Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Torture In The Maine Prison Systems or Justified Punishment? *Off Topic*

When I decided to blog again I knew I wanted to be able to blog about anything that caught my attention and compelled me to write. It was why I initially decided not to reopen this blog as this was considered Ayla's blog and it seemed wrong to discuss anything else here. After opening www.toritriesagain.blogspot.com and then www.justice4AylaReynolds.blogspot.com and talking with Jeff, it seemed more feasible to reopen this blog and leave it as one blog but also cover cases of other missing or deceased children that needed a voice. I didn't know until yesterday that I would be compelled to write about something entirely different but this is something that I found quite troublesome and was inspired by two articles I read yesterday and wanted to bring attention to it so I am warning you all in advance that this post is off topic and is about what is going on inside Maine's Prison System so if you only read here about Ayla or other missing children you may want to skip this post. I will tell you know that although the majority of posts will be about Ayla and other missing children, periodically there will be posts about other topics that stir emotion inside of me for whatever reason.

While reading the online newspaper the other day looking for any updates on Kelli Murphy's competency hearing that was rescheduled from the 28th of Feb. to the 15th of March I came across this article from the Portland Press Herald.

http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/prison-captain-fired-but-later-reinstated-after-pepper-spraying-inmate__2013-03-17.html

Initially I thought it must be another punk kid that probably deserved to get pepper sprayed and in hindsight the jail knew they were wrong in dismissing the prison captain and rehired him. It wasn't until I read the article and watched the videos that I realized how dead wrong I was and how unnecessary and cruel the captain's actions were and how appalled I was that he was reinstated. The article is 5 pages long, definitely an in depth article and great investigative journalism, something that we rarely see from reporters that work for MaineToday.com.

Photo taken from Portland Press Herald

Apparently the inmate, Paul Schlosser, had a self inflicted injury on his arm that required a trip to the hospital and needed to be stapled shut. Reportedly one of the aides who first attended to the injury had to take some time off afterwards because the injury was so awful. Schlosser was treated, given pain meds, and told to keep the injury covered.

Schlosser, as shown in the video, was upset that his Ativan (similar to Valium or Xanax) that was prescribed to keep his mood calm was not being properly dispensed. He removed the dressing from his arm and refused to rewrap it until medical came with his meds. In the video he says he is supposed to take the med as prescribed, one tablet every 4 hours but was not receiving at least 2 of his scheduled doses each day. The officer talking to Schlosser acknowledges that he is not receiving the proper dose of meds and all he can do it wait. If he wanted to take his meds as prescribed and on time he shouldn't be in prison. Schlosser is serving a 7 year sentence for attempted robbery in Portland. He is considered a non violent offender and will be 31 years old when he is eligible for release. Before Schlosser became a drug addict and committed crimes (18 prior drug and theft convictions) he was a medic in the military but discharged. He reportedly suffers from bipolar disorder and depression.

Schlosser keeps getting more and more agitated because he can't have a book and his meds so he can't keep his mind off of his injury. Guards see this as an attempt to manipulate the situation. After Schlosser refuses to put his bandage back on guards finally make the decision to restrain him and bring him to the infirmary where he will get his arm rewrapped. Schlosser is compliant as the guards enter the cell and ask him to get on his knees and put his hands behind his back to handcuff him. They decide to put him in the restraint chair so he can not resist when the medic rewraps and treats him. Schlosser remained compliant until one guard pushes his head down onto the chair and Schlosser spits at him. This can be seen here-Partial Video- a short clip of the original 2+ hour footage that is linked below.

Photo taken from Portland Press Herald


The guards are all equipped in their extraction gear complete with face shields. The only officer who is not wearing gear is the Captain, who according to policy, should not have been involved in the extraction but instead should have been only observing the situation from a safe distance. The Captain, Shawn Welch, was instead right in the middle of the extraction next to Schlosser while he was restrained in the chair holding a canister of Pepper Spray that is designed to be used in a crowd and not dispersed closer than 6 feet from the person being sprayed. Welch was about 6 inches from the inmate when he sprayed him with no warning apparently in retaliation from Schlosser spitting at the guard and to keep Schlosser from spitting again. As he sprays Schlosser in the face he warns him not to spit again.

The protocol is not clear on how soon after someone is sprayed with pepper spray that they should be decontaminated but generally anyone who is sprayed is given water right afterwards. Instead of giving Schlosser water guards instead cover his face with a spit mask making the effects of the pepper spray ten times worse by trapping the vapors onto his face, nose, mouth and eye area. Captain Welch continues to taunt the inmate while threatening to spray him again even after the inmate has calmed down, Welch continues to taunt him trying to escalate the situation again.

