Treatment of Women Prisoners

------ Original Message -----
From: Sherry Swiney
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2004 6:39 PM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] Hell's Half Acre-Alabama's Prison For Women

Passing this story on because you need to know the truth about Alabama's prisons.  Please pass this on to all your groups and to the media.

May God bless us all,
Sherry Swiney
"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."
Integrity is "in" and corruption is "out"
Innocent in prison:
Patrick Swiney
154406 G79
100 Warrior Lane
Bessemer, AL 35023

----- Original Message -----
From: Beverly B
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2004 8:45 AM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] Hell's Half Acre-Alabama's Prison For Women

Anonymous In Alabama

I hesitate to give my name. I am trying to put my life, my career, and my family back together.  Perhaps, in time, I will allow more people a glimpse into my little corner of the world; however, at the present, I am engaged in a raging war within my heart and mind=20
between the fierce desire to help some of the people I met and the urgency of wanting to erase all memory of "that place."

I can hardly believe any female prison in the USA could be worse than that of the only female prison in the state of Alabama.
As a result of a painful relationship, I made some bad choices.  Although I never dreamed (in my worst nightmares) that I would ever go to prison, I ended up in a place that was cold and soulless - a place where I prayed daily for sanity.

I know that I must be a survivor.  I was told by my family physician at the age of 29 years, after watching my husband die, that I had been through more than most people go through in a lifetime, and that was before I went to prison. For many years prior to my incarceration, I worked in a profession closely related to law enforcement.  I don't know how, but I was so na=EFve about the justice system.  Much to my chagrin, I learned that there is no justice in the justice system.  Justice is bought, either with money or favors.  In most cases, a judge who knows absolutely nothing about you holds your entire future in his hands.  Your fate is decided  based upon many factors, but guilt or innocence is not the deciding factor.

When I arrived at the Alabama prison, I was placed in a large, outside chicken wire fence and left for quite sometime.  When I was moved to the receiving area, people were yelling "fresh meat." That alone was enough to scare the average female.  My hair was cut
without form or fashion just below my ears by another inmate, and then I was processed in.

The building looked like army barracks, only older.  There were no screens on the windows, except in special dorms.  There were insects, mice, and an occasional snake roaming the dorms. During the summer months, the temperature rose to well above 100 degrees inside the dorms.  Sometimes, I could not sleep because of the sultry heat.  Some women would get into the shower while wearing their gowns, just before going to bed, in order to try to get cool enough to fall asleep.

The heating systems in each dorm were each a separate system.  Most were so old that when a part broke or wore out, a replacement had to be ordered.  Every winter, we had to go without heat for a period of time because of needed repairs.  I can remember the heat being off for an entire week during January.  I slept in long johns, a sweat suit, state issued coat, several pairs of socks, and a toboggan in order to get warm enough to sleep.

We not only were treated like animals, we were herded like animals.  We did not eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, we were called for "feeding."  The food was barely edible.  We rarely had fresh fruit or vegetables.  A number of kitchen employees swear that the ground meat used for spaghetti, meat loaf, etc. came in boxes marked "not for human consumption."  The meat consisted of by- products -- ground up parts of the cow that are not saleable.  The fish cakes were of the same quality.  It was not uncommon to bite into a fish eyeball.  We had absolutely no milk (a necessary nutrient for women) for the first four years I was there.  When enough protest was waged, they offered one =BD pint of milk in the mornings, but in order to get that milk, we had to get up and go to eat at 3:30 a.m. We had watered down Kool-Aid or tea with other meals, no coffee.  The drinks, Jell-O, puddings, etc. were all sweetened with Aspartame. 

Not only is Aspartame implicated with diseases including MS, Lupus, Fibromialgia, Diabetes, Manic Depression and brain tumors, but when mixed with hot water (and it was, because it mixes easier), it creates a formaldehyde effect.

When some inmates' families complained to the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections about the food we were fed, his office
staff stated, "All we have to do is sustain life."  Sometimes that wasn't accomplished.

The medical attention and treatment was less than adequate (as one can see from the class action lawsuits).  Many of the health care employees had either lost their licenses for wrongs they had been caught committing, or were performing community service. Several had pending lawsuits against them.  I watched many women die from lack of care.

Without going into specifics, I will state that I had my share of health problems during my term in the prison system.  Since my release, I have had numerous medical tests and extensive treatment from health care providers at tremendous cost and with no insurance. Due to improper diet, lack of adequate health care, and other environmental circumstances while incarcerated, I will suffer pain everyday for the remainder of my natural life.

The inmates suffer extreme humiliation.  They are screamed at, cursed, degraded, belittled and called names that I had never even heard of.

Family visits were stressful and after the visitors would leave, inmates were subjected to a strip search and made to bend over and spread their cheeks.  Shortly after I arrived at the prison, I had a visit.  When my family left and I was sent to an area to be searched, a sergeant told me to take my clothes off.  I said, "Everything?"  She said, "Yes, just like you did at the `No-tell Motel.'"  I said, "I didn't do that."  She said, "Well, you're here for some reason."  I said, "Well, it's not that."

When an inmate died from negligence or an inmate was mauled by officers, or some other inexcusable incident occurred, the phones
were turned off (sometimes for days) in order to avoid calls to the media.

I could elaborate on various and sundry inhumane conditions for days, but fail to see the significance.  I can only say, life is short in the "free-world," but, to me, life in the Alabama state prison for women is a fate worse than death.  Need I say more?

Monday, July 26, 2004
May I published this?

Yes, you may. I just want to stay out of harm's way until I try for a pardon.

I need to begin trying to get letters soon. I have sort of put it on the "back-burner" since I have been working so much. Then I want to go public with everything.

By the way, I am going to get to meet Troy King and eat lunch with him on August 10. Maybe I can pave the way to future assistance.

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