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Medical neglect and pepper spray bring death to mentally ill man in SCI Albion’s dark hole

March 29, 2013

by Andre Jacobs

Statue of Liberty, lynchingIf only Lady Liberty knew
That I sit in prison an innocent man
Railroaded and denied my right to testify
And how I see other innocent men, women and children
Who got “justice” because they had no money or social connections.
If only Lady Liberty knew
That when the cops, judges and prosecutors
See a certain color or that a defendant came from a certain geographical area,
They pursue that person more vigorously, imprison him first and longer than others
And how the big money corporate thugs
Lobby for laws that help imprison the poor by the millions
As the rich go free.
If only Lady Liberty knew
How the pain rips through and rapes the essence of human beings
When justice is denied
And criminals are made
When the punishment doesn’t match the crime
Then she would rip off that rusty blindfold and get her ass some glasses.

The murder

Amid rumors that SCI (State Correctional Institution) Albion has been authorized to establish a brutal and bloody regime in its solitary confinement hole, prison guards murdered Stony Schaeffer (DW8560) in his cell using chemical munitions – Oleoresin Capsicum (O.C. or pepper) spray – and electro-shock weapons.

In a scenario almost identical to the murder of John Carter at SCI Rockview on April 26, 2012, a cell extraction riot team, led by Lt. Zillman and supervised by Warden Harlow and his subordinates, Hall, Sutter and Hebner, doused Stony in the face and body with deadly pepper spray. Knowing they could not save him because the door was jammed, Stony was left choking and dying on a cell floor for almost 20 minutes as guards and the maintenance department used hammers and other tools to pry the cell door open so the guards could get inside the cell.

Upon entering, the guards immediately assaulted Stony with the electro shield despite him being unresponsive and literally jammed his limp body through the crack in the door. I know a dead body when I see one.

And that is how they treated Stony: worse than a dog. “Let him suffer, and if he makes a peep, spray him, kill him, drag him out of the cell and throw him in the dirt to be forgotten forever.” Dogs get more respect than that.

Homicide is defined by Webster’s Dictionary of the Law (2000) as “an act or omission resulting in the death of another person. Also called criminal homicide, the crime of causing another’s death through conduct that was intentional, knowing, reckless, extremely negligent, without justification.”

A suffering man in need

Stony, 44, had been in the hole for the past eight years straight. He had no kids and his mother and father were deceased. It seemed he had little to no outside support, in view of his extreme dependence on prison staff and mental health workers who he didn’t seem to understand did not care whether he lived or died.

SCI Albion made light of Stony’s cries for help up until his dying day. In the 30 days I’ve been housed across from Stony, I’ve witnessed him threaten to kill himself at least six times. Each time he was talked into giving staff the razor or noose, but he was never put in an anti-suicide restraint chair and was permitted to retain all other instruments of suicide. On Aug. 8, 2012, after retrieving a noose from Stony, supposed “psychologist” Mary Beth Anderson stated, “One of these days I’m gonna just let you do it” (kill himself).

On the day of the murder, Anderson was available but refused to help Stony.

There are two different versions of how Stony died. One, the most accepted, is that Stony was trying to tie a noose to the cell vent when the cell extraction team approached his cell. They sprayed him two or three times in large amounts. He fell off of the toilet and when he tried to get back up, they sprayed him again and he never got back up. They entered the cell, shocked him at least once and jammed him through the opening in the door.

The second version, told of course by staff, is that Stony committed suicide and “it’s on video.” However, if Stony was already hanging, why would they spray him multiple times? Moreover, I witnessed them drag his dead body out and he had nothing wrapped around his neck. In fact, when men – who I believe were police of sorts – entered the cell later that day, I overheard one say, “Did anyone take anything off of the vent?” because nothing was there.

SCI Albion made light of Stony’s cries for help up until his dying day.

Ever since the Program Review Committee (PRC) laughed at Stony’s plea for release from the hole weeks ago, he lost all hope for the future and deteriorated. He would scream every day, “I can’t take this shit anymore!” He ripped apart steel and concrete fixtures in his cell and broke the windows. That is the picture-perfect example of a man who was pushed beyond his limits.

So, whether Stony died by suicide or spraying, the blood is on the hands of all SCI Albion’s staff who heard his cries for help and laughed at him.

The hole as mental torture

I identify the following three policies, practices and customs as contributions to Stony’s death and the pain men, women and children are being subjected to across the nation.

