From the March-April 2022 issue of News & Letters
Waynesburg, Pa.—I’m a prisoner in the state of Pennsylvania and am currently housed in a Diversionary Treatment Unit, or DTU. It’s a form of solitary confinement for prisoners deemed mentally ill. I feel it’s my duty to speak out about the oppression of mentally ill prisoners by correctional officers and staff.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections feeds off the administration and official oppression by guards as the main cog in the Pennsylvania DOC. Certain adult prisoners are being traumatized here every day here in State Correctional Institution Greene, southwest of Pittsburgh.
It’s not just the mental oppression; it’s the physical abuse. On my housing block I have witnessed the DTU correctional staff physically assault a prisoner. This prisoner never said anything to anyone, staff or inmates. He minded his business and kept to himself.
REHABILITATION NOT INCARCERATION
The guards cell extracted him. A cell extraction is when the guards are allowed to come into the cell by a use of force. But they are not allowed to physically assault the prisoner. It really was traumatizing, what they did to that man.
No one with mental health issues should be subjected to being in prison. Those who have not committed serious crimes should not be in prison. Low-level criminals like parole violators should be in treatment.
I feel strongly about this issue because I’m a low-level offender housed in a prison that is operated as a super maximum security prison.