Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement

Physical mental and emotional torture. That’s what solitary confinement amounts to. And is this just my opinion from my own personal experience? No this is scientifically proven. What I’m about to share is scientific testimony out of case law, which you can find on any legal website, under WILLIAMS VS. SECRETARY PENNSYLVANIA DEPT OF CORRECTIONS 
848 F.3d 549 2017U.S.App.LEXIS 2327
“The Scientific Consensus”
The robust body of scientific research on the effects of solitary confinement, combined with the Supreme Court’s analysis in Wilkinson and ours in Shoats, further informs our inquiry into Plaintiffs’ claim that they had a liberty interest in avoiding the extreme conditions of solitary confinement on death row. This research contextualizes and confirms the holdings in Wilkinson and Shoats: It is now clear that the deprivations of protracted solitary confinement so exceeds the typical deprivations of imprisonment as to be the kind of”atypical, significant deprivation […] which [can] create a liberty interest.
 
A comprehensive meta-analysis of the existing literature on solitary confinement within and beyond the criminal justice setting found that the empirical record compels an UNMISTAKABLE CONCLUSION: This experience is psychologically painful, can be traumatic and harmful, and puts many of those who have been subject to it at great risk of long term […] damage. Specifically, based on an examination of a representative sample of sensory deprivation studies, the researchers found that virtually everyone exposed to such conditions is affected in some way. They further explained that there is not a single study of solitary confinement wherein non-voluntary confinement that lasted for longer than 10 days failed to result in negative psychological effects. And as another researcher elaborated, 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 ideations are also frequent results. Additional studies include in the aforementioned meta-analysis further”underscored the importance of social contact for the creation and maintenance of self.” In other words, in absence of interaction with others, an individual’s very identity is at risk of disintegration.
 
Yes these studies and case laws speak of volumes of psychological torture that we are undergoing. I suffer with all of those symptoms. And I’ve often wondered why, not realizing it’s this cage that is causing them. Where is the evolving standard of decency that this country continues to speak about in the courts, congress, and senate? You’re driving men insane! And then murdering them under this false concept of justice, when everyone knows that a rich man will never enter one of America’s death chambers. Equality is a pipedream, a fallacy that America presents for the world. We’ve seen it far too many times, that innocent men and women have slipped through the cracks of America’s judicial system, and suffered irreversible harm, in these cages of doom. Warehoused for death. There’s no sugarcoating this hellish experience.
 
So if you wonder why I’m anxious, agitated, compulsive, depressed etc., read the report again and again. And then imagine what I go through every single day. For not only do I struggle with this cage, but the fact that my co-defendant/childhood friend the triggerman, is on the street, returned to his life, as I sit here now second guessing myself about not accepting the plea bargain that was offered to me, which would have set me free in 2015. Yes .. shoulda, woulda, coulda. This cage, and this treatment are inhumane and unbecoming of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and perpetrated in the name of God, justice and the American way.
 
Just wanted to share and give you some insight into an experience that I pray you will never experience. God bless.
A Letter from Brandon Daniel – Death Row, Texas

A Letter from Brandon Daniel – Death Row, Texas

This letter from death row came to us through a third party. It’s an interesting letter and after reading it one gets a clearer picture than the one the media represented while Brandon Daniel’s case was ongoing. It shouldn’t need to be said that the police officer who was killed, Jaime Padron, was a human being just like Brandon. But we’re saying it anyway because our mission has as its core the belief that every person should be treated with respect and kindness, no matter what mistakes they have made in their past.

From all accounts it would appear Padron acted well within his authority. He did not deserve to die. His daughters did not deserve to lose their father. But it also seems reasonable to conclude that Brandon Daniel did not act from forethought and planning. And that should have been something the jury was allowed to consider when given the “authority” to sentence him to death.

To whom it may concern,

My name is Brandon Daniel, and I am writing this letter to you from prison. With police brutality once again in the news, and legal reform a hot topic of discussion, I’m writing to tell you about my legal case, in the hope that I might be able to spread awareness about a common but little known condition that is responsible for sending others to prison, and perhaps to leverage your platform to gain support as well. My case involves the class of anti-anxiety medication called benzodiazepines, and it is one of the clearest examples of something called Paradoxical Reaction. I am hoping that you can help me. Let me fill you in on my story.