What was most appalling to watch was that once Schlosser was in the restraint chair he posed no threat to the guards, he was completely subdued. Even spitting should not have been an issue as the guards who were authorized to be handling the extraction were wearing protective face shields. There was no need to administer pepper spray and then to administer pepper spray and then put a spit shield over the inmates face. Inmates have died in restraint chairs because of situations like this.

What is even more appalling is that once this video surfaced, Captain Welch was immediately fired because he violated multiple prison policies, used excessive force and reportedly held a grudge against Paul Schlosser. He appealed the decision and it was denied by Scott Burnheimer, the superintendent of the Maine Correctional Center but the Corrections Commissioner, Joseph Ponte overturned the ruling and reinstated Welch even allowing him to keep the title of Captain. Ponte claims that this was an isolated incident and that Welch's track record was good and he shouldn't be penalized so harshly. He was instead suspended for 30 days.

However, this situation is not the only situation in Maine involving a Captain in the prison system using excessive force on an inmate. David Cutler, 54, a Captain at the Maine State Prison in Warren was recently arrested for tackling and assaulting a handcuffed prisoner on Christmas Eve.

http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/Maine-prison-captain-accused-of-assaulting-inmate.html

According to the article, the prisoner, Reynardo Williams did nothing more than ask Cutler why black people were treated differently in the prison and that provoked Cutler to attack him.

I am not an advocate for prisoners, in fact, I think that in some cases prisoners are given far too many privileges than they deserve but I don't think that they should be attacked or have excessive force used against them especially in cases where they are already restrained and do not pose a threat to anyone. It is instead an abuse of power given to prison guards and it is unjust especially when someone in an authority position holds a grudge against an inmate because of the color of their skin or because they want their meds as prescribed. They may be inmates or prisoners and have committed a crime but they are also someone's son or daughter or their sibling or their parent.

Paul Schlosser's Mother Watching The Video. Taken from the Portland Press Herald


Reading the comments under the different articles the responses are mixed. Some feel that the treatment of the prisoners, especially Paul Schlosser, was a disgusting abuse of power but others feel that because he is an inmate and was acting out he got what he deserved. I am curious as to what you all think.

Below is the link to the full 2+ hour raw footage obtained by a reporter at the Portland Press Herald if you are interested in watching the footage in its entirety.

Full Video




20 comments:

  1. I think Paul learned a valuable lesson. I saw some of myself when I was younger in the way he acted. It took similar treatment before I smartened up. I truly don't think it was abuse when I got a can of mace emptied on me, and don't think it was on him either. The police have a very difficult job in these places. You could see it did calm Paul down and he knew he had it coming. You can't spit on someone it is considered assault.

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  2. I hope they treat everyone involved in aylas murder exactly like they did the non-violent offender and then some. May they rot in jail and burn in hell.

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  3. Abuse in prison does not serve the ends of justice. What happens to our society's prisoners speaks to who we are as a people. The justice system is designed to prevent mob rule and thoughtless cruelty, not facilitate it.

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  4. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Prisons are not suppose to be a great life. Discipline is key in these environment. There are rules and everyone follows the rules or they receive punishment. If a prison official says JUMP, you best JUMP.

    The best advice I can give is do not do anything that will land you in jail/prison.

    And whenever I read this type of expose', I try to remember that there are 3 sides to every story. His side, the other guys side and the truth.

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  5. An abuse of power. That's what I see. A clear example of the fallible human nature. Sometimes it is the very people we look to for fairness and protection who do the damage. Just look to the news for instances in which teachers, police officers, doctors, politicians etc are the very perpetrators of injustice. Sometimes it's just a bad day or inaccurate judgment call that's to blame. Something to think on when considering MSP's initial belief and opinion of the Dipietro family and the information they received from them. They are all human. Humans make mistakes and misjudge. Just sayin.

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  6. It's not the first time I've read or heard of this type of thing happening. I'm positive it's not the last.

    Abuse of power and authority happens all too often in our society, everywhere. Why? It's not becasue we as a society approve.
    It's happened since the begining of time and will continue.

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  7. Ativan is not suppose to be administered to anyone who has a past history of depression or drug abuse.
    Additionally it is not suppose to be used for any longer than 4 months.
    Two serious side effects are suicidal thoughts and self inflicted injury.
    It is possible that after the serious self inflicted injury that they were weaning him off of ativan. The officer who agreed that meds were not being administered may not have known that any doses had been changed. He is not medical personal there.

    Without reading the entire article or watching the vidio yet i ma not making any opinion of the tretment of the prisoner but wanted to comment on Ativan.