1) Excessive use of misconduct system

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) uses their misconduct system in the same way slave overseers used their whips – to break the spirits of resistance of slaves. The system is this simple: A state member writes a misconduct report. The hearing is held by another staff member; zero testimony is offered. The prisoner is denied witnesses in his defense and he or she is convicted and sentenced three to six months or more in solitary confinement.

Once in the hole, if the prisoner files grievances, uses a curse word, looks at a staff member the wrong way or is fearful of living in the same cell as a rapist, murderer or violent inmate, a staff member can repeatedly use the misconduct system until the prisoner is faced with serving literally 10,000 days in the hole. Then as if for retaliation, training or pleasure, PRC and medical staff then “program” the prisoner to “work off” the excessive sentence or risk continued suffering or death in solitary.

There is no shortage of prisoners, myself included, who have been oppressed in this way for 10, 20, 30, 40 years straight. Menticide, torture, murder.

2) Get what you pay for

The PADOC has caused the deaths or deterioration of many mentally ill men and women through its systematic employment of unlicensed, incompetent or otherwise unprofessional medical staff who use prisoners as nothing more than lab rats – new drugs and theories get tested right here in DOC prisons. When a witness to Stony’s death asked how he should cope with the anxiety and inability to sleep, Thomas was told by so-called psychologist Ceaser to “sleep it off.”

The incentive for employing reject medical staff is, of course, money. There are approximately seven alleged psychologists or psychiatrists at Albion employed to treat nearly 3,000 prisoners. Many medical staff the DOC employs have limited licenses to practice or cannot work in a real medical facility for lack of qualifications or prior misconduct. The less qualified they are, the cheaper the expense; and unlike bartering for commissary, electronics or other items to sell to prisoners, providing cheap medical labor causes death.

3) Ignoring the signs of suffering

Any blind man could see that Stony was crying out for help from his suffering. The medical literature on solitary confinement states that even after only short periods, inhabitants will experience (a) hyper-responsivity to external stimuli, (b) perceptual distortions, illusions and hallucinations, (c) panic attacks, (d) difficulties with thinking, concentration and memory, (e) intrusive obsessional thoughts, (f) overt paranoia and (g) problems with impulse control.

According to Stuart Grassian, M.D., the leading expert on the issue: “This syndrome was strikingly unique – some of the symptoms described above are found in virtually no other psychiatric illness: acute dissociative, confusional psychoses are a rare phenomenon in the context of such confusional state is exceedingly rare.”

Those combinations of symptoms “form a discreet syndrome” – that is, a sickness unknown to the world of psychiatry beforehand. Despite the uncontradicted findings of Dr. Grassian and every other doctor in the country who did studies on the issue beyond 60 days, the PADOC continues to argue that there is no harm in containing human beings in cells the size of a bathroom amid extreme noises, smells and tensions for years.

The legal claim is one of systematic deliberate indifference to the well-known adverse side effects of solitary confinement in the employment of cheap, incompetent prison doctors to save money at the expense of prisoners’ mental health and safety. The evidence is in the absence of procedures designed to identify and treat the established adverse side effects of solitary confinement.

The message

When one is able to read through the lines of what prison administrators throughout the country are really saying, the message being sent is: “Prisoners are less than human.” Don’t get lost in the technicalities. Their basic foundation is the same as it was during chattel slavery days: work ‘em, let ‘em starve, let ‘em die, let ‘em suffer, but just don’t stop the money flow!

The modern-day slavery system (prisons) is much more dangerous than the previous form. Then, freedom fighters and supporters argued that the slaves did nothing wrong to be forced into labor and treated worse than dogs. Today, supporters of slavery simply mask their profit-driven intentions by arguing that prisoners committed crimes, so it’s okay to enslave and treat them worse than dogs.

The message being sent is: “Prisoners are less than human.”

And that is how they treated Stony: worse than a dog. “Let him suffer, and if he makes a peep, spray him, kill him, drag him out of the cell and throw him in the dirt to be forgotten forever.” Dogs get more respect than that.

Albion, the death trap

In attempting to get in the cell as Stony choked to death, the maintenance department was unsuccessful in ripping the door off because they had previously installed door-stoppers designed to prevent prisoners from passing legal and reading materials to each other. Those door-stoppers remain on all of the cells and continue to serve as a fire and safety hazard to all of the prisoners who might need to be saved.

