LETTER: Regarding Sleep Deprivation


Dear CPF Volunteers,

…I have suffered and continue to get tortured by these people who know about this problem, but choose to ignore it, and even go as far to say there is no problem. I want these checks to be seen for what they are: “a human produced torture device”.

I’m sorry I sound angry, but angry I am. I don’t apologize for that. I have a reason to be angry… A judge, a group of attorneys, a special master, a suicide expert, the CDC people (educated people right?) and this ‘guard one’, metal striking metal is what they come up to prevent suicides? It is shameful. A three-year old kid would have understood this problem in a matter of hours. Why do all these people not? Why does the Coleman Team stay on the sidelines watching this continue?

I often ask myself ‘If the court and the Coleman people don’t trust CDC-C/Os to do the checks without getting recorded, why, then, did they trust them with a system that can be abused?’ The C/O has to touch his metal-rod to metal to record the check, “what safeguard is there against a C/O not “striking the metal”? None. And strike the metal is what they do again and again, non-stop, every day. Who in their right mind can say that this will not be bothersome and irritating to hear for a day or two? Who in their right mind can say this won’t become an issue after three months? Or who can say that this isn’t cruel to do to someone for a year? No one who is right in their head. You must be cruel, it would be a false statement to say this isn’t wrong!

Right here in Pelican Bay SHU the blocks are made up of six pods. Every pod has 4 cells on the bottom tier and four on top. It also has metal stairs to connect the tiers. To enter each pod the control officer has to open a big, loud, metal door that slams against metal when it finally opens all the way, and when it shuts down. The pod doors close as soon as the officer goes out of the pod.

This is what I hear every check: the pod doors opening and closing loudly in the four pods before mine. Then I hear this pod door opening mechanically loud and then slamming against metal. The C/O comes in jingling keys every step.

I hear four metal strikes from the C/O on the bottom cell. C/O tries to or runs up the metal stairs. Boots stomping. Four metal strikes. Including on my cell.

C/O runs back down stomping on the stairs.
I hear the pod door slamming shut against a metal bar.
I hear next-door pod door slamming against metal.
The check is done, and it takes about ten to fifteen minutes to complete, so that means that the noise starts in fifteen to twenty minutes again.

For CDC to say that this is not a problem is absolutely mind-blowing for me. I’ve been under these checks from 8-2015 to 8-2016 and from 7-2017 to now, here in the SHU.

To tell you how much they have affected me would be impossible for they have affected me in every aspect of my life. I’m not even able to think clearly. I have and live in a lot of anger over this, for how is it possible for CDC to say they are helping me while damaging me? I’m full of frustration because I cannot stop the C/Os from doing this to me, nor can I stop myself from being affected by this. My desperation grows because I know next noisy check is coming no matter what, and then again and again.

I have lived under non-stop stress and anxiety for the time mentioned above in a single cell that has no window.

The checks have messed up my psychology and have disrupted my sleeping habits. In my head, I have come to associate any and all noises related to the checks with pain. When I know they are coming to do checks, I cringe and my body automatically goes into panic mode: heartbeat rises, chest pressure comes, I feel nervous, mad and angry. Every check. In the night, I cannot lay down comfortably because I know checks will come. Before I am asleep. When I am dozing off, I get woken up and sometimes it takes me hours to finally fall asleep.

It is rare when I sleep for more than five hours. Many nights I wake up with my heart thumping fast thinking the checks are coming.. Many nights, I sleep about two to three hours only. This is not good. Lack of sleep gives me headaches, chest pains, muscle pain, and I lose pleasure of life. Everything seems gloomy and sad.

The thing about the checks is this: if I sleep little one night, well that is a bad night. But the day becomes horrible because what kept me up continues during the day. And that’s how it continues on, day after day. We get no time to relax, to think clearly, to keep ourselves healthy. I personally feel tired all the time. It seems, actually, I’m not getting enough sleep to keep my mind alert, nor to concentrate on anything for long.

You know, keeping our mind occupied in the limited activities we can engage in while in isolation is absolutely super important for our mental health. These activities are reading and writing as well as doing self-studying/educating. But how can I do that when I’m dealing with headaches, fatigue, and the constant disturbance of the checks? I simply cannot.

In my bad nights and days, it is horrible getting through it. In my good days, I can only spend that time gathering my thoughts and myself from what is happening here.

I’ve spoken to many C/Os regarding this issue and they agree that the checks should stop. The Pelican Bay administration and CDC while not admitting that the checks area problem, have stated that they are mandated by the court. So, in a way they are saying that they are not at fault here.

I disagree 100%. CDC employs doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and many other personnel that a long time ago could have helped them identify the checks as a harmful problem, yet they feel fine with their continuance. CDC received hundreds of inmate complaints, many letters from outside organizations telling them the ill effects of checks, yet they did nothing. CDC has ‘never’ approached the court to inform them of our concerns. So why are they not responsible for this unlawful action of theirs? To me they are responsible 100%.

I have learned that when a human being hurts another one without reason, he is liable for a criminal prosecution. I believe that the CDC is clearly engaging in a criminal act in this instance, while telling the public that they are doing this for our safety.

… I tell myself, I have got to continue on fighting this issue. I have to push for what is fair and right. And at the same time I have got to be a person who is fair and righteous no matter where I am at. At least I should always try. ●

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