HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Good Reads (Forum) » An American Gulag: Descen...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 07:41 AM

An American Gulag: Descending into Madness at Supermax

When Jack Powers arrived at maximum-security federal prison in Atlanta in 1990 after a bank robbery conviction, he had never displayed symptoms of or been treated for mental illness. Still in custody a few years later, he witnessed three inmates, believed to be members of the Aryan Brotherhood gang, kill another inmate. Powers tried to help the victim get medical attention, and was quickly transferred to a segregated unit for his safety, but it didn't stop the gang's members from quickly threatening him.

Not then. And certainly not after Powers testified (not once but twice) for the federal government against the assailants. The threats against him continued and Powers was soon transferred to a federal prison in Pennsylvania, where he was threatened even after he was put into protective custody. By this time, Powers had developed insomnia and anxiety attacks and was diagnosed by a prison psychologist as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Instead of giving Powers medicine, or proper mental health therapy, officials transferred him yet again, this time to another federal prison in New Jersey. There, Powers was informed by officials that he would be removed from a witness protection program and transferred back into the prison's general population. Fearing for his life, Powers escaped. When he was recaptured two days later he was sent to ADX-Florence, part of a sprawling prison complex near Florence, Colorado often referred to as "ADX" or Supermax," America's most famous and secure federal prison.

From there, things got worse. The Supermax complex, made up of different secure prison units and facilities, is laden with members of the Brotherhood and Powers was no safer than he had been anywhere else. Over and over again he was threatened at the Colorado prison. Over and over again he injured or mutilated himself in response. Over and over again he was transferred to federal government's special mental health prison facility in Missouri, diagnosed with PTSD, and given medication. Over and over again that medication was taken away when he came back to Supermax.

As he sits today in Supermax, Powers had amputated his fingers, a testicle, his scrotum and his earlobes, has cut his Achilles tendon, and had tried several times to kill himself. Those tattoos you see? Powers had none until 2009, when he started mutilating with a razor and carbon paper. He did much of this -- including biting off his pinkie and cutting skin off his face -- in the Control Unit at ADX while prison officials consistently refused to treat his diagnosed mental illness. Rules are rules, prison officials told him, and no prisoners in that unit were to be given psychotropic medicine no matter how badly they needed it.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/06/an-american-gulag-descending-into-madness-at-supermax/258323/

4 replies, 999 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply An American Gulag: Descending into Madness at Supermax (Original post)
douglas9 Feb 2013 OP
Doctor_J Feb 2013 #1
midnight Feb 2013 #2
riderinthestorm Feb 2013 #3
Stand and Fight Feb 2013 #4

Response to douglas9 (Original post)


Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 05:06 PM

2. Supermax prisons are are for super max profits.... The prison cartel can't have the profits

used up for health care...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 07:15 PM

3. Desperately, hideously, grotesquely sad story but hugely important. Must read.

Our for-profit prison system is a despicable place.





Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 03:10 PM

4. I hope they realize what they're doing...

They're breeding a new class of criminal. Monsters. They're making these guys into monsters who will have no qualms flying in the face of society's "rights and wrongs" when society subjected them to this kind of treatment. There will be hell to pay. Mark my words.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread