Mental Warfare (by Shane)

Shane - After being denied psychiatric medication by ValueOptions, Shane turned to illegal drugs financed by burglaries. For stealing a few hundred dollars worth of goods, he was sentenced by Judge Ron Reinstein to eleven years. Shane is the author of the blog Persevering Prison Pages.

“He isn’t in place, you fuckin’ Nazi! He’ll be in place when the fuckin’ door opens for the transfer!” Mark screamed at the guards, spittle spraying from his mouth and frothing at the corners of his lips.
Pushing the food tray through the slot in the door, the guard was patient. “It’s dinner. Grab your tray.”
Mark grabbed his styro-tray and quickly moved away from the door defensively., flinching when the guard shut the trap.

I’d been in the hole for a week doing 30 days Disciplinary Isolation. Mark lived one cell down from me. Although the cell block was for disciplinary, Mark wasn’t a disciplinary prisoner per se. Mark was mentally disturbed. He appeared to have a psychotic disorder.

Sadly, in prison, mentally-ill convicts oftentimes end up in lockdown for much of their sentence. It’s the cheaper and easier way for the Department of Corrections to deal with the mentally ill.

“Shane, I need you salt packet,” Mark calmly whispered to me after the guard left.
“Here ya go, Mark,” I responded, reaching my hand out beneath my door and sliding the salt packet in front of his door.
He cackled under his breath as he retrieved the salt. Suddenly, Mark screamed out in terror, and I could hear the dull thud of his fists impacting the solid concrete wall. The sounds of a struggle, more hard impacts and then silence could be heard from his cell.
“You alright, Mark?” I asked.
“Mark, what’s up?” I asked, knocking on the wall.
“Shhhh… I chased him away. He’s still watching though,” he whispered to me. “Give up!” Mark yelled at the top of his lungs.
“What the fuck?” a guard yelled, entering the cellblock, heading directly to Mark’s cellfront. He looked inside the cell, pulled out his radio, and called a medical emergency, explaining, “I have an inmate with bloody hands, and a bleeding contusion on his head!”

A few minutes passed by. A nurse arrived. Behind six guards in riot gear, clad in black.
“Rack cell 4!” the lead guard shouted.
The door slid open, and I could hear the scuffle and grunts as Mark tried to fight off his attackers.
“He’s fuckin’ biting me! Sonofabitch! Get him off me!” a guard yelled in pain.

Minutes later, the guards carried Mark out. He was cuffed and shackled. His head had a huge lump, seeping blood where he had head-butted the wall. His fists were swollen and bloody from pummelling the wall.
The last guard to exit the cell held his right forearm where Mark had bit him in the mêlée.
Mark perceived the world around him differently than others. He was fighting for his life.

Mark was doing six years for burglary. His court-appointed public defender got him to sign a plea agreement despite his mental incompetence, His burglary was nothing like mine. Mark was found hiding in his neighbors apartment from “men” who wanted to hurt him. How do I know this? He would write me notes – often just gibberish – on the backs of his legal documents.

When the prison shirks its legal, ethical and moral responsibilities to care for its mentally-ill inmates , by simply keeping them locked away, it only compounds the inmates’ problems, further debilitates weakened minds, and taxes the public even more so later on. Most of us in prison will be released one day, including the mentally ill.

Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

Click here to add your comment to the debate raging about Shane’s $115,000 court victory over the Arizona Department of Corrections.

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Shaun P. Attwood


Chelsea said...

Are you in jail when you write this?

Jon said...


Shane is still in prison, as are the rest of the prisoners who write for JJJ. They do not have Internet access, so I post their stories and mail them copies with your comments.

Shaun Attwood

Sarah said...

How do you get the stories from the inmates to write? The prison doesn't censor things like this?

Jon said...


Read this for the censorship issues I have faced.

Shaun Attwood

Anonymous said...

Yes, mental health care outside of prison is better.

But not nearly as much better as one might believe, think, hope, expect, or, unfortunately, need.

Good mental health services are expensive, don't start and end with drugs, and are often still woefully insufficient. All I can say is that they're a lot better than they used to be.

My heart goes out to Mark and Shane. You, Shaun, are helping tremendously by bringing these experiences into the light.

I just wish that my own experiences watching mentally-ill family members try to get help could lead me to be able to say with any conviction that being treated outside of prison would guarantee anyone a better outcome. It's a bit more humane, mostly, but not all of the time. Only most of the time.

And I'm talking about mental health services both in the United States AND in England. One's not better than the other - they're just different.

Anonymous said...

That was a very powerful story, well told. I hope Mark gets some real help and that Shane keeps writing! thanks again, Shaun

Shannon Clark said...

There is a comment from "Shane" on Anne Mini's blog if you check the link Shaun gave.