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FOCUS | The Play's the Thing / Chris Hedges

Society & Culture  (tags: prisons, maximumsecurity, solitaryconfinement, torture, blackincarceration, blackPride, lifesentences, dyinginprison, torture, psychologicalmethods, Muslimprisoners, MalcolmX, ChrisHedges, playwriting, prisoneducation )

- 1642 days ago -
Chris Hedges taught a class of 28 prisoners in a maximum-security prison in New Jersey. Each week the students were required to write dramatic scenes based on their experiences in and out of prison. He now has a play he wants to produce funded somehow..

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Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Thursday December 19, 2013, 5:43 pm
You MUST read the ENTIRE article - all 4 pages, or don't bother reading any.
I am posting this, because I have seen -
All these attitudes, and more, and worse, I have SEEN EXPRESSED BY CARE2 MEMBERS.
In IGNORANCE, for the most part.
"Why should I have to work for a living, when they have a cushy, comfortable life?"
is one part of it - the other is,
"Well, they did something REALLY BAD - or they wouldn't be there - so, they OUGHT to suffer! It's perfectly FINE if they suffer!"
As I said, read the entire 4 pages, or don't go there at all.
'Something unique, almost magical, was happening in the prison classroomóa place I could reach only after

passing through two metal doors and a metal detector, subjecting myself to a pat-down by a guard, an X-ray inspection of my canvas bag of books and papers, getting my hand stamped and then checked under an ultraviolet light, and then passing through another metal door into a barred circular enclosure. In every visit I was made to stand in the enclosure for several minutes before being permitted by the guards to pass through a barred gate and then walk up blue metal stairs, through a gantlet of blue-uniformed prison guards, to my classroom.

The class, through the creation of the play, became an intense place of reflection, debate and self-discovery. Offhand comments, such as the one made by a student who has spent 22 years behind bars, that ďjust because your family doesnít visit you doesnít mean they donít love you,Ē reflected the pain, loneliness and abandonment embedded in the lives of my students.' Chris Hedges.

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Thursday December 19, 2013, 5:47 pm
There are 80,000 U.S. prisoners held in solitary confinement, which human rights organizations such as Amnesty International define as a form of torture. In this scene [FROM THE PLAY THE PRISONERS ARE COLLECTIVELY WRITING] the older man tells the young inmate what to expect from the COs, or correction officers.

Ojore (speaking slowly and softly): When they come and get you, ícause they are gonna get you, have your hands out in front of you with your palms showing. You want them to see you have no weapons. Donít make no sudden moves. Put your hands behind your head. Drop to your knees as soon as they begin barking out commands.

Omar: My knees?

Ojore: This ainít a debate. Iím telling you how to survive the hell you íbout to endure. When you get to the hole you ainít gonna be allowed to have nothing but what they give you. If you really piss them off you get a Ďdry cellí where the sink and the toilet are turned on and off from outside. You gonna be isolated. No contact. No communication.

Omar: Why?

Ojore: íCause they donít want you sendiní messages to nobody before dey question some of da brothers on the wing. IA [internal affairs officers] gonna come and see you. They gonna want a statement. If you donít talk they gonna try and break you. They gonna open the windows and let the cold in. They gonna take ya sheets and blankets away. They gonna mess with ya food so you canít eat it. Aní donít eat no food that come in trays from the Vroom Building. Nuts in Vroom be spittiní, pissiní and shittiní in the trays. Now, the COs gonna wake you up every hour on the hour so you canít sleep. They gonna put a bright-ass spotlight in front of ya cell and keep it on day and night. They gonna harass you wití all kinds of threats to get you to cooperate. They will send in the turtles in their shin guards, gloves, shank-proof vests, forearm guards and helmets with plexiglass shields on every shift to give you beat-downs.

Omar: How long this gonna go on?

Ojore: Til they break you. Or til they donít. Three days. Three weeks. You donít break, it go on like this for a long time. Aní if you donít think you can take it, then donít start puttiní yerself through this hell. Just tell íem what they wanna know from the door. You gonna be in MCU for the next two or three years. Youíll get indicted for murder. You lookiní at a life bid. Aní remember MCU ainít jusí íbout isolation. Itís íbout keeping you off balance. The COs, dressed up in riot gear, wake you up at 1 a.m., force you to strip and make you grab all your things and move you to another cell just to harass you. They bring in dogs trained to go for your balls. You spend 24 hours alone one day in your cell and 22 the next. They put you in the MCU and wait for you to self-destruct. Aní it works. Men self-mutilate. Men get paranoid. Men have panic attacks. They start hearing voices. They talk crazy to themselves. I seen one prisoner swallow a pack of AA batteries. I seen a man shove a pencil up his dick. I seen men toss human shit around like it was a ball game. I seen men eat their own shit and rub it all over themselves like it was some kinda body lotion. Then, when you really get out of control, when you go really crazy, they got all their torture instruments readyófour- and five-point restraints, restraint hoods, restraint belts, restraint beds, stun grenades, stun guns, stun belts, spit hoods, tethers, and waist and leg chains. But the physical stuff ainít the worst. The worst is the psychological, the humiliation, sleep deprivation, sensory disorientation, extreme light or dark, extreme cold or heat and the long weeks and months of solitary. If you donít have a strong sense of purpose you donít survive. They want to defeat you mentally. Aní I seen a lot of men defeated.

SusanAWAY Allen (219)
Friday December 20, 2013, 12:06 am
Outstanding article! Sad too though when you think of all the wasted talent, not to mention the apparent torture we're allowing in our prisons. My eyes continue to be opened. No wonder torture of prisoners in Guantanamo and elsewhere was so easy to do and get a "blessing" for from legal authorities, they've already been fighting and apparently winning the torture battle in federal courts for years coming out of our prison system. It would have been easy for them to make the leap. Shared the article.

roxy H (350)
Friday December 20, 2013, 1:15 am

David C (25)
Friday December 20, 2013, 2:00 pm
> The Play's the Thing
- No, NO! Shakespeare and Hedges are plain wrong there. The PAY's the Thing ! (T.Pratchett)
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