Border Patrol Agent Jesus Diaz is looking at getting multiple years inside a prison for “pulling handcuffs” during arrest in Texas. Meanwhile, he’s been in jail since the verdict nearly two months ago. He’s in solitary confinement 23 hours per day for his safety. So far, the judge has refused to allow bond while Diaz awaits sentencing. Solitary confinement in itself is punishment and extreme living conditions inside a prison or jail. Prisons designed for solitary confinement are instant isolation units merely by their design. The fact that the isolation cell designated to hold the “Worst of the Worst” is most misleading if anyone who worked in such an environment will testify to under oath. Following the road to this endless road to nowhere, you must first understand the dynamics involved to create this horde of thousands of human beings that are confined inside these cracker boxes designed for no human being to escape from while separating them from the real world. Much more restricted than any other place inside a jail or prison, one would tremble with pure fear is ever left alone inside one of these boxes of concrete and steel designed to drive someone crazy through the use of the solitary, isolation, deprivation[SID] methods readily available to anyone who chooses to use them. Many times, when ex-lawmen are convicted of a crime they are placed inside one of these concrete boxes to do their time in protective segregation units inclusive of maximum custody in many states or federal prisons.
None of the pods are soundproof thus every whimper, every cry and every shout can be heard by all those that live inside. Every sound triggers a response from someone down the tier and whether friend or foe, the result is a mixture of shouts and chants that compete to be heard by its intended receiver. The officers, charged with the duty to maintain order, ignore these chants as they conduct their walks and exit the pods as quickly as they entered thus unable to distinguish a cry for help from a cry of disgust. None, even the best of the best, choose to remain inside one of these boxes any longer than they have to because of the steady pandemonium that exists within cell to cell and inmate to inmate. The heat in the summer is unbearable as the swamp coolers are insufficient for such a design that collects heat like a sauna does in design. The lack of direct sunlight creates a shadow on every wall and with no hope to see the sun unless fortunate enough to be allowed to exit the cell for the designated recreation time outside the cell but to another concrete box. Many have electricity but often, if the inmate is problematic in sorts, the breaker is turned off for a designated amount of time undocumented anywhere. The water is controlled and can be turned off anytime staff chose to do so as well as adjusting the timers on the showers to shorten their use of water. The grey walls are scratched with graffiti and the front of the cell where the food port is situated is filthy with residue of spoiled food or in some cases, fecal material smeared by someone to get the attention needed to have someone talk to them. The staff, all wearing protective gloves and in some cases, shields to protect them from foreign objects hurled at them from both the top and the bottom of the tiers work hard just to keep up with the most elementary chores to keep it going. Day in and day out, working short handed and against time to complete their required duties, the attitude that prevails is “us versus them” as many inmates choose to duel or engage in combat with the officers just to prove to others he is not a “bitch” to someone.
The presence of SID is abundant can be used as a form of punishment. There mere location impacts the quality of life for the inmates to the extent of creating a deep abyss of hopelessness and an alien form of prison reality. Filthy, brutal, ignored and often perceived to be a form of “torture” for many, these inmates are kept away from the eyes of the public and anyone requesting to visit these dungeons. Whenever a legislator, the attorney general, a lawyer or foreign consulate comes to visit the place sufficient warning is given to “clean the place up” and design the approved route for the tour or visit. Toilets that are back up are left that way for weeks forcing some to crap on the floor. Lights stay on day and night and are eventually covered with paper to give them darkness to sleep in. Difficulties in sleeping at night as the screaming never ends, many choose to sleep during the day. The same applies to delayed letter deliveries, torn books, food thrown on the floor as a message that the inmate “needs to clean up his act” and other SID methods of satisfying the boundaries of control and who is actually in control of the box. There are cases where those inmates who have thrown their food tray back at the officer were provided sack meals for years to avoid the clean up of such waste on the cement floors. Never getting a hot meal or balanced diet, they live like that forever until someone questions why this inmate is not getting a regular meal. Designated SID inmates are the focus of management efforts to remove them from the open yards or general population and cast them out of sight and out of mind. The frequency and the amount of time allotted for each inmate to have recreation and showers are often curtailed or in many cases skipped due to lack of staffing to facilitate such a task. This builds animosity between staff and inmates and often results in frequent force being used during those periods where the inmate is escorted out of his or her cell to go to the recreation pen.
Visitation is only as good as the inmate’s ability to recognize what day of the week it is and the ability to schedule such an activity with the case manager or visitation officer. Personal property is limited especially if designed a suicide problem or behavioral troublemaker. Kick starters are those who ramp up others into creating chaos inside the concrete boxes and as a result, the entire day is spent on lockdown status with no showers and recreation. SID can be used by staff, employees or even other inmates. This method of controlling behaviors inside a isolation unit have been effective for years and is often not questioned and rather, approved through tacit approval of those who choose to look the other way or not make changes in the routine of the unit affected. SID is destructive and responsible for homicides, suicides, serious assaults on both staff and inmates and is rarely identified as the cause or catalyst for such disruptive conduct. The inmate has to tow the line and accept responsibility for all he or she does without any reprieve or relief through grievances that are totally ignored or processed unless the right person gets a hold of such a document.
The most obvious means for family to be concerned with is the sudden interruption of regular phone calls or letter since both are controlled by the staff or administrations. Any inquiries by family members may prompt further SID treatment and create additional stress between the administration and the inmate. One must suspect that Agent Diaz receives plenty of mail and must be kept in a tight communication loop to give him hope and strength to endure this tragedy of injustice.