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Mar 6, 2010

Featured below is an article that sets forth the reasons why Ohio mentally ill inmates are suing the Ohio prison system.  Mentally ill people and their families are coming to recognize that they are being set up to continue revolving in and out of prisons in order to benefit prison investors.  We already have the solution to homelessness, prison and death for America's middle-class and indigent mentally ill citizens.  The article underscores the need to pass H.R.619, a bill by Rep. Eddie Johnson (D-TX) to resume Medicaid funding for inpatient psychiatric hospitalization.  Prisons should be replaced with hospitals for acute mental patients in crisis, and mandated participation in Assisted Outpatient Treatment programs is needed after hospital or prison release.  To ilustrate how discriminated against mentally ill Americans are, below is a tweet I was prevented from posting to Twitter last night regarding my schizophrenic brother's Secret arrest and Murder in Memphis Shelby County Jail and the refusal by the United States Department of Justice to answer our Freedom of Information Act request which is published on the web at  to release documents related to his arrest and death and investigate the crime:

If AfAm sick ppl don't have the rights of pit bulls around here, don't hide it. Just come right out and say so. I am.  

What happens to ex-inmates with mental illness?
Saturday, March 6, 2010
By Tracey Read

State prisoners with mental illness return to Ohio communities with just two weeks’ worth of medications, $65 and a bus ticket.

Without links to proper follow-up care, they often end up in homeless shelters or other unstable situations.

Now, a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court seeks to require the state prison system to pre-enroll prisoners with serious mental illness to mental health treatment, housing and other resources to keep them from returning to the criminal justice system.

Lake County Sheriff Daniel A. Dunlap agreed the state needs to do more to help ex-prisoners re-enter society.

“Fifteen out of every 100 people who come in our jail have some mental health issue,” Dunlap said. “Of that 15 percent, 4 or 5 percent in my estimation have extreme mental health issues.

“The state is in financial trouble. So what do they do? They close two mental health hospitals, and there wasn’t

enough to begin with. It just puts us

with more homeless and more people in jail.”

The lawsuit was filed last month by the Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center on behalf of nine plaintiffs who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression.

According to the suit, none of the ex-prisoners received effective assistance filling out applications for Social Security benefits, Medicaid or food stamps.

They also got no help obtaining housing, weren’t linked up with mental health service providers or caseworkers and were only given short supplies of medication.

All have lengthy criminal records.

One person named in the suit was homeless and not medicated when he was re-arrested for threatening people at a Cincinnati agency just three weeks after leaving prison.

Of people from Lake or Geauga counties who were released from prison in 2005, more than a third of them (35 percent) returned to state prisons by 2008, said Eli Braun, mental health advocate for the Justice and Policy Center.

“That doesn’t count people who were re-arrested but only served time in jail,” Braun added. “This lawsuit hopes to make a dent in that recidivism rate by helping former prisoners continue their needed mental health care in the community. People with mental illness often return to prison for mostly nonviolent crimes that are really just symptoms of untreated mental illness.”

It costs $7,400 a year to treat someone with mental illness in the community, vs. $25,000 a year to send the same person back to prison, according to the Ohio Association of Behavioral Health Authorities.

Dunlap said Lake County is fortunate because a Mental Health Court run by Mentor Municipal Court Judge John Trebets helps 28 people at a time break the cycle of offending.

“Those in the program have an 80 percent chance of success,” the sheriff said.

Trebets said the goal of his Mental Health Court is to keep people from being institutionalized.

“My job is to make sure they’re following through and doing the things they should be doing,” he said.

Julie Hammond, treatment manager for the county’s Mental Health Court, said most — if not all — state mental health boards already have some type of program linking each mentally ill inmate with an agency for help before the person even leaves a city jail.

“The problem sometimes is that people don’t follow through when they get out,” she said.

Judy Burr, executive director with Project Hope for the Homeless shelter, said her organization also has aftercare services for mentally ill offenders who wind up at the Painesville Township facility. But it’s not always enough.

“When they come out, they really are given just what they came in with,” Burr said. “That’s not a black eye on our jails. There needs to be something else like us to get them back in (to society). But the whole system is just so overwhelmed right now. We’re overwhelmed right now. We have many people we have to turn away because of space.”

Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland said his employees always work closely with mental health organizations the entire time inmates with psychological disabilities are in jail to prepare them for life on the outside.

“We see varying degrees of mental health issues that can be camouflaged by drug dependency,” McClelland said. “You can probably make the argument that anyone who commits a crime is mentally ill. We work with the inmates so the chances of them being successful enough to re-enter society is much higher. We don’t just open the door and turn them out.”


America's decision to "de-institutionalize" mental illness in the 1960's and 70's without instituting Assisted Outpatient Treatment programs to mandate continuous psychiatric care and provide subsistence assistance to acute patients was a mistake that society continues to pay for having made.  Just as no adequate provisions were made for hundreds of thousands of sick people who were released from mental hospitals decades ago, little or no provisions are made for mentally ill ex-offenders.  This is true despite the fact that successful re-entry into society is a success for the entire social structure.  Avoiding recidivism means avoiding crimes that lead to re-arrest and releif from America's stiffling prison budget.  People who do not care to replace prison terms with hospitalization in psychiatric treatment facilities for acute mental patients in crisis and institute Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) programs for mentally ill inmates upon prison release for humanitarian reasons may reconsider when they contemplate the fact that released offenders shop at the same malls as our children.  AOT programs provide mental patients released from hospitals and prisons monitoring, psychiatric care, and subsistence assistance at a cost that is significantly less than future imprisonment, which oftentimes follows avoidable tragedies. 

Be aware that over 90% of inmates have a release date in their files.  People who do not care to improve rehabilitation programs in prisons and eliminate torture for humanitarian reasons may want to do so when they acknowledge that released inmates live in the same communities that we all do.  Many inmates who walk into prisons perfectly sane are subjected to such cruelty and solitary confinement torture, that they, too, are mentally ill when they emerge from "correctional" facilities.

Numerous organizations advocate the need for change in how mental illness is treated in America, including Treatment Advocacy Center, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, The Carter Center, Mental Health America, and others.  NAMI formally declared its support for passage of H.R.619 in January.  See the letter from the national headquarters of NAMI in this Sharebook.  Please come aboard the movement to decriminalize mental illness in America.  Pledge your support for passage of H.R. 619 and help the least of these, His brethren: naked, sick, imprisoned mental patients (Matt. 25:40) like my brother Larry Neal was before he was murdered for being "unacceptably different."

Mary Neal
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill


Apr 22, 2009
I HOPED THAT WITH SENATOR WEBB'S ADVOCACY for a more just justice system, things would improve for prisoners in America.  Much of the world's attention is focused on prison torture, and it seemed likely to me that the men and women inside American prisons and jails would also benefit by the heightened awareness of suffering that is inflicted detainees.  However, I received this disturbing report in my email tonight and want to share it with my readers, just in case any of you are in a position to help eliminate abuse and torture within American prisons.

I had received reports that African American inmates suffered harsh treatment immediately after President Obama won the election and on his inauguration day.  Some of these accounts may be from that period. 

A couple of reports involve mentally challenged people.  As you may know, prisons became America's mental hospitals in the 1970's when scores of hospitals closed and our most vulnerable citizens became homeless. 

With so many children being tried as adults, please keep in mind that they are also subject to the same treatment as prisoners in these reports.  Be mindful that 2/3 of inmates were incarcerated for non-violent crimes - some for having small amounts of marijuana.  Most of these people never physically hurt anyone.

Please read this material. The links may not work from Care2.  You can copy and paste them into your browser.

THANK YOU in advance for caring about human rights for incarcerated persons WITHIN the USA.  We should all remember that 90% of prisoners are due to be released some day.  It seems best if they were not treated like animals while imprisoned, since such treatment will likely have a future negative impact on them and their communities.  Here is the email:

On Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 5:50 PM, L. wrote:       On January 20, 2009 guards in the Special Management Unit (SMU) at the State Correctional [sic] Institution (SCI) in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania assaulted six prisoners, reportedly citing as reasons that these men file grievances against guard misconduct and are engaged in civil litigation against DOC officials; contact outside organizations (HRC/FedUp! and  in particular) to expose conditions of torture [which allegedly escalated the day President Obama was elected and on his inauguration day]; also to send a message-in their words: "f**k a historical day, y'all always going to be nig**s."

