Voices from Solitary: At War With My Own Self
September 30, 2014 by http://solitarywatch.com/2014/09/30/voices-from-solitary-at-war-with-my-own-self/
This following account was written by Anthony Lamar Davis, 34, who has been incarcerated for 11 years of a 22-year sentence. He has spent more than six of those years in solitary confinement. In New York State prisons, about 13,000 sentences to solitary confinement in the Special Housing Units, or SHUs, are handed out each year, most of them for nonviolent disciplinary violations, and close to 4,000 people are in isolated confinement at any given time. Here, Davis writes about a suicide attempt that took place last year, and his ongoing battles with the effects of extreme isolation. He can be reached by writing: Anthony Lamar Davis, #04-A-3293, Green Haven Correctional Facility, 594 Rt. 216, Stormville, New York 12582-0010. –Lauren Denitzio
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On August 4, 2013, while waiting for an officer to handcuff and escort me back to the cell that awaited me after showering, I sat on the floor holding a razor used for shaving. Today was the day I decided to end my life. My decision came from a mixture of things. Things like the living nightmare that I called my childhood, my loneliness, the fact that I have been incarcerated for 11 years and had not seen one single family member – including my own children – in that time. Hundreds of things ran through my mind. Including being in extreme isolation.
In my 11 years of incarceration, I’ve been in and out of solitary confinement for about 6 1/2 years and a 3 year sanction had just been imposed on me (it has since been modified) for an accusation for which I was falsely accused, causing me to be removed from a facility located about 20 minutes outside of New York City (Sing Sing Correctional Facility) – where I am from – to a zoo-like facility build to house prisoners in solitary confinement, which is located hours away from my city where my children are.
On August 4, 2013, I’ve had enough. And, truth-be-told, I was not at all afraid, excited, anxious, or nervous as I broken the guard on the razor and cut my wrist / forearm to the point where I had to be taken to an outside hospital for stitches. I felt no pain. Nothing. I knew that suicide was an effective way to get rid of all the difficulties that surrounded my life. What the hell is the purpose of living if one does not experience happiness?
Again, I have done over 11 years in prison off of a 22 year sentence (New York state prisoners do 85% of their determinate sentences if they “behave”) so I do have a release date. But in the way that I have been affected by extreme isolation, I fear that I will not be productive in society. I have no family. If I was to be released from prison today, I would be completely lost; like being born as a full grown adult. Furthermore, I am not the same person I once was. The charming, funny, handsome, charismatic individual whom I used to be is gone. His soul snatched away by the psychological effects of solitary confinement. I have now become this soul-less, bitter, fraction of myself who is emotionally unstable and full of rage. This is not how I want to live; who I want to be.
I am aware of the effects that extreme isolation has had on me. These effects are not just limited to being in solitary confinement. I will be released from solitary confinement in May of this year (2014), but I will still be a product of solitary confinement. My pain will not end because I have been relocated to general population. There, it will be much difficult for me. I still will have no family. I still will be lonely (I literally feel hollow inside), I still will be bitter and full of rage. Now, there are no people around me, so when my rage surfaces, I bruise my knuckles by punching the concrete walls or screaming (my anger has reached dangerous highs). When I get back to general population – assuming that I have the strength to get through the remainder of my time in solitary confinement – my rage will still be with me and now there will be people to punch and not concrete walls. I am fearful of my future in general population.
I am at war with my own self and it has become a constant struggle to wake up and face the day. I have become a monster created by life and taught by the effects of solitary. I’ve come to realize that this is who I am now and I don’t like what I see when I stare at the monster in the mirror. The fight. The war. I take solace in the possibility that I could wake up one morning, defeated. Not wanting to fight anymore.
And what happened on August 4, 2013, will happen again. But this time the results would be final.
As a birth attendant advocating for family planning, Remy is on the frontline of Tondo’s battle with overcrowding.
Faced with daily hardships, making a living is the only way most Tondo residents can ensure they will survive.
Poor neighbourhoods are often the only place Mexicans with little education and little money can build better lives.
Some residents of Dharavi, one of the largest slums in Asia, skip meals to ensure their children get an education.
Hundreds of homeless live in squalid slum in affluehttp://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/the-slum/nt “capital of Silicon Valley”.