There is a pattern and practice at Albion of top officials authorizing the maintenance department to add fixtures to the cell doors which, in the case of a fire or other emergency calling for evacuation, would mean sure death as in the case of Stony. For example, bolt locks in addition to locks built into the food slots and padlocks on all 96 cells in addition to top quality electronic security doors.

On Feb. 15, 2012, the Huffington Post reported Albion’s murder of prisoner Dennis Austin. Already suffering from lung cancer, medical staff allowed Dennis to self-medicate and be medicated by untrained prisoners as he rotted in a blood and pus-soaked bed and died with bed sores all over his body.

On Feb. 24, 2012, former Albion prisoner Derrick Jones was awarded $312,000 for negligent care by the medical department. He was misdiagnosed, denied X-rays for five days and was never given an MRI for the broken ankle which caused him further injury. Dogs get more respect than that.

Andre Jacobs, web
Andre Jacobs
And it’s not just the prisoners dying at Albion. According to Kevin Barwell, retired Albion prison guard: “We’ve been averaging almost one successful employee suicide every three years. That’s not being addressed. A guy I was car-pooling with put a gun in his mouth, pulled the trigger and lived for two days. We just had one a year ago that did the same thing. They’re killing themselves off faster than the inmates are attempting suicide, but nobody wants to talk about it.” Albion is killing its own employees!

Rather die on my feet

I personally do not fear death and I especially do not fear man. I will continue to let my pen scream the pain and frustration of the masses and I don’t care who doesn’t like it. My real concern is when will the color, crass and mental barriers fade so that we can all see the value and beauty in each other. My real concern is when will all who are afflicted by this system of oppression, sexism, racism, discrimination and slavery state firmly, “That’s it.” My real concern is when can we all live again, breathe again, exist again?

My real concern is when will all who are afflicted by this system of oppression, sexism, racism, discrimination and slavery state firmly, “That’s it.”

Send our brother some love and light: Andre Jacobs, DQ5437, SCI Albion RHU, 10745 Route 18, Albion, PA 16475.


4 thoughts on “Medical neglect and pepper spray bring death to mentally ill man in SCI Albion’s dark hole

  1. Steven Duran

    In September, 2013 my son Joseph Damien Duran, a severely mentally ill inmate was pepper sprayed while in his one man cell in a mental health care unit of Mule Creek State prison in Ione California, 30 miles from Sacramento. He was sprayed while holding open a food port door in his cell. The corrections officer told him to close the door. Joseph refused. He had a tracheotomy tube in his throat from a previous injury, and he was not decontaminated or cared for in any manner after the spraying incident. He was found dead in his cell the next morning. Of course, his death was called a suicide, then later changed to "accidental" or "unknown".The prison ordered a autopsy be performed, cremated his body and threw his ashes out at sea off the Marin County coast. This was all done within 17 days after his death. The prison also failed to contact my wife and I about the incident. We found out about his death on January 8, 2014 from a reporter with the Sacramento Bee which was doing a story on Joseph's death. These cruel bastards that did this to him and my family must be some cold, heartless prison staff, as I believe animals get treated better than my son did. It is time NOW for a change in the manner in which mentally ill prisoners, and ALL prisoners are treated while in the custody of the prisons withing the United States of America. I'm praying my son did not die in vein, and that his case helps bring justice and an end to the cruel and unusual murders of human beings serving time for their mistakes. God help us all!

  2. Sonja Reed

    My son was in Dixie County jai in Florida. While in solitary confinement he was pepper sprsyed for asking why they refused his mail from his mother. He kicked the door and ask to be let out because he coul not breath. Within 5 minutes he was sprayed again. He was left in the contaminared cell for 22 hours having trouble breathing. He was found unconcious. The ambulance was called but the Major had them leave. They put him in another cell and pulled his pants down and left him there still unconscious. Luckily he did survive. But something needs to be done about the way our people are being treated in our jails.

  3. Gary Dantzler,

    i love my peoples Because we are strong and so talented at same time,it is a mazion what we as a people our a culture have to deal with here in this AMERICA PLANTION, killing us here in these streers in there court rooms all aroubd america no control of them selfs, and these sell out Brothers they need to stop it with their maddness posion of the mind and un lot them sever mental illness, lots of police , and judges and a whole lot officals lost their minds


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