It’s been an interesting week as a SLS (Supportive Living Services) mentor. For those of you who don’t know my job here in prison is to work with individuals who suffer from any number of mental disabilities such as TBI’s, (Traumatic Brain Injury) Schizophrenia, Severe Depression, Paranoid Delusions, etc. Part of the job is for the men who require more attention; they are frequently put in the same room as one of the mentors. Well this was the case with one of the other mentors until the day the participant had an episode and attacked the mentor. Having witnessed this whole scenario, I at first thought to myself “what the hell did I sign up for? This is not worth 25¢ an hour” after the initial shock wore off I began to see several opportunities for properly trained staff to have intervened, before it became violent. Don’t get me wrong I don’t blame the staff, I don’t blame the individual and I don’t blame the mentor! I blame the system. With all this focus on mental health lately, why do we still house people with significant mental issues in prison? You may be thinking “well their violent” this, in most cases is not true. Most of them are not violent in fact, most suffer from extreme social disorders. Some are even in a perpetual state of a juveniles mind set. PTSD is a big one; we house individuals who suffer from this in environments that can exacerbate the symptoms. I know, because I live with it. I was raped while in a juvenile detention center by a corrections officer. Every night in that place I would lay awake listening for the sound of the guards keys and when I heard them echoing in the hall, I would find myself praying the keys would not be stopping at my door that night. Please let them stop at someone else’s . You see I wasn’t the only one being assaulted. I found myself praying for someone else to be raped instead of me. Try to imagine what that does to a kid’s head. To this day when I wake up to the sound of the guards’ keys in the hallway I get cold sweats and at times I find myself saying that prayer. All I know is we are capable of doing better as a society so, why don’t we? What’s stopping us? What’s stopping you?
DOC # #247877