The Journal of History Summer 2008
TOO LATE TO DEBATE???
By Patrick Swiney - June 11, 1998
Copyright June 1998
I speak to you from the absolute pits of hell, an Alabama Prison. Historically, the State of Alabama has been notorious for its atrocities within its prisons. My fellow Americans and human beings, nothing has changed. I humbly convey to you an ancient scripture: "Let he who hath eyes - see and he who hath ears - hear."
I hear corrupt politicians promise you to lock them up and throw away the keys. I also hear your cheers! They - our only defender - knowingly overcrowd the prisons dangerously. The Federal Courts say nothing! I also hear your cries to pack them in like sardines - for who cares? News leaks out about the atrocities: the physical, mental, emotional - all types of Human Rights abuses. The courts turn their heads. Again, I hear your cheers, as though to say: Crucify them! Crucify them!
I've read these words all my life.
To put things into perspective, I'm a 53-year-old man in very poor health, a former police officer of 13 years. I have been held in this septic tank (Holman Prison in Alabama) for 10 years on a wrongful conviction. The major point I submit to you is that I can see both sides of the coin. Actually, I can see all sides of that coin, for much more than two sides exist.
Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama, is known as the "Boddom" which is Southern for bottom. Either way, it's as low as you can possibly go in this country. In response to your cheers, may I say that you have been successful. We are packed in like sardines: the Innocent - The Guilty - the Sick - the Lame - the Lazy - the Cripple - the Crazy - but all God's children. "If you have done it to the least of these...."
At times, I absolutely hate 90 per cent of these people which I mostly refer to as sick-sorry-slime. But when I hear the masses cheering the deceptive lies of corrupt politicians, then these people in here start to look much better, for even the sick-sorry-slime extend to an old man far more compassion than the corrupt politicians of Alabama and their cheering section. The result? The blinded masses stubbornly follow the pied piper closer and closer to total destruction. So be it.
We have become a nation of individuals - "Self," with the general view that if adversity does not affect me, then I don't care. We have become a people completely self-centered, self-righteous, and isolated within "Self," even to the exclusion of children and grandchildren. This is in direct conflict with our natural instincts. Americans have lost their "natural" instincts. They have mutated.
I think the Apostle Paul describes our nation of today perfectly. "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful-unholy, without natural affections, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those who are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. But they shall proceed no further, for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was." 2Tim.3
Holman Prison is made of open-filthy dorms - very crowded to say the least. The showers, commodes and lavatory are included within the open dorms. None are vented. The humidity from the showers pours throughout these dorms. Any gases from the toilets pour out in these dorms. Humidity is always extremely high. Mold and mildew grows on the walls and ceiling. The floors are always damp. The heat index remains ungodly high in summer - cold and damp in winter. The place is crawling with cockroaches the size of your hand.
We can only send out bed linens to the laundry once a week. That, after perspiring on them all week long - a daily wetting of these linens. 96 men live in a dorm approximately 35 feet by 108 feet. That's an average of 39 square feet for each man - less if you deduct corridor spaces for walking from one place to another. Less still, if you deduct shower, commode and lavatory spaces within the dorms. Here is where each man spends his entire life, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year after year after year...the Innocent - The Guilty - the Sick - the Lame - the Lazy - the Cripple - the Crazy - but all God's children.
Can you possibly think of any other condition that could breed diseases any better? It appears to be "the perfect" environment for breeding a culture for many deadly diseases that we know. Possibly many that are unknown to modern science. A perfect place for these deadly diseases to mutate and a wonderful place to share our joys with the rest of the world - transporting to "Your" world.
Here at Holman Prison, we have had a large breakout of TB. Some have died, others transferred never to be heard of again. Respiratory ailments are our "normal" or our most common. Medical care is almost a joke. Our Deputy Warden (Jerry Farrell) is charged with the responsibility of seeing we get proper medical care. Only thing is his wife is an Administrator with Correctional Medical Services (CMS). This is the company holding the contract for medical services (much like the company holding the contract for telephone services). Mrs. Farrell has a vested interest in saving costs for her company. Every dollar she does not spend on our medical care, is profit in her company's pocket. Thus, you have a direct conflict with medical care and the Deputy Warden. Does this project overtones of corruption?
Not only that, but Deputy Warden Jerry Farrell forces all inmates outside at 7 AM under the guise of cleaning the dorms. However, every single dorm cleaner will tell you that it was much easier cleaning when the people were NOT outside. In the past 15 days, they have been transmitting health alerts in our area due to 2,000 out-of-control fires in Mexico. The entire Southeast has been covered with insecticide-laced smoke. All TV stations have transmitted this health alert, warning people to stay indoors - especially the sick and older people. All this week, South Alabama has been under a heat alert! The heat index has been into the 120 degree F. (48.889 Celsius) range. Again, warning people to stay inside. And again, specifically warning the sick and elderly to stay indoors.
Yet, every day Warden Farrell has forced inmates outside for two hours. Many are older and sick. They have no place to sit, except on the concrete-covered ground. They have no shade to seek. They must stand or squat for those 2 hours in the blistering sun and extraordinary humidity, which is contaminated with smoke and pesticide. I myself have suffered 3 heart attacks, developed inflammatory spinal arthritis and have also developed emphysema. Yet Warden Farrell forces this old man outside with all the young punks and maladjusted people, posting no guards whatsoever.
And, yes, the State Capital in Montgomery, Alabama, backs Jerry Farrell completely. The Alabama Good Ol' Boy's Club is alive and well. Welcome to Alabama the Beautiful, and the Alabama Department of Corrections. Yes! I still can hear your cheers!
Even if myself and the rest survive all the airborne insecticide, the heat, the humidity, the filth, the abuses, it for certain weakens the immune system. And that welcomes diseases, many of which may be fatal. Fatal not only to me, but to you, the cheering masses.
They cannot isolate these possibly deadly germs to this hell hole. The guards come and go. Nurses, doctors, administrators, postal workers, and visitors carry these germs-bugs-viruses with them when they leave. Guess where they go? To you via schools, churches, mail, grocery stores, work places, and many other ways.
Since you are creating your very own nightmare, it's tempting to refer to this as "poetic justice," but in all truth I do not feel this way. I'm actually greatly concerned for all of you. "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do."
No! More tax dollars are not the answer. You'd just make officials of Alabama even richer. Then they'd cheer you - in silence of course.
I do not have the answers, but I felt I "must" let you know the truth. Yes! The sky is falling. Don't look up. Just take cover.
I am far from being eloquent with my words, my communicating skills are extremely limited. If I have offended anyone with my words, then Good! That's my intent. In closing, I shall add that I speak of the cheering I have heard. But where is the so-called silent majority? I so wonder if God is more disgusted with the ones who cheer the Human Rights Abuses - or more disgusted with the ones who sit and do absolutely nothing!
Although it means pain and suffering, I shall choose the cheering, torturous, sounds of the followers of their corrupt pied piper than to hear the silence of the spineless nothings. For it's better to light one candle, than to curse the darkness.
I am,Patrick Swiney 154406G79, 100 Warrior LaneBessemer, AL 35023
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sherry Swiney)Editor's note: Sherry is Patrick's wife.
See what Chief Federal District Judge Charles R.. Butler, in Mobile, Alabama, did to Patrick after he read Patrick's article. barbed_wire.gif (1448 bytes) Patrick was freed from lockup after all of you called, faxed, and wrote demanding his torture end. This month July-August 1998, he writes a new article that has already received worldwide recognition.