Listening to these testimonies, one has to take into account that mental illness makes it difficult to
process what is happening and to express thoughts about it.
Inmates placed on Crisis Intervention (CI) are stripped of their clothing, mattress, sheets, blanket and property and they may
or may not be given a suicide resistant blanket. For those without a blanket, they are left to sleep on a
concrete slab or a steel bed frame with nothing to use for cushion or warmth.
The inmates tell us the CI
rooms are cold and filthy, often having blood and/or feces from the previous occupant on the floors and walls of the cells.
They are left in CI for anywhere from 1 to 14 or more days. During that time, their contacts with a counselor are short (5 minutes or so per day)
and at the cell-front with other inmates and officers within hearing distance of anything they say to the counselor. The conditions of CI make a
lot of inmates hesitant to admit when they are feeling suicidal and instead just try to cope as best they can without seeking help from the mental
...you have the officers, they look at you as being mentally ill...you trash...you not worth nothin'.
They feel like you got a mental problem, it's for the counselor to deal with, not for them to deal with, so inmates definitely go through that.
They might put you on super max...If you kick and bang on the door and you saying you want to speak to your
counselor, other inmates might start banging too...they feel like you might be disturbing the population, that's
why they put you back there, put you in the chill.
...I get depressed and I cry a lot and I had some nasty things did to me. I'm just
prayin' get out of here because I ain't never been in no place like this. I never.
...It's just like, I don't...it's like I'm just rags. I reckon. They deflect the
drugs. I mean... but it's terrible. And they ran me out because the lady brought
me up here to try and see what they can do and if it don't get any better I gotta
get out of here. The warden and all them did it. And I'm just gonna tell the truth
...They really do, the officers, talk to me like a dog. And I'm telling this and I'm
telling the truth and I can put it on paper. I can put it anywhere I wanted but just
find out and let them know I'm telling the truth, I am.
...I ain't never been in prison. But God is good.
I don't have no friends. They say they friends especially if I get, when I get money.
But I don't, I don't think I got no friends with the officers either. I don't know who
I got friends with. None, I reckon...
Crisis Intervention for Hearing Voices
They give you a bunk bed. The bunk bed be in there but they take the mattress
and give you a green like suit. It ain't no suit, it just is where it covered you
and then they give you one little blanket but they take ail your clothes and shoes
and stuff from you.
You just sit in your cell. You don't come out for nothing oxcept maybe take a
shower. That's up to you if you want to take a shower and if you don't, but when
you're down there it's like you basically by yourself. You are by yourself
anyway and they may come and check on you and they may not. They just
leave you bound to do whatever you want to do.
No, I don't like being on crisis because I don't like being naked. And that's
what is basically...you is...you naked, you ain't got nothing but that little green
shield, whatever they call it, for clothing and to be cold.
It be cold down there on crisis.
Gary has been in for 20 years.
Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he is on various meds which help with hearing voices.
He describes what "crisis intervention," is like for a psychotic episode. It is a bare concrete cell
under constant observation to prevent suicide.
...was no mattress, no blanket, no clothes, no pillow. You have a concrete slab. AC is
blowing out all the way and it's the middle of January. And they think that's going to help,
somehow, I guess.
They brought some new meds around. Finally, I started hearing something in my head and I
decided I had to knock my front teeth out, somehow. The best way to do that was to fall
flat on my face, so let's try it out.
"Gary, stop doing that!" Stop what you're doing" Cop in the door. Blood everywhere.
They cuffed me and got me into the showers.