Take action: South Carolina’s prison abuse

A couple days ago I mentioned this article published in The Atlantic covering the APPALLING treatment of mentally ill patients by the South Carolina prison system.  I’m not talking about making people uncomfortable or refusing to coddle criminals. This is criminally inhumane and I’m pretty angry.

The judge’s statement about the case (in his decision) emphasizes the fact that South Carolina legislators and government officials KNEW about the inhumane treatment of the mentally ill prisoners and did nothing.

I encourage you to read the article (really, why haven’t you?) and then do something about it.

I have emailed the following to my reps.  Plagiarize if you want — I don’t care. Just DO something.

Dear Legislator,
This weekend I was stunned and sickened to read The Atlantic’s article about the horrifying treatment of mentally ill prisoners in South Carolina’s correctional system: “Where Good People Do Nothing.”

The author of the article linked to Judge Baxley’s ruling in full, highlighting the judge’s disappointment that South Carolina continues to fight against a clear judgment of guilt against the State.

For years now — and repeatedly through reports and recommendations received in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2010 — committees and regulators have warned the SC legislature that our prison system leaves mentally ill patients in deplorable surroundings, sometimes subjecting them to excessive solitary confinement or physical restraint, all accompanied by poor medical care, a lack of standard treatment, and an ineffective and pathetic record-keeping system.

Legislator, we are responsible for the lives of the humans under our collective care.  To neglect and abuse the mentally ill — and then LIE about knowing it was happening — is a massive ethical and moral failure that demands swift justice.

But instead of humbly accepting Judge Baxley’s ruling and “repenting in dust and ashes,” the state of South Carolina has chosen to appeal the ruling,  thus entangling any meaningful reforms for months or years.

How can this be anything except hard-headed and wrong?

Please, for the love of all that is righteous, would you use your power and influence as a lawmaker in our state to
1. demand that South Carolina stop denying our culpability in this case, drop the appeal, and begin to reform the treatment of the mentally ill in our prisons;
2. restore funding in general for the social services which have been eviscerated during the past decade or so in South Carolina politics.

We have cut beyond the bone in the past several years. The patient is mortally wounded.  Our state lacks funding for even basic public health and safety initiatives.  Our prisons are overcrowded and (as it seems) hellholes of abuse.  Our public schools have seen nearly all funding for the arts evaporate in the midst of a miserable pursuit to let standardized testing teach our kids (instead of paying teachers well and giving them the freedom to teach).  Our mental health services have essentially vanished.  Probation and parole offices have operated under hiring freezes for many years now.  Generational poverty grips most rural areas of the state.

South Carolina needs to repent of its sacrifice of the weak and needy (even when those in need have broken the law) and force a change in our political values.  For such a “pro-life” state, we sure don’t seem to give much care for the living.

Sincerely,
[Me}

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