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Jose Padilla and Me (reflections on solitary confinement) - repost

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TomInTib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 06:47 PM
Original message
Jose Padilla and Me (reflections on solitary confinement) - repost
I originally posted this Dec 6, 06.


Reading all of this recent business about Mr. Padilla has forced me to remember things that I have spent a long time forgetting.

Like Mr. Padilla, I, too, spent a stretch in sensory-deprived solitary confinement thirty-something years ago.

Like Mr. Padilla, I, too, spent my time in a military (Marine) brig.

As is the case with Mr. Padilla, I was held on suspicion alone

It is worse than you could possibly imagine.

I believe it was when I read the part about him having the personality and energy of a piece of furniture that the box in my head cracked open.

I spent every moment of every day in a tiny cell with barely enough room for a rack (bed) and one of those little desks that you might have used in the third grade. The light was always on.
There was this thin mattress that smelled of despair and piss on that rack. The mattress barely covered the S-shaped springs of which the connecting clips had been removed so that one had to contort ones self, pretzel-like, in order to get any kind of sleep.
The schedule and time of day were impossible to track.

Your mind will do crazy shit to you in an environment such as that. I experienced unbelievably giddy highs flights of absolute elation - and moments of suicidal depression. One right after the other.

And hallucinations.
I saw everything that was in my memory bank and plenty else. When I would wake, I was never sure if I was really awake or just imagining that I was. I would go days without uttering a sound because I was so afraid that if I vocalized the least little bit that I might just scream myself to death. The few times I was interrogated I spent the first minutes just trying to find my voice and trying to decide if the voices I was hearing were real or imagined.

However, unlike Mr. Padilla, I was on a bread and water regimen. Three days (I believe) of bread and water and three days regular brig fare, alternating.
Ten pieces of white bread and a glass of water, three times (I think) per day.

I ate only the crusts just to fuck with them.

I went in standing six feet tall and weighing 180 pounds.

I came out weighing 117 pounds.

But I was still six feet tall.

(end of OP)

Those experiences have stayed with me for 35 years. I can still feel those flashes of utter hopelessness, disorientation and desperation.

Tom
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Gregorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 06:53 PM
Response to Original message
1. Frightening.
Edited on Thu Aug-16-07 06:56 PM by Gregorian
Who would treat a rat that way. And how do we ensure that it never happens again?

There is no good reason for subjecting people to this inhuman treatment.

It kills us all whenever this happens.

Edit- I don't know what to say. It all seems so simple to me. We are connected beings. It's not some hippy conjecture. We all die with you. And with Padilla. The world is bruised. We will continue fighting the good fight, until those who would do this, see.
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 07:06 PM
Response to Original message
2. k&r
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lynnertic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 07:26 PM
Response to Original message
3. I can't recommend more than once. Sigh.
Tom,

Thank you for reposting your story. The more I learn about the prison system the more I see how urgently reform is needed, for the sake of our society!

How long were you in solitary confinement?

Are you okay now?

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TomInTib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I do not know how long I was in there.
And that was one of the things that makes you crazy.

That event went a long way towards shaping who I am today.

Depending on who you ask, I believe that I am doing fine.

I live in a beautiful place (Tiburon, CA) and enjoy every minute of my life (sometimes a little too much so, according to witnesses).

Here is what I am doing right now:

www. tiburonartfestival.com
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stevedeshazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 07:36 PM
Response to Original message
4. Your own country did this to you?
Okay, I'm not surprised.
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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 07:52 PM
Response to Original message
6. k+r
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 07:55 PM
Response to Original message
7. this is also done to people in "mental hospitals"
It's considered "help".

Guaranteed to cause psychosis.

We are such a sick nation!
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 07:56 PM
Response to Original message
8. I'm so sorry that happened to you
You can't deprive a social animal of contact with his/her own kind. Add the other horrible aspects of your prison, and you have torture, plain and simple.
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TomInTib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 09:27 PM
Response to Reply #8
14. I am totally warped. Are you coming to the Tiburon Art Festival?
It's my show.

www.tiburonartfestival.com

And admission is FREE!

Come on over, I would love to meet you. There will be other DUers there, too.
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-17-07 11:16 AM
Response to Reply #14
17. Thanks for the invitation
Unfortunately, weekends are my writing time, and I'm working like mad to get some things done before I get my left knee replaced. Have a great time, and say hi to everyone for me.

