The following account is by Casha Russell, who has spent the past eight months in the segregation unit at Illinois’s Logan Correctional Facility, a women’s prisons three hours south of Chicago. Russell was sentenced to one year in segregation for allegedly burning her wife and co-defendant with hot water. (Both Russell and her wife insist that no assault occurred, and that her wife accidentally burned herself while cooking noodles.) During her year in segregation, Russell cannot use the telephone to call her family, go to recreation, or buy more than thirty dollars worth of supplies from commissary each month. She also has had an additional year added to her sentence.
Russell is one of about 2,300 people kept in solitary confinement in Illinois’s prisons. In June 2015, the Uptown People’s Law Center and the law firm Winston & Strawn filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the state’s widespread use of solitary confinement on behalf of formerly and currently incarcerated people.
Illinois’s prisons have also been blasted for inadequate, if not life-threatening health care. In May 2015, a 405-page expert report, compiled by a team of medical experts, found “significant lapses in care” in 60 percent of the deaths they reviewed from January 2013 to May 2014. The report also found sweeping non-fatal problems in medical care throughout the state prison system. Medical care is provided by Wexford Health Source Inc., a for-profit company that holds a ten-year, $1.36 billion contract with the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Officials at Logan Correctional Center did not return repeated calls for comment.
Russell turned thirty this past May while in segregation. She can receive letters at: Casha Russell #R79216, Logan Correctional Center, PO Box 1000, Lincoln, IL 62656 —Victoria Law
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The reason I want to address ‘segregation medical’ is because I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in June of last year. When I was out of segregation, I was seeing the doctor “inside” and “outside” of the institution on a regular basis. But since I been in segregation, I’ve had one doctor visit with the institution doctor in nine months, which was really a routine check-up. Nothing about my tumor was discussed til I took the initiative to bring it up. The doctor lied to me in my face, saying I’m going to see an outside specialist soon.
When the nurses come by daily to pass out the meds, I explain to them how severe my headaches are. And yet still nothing has been done about my issue. The type of tumor I was diagnosed with can cause you to go blind. I enjoy writing urban novels. Book writing is my life, besides my children. And my eyes are starting to go bad. I reported that to the nurses as well. The doctor here been telling me I’m going to surgery soon for the past 6 months. Well, my only question now is how soon is soon? Will “soon” be after I go blind?
I was told this my last doctor’s appointment, which was six months ago. Every time a nurse comes around, because they all are aware of my issues, I say, “Do you know when I’m leaving?” They respond with, “Soon, Ms. Russell.” Now I’m well aware that the institution can’t tell me the exact day I’m leaving for security reasons, but it should be a rule against continuing to lie.
I spoke with the nurse about a month ago that works closely with the doctor. And she informed me that the doctor from Springfield Clinic that was doing my surgery called down here to check up on me. Now you know the institution is not doing their job if the doctor from the outside world has to call up here and wonders why I haven’t been brought down for surgery.
I asked the nurses when they do their rounds, “Why haven’t I seen the doctor yet?” They say, “We call for you. They said they were busy down here.” Please explain to me how anything they could possibly be doing is more important than my health. When, if the officers ain’t harassing us, they sitting at the desk gossiping. Now that’s facts.
The other day, I went to the dentist for a check-up. I need two fillings. He told me I can’t receive them til I get out of segregation. I couldn’t understand why. I been on the list since 2013. It’s 2015. Now, mind you, it’s over 2000 women here. So if they skip my name because I’m in segregation, which they will, by the time my name is called again, I won’t need fillings. I’ll need these two teeth pulled.
Segregation is like a ‘prison inside a prison.’ It’s as if you’re getting double punishment, which I thought was against the law. Some would call what they do to us here in segregation “cruel and unusual punishment.” And I agree. I don’t even believe the captured terrorist gets treated like we do in Logan Segregation. This institution needs to be investigated. I’m reaching out to the world for help because there’s none here. Please reach back.