The Abuse of the Mentally Ill in Prisons

Want to get really angry at the system? Want to have any last faith in humanity ripped asunder?

Then read this.

… The next day, Krzykowski learned from some nurses that a couple of guards had indeed escorted Rainey to the shower at about eight the previous night. But he hadn’t made it back to his cell. He had collapsed while the water was running. At 10:07 P.M., he was pronounced dead.

Krzykowski assumed that he must have had a heart attack or somehow committed suicide. But the nurses said that Rainey had been locked in a stall whose water supply was delivered through a hose controlled by the guards. The water was a hundred and eighty degrees, hot enough to brew a cup of tea—or, as it soon occurred to Krzykowski, to cook a bowl of ramen noodles. (Someone had apparently tampered with the T.C.U.’s water heater.) It was later revealed that Rainey had burns on more than ninety per cent of his body, and that his skin fell off at the touch.

Krzykowski said to the nurses that, surely, there would be a criminal investigation.

“No,” one of them told her. “They’re gonna cover this up.”


In the days after the meeting, Krzykowski recalls thinking that “sabotaging” was “a pretty strong word—a loaded word.” Mallinckrodt was known to be on friendly terms with some of the patients in the T.C.U., and Krzykowski felt that he had become too aligned with the inmates—“too much on their side.” She told me, “I thought he’d become an advocate—you know, a hug-a-thug.”

There’s a name for this: Stereotype threat. You want people to act against their interests, ethics, or personality? Tell them they’re living up to a stereotype.

Reached by phone, Perez declined to comment, telling me that I could direct any questions to Wexford Health Sources, the private contractor that now provides mental-health services at Dade.

If we’re going to have these private contractors at all, then the law should send CEOs to jail before anyone else.

Wexford, too, declined to comment.

This should not be allowed. If you’re a private institution receiving public funds doing a job that requires you to be fucking accountable, then you don’t get to run a PR department.

Mission a-fucking-ccomplished.


This is another solid example (relevant to the discussion with @popobawa4u) of advocacy challenges presented when groups coerce other groups.

. . . the metal doors that security officers controlled to regulate the traffic flow between prison units started opening more slowly for Krzykowski. Not infrequently, several minutes passed before a security officer buzzed her through, even when she was the only staff member in a hallway full of prisoners. Krzykowski tried not to appear flustered when this happened, but, she recalls, “it scared the hell out of me.”

My grandmother handled public defender matters in the 60s. The guards in the detention facility where she met clients did this to her too.

Thank you, @jerwin. This article will be added to materials for two active violence prevention community campaigns.


Another way to get people to act against their interests is to openly murder someone in front of them and get away with it. From the article:

She told me, “I thought, Somebody has to report it, and it has got to come from the inside, but it’s not going to be me.” She was convinced that any employee who spoke out would be fired.

If I were in that situation I’d be a little worried about being killed, let alone fired.


This article in no way excuses neglect or abuse, but



This topic was automatically closed after 299 days. New replies are no longer allowed.