David Smith #FZ5176: On 1/20/09 C/O Liddick, C/O Zeigler, and Lt. Kuzar approached Gary Tucker's cell upon the pretext of wanting to conduct a search, despite having conducted one on 1/15/09.  When Tucker came to the door, Liddick said, "Since this guy likes filing grievances, let's make an example out of him."  Tucker refused to leave his cell after Kuzar denied his request to have a Captain or Unit Manager present.  Willie Robinson then refused to leave his cell out of fear for his safety.  David Smith then consented to a cell search, and was promptly assaulted by the above named staff and thrown in another cell, separated from his property.  Mr. Smith reportedly suffered undisclosed injuries.

Gary Tucker #FG8520: In his own words: "A little later that morning a cell extraction team came to my cell.  I was then told to come to the door and cuff up.  When I walked to the door a guard opened the slot and sprayed me in the face with a whole lot of OC mace.  I backed away from the door blinded; seconds later more mace was sprayed inside the cell, trapping my lungs up, that's when about 7 guards (including Lt. Kuzar, C/O Brant) charged into the cell slamming me to the bed with electric shields [that discharge 50,000 volts of electricity] .  These electric shields were pressed against my body and held there for several minutes while the 6 guards took turns beating, kicking, and shocking me with hand held stun guns. 

After cuffing me they continued beating me down and shocking me.  The guard holding the camera maneuvered the camera so that the beating couldn't be caught on it.  From D-12 I was dragged out the cell and hoisted into the medical cell.  There the beating continued (shocking, choking, and punching) and a male nurse squirted a liquid in my eyes that didn't seem to help at all. 

Next I was airlifted up a flight of stairs (after protests from several inmates about my medical condition [which requires me to be] bottom tier status.  I was taken into D2-20, slammed face first to the metal bed frame and the 6 or 7 guards continued jumping and shocking me with stun guns.  After several minutes of this I was stripped naked, dragged to the floor and pulled up to the tray slot and the cuffs were taken off after they tried to break my wrists.  I requested to see medical but was denied the request so my injuries weren't [recorded].  The injuries suffered were as follows: face swollen both sides; wrists with deep cuts from the cuffs; stiff neck (I can barely move my neck); severe pain in my lower back which makes it hard for me to move; my right arm dislocated; badly swollen right ankle that I can't put pressure on and a bloody mouth.  Several inmates witnessed this assault and the Lt. Kuzar kept yelling, "Stop resisting" which was merely a means to justify their actions in assaulting me.  Truth was I never resisted; I couldn't resist at all."

Damont Hagan #DS9488: In his own words: "I was approached by C/O Brant who threatened me, informing me that I had to come out for a search, stating 'the camera can be manipulated Hagan, remember that.'  He also called me a 'nig**r.' . . . After a while, I told Unit Manager Chris Chambers [about the threats] . . ., and informed him that 'I fear for my life.'  He retorted, "Hagan, I'm tired of this complaining to HRC and  and preliminary injunctions.  Y'all did this to y'all selves, now y'all scared.  You're coming out regardless, so write HRC [which he did-let's be there for him] or write the Attorney General again, who cares.' . . .  A cell extraction team came and the same SMU staff (Brant, Kuzar) were in suit.  I also witnessed them abuse Gary Tucker.  They told me to cuff-up and I told them I feared for my life (on camera).  Sgt. Maxwell then sprayed me with OC which got in my lungs and eyes, forcing me to cuff up."  After being cuffed Hagan was taken to a cell where his clothes were cut off of him and Sgt. Maxwell whispered sexually lewd comments to Hagan regarding Lt. Flowers (a female) being present.  Mr. Hagan was denied water for two days, his food was tampered with when it wasn't denied altogether, and he was left naked in a freezing cell, which caused him to become sick.  He was transferred on 1/27/09 to SCI Pittsburgh.