Fishing community in Makoko, which is built on water, takes comfort in way of life but faces risk of disease.
The UN predicts that by 2050, one in three people will live in a slum. But what determines where you live and how does your environment shape your health, hopes and prospects?
In a special season of coverage, Al Jazeera explores our relationships with the places we call home.
The six-part documentary series The Slum introduces the residents of Tondo – the most densely populated and least developed part of Manila – as they strive for success against the odds.
My Home goes inside some of the world’s most impoverished neighbourhoods to examine the challenges posed by urbanisation.
And in Where I Live, the Al Jazeera Magazine meets township residents challenging perceptions, nomads planting roots and migrants going in search of a place to call home.
U.S. Parole Commission Rejectz Examiner’z Recommendation
To: My comrades, family and extended family- please distribute to all those who have given support and resources to this process may (Allah) God bless them. In the spirit of our ancestors, I deeply thank you.
Written: September 16, 2014
On September 15, 2014, I received a notice of action from the national appeals board rejecting the parole examiner’s recommendation to advance my release to April 2015. This denial or rejection of the examiner’s onsite opinion and recommendation is not the first time that we have had this experience dealing with the national parole commission. We obviously, as per required historical practice, will appeal this rejection as it indicates we have rejected the basis of their decision and conclusion. The attorneys and I, and our administrative support group, are already on task.
We are very, very excited and in awe of how our mobilization carried out this parole hearing. There has been a ground swell of various people living up to their commitments and words by responding to our request for specific support, contacts, resources and finances that gave this hearing character, integrity and principles that history will charge the parole decision was not justified or warranted.
Lets look at where we are; the advance April 2015 date in actuality would advance my release date by 6 months, according to their faulty calculations* (I was supposed to be released in 2011). Six months is very important, and we do not take the denial of this relief lightly, but I am political prisoner. Our expectation for justice is not the paradigm, we seek relief and we wait for justice. Do to their undo process in their calculations, 2016 will be my presumptive release date if I continue as i have for these last 30 years. Evade the traps, set-ups, and tolerate the political targeting there should be no legal or policy rationale to deny that release date which is February 2016. Using this date as a process start, I should be seen by the parole commission 9 months from said date, which will be May 2015. As I told all of you before I am an old alligator, I will survive in mud and water, with your duwahs and prayers.
In the interim, we have been in the parallel mode building for a pardon application that is not based upon procedure but on tact, strategy, political capital and timing. This is not the place to divulge every nuance, but I am requesting all those who have supported me for the many parole request to now support me for the pardon unless you have formed a political objection!! This pardon is based upon a Truth and Reconciliation Commission narrative, and as far as I can tell this will be the first opportunity for the movement of our era to apply and request such. Most of our support has been based on this narrative; we stand on principled ground. Many of the present events are suggesting such relief, and we surely can support other political prisoners of our movement by advancing the strategy.
I hope during this extended time period all those that can help me to get published the various books in our struggle, that I have the information in history to present, also to allow me to build on the cultural genres that will help uplift our future generations. I am committed to this task; I want to thank my family for their sacrifices in my struggle.
In closing, do not feel discouraged, we have done a great job; it has the making and capability to advance a new paradigm. Let’s stay busy. Let’s stay encouraged, let’s be creative and have the audacity to put into the ether a just cause, deserving just results. I thank every single one of you; everyone’s contribution was exactly what we needed. When we said that we did the best we could, we meant every word. Plan on hearing from me in the very near future.
Aim high and go all out.
Dr. Mutulu Shakur
(Thank you all!!!)
HUMANS COME OUT OF SHADOW – great joy
Originally posted on My Blog InCaseofInnocence:
Oklahoma Mother Exonerated of Infant Son’s Death
Photo: Michelle Murphy with exoneree Cornelius Dupree.
On September 12, with the consent of District Attorney Tim Harris, a Tulsa court exonerated Michelle Murphy of the murder of her infant son. Recent DNA testing of crime scene evidence points to an unknown male as the real perpetrator. In the course of representing Michelle, lawyers also uncovered other evidence pointing to her innocence that was known to the prosecution but never disclosed to the defense.
