Message Received? 

By Timothy Pauley

A short time ago, I told you about ‘The Bad Place,’ where they send people here who report anything resembling COVID symptoms. Very shortly afterwards, they distributed memos to all of us actually describing the bad place. Made me wonder if perhaps they’ve been reading this.

The memo included color photos. In my 40 years in prison, I’ve never seen them go to such expense to convince us of something. The text described the amenities. A TV, remote, and even a vintage gameboy (still wondering where they came up with those). It didn’t seem so bad. Until I looked at the photos anyway.

The cell in the photos was an IMU cell. For those who don’t know what that means, I’m glad because I would not wish that on anyone. IMU stands for Intensive Management Unit. It is a state of the art long-term isolation/sensory deprivation cell.

The powers that set the course of prison policy have been using these sensory deprivation cells to drive prisoners insane for about 35 years now. They’ve identified nearly every potential element of human comfort and systematically removed them from this environment. What remains is a nearly perfect weapon to crush the human spirit with as little effort as possible.

This phenomenon came with the Tough on Crime movement. It started with an IMU at Walla Walla but eventually expanded to where they have at least one of these at every major facility. Just to christen the new age of corrections properly, the guards physically raped every person sent there for the first eighteen months. That’s when the court made them stop or I’m sure they’d still be doing that.

You must be questioning this information right about now. They wouldn’t do such a thing. They couldn’t. But they did.

Here’s how the process worked. Once a person had been slated for transfer to IMU, guards would show up at their cell and try to get them to sign a waiver. Perhaps some even signed. I don’t know. I do know that nobody admitted to doing that. Nobody was willing to declare publicly that they consented to being violated.

Next came the firehose. I don’t know if it was like that for the first couple victims, but it was quickly determined it was prudent to take some of the fight out of these guys before the main event. A thorough hosing down left the victims sufficiently exhausted and gasping for air.

At that point, the door was opened and several guards wrestled the victim to the floor and cuffed their hands behind their back. Any fight they had left at that point was mitigated by bouncing them off multiple blunt objects as they dragged them to the infirmary. That’s where the main event took place.

Once they reached the examination room, several guards would forcibly bend them over an examination table, rip their coveralls away, and hold them in place. Then someone purported to be on the medical staff would insert several fingers into their rectum and dig around for a moment. The pseudo-medical guy would then wipe his fingers off on the victim’s leg and the guards would drag them off to IMU.

While it has been many years since the court put an end to that brutal practice, it set the tone for everything that followed. Lights on 24/7. No clocks anywhere. Many IMU cells even have the glass in the window frosted so the occupant cannot tell whether it’s night or day. Periodic noise every so often insures everyone is always on edge. These are just a few examples of the amenities.

Those who are not mentally tough melt down quickly. Some take to banging on their doors and hollering. Some go off the deep end and start doing turd paintings on their walls. Those who don’t go insane, must listen to the deterioration of those who do. Once you’ve endured three months of this, if you haven’t incurred their wrath for some perceived transgression, they give you a TV.

When I gazed at those pictures of exactly where they were sending people who reported COVID symptoms, I began experiencing PTSD. The cell in the picture, complete with the TV on the desk, is an exact replica of where they would send a person who just killed someone.

Of course they have to use the resources they have at their disposal. And of course the IMU cell makes sense for isolating people. That’s what it was invented to do. It is also likely the medical staff are not the same as the ones who were raping prisoners back before the court made them stop. Intellectually I can easily grasp those concepts. Yet if I were to develop a cough and/or fever, I have serious doubts about whether I could bring myself to report this, knowing where I would be taken.