Ronald Jackson #CF3994: Mr. Jackson refused to exit his cell because of the threatening and assaultive behavior of the guards, and was subsequently attacked with mace and punched several times in the back and head by C/O Brant, carried to another cell where C/Os Brant, Liddick, Ziegler, Lt. Kuzar, and Sgt. Maxwell cut off his clothing and cut his dreadlocks.  Mr. Jackson was left bleeding behind both ears, had numbness in both hands, and cuff markings remained on his wrists for 6 days. 

Mr. Jackson was left naked and without property or state issue items for six days-like all the others assaulted on this day.  On January 26th he was returned to his cell, which was still contaminated with mace.  C/O Huber, Jones, Sabolsky, Banks, Martz, and a Lt. stole and destroyed much of his personal and legal property.  In a written response to Mr. Jackson regarding this theft, Superintendent Palakovich justified yet another unmistakable effort on the part of SMU staff to deny access to the courts under the pretext that his property was contaminated with mace and needed to be destroyed as a result.  Given that several of the prisoners extracted that day have reported being returned to cells still contaminated with mace, this explanation cannot be taken seriously.  Mr. Jackson's lawsuit against the DOC will likely be sabotaged by this theft and destruction of his legal documents, which is a widespread practice throughout the PA DOC.

Willie Robinson #FX7258: After refusing to exit his cell for obvious reasons, Mr. Robinson was attacked by the same guards with mace and thrown in a cell that had dried blood on the walls and floor for 6 days without bed sheets or underclothing.  Following this he was returned to his former cell, which was still contaminated with mace, including his bedding.

Jamar Perry #DQ4432: Mr. Perry was also attacked with mace and cell extracted on this day.  According to Michael Edwards, in a Declaration subject to the penalty of perjury, Mr. Perry is severely mentally retarded, constantly covers his cell and his person with bodily waste-which he also ingests-and suffers from suicidal tendencies.  Staff, including C/O Flynn, Sgt. Jones, and Lt. Kuzar, frequently call him names such as "retarded nig**r," and encourage him to kill himself.  Mr. Perry has been constrained in a "restraint chair" on several occasions, including the first three days of February.  These devices are widely recognized as implements of torture.  He reportedly wants to die, and ranking officials, inc= luding Regional Deputy Secretary Shirley Moore-Smeal have witnessed his fetid condition and taken no remedial action, despite policy provisions against housing severely mentally ill and developmentally disabled inmates in the SMU.

White Supremacy and Repression

In another Declaration from Michael Edwards, Unit Manager Chris Chambers is again alleged to have threatened Mr. Edwards for his correspondence with HRC/Fed Up!  Chambers and Huber and others have repeatedly threatened Damont Hagan and Gary Tucker about their involvement with HRC and , along with other efforts to expose torture and officially-sanction ed sadism inside the SMU at Camp Hill.

An all white staff in the SMU is holding hostage and waging a one-sided war against a captive, defenseless population that is "99.9% blacks and latinos," according to Mr. Edwards.

A small sampling of racist remarks made by SMU staff, according to Declarations submitted by Michael Edwards, are as follows:

*1/19/09: C/O Brant stated over the PA system, "I have a dream that one day all of you nigg**s will be dead," after which he laughed, clapped his hands, and lit a smoke; *1/20/09: Lt. Kuzar stated, "He [Obama] may have won, in my eyes he's still a nig**r."  Brant and C/O Flynn started laughing at this, and Kuzar continued, "There will be no showers or yard today.  We are going to show you nig**rs who run this SMU."

*1/20/09: When told Tucker has a medical condition and is not to be housed upstairs, Chambers replied, "I don't give a f**k what medical says, I want that nig**r upstairs now."

*1/30/09: After Chambers told Mr. Edwards he would not be receiving any law books or property in retaliation for his working with HRC/Fed Up!, Huber told the inmate, "Hey listen up nig**r, I have the green light to kill your black a*s," before walking away from the cell laughing.

*2/1/09: Lt. Kuzar stated to Mr. Edwards, "Nig**r do you honestly believe we are going to let you, or any of these other nig**rs get away with what you are doing?"

