Written/Compiled by: Cecil Paterson
A means of torture and control being utilized by the Texas Dept. of Criminal "Justice" is Sleep Deprivation; the deliberate denial of restful sleep and relaxation as a means of depressing the mind’s processes and softening up the psychological systems so that a person can be "programmed" to be submissive and docile to the point that prisoners are easily controlled.
Being systematically deprived of sleep for long periods develops all sorts of health problems, both physical and mental which become habitual and will effect the prisoner's behavior once they are released also. Delusions and incoherent thinking are some of the many deleterious affects of this torture on a person's mind. Of course, the people who are inflicting such punishments have no concerns at all about any harmful effects . . . all they care about are the ENDS obtained through their means: softened mental processes, lethargy, docileness, malleability and simple sadistic torture.
Sleep Deprivation has been used for thousands of years as a means of breaking down a person's resistance by police organizations, military, spy organizations, etc., and has been often equated with the words “KGB” or “NAZI” but appears to have also been adopted by our own AMERCAN government in the past few years and by the prison systems also, at least by THIS prison system! I direct your attention to the tactics used by our military in Iraq or Afghanistan when laying siege to Taliban-held enclaves. The military blasted loud music into the compounds day and night to deprive the people inside of rest and sleep. An additional thoughtful touch was the broadcast of the screams of dying rabbits over loudspeakers also (it has been said that they sound like a screaming child or female in extreme pain). Do you recall that these exact same tactics were used by our police and military right here at home against a religious sect at the Branch-Davidian compound in Waco? I remind you that there were many children inside that compound also.
I believe that the establishment of Sleep Deprivation as a policy is a relatively new concept here in prison however. Probably it was used now and again punitively, but to my knowledge never as a daily, regular practice, all the time. Here prisoners are wakened by banging on cell doors, bright lights, continual "counts," slamming cell doors, and being woke up to have the guards ask, “How you doing?” or “How's it going?” at all hours of the night and day. This is done under the false pretexts of checking on the prisoner's welfare or as a security necessity, but in actuality, it is Torture, pure and simple! After the prison escapes from death row and the Connelly Units TDCJ drastically stepped up its torture of prisoners through the practices of sleep deprivation and psychological intimidation, abuse, degradations, deprivations of all kinds. TDCJ is a severe disciplinarian! Even mean and spiteful in its retributions for being embarrassed or disobeyed. (Those escapes caused severe public humiliation to TDCJ !! Sleep Deprivation is only ONE of the prison's many tactics of intimidation, but it is the one being discussed right now. I will list a typical day's counts used to deprive us of sleep:
9:00 a.m. "Regular" counts, lights on ALWAYS, perhaps for an hour
1:00 p.m. Each time listed is a "count," done daily.
6:30 p.m. There are two walkbys by two different officers at each "count."
9:03 p.m. A "regular" count. First guard. Bright lights on ALWAYS.
9:16 p.m. Second walkby. Wake-up and move if asleep. Bright lights on.
11:04 p.m. "Regular" count.
11:15 p.m. Wake-up and move count. Bright lights on for an hour or two.
1:05 a.m. “Regular” count. Bright lights on.
1:20 a.m. Count, wake-up, show i.d. to officer at cell door, get out of bed!
2:50 a.m. "Regular" count. Lights on (as usual).
3:07 a.m. "Regular" count. Lights on (as usual).
6:2l a.m. Wake up, get out of bed, come to cell door and show photo i.d.
6:34 a.m. “Regular” count, bright lights on as usual one or two hours.
9:00 a.m. Sometimes the wake-up and i.d. check counts are done at different hours,
6 or 9 o'clock, or at 11 or 1 o'clock.
If you study the schedule you will see right away that most of the “counts” are conducted during the night hours, during the times prisoners are trying to rest and recuperate from the trials of their day. Why are there only two counts done during the day? Yet there are FIVE conducted during the dark hours? I am sure you will be given some pretext of "security" interests, but be assured that the excuses are only that, excuses, and not legitimate.
A prisoner has a better chance of getting some sleep if he forgoes dinner and sleeps during the day, if possible. (Note: Earplugs sell briskly on the unit commissary!) As for the Bright Lights being turned on during all counts: The cells are ALL equipped with 25 or 40 watt COUNT LIGHTS which were designed and built into the system for the purpose, yet the administration and guards insist on turning on the very bright fluorescent cell lights (four long tubes) in order to wake everyone up. Each guard is equipped with a flashlight also, yet they never utilize them, why should they when they can simply turn on the large fluorescents?? The count lights and flashlights are supposed to be used during counts, not the bright fluorescents. If any "count.light" is not working, burned out or whatever, THAT is what the flashlights are carried for, so the guard can shine it into the cell during counts.
