World Day Against the Death Penalty 2022: “Prison guards and how they behave…”
A road paved with TORTURE
On 10.10.2022 the 20th World Day against the Death Penalty is dedicated to the focus on TORTURE,
… because confessions are sometimes forced through physical or psychological torture,
… Prison conditions on death row are often tantamount to psychological torture,
… Members of the perpetrators suffer trauma through executions or even last-minute postponements,
… the stress of killing a person by execution sometimes leads to occupational disability,
… Victims’ relatives repeatedly relive the trauma of the crime – in some cases the execution takes place against their express will …
From the daily life on Arizona’s death row
The guards they are here to maintain somewhat of law and order. As we complete our sentences for the crimes we have committed. Including that they (guards) have complete jurisdiction over us. Meaning that they can do whatever they want. Sometimes even without consequences or repercussions for them. Even though, they supposedly are here to be neutral moderators to ensure our safety and well- being throughout the length of our sentences. However, this is a far cry from it.
Especially since to begin with we are very limited to what all we can do, have, and receive here in prison and everything is scrutinized. Therefore, whatever little comforts we have and find solace in we not only as inmates but also as individuals come to value, treasure, and appreciate even the most minimal and simplistic of things in here, beginning with our mail, photos, and property. Simply because some of these items are irreplaceable and sacred to us no matter how small or insignificant they may be or seem to others.
Chaos after the cell search
So, when the guards come to search your cell randomly and your whole cell is in a complete mess that it seems like a tornado hit your cell and items are strewn about everywhere. Pictures, mail, and papers are also on the floor that have shoe prints on them. Maybe your radio has been broken or some items the guards deem as altered. They are automatically considered contraband and confiscated by their standards. This is very discouraging because not everyone has the means or finances to replace damaged, confiscated or broken items.
And everything depreciates in value even if you are reimbursed for them by the state. Of course, that entails a lengthy grievance system process that can take weeks if not months to fulfill including that sometimes you have to litigate in civil court to prove your case and obtain a settlement. Not to mention that sometimes it can take a few days to get everything back in place or to find out if something is still missing, because in many cases the guards here make their own rules, laws and regulations that they think are right, or they gradually invent new rules just to justify their behavior and actions, since they never admit any wrongdoing.
Arbitrariness and double standards
This is despite the fact that they themselves are bound by certain rules and norms. To the vast majority of the guards here, they regard themselves to be above the law and are also vindictive and prejudice. Or even consider us insignificant to them. And you really can’t say or engage in a common conversion about such issues and matters with them because immediately a situation becomes hostile to them. And you receive a major disciplinary write up for it for raising your voice or opinion in the matter.
Remember these guards are here as moderators and should have proper training to deescalate situations like these, but they don’t because they don’t have anything to lose by their misconduct and demeanor, when in return a major disciplinary write up for us means the loss of privileges. Such as no visits, no phone calls, no commissary store, etc. And every little infraction you receive hurts because it’s also your family, friends, and loved one’s who are affected by it too.
Another example of the torture done to us by the guards is our outdated swamp coolers that we have here in the cell. They break down most of the time, the pads run out of water or need constant repair. This is because the prison administration refuses to replace them with proper air conditioning. Simply stating that they cost too much and that the prison can’t afford it! And meanwhile our rooms are sweltering in heat where you sometimes wake up sweating and go to bed sweating. The guards are cool and calm because their own cell towers are nice and cool from the air conditioning they receive.
They also refuse to call maintenance to fix the problem right away. Or wait until the last minute when their supervisor gets enough grievances and complaints about it that they then are instructed to call maintenance and reluctantly do. Or their other favorite excuse is that it’s the weekend and maintenance can’t start until Monday at the earliest to fix the problem. Something so easy and vital towards our livelihood that it just goes on deaf ears or undone.
I can go on writing more about such misdeeds, mistreatment, and torture from the guards that we are subjected to constantly, but in reality it would take a few novels to bring it all to light. However, this is just a small glimpse into how torturous prison life really is!?
Arizona Death Row