Michelle’s 15-week-old son was brutally stabbed to death on September 12, 1994. Michelle, just 17 at the time, was in her apartment with her son and two year old daughter on the night of the murder. Murphy later woke up and discovered her son’s body in the kitchen. She immediately went to a neighbor and called the police.
After hours of interrogation, Michelle, who was very young and had just…
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Originally posted on spiritandanimal.wordpress.com:
New controversy over Malta’s bird slaughter
- The Observer, Saturday 27 September 2014 20.31 BST
Karmenu Vella has unusual credentials for a man selected to be the next European commissioner for the environment. The 64-year-old politician is a long-serving member of Malta‘s Labour government, which is accused of direct involvement in the widespread slaughter of birdlife on the island – including many endangered species.
Every spring and autumn, thousands of migratory birds – including quails, song thrushes and brood eagles – pass over Malta as they fly between northern Europe and Africa, only to be greeted by thousands of local hunters who gather in trucks bearing…
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7 Things to Know About Preventing a Leading Cause of Death in the US
Overdose is classified by the Centers for Disease Control as a national epidemic, surpassing even motor vehicle accidents to become the leading cause of injury death in the U.S., with 41,340 overdose deaths  in 2011. Each day, 113 people die from overdose in this country.
This mortality rate has increased 118 percent since 1999, escalating overdose to a national crisis. Of these deaths, 16,917 were related directly to opiate (opioid) pain medications, and many more were caused by other opiates, such as heroin, in combination with other classifications of substances such as benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety and sedative medications) and alcohol. In 2011 alone, approximately 1.4 million people were seen in emergency rooms for the misuse of pharmaceuticals.
Misusers of pharmaceuticals often visit multiple doctors in pursuit of of these medications for either personal use or distribution on the black market. Forty-nine states have enacted legislation to track and control prescription narcotics and to prevent the over-prescribing of these addictive drugs. Pharmaceutical companies have also attempted to decrease the misuse of opiate medications by developing formulations of opiates that prevent these pills from being crushed and liquified for intravenous use.
An unintended consequence of the efforts to stem the tide of pharmaceutical and opiate addiction has been a dramatic national increase in heroin use, which surely has added to the increasing rate of overdose deaths, since heroin is a fast-acting opiate and carries a high overdose risk, especially when administered intravenously.
In light of the overdose epidemic, many states are enacting legislation to make the overdose reversal agent naloxone, also known as Narcan, more widely available to those at risk of overdose.
Here are some important things many people might not know about naloxone and overdose prevention.
1. Naloxone is the only drug known to reverse opiate overdose.
Opiate overdose occurs when an opioid drug floods particular receptor sites in the brain called opioid receptors. When too many of these receptor sites are flooded, activity in the brain’s respiratory center slows, leading to a decreased breathing rate (respiratory depression) or a complete cessation of breathing altogether (respiratory arrest). Within minutes, an overdose can progress from respiratory depression to respiratory arrest, which can quickly progress to cardiac arrest and death.
Naloxone is a medication known as an overdose reversal agent, the only drug of its class for reversing the effects of an opiate overdose. Naloxone works by kicking opiates off the opioid receptors in the brain’s respiratory center and sitting in their place. This awakens the brain’s respiratory center and breathing is quickly restored, provided the person overdosing has not slipped into cardiac arrest, in which case naloxone is entirely ineffective and of no use.
Naloxone’s effects, although quick, are temporary. Overdose symptoms can return, especially when long-acting opiates such as methadone are involved, and repeated doses of naloxone may be necessary. People recovering from an overdose must be closely monitored.
2. Naloxone has been used for decades as an overdose reversal agent.
The quick administration of naloxone at the onset of an opiate overdose is key. Police or EMTs may not arrive on scene in time to administer naloxone before an overdose has progressed to cardiac arrest. The effort toward wider distribution of naloxone seeks to make this overdose reversal agent available when and where it is needed the most—at the onset of an overdose.
Naloxone has been in use since 1971 in hospital and ambulance settings to reverse opiate overdose. It is kept on hand in operating rooms to counteract unintended affects of surgical anesthesia. Hospital labor and delivery units keep naloxone taped to every bedside as a safety precaution for instances in which the opiate pain medications given to laboring mothers cause respiratory depression in infants when they are born.
