constitutionally entitled to basic civil rights. This testimony presents
only one of the many intentional extreme denials, with malice, of these
rights by WSP staff.
On 1 North, B-tier, March 12, 2001 a minor incident between a few inmates
and COs (caused by verbal abuse by guards) sparked minor verbal
skirmishing between COs and inmates. Certain aggressively antagonistic COs
used this situation as an excuse to suit up in full riot gear. There are
26 cells on the tier, and all of us were locked in secure when the trouble
started. There was NO NEED FOR FORCE -- much less the excessive force
which the COs indulged themselves in.
COs shot three tear gas grenades down the tier followed by three stun
grenades (designed to disable your equilibrium). They then barged through
both ends of the tier with fire hoses on full blast, (the kind of hoses
used to fight forest fires). They indiscriminately sprayed all of us with
these 100 MPH blasts of water. None of us could breath because of the tear
gas in the air. Then COs ordered us all to "get naked" and give
them all our belongings -- which consisted only of hygiene and legal
supplies in the first place.
SWAT team COs then proceeded to extract several of us and place us in
shower stalls, hog-tied and naked. I was unlucky enough to be one of
these. I was left in these restraints in the upper D tier shower stall.
After an hour of being hog-tied the guy in the stall next to me (in the
same position as me) started vomiting in the shower -- probably from a
reaction to the combination of stun grenades, tear gas, and being left
soaking wet and totally immobilized on the cold shower floor.
After two hours my arms went COMPLETELY NUMB and my spine felt severed at
the center from my wrists being cuffed to my ankles behind my back for
such an extended period of time.
After three hours my legs, arms, fingers and spine suffered sharp flashes
of pain and my consciousness faded in and out as I listened to officers in
the area yell obscenities and laugh at my current situation and pain.
Four hours passed (my approximation), and I woke from one of several
losses of consciousness to discover I had feces all over the lower half of
my body -- apparently the position I was in stimulated a bowel movement
which I could not control because I was unconscious from pain exhaustion.
Somewhere along the line I completely lost track of time. Eventually I
woke again to six or seven COs with gas masks on jabbing me with their
night sticks: "Mr. Northup, you ready for movement?" "Mr.
Northup, you going to comply with a direct order or do we need to further
reiterate this issue?" etc., etc.
SWAT team COs then picked me up like a briefcase by the restraints
connected to my ankles and wrists and transported me to my new cell. Thank
God my ankles and arms were already numb, because I'm sure it would have
been excruciatingly painful to be transported in such a fashion. (I later
received an infraction for defiling the shower stall).
When they finally took off the restraints unexpressible severe pain was
inflicted on me as the blood gradually worked its way back into my limbs.
I could hear the cries of pain and pleas for medical attention as other
inmates experienced the same paralyzing ordeal.
The next day LT. GLEASON told me I'd be on isolation status for two
months. Additionally he informed me I'd be on strip cell status for a
minimum of two weeks. On top of that: for "security reasons"
they "felt it was necessary" to place me on sack lunch diet,
which was also to last two weeks.
My second night on upper C-tier I begged the COs for fresh water. They had
the water cut off to my cell for "security reasons." They
responded, "Mr. Northup if you want water drink it from the
toilet." The temperature on the tier and in the cells was
life-threateningly hot, and I could barely breath because my throat was so
parched. Eventually I was forced to drink the repulsive and highly
unsanitary water from the toilet.
My third day on C-tier I received my sack lunch which consisted of two
pieces of dry bread and one piece of hot bologna, contaminated with CO
spit. I washed it down with toilet water which I'd already become
accustomed to. Occasionally COs would turn on the water. Usually only
certain COs would do this. To flush your toilet is classified as a
privilege to be earned. Sometimes the stench of urine and feces was so
strong in the cell it would induce sickness and sting my eyes.
As the days slowly passed I endured constant stomach pain caused by lack
of food and fresh water to drink. Additionally COs claimed it was a
"security issue" to provide me with toilet paper while I was on
strip cell. As a result I was forced to stay unclean for extended periods
Because I was on isolation status combined with strip cell status I
received no shower or shaving materials. Two weeks finally passed and I
received a roll of toilet paper. It was a very big moment for me.
Nonetheless, I had six weeks of isolation status left to complete.
After a month of constant heat and no shower I broke out in sores all over
my entire body. I complained through institutional grievance programs, but
received no response. (Walla Walla COs are notorious for throwing out
inmate grievances before they receive due process, when they don't agree
with the content of the complaint!) I started to suffer from serious
anxiety attacks related to lack of movement and constant isolation. The
light in the cell burned 24 hours a day and created a type of sensory
deprivation chamber that is beyond my abilities to explain. Silence began
to consume me. I started to lose my mental stability as I struggled to
maintain a sense of reality and hope for survival.
With two weeks left to go on isolation I awake from a semi-conscious
stupor to find the walls in my cell breathing and my heart sporadically
palpitating. The constant frog in my throat also concerns me, but I know
better than to request medical attention. (The guy next to me did that
last week and now he's on sack lunches, buck naked on strip cell status.)
THE LAST LAP IN THE SUICIDE DERBY
On the last day of isolation status condensation beads up on the
plexiglass window of my torture cell. Deliberate attempts by WSP COs to
provoke me into arguments have failed. Cockroaches and ants crawl up and
down the walls and occasionally through my hair as I sit idle and watch.
I've become an element of the cell; no longer a visitor, but simply a
furnishing or fixture dwelling dumbly within the concrete rubic cube of
hell from which there is no escape.
