastor, or one of the new guards who were not yet jaded. The below photo shows just how isolated prisoners are kept for days, weeks, months, and even years. This is how they break your spirit to fight back against any injustice that was forced upon you in a courtroom.
Some twisted guards actually feel it is their duty to amplify any and all punishment a judge may have given you with their sentence, and so when it comes to torture they can justify it and even rationalize it if caught. BTW… when the segregation unit gets crowded (like during the Iran Contra scandal) it is not uncommon for two prisoners to share a cell. One sick guard had promised Foster that he would get me to sign the statement he wanted so badly. Knowing that I am a non-smoker he first put me in a cell with a chain smoker for a day and then asked me if wanted a “cell change” after he heard me gagging and coughing all day long. I jumped at the chance to breathe clean air, and the guard just smiled. Three minutes later, I found myself sharing a cell with “Big Man” whose nick name was quite fitting since he was about six feet tall and about 290 pounds. He was a friendly guy, and for good reason – he was aggressively gay. I knew I was either going to die or end up in a hospital if I could not get out of that cell. But the guard just ignored me when I started banging on the door. Big man introduced himself and offered me a chocolate bar. I ignored his overt flirting all day and dreaded having to sleep in the same cell with this guy. He offered me the bottom bunk and I said “no thanks”. He had already occupied the top bunk so I prepared myself for what was to come. Fortunately fighting with bullies in the schoolyard as a kid prepared me for this day. (Thanks for the training Cliff) When he tried to force himself on me when the lights went off that night, I had no choice but to bite him and fight for my life. If he was going to rape me, i would make sure the event had more pain than pleasure for the sleazeball. Learning to wrestle and box in my youth sure came in handy for me that ugly night. The floor was slippery with blood, both his and mine and only a guard shift change got me taken out of the cell during the most exhausting scuffle of my life – far worse than any wrestling match to be sure. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/locked-up-in-america/#solitary-nation
Just recently something very unusual happened in Florida. These six prison guards were arrested and charged with inflicting cruel and unusual punishment (assaults) on prisoners under their supervision. At MCC Miami not a single guard was arrested for the murder of Ralph Steele. Too many witnesses made it difficult to conceal the abuse doled out by these six guys, as investigative reporters from The Miami Herald noticed some unusual prisoner deaths and began to interview prisoners and their families. http://media.miamiherald.com/static/media/projects/2015/cruel-and-unusual/aftermath/guards-arrested/ Friends, what they stumbled upon is just the tip of a very big iceberg, that if properly investigated will uncover hundreds of torture victims and murders – in the land of the free.
With the privatization of America’s jails and prisons, the jailing of U.S. citizens has now become a “business”, and every business needs “customers” to be profitable. As a result, more and more innocent people are being locked up for non-violent crimes. More and more 99%, 911, and truther protesters are being silenced behind bars. Even homeless people are being rounded up and jailed to fuel the prison factories that we used to scold China for! The below chart speaks for itself and should be a wake-up call to all of my fellow-Americans, especially if you bother to read this: http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/hardtruth/con_camps_fema.htm
Friends, violent crime in America has steadily decreased over the last two decades , yet the prison populations continues to climb. What is wrong with this picture? When do we put our foot down and take back control of our lives from our government? Our indifference and apathy only emboldens them even more to look for more brazen ways to profit from human suffering – at our expense. If you took the time to read this long article, it means you are still human, and probably still remember what it means to be a true patriot – an unselfish American of compassion and genuine justice. What happened to me and hundreds of other AMERICAN CITIZENS can just as easily happen to YOU or one of your loved ones. Lest we forget this old scribble from a World War II survivor of Nazi Germany? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/criminal-justice/locked-up-in-america/whos-locked-up-in-america/
The evil mean streak that runs through some of the American prison guards runs deep to their core. Even more so in state prisons. Multiply the human suffering by at least five at the state level. Fortunately only 10% -12% of the guards are responsible for these heinous acts of torture. Unfortunately, the bigger problem is that most of the other 88% turn blind eyes to it all since they do not want to lose their stable and good-paying jobs. Humanity and compassion are growing extinct in America. These cruel bastards are paid with YOUR tax monies friends. Sometimes I think the only way to stop the madness is to stop giving them tax money to abuse in this manner. Seriously, how else can we stop the brutality that has become the new trademark of America?
Note: During my 38 months of false, but very real imprisonment I interviewed 47 political prisoners and 22 victims of torture and vowed to tell their collective story one day. Prison guards would not allow me to leave prison with all of my notes, many of which I had memorized in preparation of a seizure and reconstructed them upon my release. Yet in October of 1999 federal storm troopers raided my mother’s home in Ohio and stole my manuscripts at gun-point in front of several witnesses. They gave no receipt for what they stole. Thank God for Zip drives drives because I had buried two disks. Coming to China allowed me to finish writing my 812 page book but after our son was born I promised my wife I would never publish it. Perhaps my son will have an interesting read one day after I pass on. See: http://WhyUncleSamHatesBruce.blogspot.com
Your comments are welcome and feel free to reprint and reblog this without editing. Please remember, you are either part of the solution, or part of the problem. Thanks for letting me vent a little bit here. Blogging is great therapy eh? America – Land of the free?