Thursday, August 02, 2012

Concern for Treatment of Prisoners


"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons"
--- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Please join SALT in asking Governor McDonnell to demonstrate good faith to limit the use of solitary confinement by allowing independent experts to assist in reforms.

Prolonged isolation violates individuals' God-given dignity by destroying prisoners' minds and the opportunity for genuine rehabilitation. Virginia prisoners should
not have to resort to starving to send that message.  We should be a voice for them.    john

                                                                                                      SALT Letter to Governor McDonnell
The Honorable Robert McDonnell
Office of the Governor
P. O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218

Dear Governor McDonnell:

I’m writing on behalf of 1200 SALT members who share the growing concern regarding the treatment of prisoners within the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC), especially those afflicted with serious mental illness.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the DOC alleging that prisoners at the Fluvanna County Correctional Center for Women have suffered both pain and death as a result of deficient health care services.  There is also a suit pending against the DOC for wrongful death at the Red Onion State Prison. Regardless of the merits of these suits, the commonwealth is receiving unfavorable attention, the type of negative attention that no conscientious citizen wants.

Segregating and isolating prisoners, especially those oppressed with mental illness, which has been practiced in Virginia, is not advancing a respect for life and human dignity. This practice for us is clearly not merely a legal issue but also a moral issue. Those legislators requesting an investigation of the treatment of prisoners held in isolation in Virginia have our full support. Such treatment is not a worthy model for a department of correction.

Questionable practices, such as isolation of the mentally and emotionally disturbed, should have no place in our correctional institutions. Our position on this matter is held in light of our faith. No one merits such indignity or loses their permanent gift of dignity.

We have been advised that the states of Mississippi, Maine, and Colorado have relied upon the counsel of experts--bona fide specialists recognized nationally for their expertise regarding the humane, safer and cost-effective ways of prisoner treatment--and have made much needed and proven changes with respect to housing prisoners. Expert assistance is  available via the National Institute of Corrections, and their assistance can be funded by available grants.

We can do better in Virginia, and you are the one who can take the high road in this matter.  We believe you have the wisdom to move us in a more humane and cost-effective course regarding this matter.

A courtesy of a response would be appreciated.


John Horejsi, Coordinator
Social Action Linking Together (SALT)
9610 Counsellor Dr.
Vienna, VA 22181
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