First, my background is relevant because it demonstrates that the event that led to my being here was not part of a pattern of behavior. I have no violence in my past, no felonies. I was a software engineer, I’m college educated, and I’m from a normal, middle-class home. Everything that happened that night was completely atypical and out of character.

The event took place at Walmart, so it was all captured on surveillance videos. You can see me stumble around the store for twenty minutes, dropping items and running into displays. I was clearly disoriented. A police officer was called, and he confronted me, tackled me, and in the chaos of the moment I shot and killed him. The video shows how hectic the situation was, it clearly was not a thought out and intentional act. It took place in the span of 10 seconds.

Subsequent blood tests revealed that I had 11 times the therapeutic dose of Xanax in my system, and these tests were taken seven hours after the event. With a half life of eleven hours, it is reasonable to assume that the amount of Xanax in my blood that night was extraordinarily high. Plus, as I later discovered, Asians metabolize Benzos faster than other populations and it stays in their systems longer. I am of Asian descent.

In addition to all of this, I was interviewed by police immediately after the event, while I was still highly impaired from the medication. Again, this interview was captured on video, and one can clearly see that I am suffering from the classic symptoms of Benzodiazepines. I had amnesia, stating several times that I couldn’t even remember what day or time it was. I was confabulating, giving different accounts of what happened, none of which turned out to be accurate. And I was experiencing chemical submission, complying with the detectives leading questions against my best interest. All of these are common side-effects of the Benzodiazepine class of pharmaceuticals, which includes the date rape drug “roofies.”

This aspect of my case sets me apart from other similar cases, I believe. My confused statements provide a window into my state of mind at the time, while in many other incidents we can only wonder what is going on in their mind.

After all of this, while awaiting trial, the jailhouse doctors put me on a cocktail of antidepressants: Zoloft, Celexa, Remeron, etc. During this time, I had several suicide attempts and I spent most of the time in observation cells, nearly catatonic. It is my belief that this common, secondary use of pharmaceuticals to medicate inmates awaiting trial, renders them complacent and fairly useless when it comes to contributing to their defense. This results in inmates who are resigned to their fate, able to be easily railroaded by the legal system, regardless of the merits of their case. Since most people who are first entering jail are, understandably, depressed, they are all too willing to accept this ‘treatment’.

In my case, my trial team was handpicked by the judge, they agreed to work for a flat fee, and they put on a subpar defense at the last minute. The public opinion surrounding my case was continuously manipulated by statements released from the pharmaceutical company. In many news articles, the fact that I was even on Xanax at all is never mentioned. I’ve learned that this is a common tactic used by the pharma industry, who often deploy ‘crash teams’ to these types of events to try and shift the blame away from their drugs. I was convicted and sent to Texas Death Row, where I am today.

Years into my sentence, I was finally able to get off of the psychiatric medications. Then I began to research the history of pharmaceuticals and I became aware of their role in many cases of violence, such as mine. In fact, this is a well-documented symptom of Benzos that’s sometimes-called Paradoxical Reaction or Rage Reaction. It is also related to the phenomenon called Homicidal Somnambulism, or sleep-walking murder. Many other cases can be found in the medical literature, and these types of drugs have come up in the toxicology reports of several ‘mass shooters’, including the Las Vegas shooter and the Southerland Springs Church shooter. Over the past two decades, prescriptions for Benzos have skyrocketed and so has the number of overdoses, which has risen eightfold since 1999. This time period also coincides with the epidemic of mass shootings in our country. It is certain that the prison population over-represented by Benzo users who are unaware that this drug contributed to their situation. This is a major reason for my speaking out, to inform others about this possible influence on their crime.

Since my trial, my lawyers and I have accumulated a massive amount of research proving that this is not a one-off event, but is a well known phenomenon in the medical community that has been actively covered up by the pharmaceutical industry for decades. I have scientific articles, expert evaluations, and even an internal FDA study that highlights the extreme number of violent episodes associated with Benzodiazepines compared to other drugs. This FDA study was not released to the public and was only acquired through FOIA requests put out by lawyers.

