Demands for Elderly Prisoners' Rights
16 February 2018
PA Department Of Corrections
Secretary John Wetzel
1920 Technology Pkwy
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Superintendent Kathy Brittian
1111 Altamont Blvd.
Frackville, PA 17931
Sub: Elderly Prisoners at SCI Frackville
Dear Sec. Wetzel and Supt. Brittain,
NOW COMES Major G. Tillery, a Prisoner housed at SCI Frackville, on behalf of the Elderly Prison Population, I am required to try and solve the elderly prisoners’ issues by law under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, before seeking class action litigation. Supt. Brittain you know this is a real issue, and I realize changes take awhile.
However, not being taken seriously for something this important I have no other choice, to save my life and others. I’ve been housed in the hardest control units in the U.S.; you have my file. I have issues from years of isolation, starvation and other abuses while at Marion [super-max federal lock-down prison]. They fed me one meal a day, in the dark and now I’m old and still going through it.
Deputy White has placed the planning of an Elderly Plan at the feet of Mr. Damiter. I have nothing against him; however, he has no training on how to deal with the elderly. When I talked with him his views of the elderly only consists of activities, such as jumping jacks, etc., etc., and he has not even added any other elderly people, or those with training, to assist him with the plan. Just by his views that the elderly problem is an exercise problem … what other proof do you need that the issue is not being taken seriously?
Supt. Brittain, according to the journals on national elderly health care of prisoners the increase in the size of the elderly population in U.S. prisons has created considerable challenges for health care practitioners within correctional systems and public health agencies. The study shows the prevalence of elderly inmates in all prisons, including Pennsylvania and examined the challenges that these older prisoners confront.
Their findings indicate that the prevalence of elderly in prisons is HIGHER than reported in recent national studies. Further, these populations were proven to be at higher risk for self-harm, suicide and victimization by staff and other prisoners, so when Mr. Damiter says he and he alone can make a Plan to submit to you … how? And Why?
Supt. Brittain, the exposure to stress contributes to physical and psychological reactions, such as anxiety, nervousness and hypertension. The experience of incarceration can increase levels of stress in the elderly prisoner, like myself. Especially since most prisons in Pennsylvania are overcrowded, noisy and chaotic places. When I got Deputy White’s response she had interpreted our request as privileges.
The DOC Policy is care, custody and control. How is it a privilege by asking for better clothes and health care to prolong your life? I could go on, but you know the issues. When you start to lose natural reduction in mobility because of age, it can cause stress as it hinders the ability to undertake basic tasks such as going to the bathroom or showering.
A lot of prisons have difficulty in providing fixtures or facilities that are compliant with requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Ruddell 2005[b]). Also, Special Needs Units were not just built for Mentally Ill Prisoners; it’s called Special Needs for a reason, see, Tillery v. Owens.
Deputy White told Mr. Damiter to make a Plan for the 22 prisoners who are 65 and over. Supt. Brittain, this is a fatal legal mistake. For discrimination in June 2004, a survey in 48 State Prisoners defined as elderly 60 years of age, after law suits the updated debate and legal issue fixed the age between 50 and 55, see Harrison v. Beck, 2004. There is no need in my humble opinion to create a problem on a simple issue.
Why look at 22 inmates who are 65 and get complaints when you have a Life Enhancement Program for over 50, and about 70 participants including most of the 65 year olds. As I explained earlier Supt. Brittain, Deputy White talked about privileges, but the DOC spent thousands of dollars to give out bra and panties at a men’s prison for transgender prisoners, special shower curtains, more power to them for getting the things they feel they needed. But I am seen as a troublemaker because we request long johns …
Now, it’s said it is a privilege instead of a human right not to send old people (Elderly) out into the cold under dressed, see Case Law. The elderly prisoners may encounter the typical individual, and environmental stressors that all Prisoners experience, but their increased likelihood of being ignored, but also an inability of some Prisons to accommodate their special needs. Over time these stressors may contribute to decreases in physical functioning resulting in an increased need for health care, and these health care costs are a major concern for correctional administrators.
The increase in the number of elderly prisoners has led to the introduction of HEALTH PROMOTION PROGRAMS and other Public Health interventions within some Prison Systems that even provide separate Blocks and Housing Units. I could cite court cases on and on, but it would be great to have help on this issue instead of opposition on an Issue that everyone already knows exists.
In conclusion, I read the policy for the ADA for the PA DOC and it addresses being blind, deaf, handicapped and mental health issues and it never addresses the problems of growing old, but in contrast, the ADA of the United States, specifically addresses the Issues and Problems of the Elderly, which the DOC left out and this is a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Thanking you in advance for your time and consideration.
1111 Altamont Blvd.
Frackville, PA 17931