Alice
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MuseRider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 08:48 PM
Response to Original message
9. K & R
:hug: Tom.

I can't imagine.
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TomInTib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 09:16 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. I couldn't have imagine it, either, until it happened to me.
Sometimes I still can barely believe it.

But I have pictures of me looking like a concentration camp survivor.
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MuseRider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. Some people have
amazing ability to cope, even long after something like that. I don't know how you do it but I am glad you recovered enough to keep on going.

People are so horrible to each other. I just can't imagine why things like this happen.
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bonito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 09:23 PM
Response to Original message
11. Hugs to you Tom
By your experience, you have grown I'm sure, actually very, very, sure. :)
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fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 09:24 PM
Response to Original message
12. thanks for sharing-a new meaning for the word hell-you would have thought
Edited on Thu Aug-16-07 09:25 PM by fed-up
times had changed and that humans had learned not to treat other humans this way

I just hope that the flashbacks get fewer and farther between as time keeps passing

I am so ashamed of what this country does sometimes :(
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City of Mills Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-16-07 09:47 PM
Response to Original message
15. This is sounding all-too familiar...
http://www.mondopolitico.com/library/1984/1984_c20.htm


He was lying on something that felt like a camp bed, except that it was higher off the ground and that he was fixed down in some way so that he could not move. Light that seemed stronger than usual was falling on his face. O'Brien was standing at his side, looking down at him intently. At the other side of him stood a man in a white coat, holding a hypodermic syringe.

Even after his eyes were open he took in his surroundings only gradually. He had the impression of swimming up into this room from some quite different world, a sort of underwater world far beneath it. How long he had been down there he did not know. Since the moment when they arrested him he had not seen darkness or daylight. Besides, his memories were not continuous. There had been times when consciousness, even the sort of consciousness that one has in sleep, had stopped dead and started again after a blank interval. But whether the intervals were of days or weeks or only seconds, there was no way of knowing.

With that first blow on the elbow the nightmare had started. Later he was to realize that all that then happened was merely a preliminary, a routine interrogation to which nearly all prisoners were subjected. There was a long range of crimes -- espionage, sabotage, and the like -- to which everyone had to confess as a matter of course. The confession was a formality, though the torture was real. How many times he had been beaten, how long the beatings had continued, he could not remember. Always there were five or six men in black uniforms at him simultaneously. Sometimes it was fists, sometimes it was truncheons, sometimes it was steel rods, sometimes it was boots. There were times when he rolled about the floor, as shameless as an animal, writhing his body this way and that in an endless, hopeless effort to dodge the kicks, and simply inviting more and yet more kicks, in his ribs, in his belly, on his elbows, on his shins, in his groin, in his testicles, on the bone at the base of his spine. There were times when it went on and on until the cruel, wicked, unforgivable thing seemed to him not that the guards continued to beat him but that he could not force himself into losing consciousness. There were times when his nerve so forsook him that he began shouting for mercy even before the beating began, when the mere sight of a fist drawn back for a blow was enough to make him pour forth a confession of real and imaginary crimes. There were other times when he started out with the resolve of confessing nothing, when every word had to be forced out of him between gasps of pain, and there were times when he feebly tried to compromise, when he said to himself: 'I will confess, but not yet. I must hold out till the pain becomes unbearable. Three more kicks, two more kicks, and then I will tell them what they want.' Sometimes he was beaten till he could hardly stand, then flung like a sack of potatoes on to the stone floor of a cell, left to recuperate for a few hours, and then taken out and beaten again. There were also longer periods of recovery. He remembered them dimly, because they were spent chiefly in sleep or stupor. He remembered a cell with a plank bed, a sort of shelf sticking out from the wall, and a tin wash-basin, and meals of hot soup and bread and sometimes coffee. He remembered a surly barber arriving to scrape his chin and crop his hair, and businesslike, unsympathetic men in white coats feeling his pulse, tapping his reflexes, turning up his eyelids, running harsh fingers over him in search for broken bones, and shooting needles into his arm to make him sleep.
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L. Coyote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-17-07 09:37 AM
Response to Original message
16. K&R. Keep speaking out. It is very important to us all.
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