In this essay, the author describes the inadequacy of certain conditions in the facility in which they are housed, arguing that these deprivations amount to a violation of their Eighth Amendment rights.
The prisoners here at Western Correctional Institute have suffered extensively under the authority of the prison staff. It has amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment. I will explain why.
It’s stated that “Some conditions of confinement may establish an Eighth Amendment violation ‘in combination’ when each would not do so alone, but only when they have a mutually enforcing effect that produces the deprivation of a single, identifiable human need such as food, warmth, or exercise . . . .”∞
For nearly two years, the prisoners here at WCI have been confined to our cells. For many months we were permitted only half an hour out of our cell; today it’s only two hours. Within these two hours one must: take a shower, make a phone call, and do any other necessary business. There are only five phones and each phone call is limited to only 30 minutes; before making another call one has to wait 15 minutes. One (through no fault of his own) is forced to remain in a small space 22 hours every day. There have been many, many scientific studies that conclude anyone subjected to these conditions eventually starts to break down mentally.1
Even more, us prisoners are only allowed one day per week for library. The library session is for 30-45 minutes. The prison staff here now have started a new policy – we now have to make a formal request to visit the library all together.
Personally, I’ve been trying to petition the court to explain that my Speedy Trial right was violated. My Speedy Trial right has been violated since 2010. The Circuit Court never arraigned me. I never had my constitutional rights explained to me and I never entered a plea. Because of the many forced hours in my cell and the inadequate time allowed in the library, I have not been able to argue my case effectively.
The staff here at WCI are indeed violating us prisoners’ Eighth Amendment constitutional rights, because of the lack of exercise and time spent outside our cells. For instance, there is a large body of prisoners who are now obese and developed hyperglycemia. Some have even died due to lack of exercise. The time we have to spend in the library to work on our cases is little to none. These are just some of the ways the WCI staff are violating our constitutional rights, including that against cruel and unusual punishment.
The kid’s name was Lil’ Yo—well, that’s what all his little buddies called him—and immediately his presence snagged my attention.
I realized that the pain I was experiencing in solitary confinement must be physically affecting/modifying my brain, yet I knew that I lacked the qualifications to convince a court of that.
I had a newfound respect for Frederick Douglass’ quote: “once you learn to read, you are forever free.” I would respectfully add an addendum: “once you learn to write, you can fight for your right.”
It is fully by design that the blanket bank here is maintained, and that a “legal assistance” firm who very rarely provides any assistance is our “substitute” to a law library, and that per NC DOC Policy a “C-20” disciplinary