Report on Conditions at Westville Control Unit: Mail Censorship, Religious Discrimination, and Abuse of Mentally Ill Inmates
To enlighten you on what I’ve been going through I’ll start from the beginning, covering everything that I’ve been going through, from how I arrived at this long term seg unit and what I’ve been subjected to and endured while still being here at WCU/long term seg unit at Westville Correctional Facility.
I was sent to this facility and placed on long term seg status basically for refusing a housing assignment. I was offered to go out to population [from segregation] while at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility and I refused, and then I was placed in for a transfer to Westville/WCU for long term segregation. Administration are saying the reason why I was sent is because I made threats and received 10 conduct reports in one year, but that's not the case at all. I received 10 conduct reports and allegedly threatened people months before I was offered to go out to population and when I refused I was sent here as an act of retaliation. I received a conduct report for refusing a housing assignment in December 2017 and was placed and approved for a transfer by IDOC Central Office in January 2018.
If you compare the date that I received a conduct report for refusing a housing assignment to the dates of prior conduct reports which document the offenses and reasons why I was sent to this facility (WCU), the record will clearly show that I was offered to return to population, and there was no problem until I refused housing, which totally undermines everything the DOC and Westville officials are saying.
I arrived at Westville/WCU on July 5, 2018, and since then I’ve been subjected to a litany of injustices.
On 8/12/18 the water sprinkler in my cell broke due to being out of date and all of my property was destroyed. In the process, my TV was broken and I didn’t get most of my property back. I’ve filed grievances on this issue and other issues. Administration are not acknowledging or responding back to grievances. I’ve also files TORT claims which I’ve not received responses to. I haven’t been receiving all of my mail from the mailroom or Administration.
The ceiling in my cell is leaking water and and water is constantly dripping down my walls and on my floor and I have black mold growing everywhere which is making me sick. I have an ear infection due to this problem and nothing has been done. I’ve tried to file grievances on these issues to no avail. All of this clearly violates DOC policy. I’ve also been order to pay restitution for the water sprinkler I did not break, which has not even been repaired. None of my broken and missing property has been repaired or replaced and this clearly violates DOC policy.
I receive a Kosher diet and all of the food trays I receive are cold or expired or both and nothing is being done about that. The door that allows us to go outside for rec has been broken so we can’t get fresh air and the shower drain on our range is clogged and that hasn’t been fixed either. I’ve alerted administration and made them aware of all these issues and problems and still nothing has been done.
I’ve also been sexually harassed by two officers since I’ve been at this facility. Their names are Saulier and Nazareith, and they let officer Nazareith come back and work around me until I started to complain.
All of these issues clearly violate DOC policy and my Civil Rights. Please do what you can to help.
It seems like the longer I stay at this facility, the worse things get. It’s obstacle after obstacle, injustice after injustice, and it’s hard not get overwhelmed by all the nonsense that takes place in general and at this facility. Administration here at this facility are blatantly ignoring IDOC Policy, human rights, and Constitutional rights at an alarming rate.
They’re not mailing any mail out that goes against or challenges their views, and they’re not returning mail that opposes their views. They’re also doing this with the grievance process, as I’ve mentioned before. 2 weeks ago I tried to mail letters of complaints to the Ombudsman Bureau and the ACLU, and they returned the letters to me saying I can’t send off mail in sealed envelopes when I know I didn’t seal the envelopes to begin with. By them doing this, it’s preventing me from reaching out to outside entities that will question or challenge their views. It also costs me money and exhausts any and all resources I have to utilize the postal mailing process and privilege. This was also done when I tried to file and appeal downtown [at IDOC Central Office] and my Tort Claim.
Now they’re denying me my religious Kosher diet, saying that I’m not on the list anymore because I was taken off, and the only person who can make that decision is David Liebel at Central Office. Kenneth Falk at the ACLU has a lawsuit against the Indiana Department of Corrections for them denying prisoners the Kosher diet in particular and they’ve reached a settlement that any and all offenders who sign up for the diet to be approved and receive the diet...they’re denying me my Kosher diet when I’ve already been approved by David Liebel at Central Office.
I’ve also noticed that here at this facility they’re denying offenders proper and effective mental health assistance. Almost everyone here at this facility are seriously mentally ill and have had mental health code in the past and they’re disregarding that fact and still keeping offenders who are seriously mentally ill in long-term segregation units longer than 30 days. Kenneth Falk and the ACLU has a lawsuit and settlement against the IDOC enforcing that offenders who has a serious mental illness (SMI) mental health code cannot be held longer than 30 days, and somehow they’re getting away with it. The only mental health treatment we receive is medication, and most of the medication they prescribe not only doesn’t help with symptoms the offenders are suffering from, but is making them worse off. Officers/officials are prescribing medications to control and to incapacitate the offender, not to help. Offenders are literally being turned to zombies where they can be subjected to even more abuse and are not able to defend themselves from anything or anyone. Doctors are prescribing medications that are changing who inmates are, and they are unrecognizable once they are taking the meds thats prescribed. Most of the meds have horrible and addicting side effects and the side effect for most is suicide. I know this because I’ve been subjected to these misfortunes and I’ve been housed in units specifically for offenders with mental health issues.
From my observation, this facility is predominantly mental health, which mean at least 98% of the population here at this facility come from a mental health facility, are taking meds for mental health issues, and have committed mental health-related offenses to be placed at this facility. The remaining 2% are here for miscellaneous offenses and end up on meds for mental health issues due to the abuse and injustices they’re subjected to. They moved a guy in a cell next to mine and he tries to kill himself everyday and all they do is resuscitate him or bring him back to life and leave him inside his cell with nothing. They haven’t offered him or anyone else help that they so desperately need. It’s disheartening to say the least.
There are guys that been back here on long term segregation for 10 to 20 years who clearly have mental health issues and need immediate treatment but are denied literally lost in the system. Most that have been housed at this facility on long term segregation did not commit an offense that justifies them being held on segregation as long as they have been. Their time has been extended due to being provoked by officers and administration. Officers/Administration do things that cause offenders to react in a manner that will make their stay longer and before you know it you have so much time to do on segregation that give up and you lose hope. Offenders are being lost in the system and that scares me the most because its nothing we can really do about it. As a result from being subjected to cruel, harsh, and unusual punishment and all the other injustices I’ve endured and witnessed I’m often paranoid. This also causes and enhances bi-polar disorder and believe we all suffer from this disorder in some kind of way and on some type of level.
I WANT TO DO SOMETHING THAT WILL HELP! I’ve been thinking of ways I can help others as well as myself and if there is anything I can do to help our cause let me know and it’s done!
James Phillips #106333
Indiana Department of Correction
Westville Correctional Facility
5501 S 1100 W
Westville, IN 46391
You can help support James by signing up for an account at web.connectnetwork.com, and adding money to his phone and commissary accounts