Because most overdoses take place outside of hospitals, community organizations have been distributing naloxone to drug users, their families and loved ones since the mid ‘90s. They’ve recorded over 53,000 trainings and more than 10,000 successful overdose reversals, according to a 2010 CDC report . There are currently over 188 overdose prevention education centers  distributing naloxone in the U.S.
3. Community-based naloxone training may lead to decreased drug use.
The push toward wider public availability of naloxone has not been without controversy. Those who oppose naloxone distribution cite concerns that having ready access to this overdose reversal agent will give drug users an omnipotent, false sense of safety in using drugs and will only encourage increased drug use.
Those who have been administered naloxone in the midst of an overdose tell a much different story.
The action of naloxone is so quick and thorough, that not only does it reverse an opiate overdose, for those addicted to opiates it also precipitates acute withdrawal symptoms. The overdose victim who has received naloxone may spring from unconsciousness to full-on, acute withdraw. Naloxone recipients describe this experience as incredibly frightening and painful, and something to be avoided at all costs; as opposed to a safety net that encourages increased drug use.
Supporters of increased naloxone distribution counter opponents’ concerns that community access to naloxone may increase drug use by emphasizing that naloxone saves lives and offers those struggling with opiate addiction a chance at recovery, regardless of their current drug use.
Opponents equate naloxone distribution with enabling an addict, while supporters question, is it “enabling” to save lives?
Researchers have found that naloxone distribution may actually result in decreased drug use. A study on a pilot naloxone distribution program in San Francisco, published in the Journal of Urban Health in 2005, found decreased heroin use among participants. Study authors cited that the training program was empowering, and that this perhaps decreased hopelessness and increased self efficacy for participants, leading to a decrease in drug use despite the availability of a safety net.
Another study conducted from 2006 to 2008 in Los Angeles’ Skid Row area and published in the International Journal of Drug Policy in 2010 reported similar findings, with 53 percent of participants in a naloxone distribution program decreasing their drug use.
Both studies also reported an increase in participants seeking treatment for their drug use.
4. Naloxone is supplied in various forms, with new forms still in development.
Injectable naloxone is the most widely known form, and it has been to have been used by hospitals, ambulances and community organizations for decades. For people uncomfortable administering naloxone with a needle, many community based overdose prevention centers also distribute naloxone for nasal use.
The nasal form currently distributed is in the same formulation as injectable naloxone, only in a different dosage. The use of naloxone nasally is considered an off-label use by the FDA. Physicians safely prescribe many medications, across all areas of medicine, for off-label use such as this.
Another, more advanced formulation of nasal naloxone is in its final round of clinical trials at the University of Kentucky and has been given fast-track approval by the FDA.
Daniel Wermeling, professor of pharmacy at University of Kentucky, has partnered his startup business, AntiOp, with Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals to produce and market this new formulation. Contained in a small nasal device, this formulation of naloxone uses a unit dose metered pump. This pump allows a more concentrated form of standard dose naloxone to be distributed in a fine spray mist, enhancing naloxone’s distribution and absorption by the nasal tissue.
The FDA also recently approved Evzio, a standard form of injectable naloxone encased in a small device that verbally guides a user through the process of administering the drug. Evzio is similar in design to other emergency medical devices such as the automated defibrillator and the epi-pen auto injector.
5. Overdose risk can be predicted and mitigated.
There are certain scenarios that create an especially high overdose risk for people who use opioids. The elderly and the cognitively impaired are at high risk of overdose, as confusion may result in multiple doses of medication being consumed in a short period of time. Also, chronic pain patients who take several forms of opiates are at risk, especially when taking newly prescribed medications.
For those addicted to either prescription or illicit opiates, overdose risk is extremely high after even a short period of abstinence from these drugs. Many opiate overdoses occur within hours or days of drug users being released from treatment centers or incarceration.
Educating patients and inmates on overdose prevention and ensuring they have access to naloxone can help mitigate these risks. Overdose prevention should be a key component in the education provided by physicians to their patients each time an opiate is prescribed. Treatment centers must modify their discharge planning to include overdose prevention education for any patient at risk of opiate overdose. Prison and jail inmates at risk of overdose should receive education on overdose prevention prior to release as well.
