Upcoming Boston Globe investigative series on prison 'suicides' and what you (we) can (will )do
FORWARD SEND FAR & WIDE
I understand that the Boston Globe Spotlight Team will FINALLY publish its investigative series on Massachusetts prisoner 'suicides' beginning next Sunday December 9. Four reporters have been working on this effort for almost 8 months.
The stories - as many of us close to the prisoner families know- are compelling and should 'shock the conscience' of all. We do not believe for one moment that all these deaths were by suicide. Nor do we believe that all those who did commit suicide were 'mentally ill'.
While it may be true that many folks diagnosed as 'mentally ill' may attempt or complete suicide attempts it is the DOC's abuse of prisoners that brings many to a terrible choice: to live in unending deprivation and despair or to end their suffering. A 'healthy, normal’ person would soon sink into depression, anger and hopelessness under the daily conditions inside MA prisons and jails. Prisoners who come into correctional facilities with a diagnosis of psychiatric disabilities are targeted for mistreatment by staff. Indeed there are probably more suicides than the DOC has 'reported.' The so-called good guys are free to torment and humiliate incarcerated citizens. Most legislators will not act to hold the DOC accountable because they’d prefer to look tough–on-crime.
What many should know is that the Commonwealth, the Legislature and correctional legal services, the Disability Law Center and the DOC all agree that the solution to this torture is to spend more money to create special Residential Treatment Units within correctional facilities for 'mentally ill' prisoners. This is the real craziness! The abuse will continue. It'll just be in a different location. What the state does not address is the root cause of the conditions within prisons. RTUs will not stop extra-judicial punishment or, medical neglect. It is not the cure for the lack of oversight. It's just sending another 40 million tax dollars down a rat hole!
It seems that Globe Spotlight Team has worked thousands of hours to bring this story ('suicides') to light. The team is comprised of fabulous journalists. However- they took direction from state-funded agencies. While families of the lost prisoners were consulted at great length- there was very little use of grassroots organizations and activist friends & families.
There is an opportunity to bring OUR insight, our expertise to this issue and to the greater public next week. What will you do? How is the epidemic of suicide connected to the call for a jail in Somerville? Who will speak about state complicity in the death of the prisoners? Who will demand accountability? There are many avenues here for effecting REAL CHANGE.
Let's hear from you.