How Much Punishment is Enough?
Inmates live in a painful environment of concrete and steel. 24/7 we are on something hard, even our so called mattresses are uncomfortable. We have to walk long distances in every kind of weather just to eat a scant meal and having decent boots to wear alleviates back, knee, and foot pain while keeping feet warm and dry in blizzards and downpours. Good footwear is essential in prison and everyone should be allowed to have boots.
Over the last 17 years of my incarceration, I've seen Keefe take over and prices of commissary triple, and those prices keep climbing every year.
I've seen VDOC, take away tobacco products.
I've seen VDOC, take away our DVDs that we once enjoyed on weekends and holidays.
I've seen VDOC, take 10 percent of all our money for a Savings Account, which many inmates such as myself will never get back. VDOC, is full of people who have cancer, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis, Diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease etc. who will never live to their release date and VDOC, doesn't seem to take this into consideration.
I've seen VDOC, blatantly break the law and disregard Code of Virginia 53.1-32, 53.1-32.1, and 53.1-41. And deny inmates 40 hours of mandatory programming and employment. Inmates are not supposed to be warehoused, but most are.
I've seen VDOC, take away publications that contain nudity (books, magazines, commercial photos).
I've seen VDOC, take away our color photographs, Birthday cards, Christmas cards, etc. that our families invest money in and render them down to a depressing black and white photocopy that looks like garbage.
I've seen VDOC, take away our ability to wear personal clothes into visit and enforce jumpsuits and rubber shoes.
I've seen VDOC, take away our 9 inch fans so that we have no way to cool off in these warehouses. The ventilation systems breakdown regularly. For example C-1 at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, has had no Air Conditioning for 2 weeks and temperatures are over 80 degrees in cells. We had no water in these cells to drink, flush toilets, take self medications, over the counter medications, etc. for 10 hours on July 3rd and 4th. We were fed breakfast in hot cells where toilets hadn't been flushed.
I've seen VDOC, take meal foods out of visitation and leave us to eat a few crackers and candy bars, while forfeiting our lunch in the chow hall.
I've seen VDOC, cut our rations by 75 percent. Decent meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables are foregone, for high starch diets. In 17 years I've had green peas 3 times. In the last 6 months I had 3 two inch pieces of banana. On lockdown we don't receive what the master menu calls for such as 16 ounces of milk, coffee, juice.
The Virginia Department of Corrections, seems to be determined to make people worse, not better. People act better the better they are treated.
VDOC, inmates are already subject to the harshest courts, with the highest wrongful convictions, and longest sentences of any state, and do on average 93 percent of their sentences in a state with no parole.
We are subjected to physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and property crimes at the hands of VDOC employees. We have no real means of help in these instances, because we are incarcerated.
These circumstances are the reason why I have chosen to die with cancer rather than be treated and keep living in steadily declining conditions created by VDOC officials who are making conditions worse, not better. They're making inmates worse, not better.
Virginia claims lowest recidivism rates, so why act with such haste?