Currently, overdose prevention education is practically non-existent within our healthcare systems, treatment facilities and jails. It remains to be seen if the public attention overdose is currently receiving will prompt a much needed trend toward education within the systems that serve those who use opiates.
One community based program is taking action where it can. Along with many other services, the DOPE Project (Drug Overdose Prevention and Education), based in San Francisco, conducts overdose prevention workshops for jail inmates preparing to be released. Inmates are shown a video called “Staying Alive on the Outside” in which former inmates describe their experiences with overdose and provide education on overdose prevention and treatment. Once trained, inmates can choose to receive naloxone upon release from jail.
6. State laws regarding overdose prevention and naloxone are rapidly changing.
In March, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke on the overdose epidemic, naming heroin and opiate overdose an “urgent public health crisis ” and calling for widespread first responder access to naloxone. Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts declared a public health emergency in his state and Peter Shumlin, governor of Vermont, devoted his entire state of the state address to the growing scourge of opiate and heroin addiction and resultant overdose deaths.
“The time has come for us to stop quietly averting our eyes from the growing heroin addiction in our front yards…while we fear and fight treatment facilities in our backyards,” said Gov. Shumlin. “We must bolster our current approach to addiction with more common sense. We must address it as a public health crisis, providing treatment and support, rather than simply doling out punishment, claiming victory, and moving onto our next conviction.”
To hear an elected official speak so passionately and knowledgeably on the issue of addiction brings a great deal of hope to traumatized families who are desperate for solutions.
Many other states are also responding to the overdose crisis with legislation to increase the distribution of naloxone and “Good Samaritan” acts to protect those who contact emergency services in cases of overdose from prosecution for the possession of small amounts of drugs.
As of February, 26 states  have some type of naloxone access law in place, 22 of which allow for third-party administration of naloxone. Third-party prescriptions allow the families and loved ones of those at risk to obtain naloxone and to administer it in the event of an overdose.
Seventeen states have Good Samaritan laws in place and several other states are currently considering similar legislation.
States are also forming programs to allow naloxone to be distributed by pharmacies without the need for a prescription. On September 16, California joined three other states, including New Mexico, Rhode Island and Washington, in enacting legislation to allow pharmacies to furnish naloxone to consumers. New York and Vermont are in the process of drafting similar legislation.
7. A continued overdose epidemic is preventable.
It is alarming that the death rate has grown at such a rapid pace for a condition that is not only treatable, but also preventable. Increased public awareness and education with accurate information regarding overdose risk can prevent these often fatal events from occurring in the first place. And wider availability of naloxone can help save lives when overdose does occur.
Years of research on community-based naloxone distribution show that it can be administered safely and effectively by laypersons and that it does not precipitate increased drug use. Even if it did, the rational question is, “Should the possibility of increased drug use become a deterrent to saving a life?’
Originally posted on ChildreninShadow.wordpress.com:
What’s Causing a Polio-Like Cluster in Colorado?
A cluster of paralysis and limb weakness among nine children in Colorado has researchers at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention baffled. The CDC is evaluating whether the symptoms could be associated with the recent outbreak of enterovirus D68 across the nation.
The children in question developed respiratory problems, but later developed limb weakness. Doctors say some of the children later developed paralysis in some of their limbs.
CNN is reporting that four of the children have tested positive for enterovirus D68 so far, but doctors are not sure that the virus, which has spread across the U.S., is the cause of the paralysis and muscle weakness. The children have tested negative for West Nile virus and polio. All are being treated at Children’s Hospital in Aurora. Most are reportedly from the Denver…
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Originally posted on The PPJ Gazette:
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The psychiatric drug side effects, dangers and the psychiatric drugging of children and the elderly, causing them to appear to be mentally ill.
Dr. Kohls will also speak about alternatives and preventative mental health care.
Dr. Gary G. Kohls is a family practitioner, who specializes in holistic and preventive mental health care. He has expertise in the areas of traumatic stress disorders, brain nutrition, non-pharmaceutical approaches to mental ill health, neurotransmitter disorders, neurotoxicity from food additives (and other environmental toxins) and the problems with psychotropic drugs.
Dr. Kohls’ treats patients who have had adverse psychotropic drug reactions, dependency…
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