Now, my goal is to use my story to help expose this issue. Books have been written about pharmaceutical-induced violence, but I really feel that my case is the clearest example of such an event. By reaching out to you with this letter, I am hoping to use your platform to help spread my story, to garner support from the activist community, and to make contacts with any lawyers, expert witnesses, or fundraising apparatuses that might be able to help. My friends and family have compiled information about my case on a website: supportbrandondaniel.org. I am asking that you please post about my site on your social media accounts and link it up to your website. Any other exposure or resources would be very much appreciated.

I really hope that you can help. Please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you, thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Brandon Daniel #999589
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South Road
Livingston, TX 77351

Peace

Peace

Another person’s death, murder by the state, brought someone peace? Wow. I’ve heard it before, so it shouldn’t surprise me, but every time I hear that it does.

It makes me step back and wonder how anyone can get satisfaction from the suffering and death of any living creature, much less your fellow man. But Friday morning, it was once again on the news. A woman saying that she found peace in watching Bobby be put down by the state. How does another person dying in front of you, fulfill your life and bring peace? And the woman wanted him to look her in the eyes as he’s dying?! Her words, not mine. I don’t think I could, or would ever want to do that. Look a helpless individual in their eyes and watch the fear, misery, and confusion as their life is being taken from them. Even in anger and total rage, if that person looked me in the eye, helpless, my goal would be to stop, and stop anyone from harming them. Not watch or participate in their misery and death.

So when I hear that, it boggles my mind, how ‘any civilized person’ can find peace, through the death of another. I understand anger and hurt, and when Connie was murdered on March 24, 1997, I was devastated! I know and understand the desire for vengeance. And it took a few years for it to pass. Connie’s murder still hurts me to this day. But the desire for vengeance faded long ago.

Seeing and being on both sides of the vengeful heart still doesn’t help me see how anyone can find peace through the cold and calculated murder of another individual. And for a helpless individual to look me in the eyes as their life is being extinguished. No I can’t in any way, shape, or form, comprehend why or how someone can get pleasure, relief or find peace through such an evil act. And those who do, need lots of prayer and psychological counseling. True peace can never be found in such an inhumane and brutal act.

God bless you
In peace, love and friendship, Ronnie

Letters From Death Row: You Have Friends Here

I’m still feeling a little down about last week’s execution. They killed Mark Asay on the 24th. I had honestly expected him to get a stay. Florida was using a new drug, etomidate. Mark was the guinea pig. I sincerely believe the courts would let them shoot us full of rat poison, but this is the first time a new drug was used without hearings.

The media said Florida changed drugs because they were concerned that midazolam had the potential to cause unnecessary suffering. This is total bullshit. They changed drugs because no one would sell them midazolam. It is a nationwide problem which, unfortunately, Florida may just have solved.

The media made Mark out to be a white supremacist and this is also false. I can’t say who he was while free, but I’ve known the dude for 26 years and he wasn’t the person they made him out to be on TV. Mark walked up to my bars in ’91 while coming in from the yard. I had just been moved onto a permanent wing, and still wasn’t allowed outside. He said, “You have friends here.” That meant a lot to me.

Prison is a place full of people doing creepy shit, and some of them like nothing better than trying to take advantage of anyone new. Dudes who go out of their way to make you feel welcome, especially when you don’t know what to expect, stand out in my mind.

I also remember singing a Hank Jr. song, Family Tradition with Mark in the visit park. That had to be in ’92, and it stands out as I am not a fan of country.

It took a lot out of Mark when his mom died in a car accident, and by all accounts he had lost the will to live at the end. That is why we still don’t know how the high court may feel about expanding the retroactivity, as Mark did not raise the issue. Still, it is a hell of a thing when a state can execute someone after having their death penalty statute declared unconstitutional twice in the last 18 months.

Review of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Review of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

What’s Mercy, Anyway?

Reading a book about the work of someone who has dedicated his life to freeing the innocent is inspiring. When you’re reading that book behind bars, it also evokes melancholy and wishful thinking. No matter where you are when you crack the cover on Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, be prepared to stay put until you’re finished reading it. Be prepared also to have your eyes opened – maybe even welling with tears.

Stevenson, who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, takes readers inside prison walls and courtrooms, introducing us to the human beings sentenced to die by the hands of justice system officials and a public who’ve forgotten to, or refuse to, view them as humans.

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