James Phillips: Medical Neglect, Abuse, & Corruption at Westville Control Unit

The text below is a report on medical neglect recently experienced by one of our comrades, James Phillips, while he was being held in the Westville Control Unit (WCU).

It’s been pretty hard lately because I’m dealing with so many issues concerning administration at this facility. Last week I told officers that I needed to speak with a mental health staff due to stress and I was threatened to be sprayed with mace and then taken out of my cell and placed on strip cell, which is basically being in a cell with no property and being naked. I was not given a mat or a sheet and I had to sleep on a cold steel bunk. I was placed on this status in which I had to endure for 2 days inside an extremely cold cell.

During this process, I started suffering chest pains. I alerted officer N. Singer of my distress. Hours passed before I was seen by Nurse West, and when I asked Nurse West what took her so long to respond to y medical emergency, she told me that Ofc. N. Singer had only informed her 15 minutes ago. During the process of me receiving my medical attention, the nurse (Nurse West) could not check my pulse or my blood pressure correctly due to having arthritis in both hands, so she had Ofc. N. Singer take my blood pressure, which he is not trained or authorized and certified to do. I asked Nurse why she couldn’t check my vitals and she said she just took two shots in both her hands for her arthritis and she was not able to use them effectively. I then stated that I needed help from medical staff who could help me and determine whats wrong with my chest and she threatened to charge me for the visit (which she can’t [per policy] for emergencies), and she ended my medical attention saying I could just be having a panic attack and then she just made up all of my vitals to cover up her ineffective medical assistance and I was taken back to my cell with no medical help, diagnosis, or attention.

All of this occurred on C-Pod in WCU where I was housed in an observation cell that I was wrongly placed in to begin with. I was taken to Nurses’ quarter in C-Pod where I seen Nurse. I’ve since then filed an informal grievance concerning this matter and it’s been a week and I’ve yet to receive a response addressing this matter. This incident occurred on 8/24/19, and I was sent back to my cell on B-Pod on Monday 8/26/19, when staff started the process of me getting my property back. I just discovered that I didn’t get my thermal top and bottom back nor my sweatshirt. I’ve filed informal grievances on these issues as well.

Speaking on the topic of grievances: Administration/officers do not acknowledge, respond, nor honor the grievance process. Complaints are often ignored and not addressed. Facility administration are taking away our right to file Tort Claims for lost, missing, and broken property, health and injury claims, and ultimately lawsuits. It’s also taking away accountability from officers and staff. How can you address my problems if they take away the instrument to do so??? Also, staff in the mail room are not doing their job and when they do it’s not in a timely fashion. It often takes 2 to 3 weeks to receive a piece of mail and staff are saying that the people in the mail room are not sending in-house mail to them, and that in turn affect everyone because we can’t request or make staff aware of our request for help nor get our needs met. This has affected me in more ways than 1 because I haven’t received responses to requests that I’ve sent to my counselor nor to the phone list people. I was told by staff that the phone list lady retired and that’s why our privilege to add people to our phone list is restricted or delayed by default.

Also, I’ve yet to receive my ACT Program workbooks and packets and I have not received them for the entire month of August. This alone prolongs my stay at this facility, because we are not able to be eligible for a transfer unless we complete the ACT program. I’ve had my counselor talk to the ACT Program Director, I’ve sent him requests, I’ve even filed grievances on this matter to no avail. I talked to him personally addressing this matter and nothing still has changed or happened.

We still don’t have access to Lexxus Nexxus or any search engine in the law library, and that violates our 6th Amendment rights and DOC policy. Also, law library often sends other offenders’ legal paperwork to the wrong offender.t This has happened to me a few times and I brought it to the attention of both the law library and staff to no avail.

I have some stage of the grievance process filed on all these issues and I haven’t received a response to any of them. Also, officers are turning of our hot water on rec and shower days so we’ll have to take cold showers or not shower at all, to persuade us not to go to rec. This is crazy and dangerous because they keep it extremely cold in here and if we take cold showers we run the risk of getting sick. They constantly change the rules here and switch job descriptions for staff to neglect us our privileges. I just was told that now we don’t have an Acting Property Officer, so now I can’t really see what happened to my missing thermal top and bottom or my sweatshirt. This is crazy!!!

James was recently moved to Pendleton Correctional Facility and is finally back in general population after fighting to get bogus conduct reports dismissed and winning a habeas corpus to get off lock-up. You can support James by writing to him and sending him money via web.connectnetwork.com, or by writing him a letter at James Phillips #106333, Pendleton CF, 4490 W Reformatory Rd, Pendleton, IN 46064.

Below is the letter James sent us

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