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    1. Chicky -

      Many elderly patients I see on a daily basis are on Ativan, and have been for many years. It helps to calm them, especially those with Alzheimers or Dementia, when they are going through those tough times when they just don't remember why they are where they are, or where they are at all. Sometimes these patients become combative and non-compliant with hospital staff and we just have to use Ativan, or stronger drugs, to bring them back to a normal state.

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    2. Katie. I'm glad to hear that they're finally allowing dementia patients use of drugs like Ativan. I was a care taker to a family member with dementia & the times this person was in the hospital-they absolutely refused the patient any type of benzodiazepines. And insisted on heavy duty anti psychotics for anxiety that stemmed from "sundowners"/dementia.

      The anti psychotic that the patient/my family member was put nearly killed my family member.

      So, I'm glad to hear they're giving out more benzos. I could never understand why they wouldn't in the case I'm referring to.

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  8. Chicky...are you a doctor or psychiatrist? I only ask because I have suffered from severe anxiety for some 30 years and Ativan has been a lifesaver for me. Anxiety made me depressed...less anxiety, less depression.

    This young man was DENIED access to the dosages of Ativan he was PRESCRIBED by a PHYSICIAN. That is ILLEGAL.

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    1. Anon..i believe chicky is stating a fact based opinion. Ño t every case is the same and I don't believe she or any one else knows if was being tapered down, or whatever . Chill out.

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    2. Veruca, thank you. I watched the full vidio and the plans were to discontinue the ativan and it does have to be tapered off not stopped suddenly.

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    3. I agree with Chicky. Any benzo you HAVE to be weaned off of- you just can't stop suddenly. If someone were to stop benzos with out a taper- that person could die, develop seizures, hallucinate, etc. Ain't pretty.

      Benzos & booze are one of the few addictions (is there any more?) that can cause death from withdrawals. Wouldn't want to mess with that.

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    4. You got it chicky..;)

      Some people like to think all statements or pieces of fact based info is based on their own case. Which is generally ignorant. But that's just my fact based opinion...:)

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  9. I'm not saying this Schlosser fellow is a model prisoner-by any stretch of the imagination. But what happened to him was absolutely wrong on all levels.

    The Captain should have stayed canned. The state of Maine really showed poor decision making by hiring him back. This is beyond insane to me.

    I've seen my fair share of "Captains" and I will promise you this wasn't his first time doing something like this - just the first time he got caught.

    Reminds me of the Stanford Prison experiment.

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  10. Very well written, I'm apalled by the brutality here it's definatly abuse of power and the justice system just let this happen with a slap on the wrist,how aweful!

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  11. I wonder what the opinions would be, if we were the guards and had to go through the abuse they do daily. The name calling, disrespect given when you try to be nice to an inmate like Paul. Only to be spit on, and yelled at, and demanded we give them everything they want even when they are not suppose to have it or it is beyond our control. How many here want to apply for the job of Captain? Let me know after you have the thankless job for years just what you would have done. It is awful easy to point the finger and say the man in charge is wrong, but walk in his shoes for a while. Just saying it's not always easy. I respect your opinion just the same.

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  12. I know people and have family members who work in correctional facilities. No, their job its not easy but it is their job. That would be like saying it's ok for day care providers or teachers to hit our children because of the same reasons. I realize inmates are adults but they are in prison because they couldn't act like adults. What if your grandma was treated this way because she was unruly in a nursing facility? This man has served his country for goodness sake and this is what his life is now?? We don't know his story. That captain does though and regardless, he's a human being. He was restrained and the guards were wearing protective gear. He posed no risk to anyone. He hasn't slaughtered little children or old ladies. He's ill and unstable emotionally. Correctional officers know what they're signing up for when they take the job. This is not ok.

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    1. Tell me more...I totally agree.

      Schlosser is clearly mentally ill. It is unfortunate that the Maine Department of Corrections doesn't have adequate mental health services available...and this is the result.

      Had Schlosser been given his prescribed dosage of Ativan, this whole episode may have been avoided. He may have been going through withdrawal, and reacted accordingly. Who made the decision to "taper" Paul off his meds? A mental health professional? (Sorry...I couldn't see the video on my slow laptop, so I really don't know...this detail wasn't mentioned in Tori's post).

      Paul IS a criminal...perhaps (likely) spurred on by addiction. He may belong in prison, but he should not be denied access to mental health services.

      Hell, as you pointed out...Paul served our country. He suffers from bi-polar and depression.

      He didn't deserve what he got.





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  13. Respectfully disagree he got what he asked for, and he learned his lesson.

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