July 6, 2019
by Douglas Blaine Matthews (author's profile)



Dear Reader,
Hey. I hope you are doing well!

Today, I'm going to share with you some changes that have been made to how I—and everyone else housed on death row (male)—live. But first, I want to inform you of the scientific consensus on the effects of long-term solitary confinement.

In short, a comprehensive meta-analysis of the existing literature on solidarity confinement within and beyond the criminal justice setting found that the empirical record compels an unmistakable conclusion: long-term solitary confinement causes psychological damage. Not a single study of solitary confinement, where those confined that lasted more than 10 days, failed to have anything but negative psychological effects.

A researcher elaborated that all individuals subjected to solitary confinement will experience a degree of stupor, difficulties with thinking and concentration, obsessional thinking, agitation, irritability, and difficulty tolerating external stimuli. Anxiety and panic are common side effects. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia, claustrophobia, and suicidal intentions are also frequent results.

That's what we on death row are faced with. In Florida, that is.

Some of us can handle it better than others. We've learned how to cope with it through structure. But the new administration in "this" prison has taken away our structure.

We have pop-up inspections where we have to have all our property put away in our lockers. Including putting away our dirty clothes, wet wash clothes, towels, and trash in our lockers. That's right. Possibly contaminating our clean clothes, paperwork, and food!

We have to be fully dressed in our orange denims, bed made military style, TV off, and standing at the back of our cells with our hands at our sides. Of course, we don't have to turn off TVs and stand at the rear until they're on our hall. But until they come around and tell us to stand down, we can't do anything. Can't work on our cases. Draw, write... and tuck in our hot uniform in 90 degree plus temperatures. These last couple of weeks were 95 degree plus (35 Celsius plus).

If anyone makes a mistake and forgets to put their hygiene items (toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, and toothbrush) on the corner of their bunk, leaves a wash rag hanging up, TV on, shirt untucked... we're given a DR (disciplinary report) for disobeying an order. That's right. If we make a "mistake", we—with some degree of mental illness from long-term solitary confinement—are given a DR as if we did it intentionally.

In short, we're punished for having psychological problems that prevents us from performing with military precision. Bed not made right? DR! If canteen is passed out on the wing and it's not put up three minutes later, and an inspection crew comes around? DR!

Yup, that actually happened to someone here.

There's an autistic guy here who can't hear several letters (syllables or something). He got a DR for not being inspection ready! He didn't even hear it!

I went a long time without getting into any trouble. I worked hard on myself to be one who follows the rules. And I got a DR for failing inspection. My wing weren't even told there was going to be an inspection. Everyone on my wing told the warden that as he walked down the hall. Four of us got DRs that day. 20 days in the hole (segregation wing) with no privileges.

And on one of the night shifts, the Sgt. leaves the lights on all night. People there grieved it, but he didn't care. He was told to stop, but he's still at it. :!

The Sgt. that didn't tell my wing about the inspection lied and doubled down on his lie by saying he told us several times to be ready. But I guess, to him, it was better we get in trouble than him.

Another way our structure has been taken away from us is we never know when we will go to yard. They only give us a 15-30 minute heads up. So, we can already be into studying casework, artwork... and up pops a yard call. No time to prepare for exerciee and the blazing sun that'll be blaring its sometimes 98 degree (36 1/2 C) heat down on us. People get sick out there. No shade and only warm water from the water fountain to help keep us cool.

We get three hours at yard, twice a week. Sometimes twice a week, actually. We used to get make up yards. Now, if we have a legal, medical, or religious call out and yard is at the same time, we might not get a make up yard if choose to go out.

It was an order by the courts that they have to give us make ups in those situations. But this current administration doesn't care about that. They're ignoring that order and have implemented a new protocol.

If I haven't gotten a make up yard I'm owed during the month I was supposed to get it, it will not roll over to the next month. So, no make up. I have one for this month, and I haven't got it yet. If I don't get it tomorrow, then I'm screwed out of the exercise outdoors. I was screwed out of one last week, and more than a dozen over the last two years.

I've currently got grievances in on these issues asking for change. I'll let you know if we get it.

Until next time.

Yours truly,


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