Be assured that the administration will come up with all sorts of excuses for why the small lights won't suffice or the flashlights are not enough, or the guards are afraid to get close to the cells. Whatever. Other prisons in other states get by with normal practices and do not employ the sleep deprivation tactics used by TDCJ. Please don't accept their excuses at face value. They are false and outright lies! Use your own common sense, ask questions and seek explanations to any doubts you have. This torture must be stopped. It is not reasonable, not necessary, and has no basis in rationality. It is inhumane and should not be tolerated by a modern society supposedly founded on justice, compassion and Christian values. Recognize it for what it is; torture plain and simple. We ask you to help to get this discontinued.
There are several other practices used to deprive prisoners of needed rest such as STAGING in the dayrooms. Prisoners are locked in their cells most of the time and have to come out for chow, school, work, or lay-in appointments with nurse, law library, psychologist, etc. Here are some examples of policy.
Breakfast is served sometime between 1:30 and 4:30 a.m. Prisoners are let out of cells into day rooms usually an hour or two (or MORE!) prior to chow. Prisoner has to forego two to four hours of possible sleep in order to eat breakfast! Not to mention the harassment, intimidation and possible cases involved in running the gauntlet to the chowhall.
Same goes for lay-in appointments. The administration requires him/her
to get up, come out of the cell, sit in the dayroom an hour or two ahead of the scheduled appointment time. Then it may be cancelled! The feds forbade this practice of “STAGING,” yet with their withdrawal it appears that the practice is worsening. In actuality , staging is another means of sleep deprivation and of keeping the prisoner from getting proper rest. An exhausted prisoner is less apt to cause trouble is their philosophy.
Article by: Eric Scigliano, Discover Magazine, June 2003, Vol. 24, No. 7,
Pg. 62 .
" . . . a growing body of research suggests that excessive exposure to artificial night light can alter basic biological rhythms in animals, change predator-prey relationships, and even trigger deadly hormonal imbalances in humans.”
" In 2001 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published two studies that the editors argued revealed ‘an association between exposure to light at night and breast cancer risk’ with ‘alarming implications’.”
" Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle interviewed 1,606 women and found a 60 percent greater incidence of breast cancer among those who worked at night . . ." Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston conducted a study with similar findings.
" Other studies have shown that light striking the retina, even during sleep can reduce production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate circadian rhythms. Melatonin also has antioxidant properties, and for some mammals it has been shown to suppress the estrogen estradiol, which is associated with breast cancer. 'Light is a drug' says Russel J. Reiter, a neuro-endocrinologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center who has researched the disease-preventing properties of melatonin. 'By abusing it, we compromise our health'."
Written/Compiled by: Cecil Paterson
If you want to help, you might be able to get some of these practices stopped.
You can contact some or all of the below: (Note: Prison administration does
not CARE about these issues. Outside pressures must be applied by the public):
WARDEN,, WILLIAM P. CLEMENTS UNIT, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo, TX
79107-9606, Ph. (806) 381-7081 Ext. 037, Fax: (806) 383-7113.
TDCJ EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, Gary Johnson, P.O. Box 99, Huntsville,TX
77342-0099, Ph. (936) 295-6371 (any prison administrator at this address).
OFFICE OF TDCJ OMBUDSMAN, Ph. (936) 437-6791, Fax: (936) 437-6668,
E-Mail: ci.div @tdcj.state.us
TEXAS BOARD OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Christina Melton Crain, Chairman, Suite 104-944,
5521 Greenvile Ave., Dallas, TX 75206. Patricia Day, Member TBCJ,
P.O.Box 670886, Dallas, TX 75367-0886. Adrian Arriaga, TBCJ Member, 801 Nolana, Suite 315, McAllen, TX 78504.
Austin American-Statesman Newspaper (frequent reporter on prison conditions)
Attn: Mike Ward or Bill Bishop, P.O. Box 670, Austin, TX 78767, Ph.(512) 445-3500, Fax (512) 445-3679, Web: www.statesman.com
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bob Ray Sanders, P.O. Box 1870, Fort Worth, TX 76102,
Ph. (817) 390-7400 .
ACLU OF TEXAS, PRISON & JAIL ACCOUNTABLITY PROJECT, Meridith Rountree, Dir., P.O. Box 3629, Austin, TX 78764; JOAN COVICI, Member, P.O. Box 710356, Dallas, TX 75371; ANNETTE LaMOREAUX, Member, P.O. Box 132047, Houston, TX 77219.
TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, COMMITTEE ON CRIMINAL JURISPRUDENCE, Rep.
Terry Keel, Chairman, P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768;
Rep. Terri Hodge, 4032 Swiss Ave., Dallas, TX 75204, Ph. (214) 828-2330; Rep. Jessica Farrar, Dist. 148, P.O. Box 30099, Houston,TX 77249.
SENATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE, Capitol Station, P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78711 (or at their home district offices), SENATORS: John Whitmire, Tommy Williams, John Carona, Rodney Ellis, Juan Hinojosa, Steve Ogden.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
Permission is given to reproduce, send, copy, print, or otherwise duplicate this article for your benefit and the benefit of the inmates which you intend to assist with these issues. This article once duplicated in any way must not be changed or altered.
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