Ive watched girls show their breasts or “Give A Show” to male guards In exchange for cold cups of water. Staff is prohibited from giving us ice. We can have cold water when They have it.
Ive watched staff faint daily from the heat. On June 10, 2022 I, 50 yo menopausal person experienced Heat exhaustion returning from the non ventilated coffin sized shower. I became weak, dizzy and I fainted. Im lucky, the 2 female guards escorting me to my cell called medical on their radio. And when the R.n. arrived and tried to dismiss me as ‘faking’, the 2 officers told him no-no- she doesnt play games or pull stunts. He took my Blood Pressure and it was very low. He told me I was going to the hosp. The Sgt. told me - because Im high profile - They must have Regional Director permission to transfer me and they arent going to disturb him. I was transferred to a cell not In direct sunlight and given alot of water to drink.
The cell is the size of a handicapped bathroom. Due to severe staffing shortages we dont get to go outdoors often.
I was escorted to medical and I flinched when a friend saw me & touched my arm. My heart raced. I dont like to be touched now. Im not used to it. When I talk to someone Im uncomfortable looking Them In The eye.
The Hole - Solitary Confinement - SHU - RU - Ad-seg whatever euphemism of the year. It all boils down to one word - Torture. Im 50 years old, all my children live out of state - 3000 miles away. Yet, I only get to call them once every 3 months for 5 minutes if staffing is sufficient and I have Remained disciplinary infraction free. I dont get access to video visits either. My grandmother died in 2018, my first husband & father of my 20 year old died in 2019. My second husband and father of my 15 year old died Jan 2022. I wasnt able to call home and offer any condolences. I awaited the snail mail to learn that my 15 year old laid her head on her fathers casket & just wept uncontrollably. The chaplain doesnt come in here.
Medical staff hate to come to ad-seg. Its so hot, its like being in a brick oven. No a/c and triple digit Texas temps make me feel like Im In a cauldron. In the winter time, heat doesnt work. In General Population, when heat breaks you can call your family and ask them to email/call the prison.
We get the staff who ‘Dont play well with others’. Ive watched girls accidentally hang theirself because they wanted to go to the air conditioned Pysch center.
The majority of men In solitary are there for gang affiliation. Women remain in solitary longer and for more trivial Reasons. My friend was down here for telling her family over the phone to ‘Come Pick Her Up tonight, so she can go to Beyonce concert’. - another friend - was speaking over the phone to her mother In their indigenous language - she was accused of talking in Code. Her mother doesnt speak Span or English. - Im in adseg b/c I was set up by a known Featherwood. But its no STG - Security Threat Group for women. So Featherwoods - Female version of Aryan Brotherhood face no consequences. - I’ve witnessed Deaf girls miss meals because she wasnt aware it was time to eat.
Ive witnessed sexual assault, physical assault and constant voyeurism.
When I have to perform menstruation or bathroom duties - I ask another girl to look out for me. If I cover the mesh on my door - Thats a disciplinary. If I dont, c.o. PerveRts hold their keys In their hand - so we cant hear them walking.
Ive watched girls slowly lose their minds. Throw feces Eat feces Paint their Bodies with feces.
Ive been in solitary since Jan 15, 2016. In Texas - its not a determinate solitary sentence you get. Its at ‘their discretion’. Twice a year, we go into State Classification - Kangaroo court.
I watched a friend who was In solitary for 22 years descend into madness & paranoia so severe, she refused all medical care. She died of breast cancer.
We dont get the same food - commissary items, as population. Sometimes - we get - everything thats left over from weeks meals.
We arent allowed to have State Jumpers, Shirts, Pants, Coat, Blanket. They also took our Boots That we purchased. Its bad enough to be in prison but to be in prison in a prison is cruel.
I want to touch a leaf. Twirl a blade of grass.
The majority of people (women) who are allowed to return to population are usually back in solitary within 6 months. Its not a program for women to Re-enter into population and it can be overwhelming to experience. most women are Released from solitary. We do have a program designed to prepare/transition release from Solitary to Home. But, 75% of The girls dont complete it and opt to return to Solitary.
Its sad that these conditions become ‘normal’ for us. We should end solitary - We arent here forever and a concrete shoebox isnt how you should treat Trauma.
- Kwaneta HaRRis
Lane Murray Unit, Gatesville, Texas
6 years in solitary / ad seg
September 7, 2022
Words by KWANETA HARRIS
Photography by TEXAS LETTERS