I do my best to smile. Today I will shower most likely (after a full two
months). I've endured the worst living conditions I can possibly imagine.
I look like a caveman, but that doesn't matter: I've survived the worst
part of the death chamber at Walla Walla. While living on this tier I've
observed TWO SUCCESSFUL SUICIDES AND FIVE OR SIX ATTEMPTS. It takes a
strong primitive instinct for survival to survive in these types of
environments (whether inflicted on people by foreign terrorists, or
domestic ones). Some people just don't have that in their nature. That's
why Walla Walla's 1 north wing and 4 wing continue to lead the state in
the suicide derby.
May 26, 2001: Lt. Frank Leonetti, CUS Robert Piver, medical staff, and CO
Stevens personally escort unconscious inmate John Vickers on a stretcher
to the infirmary because he collapsed from heat exhaustion. Several other
inmates (including myself) collapsed from a combination of oppressive heat
and moisture. On May 28, 2001, Steven McDonald has a stroke and comes very
close to dying due to these conditions. The tier was designed to be a
torture chamber and is successfully being used for that purpose.
Several kites and letters to WARDEN JOHN LAMBERT went unanswered. I then
filed grievances, but this is an exercise in futility, because the sole
purpose of the grievance procedure is to notify the administration there
is a problem. The process does not work if they don't care about the
problem at administrative level.
That's why we are victimized with impunity by vindictive COs who feel sure
we will shut up and take this type of abuse no matter what is being
inflicted upon us. Walla Walla is well aware of the obstacles prisoners
face in effectively litigating a complaint against this torture. Before
you can even file a law suit for civil violations, you must first file
complaints with both the institutional grievance programs and the state
run Department of Risk Management -- both of which are basically sham
window dressing. Thus it is simply a tactic of obfuscation and delay.
(This feature, by the way, was introduced into regulations by the
"liberal" Bill Clinton administration. You can imagine what the
Bush people will come up with!)
Both of the above processes serve as notice of intent to file a law suit.
Once this happens DOC then has plenty of time to retaliate by doing a
"random" cell search in order to "lose" all your legal
papers and/or placing you on strip cell for a trumped up charge. Lastly,
DOC and Walla Walla are also well aware that most inmates cannot even
begin to afford effective counsel to represent them in civil actions in
the first place!
DOC officials in Olympia are well aware of Walla Walla's abusive history
and its long-time abuse of inmates. Since they continue to choose to
ignore it, they are of course just as guilty as the Walla Walla
administration -- just as surely as a Charles Manson or an Osama Bin
Laden, etc. are guilty of the havoc wreaked by THEIR operatives.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK
Because of a combination of negligence by DOC headquarters in Olympia and
WSP officials, inmates are being subjected to torture. As a result, some
are committing suicide. Additionally, these types of environments make any
inmates who are already unstable, much more dangerous -- not only to other
prisoners and the vast majority of prison employees who are decent people,
but also to the public at large.
Yes, we are dealing here with the well-documented phenomenon of
"BLOWBACK": It is obviously not in the public interest to
produce inmates who are more dangerous upon release than they were before
they went in. (About 4000 people are released from custody daily
nationwide according to current statistics.)
The Legislature recently passed RCW Chapter 75 which, in short, states
that they can use current DOC mental health records to assist in civil
commitments if necessary for violent offenders (not just pedophiles). DOC
recognizes this statute, yet does nothing to effectively address the issue
of ACTUAL rehabilitation. Their only concern is "control." They
could care less about rehabilitation and prisoner betterment programs
(which are the only REAL basis for control and security in any prison
setting.) But then, why should they care? Unrehabilitated prisoners and
recidivism are their job security.
UNION JOB SECURITY Vs REHABILITATION AND PUBLIC SAFETY
Could anyone reasonably expect that any human, regardless of his or her
positive intentions would NOT be prone to violence after constantly
enduring these living conditions and fierce mental and physical anguish
for prolonged periods of time?
Could we then reasonably suspect that DOC is breeding violence instead of
attempting to curb it? How could one be surprised that after experiencing
repetitive physical and psychological assaults by these vigilante gangs of
incompetent, untrained, uneducated and sadistic COs, one might adapt some
sort of anti-social attitudes and behaviors?
BIOCHEMICAL TERRORISM (Forced "Medication")
Often DOC's solution to problems is pushing psycotropic control
medications designed to turn you into a vegetable. When inmates refuse to
place themselves in a position to be yet again victimized in this way and
suffering further mental anguish from unneeded chemicals -- DOC uses yet
another illegal rehabilitation tactic: they manufacture a factitious
mental health file to be used against them at a later date! But it gets
If you DO comply with medication orders you run a serious risk of brain
damage. To fully appreciate this, you must recall that DOC's first and
foremost concern is for "control." DOC will issue you Thorazine
quicker than vitamins.
Lastly and most importantly: no one should be subjected to this fascistic
treatment by sadistic officers who are answerable to no one. They are
essentially highly paid terrorist vigilantes who are accountable only to
themselves. THEY NEED TO BE HELD COMPLETELY ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE NUMEROUS
ATROCITIES THEY INFLICT. Until they are, they will continue to behave in
this way and cause more inmates to die in this concentration camp.
I urge anyone who reads this to please contact your legislators, the
governor and the media. Please do what you can to help reform the prisons,
and to end this Washington state sponsored torture you are paying for.
For further information contact:
Visit Mr. Northup's Personal Webpage