As far as I'm concerned the Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections Patrica Caruso, should be personally held accountable for the murder of 21 year old Timothy Joe Souders
Timothy Souders, a 21 years old man diagnosed with a major dpressive disorder, died naked and dehydrated in his isolation cell. Mr. Caruso was serving one to four years for resisting arrest, assault and destroying police property. He took medicine for manic-depression, psychosis and hypertension, and attempted suicide three times while a prisoner.
He was placed in solitary confinement "...because of unruly behavior...
and left to lay shackled by his arms and legs to a concrete slab in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, for 17 hours soaked in his own urine. The guards claimed he refused water when offered. The "offere of water was necessary since the gurads had shut off water to the sink in his cell.
Mr. Souder was on a complex polypharmaceutical "cocktail, typical of those foisted on people deemed as severely mentally ill.
Several of the chemicals Souders was administered, including lithium and the antipsychotic drug Seroquel, are well known to cause kidney failure, increased urination, and dehydration without careful psychiatric monitoring.
Mr. Souder's death was videotaped by prison guards. The length of time in restraints was not disputed. Staff attempted to validate their own callous actions and fired a nurse for being inattentive and not completing paper work on time to get him transferred out of the prison.
Although a DOC social worker recommended that Mr. Souter be immediately transferred to a less restrictive mental health facility before has last days, that reccomendation was ignored. Providing mental health care, in Michigan, is corntrated out to Correctional Medical Services
, which prides itself on "... reputation for providing quality, responsible correctional healthcare services nationwide
." I suppose it is moot to determine whether or not they actually do provide excellent care, but they were faulted as not taking Mr. Souter out of the prison and placing himn in an appropriate care setting in a timely manner. The independent reviewers at the Prison Policy Initiative
, has cited CMS as providing below standard or incomletent treatment in at least two other states, including Missouri and Texas.
While I seriously doubt that Ms. Caruso was present for Mr. Souder's ungraceful death [he died of thirst after 4 days in locked seclusion and restraints] her leadership role at the Michigan State Department of Corrections clearly sets a tone for what is acceptable for her guards to do to inmates and what is not. She laughed during the 60 Mnutes interview
, defending this reaction with a glib "...well, the guards have to protect themselves from being hit with feces and urine by the inmates
". Her rationales presented for restratints, although prefaced with empty claims such as that "...restraints are never used to punish inmates
", that they'd only be used for safety purposes, except that, clearly, the safety of young Mr. Souder apparently was never in the cards.
Evidently, indiscriminate use of restraints is deemed acceptable in the State of Michigan. In the facility where I work, the maximum length of time that a person can be kept in restraints is 3 hours. Even then there must be 15 minute checks to see if the person has calmed down and released. But where I wrok, use of restraints has been aggressively discouraged in favor of actively working to help someone who is out of control to de-escalate aggressive behaviors. In Michigan, Commissioner Caruso said they are "considering" limiting the use of restraints to 6 hours. That said, the prios has already been reported as violating Court orders to limit this type of intervention.
According to Amnesty International standards, this suggests that Michigan officials consider torture by means of excessive use of restraints
is acceptable as well. Personally, I find this reprehensible if not truly obscene.
At the very least, I hope Commissioner Caruso doesn't sleep well these days. But why is that I suspect that she doesn't care at all. Maybe it was the nervous laugh on the 60 Minutes interview
about dealing with unruly prisoners.
Labels: arrogance, malfeasance, mentally ill, prisons, torture