Hagan, Jackson, Tucker, Robinson, Smith, Edwards, Terry Brooks, and others in the SMU are being targeted for their refusal to be silenced and submit to a regime of white supremacist torture.  These men continue to file grievances, pursue civil litigation, and write family, friends, and other allies on the outside to expose the illegal and degrading conditions they are being subjected to. Despite being starved, gassed, electrocuted, beaten, sickened, and subjected to racist death threats on a daily basis, these men refuse to submit, they continue to resist, and they are calling on us to take action again. This action alert is more comprehensive and far ranging in the targets it lists than the ones in November and September (provide links). 

We have watched the Emergency Response Network grow considerably over the last 12 months, especially during the last 4, and countless people have answered the call to defend the rights and lives of prisoners.  This is why we are asking even more from our allies this time, because we trust you will continue to intensify your efforts, channeling your outrage into action and building this movement against torture and racism and for human rights.

DOC Secretary Jeffrey Beard-717-975-4918
2520 Lisburn Road
Camp Hill, PA 17001

Superintendent John Palakovich
SCI Camp Hill
P.O. Box 200
Camp Hill, PA 17001

Office of Professional Repsonsibility
Director James Barnacle
2520 Lisburn Road
Camp Hill, PA 17001

phone:  717-214-8473


Call and/or write us!

Who are you?  Have you taken action?  Can we know one another and work together to beat back this insufferable brutality?  Call, email, write whenever. Please provide feedback as to your conversations with the people above and other efforts undertaken to protect the men in Camp Hill's SMU.

Thank you.

Solidarity, Health, Respect, Trust, and Struggle

Contact Information
5125 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

412-361-3022 ext. 4
Police & Prisons


L.'s comment on the prison torture went on to say:

Seven men inside the state's premier torture unit have testified to the following events in reports to HRC/Fed Up!, including six men who submitted Declarations of Truth pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746 and subject to the penalty of perjury, adding to the hundreds of pages of prisoner reports, additional Declarations, institutional paperwork, and civil litigation documents sent to our offices from the SMU at Camp Hill alone since only June of 2008.  The incidents have been verified in a personal interview with Mr. Damont Hagan, who has since been transferred (as we've been demanding for 5 months).  Superintendent' s Assistant Robert Volciak further verified that four or five men were subjected to forcible cell extractions on the 20th in a telephone conversation of January 26th.   Several others around the state and the country, from Louisiana to California, have received reports of these assaults as well and contacted our offices.

We are asking that you read the alert, become angry, and act accordingly to help protect the men in the SMU and by extension all others subjected to the normalized white supremacist torture occurring on a daily basis inside prisons in the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S. Inauguration Day



When I read of abuse like this and consider that my mentally and physically handicapped brother, Larry Neal, died under secret arrest in Memphis Shelby County Jail, and I consider all the cover-up that goes into keeping his family from ever seeing the records of his arrest and knowing what happened to him, it is enough to make me sick.  I wonder if he was electrocuted, like some of these men report having happened to them.  Larry’s autopsy report said there was food in his stomach, so he was apparently not starved like some of these Pennsylvania inmates. 

Larry’s autopsy report states that he died of a heart attack, but was it brought on by beating?  Larry’s body had a head wound.  Even the USDOJ does not intend for us to ever know what happened to Larry Neal, apparently.  The agency that is charged with protecting the rights of institutionalized persons is not interested in the secret arrest and wrongful death of a handicapped American who was secretly incarcerated while his family and social worker searched for him for weeks, while Shelby County Jail lied and falsely denied having him in custody.

America, human rights are in sad shape inside American prisons and jails.  Won’t you help, please?  Especially consider our mentally ill citizens and children who are behind bars.  Please have mercy, and some day, God will also have mercy on you or someone you love.

If you can, please come to the HUMAN RIGHTS FOR PRISONERS MARCH FOR MAY 16 IN ATLANTA.  Stand against treating human beings worse than we would allow dogs to be treated.  If you are unable to attend, then keep doing what you can where you are to make the world a better place.

"Human Rights for Prisoners March in Atlanta, May 16" 



Mary Neal

Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill



Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.


Mary Neal
, 5, 2 children
Atlanta, GA, USA
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