Imagine this; If your child was very, very sick, with a serious and chronic illness, or your mother or father for that matter, and you were forced for months on end, each new day as unbearable as the next, to leave your loved one behind is the care of an ignorant, impoverished and backward third world country that could offer no treatment; where no care was available - not even privacy or a soft bed where they could lay to suffer.
Imagine further, that the people in the village have no empathy and no sense of urgency for your seriously ill relative. They treat your mother, your son, or your father as if they were invisible, or worse, they systematically throw insulting and vulgar words at them like stones on top of the expectation that they should endure this neglect.
Imagine that you give this village, in desperation, thousands upon thousands of dollars each year that passes, hoping that they will find a way to treat and care for your loved one; something you could in fact have done for far less, if only you could have them home with you. But, let’s just say you will give this village more than twice the cost of care that would be considered a blessing by anyone‘s measure, and still, they did nothing. Imagine that.
If you can create an image of utter despair and blind indifference, of waste and hopelessness, of callous disregard and disrespect, of heartbreak and life altering experiences, only then would you know what it is like to have a loved one with serious mental illness in the clutches of Vermont Correctional System.
It is not punishment; it is not rehabilitation; it is abuse.
I know the kettle has been boiled dry, but I know a young man who has been enduring this “third world” environment for months on end. He has been through some horrible experiences, and in all honesty, I could not publish those descriptions of events unless privately.
Should it really matter that not all DOC staff are abusing their position of power?
Is it completely understandable to everyone but myself - that complaints are dealt with by pointedly making the environment ever more hostile for the one or more inmate who has a family utterly horrified at what they see and hear?
I’ve heard all of the jokes - every inmate claims innocence, but, unbelievable as it may seem to you, this inmate IS innocent. He has, among other things, a social phobia that would have made his participation in the crime he was accused of absolutely impossible! He was victimized, exploited in the first place, unwittingly made to play the patsy, and because he’s a healthy, strong, good looking young man, those people in government to whom I have described his situation seem to find it annoying or worse, humorous. For the past five years, it has even come to bear that the advice and insight I have given to DOC staff, both inside the prison and in the field offices right here in Brattleboro, have been completely ignored and in some instances, even used against this man to draw out the very response I sought to avoid!
This man calls me at least four times a day. His first words to me yesterday were “I just want to go home again.“ His final words to me last night were these:
“I guess I don’t want you to complain about this. I have been thinking. These CO’s must have had a very bad life to be able to act the way they do. Well, goodnight, mom. I just called to say good-night.”
One of the symptomatic behaviors of my son is this blind forgiveness. With continued neglect from the state in providing any care for my son, whether he is in prison or home where he belongs (The DOC has not allowed him to live at home since 2005 - they blame me for his failings) God, give me that blind same forgiveness. We have two more years to go.