Tuesday, March 31, 2009
First, I want to point out that, had this accusation been true, had I actually committed a crime against [*], there would certainly be a privacy issue to consider. Had [*] been actually molested, raped or otherwise assaulted, it could be considered unfair to publicize her identity, regardless of her age, and subject her to further emotional duress. Had there not been the underlying elements behind her charge, had the initial investigation had stayed closed, or she had not so blatantly contradicted herself between versions of her stories, it might never have been necessary to even discuss this issue. Any of these scenarios could have provided [*] the privacy that some might suggest she would thereby entitled to.
However, this is not the case. [*] was not molested or otherwise assaulted by me and the only consistency in her story has been its inconsistency. The local authorities exceeded their authority and used [*] as a weapon against me and in so doing made her a primary element to discussion of their improprieties. And though this position is admittedly my own, and these same officials have manipulated the legal arena to convict me of an offense that makes the allegation legally true and the circumstances legally irrelevant, none of this changes the true facts. I have maintained now for over five years, in spite of being deprived of my liberty and freedom as consequence, that I did not do what [*] accused me of and, simply put, the actual facts support my position. That the Kalispell authorities have succeeded in keeping these factual elements out of court in order to railroad me into a false conviction is what is genuinely irrelevant. No matter how much these corrupt officials like to play at being gods, the truth is they cannot change reality. They can certainly control the perception of reality, but they cannot change the actual events as the really happened.
I have said upon many occasions throughout this ongoing oration that I do not hold [*] entirely accountable for what has happened. I recognize that she had been placed under extreme duress and that others had exerted undue influence over her to gain their desired goals. That [*] was easily manipulated is inconsequential to the larger scheme of things. That she has had a history of lies and deceptions is not at issue either. These are just the means by which those truly to blame exerted their control over her, not the underlying cause of her actions.
I raised [*] for over two years as my own daughter. To this day, I still have a special place in my heart for the young woman that I took under my wing, just as I hold a special place for her sister, [*], as well. I am deeply hurt by her betrayal and disappointed that she could be manipulated in this way against me, since I had thought she had returned my affections, but the truth is she is her own person, and she made her own decisions. I do not agree with them, and I have been hurt far worse than a simple betrayal of confidence alone could be responsible for, but I know the ideas were not hers alone – there were others pulling her strings. But it does not make the pain of that betrayal any less.
All this being said, [*] has made some serious mistakes, and in making those mistakes, regardless of whether she acted alone or at the direction of others, she has nevertheless caused great harm to others. And not just to me – to her mother, her sister, my son, John, and to our mutual friends and families. Her actions led, indirectly, to the loss of our business and way of life. Regardless of whether I hold a personal grudge against her or not (which I do not, by the way), the fact is that [*]’s actions have had consequences, and I do not believe that she should be completely sheltered from those consequences by some pretense that claiming to be a victim of a faux crime somehow provides her immunity from the fallout of her misdeeds. There are repercussions to what [*] has done and I do not feel that she should be entitled to shelter from her own sins while everyone else around her has suffered.
This girl sent her own mother to jail – and could have had her sent to prison. All because she did not have the moral fortitude to stand up to people who were making her do things that she knew were wrong. She destroyed lives, and I do not feel that she should be sheltered from the consequences of her actions.
However, none of this is the reason that I have continued to use [*]’s name in these posts. The real reason, and it has nothing to do with morality, is that as far as I was concerned, the cat was already out of the bag by the time the charges were filed against me and [*] became an “official” victim. I posted the original “Another Case of Gov Abuse” in December, 2003. I was not charged and arrested until February, 2004. At the time I wrote the original public plea for help, there was no need to shelter [*]’s identity.
The original allegation had not only been investigated and dismissed by that time, but [*] herself had recanted her false accusation. Though she had been abducted by CFS, she had maintained the truth when Kori Taylor insisted she reassert the lie. I had no reason to believe at that time that [*] would reassert the false allegation nor that it could be used to bring a charge against me in light of all the overwhelming evidence at that point in time exonerating me. I did not believe that my support structure could be so critically undermined or that [*] could be compelled to place her own mother in jeopardy of harm.
In a nutshell, I had absolutely no reason to believe that I would be faced again with [*]’s false accusation and therefore had no reason to withhold [*]’s name from my original posting in 2003. At that point, I had believed that my sole fight was against [*]’s kidnapping by state authorities and in the possibility that the local authorities might manufacture a new false charge to arrest me under. There had been no reason to consider withholding [*]’s identity as a victim of assault and so I did not. But as a consequence of openly discussing an allegation I had thought dead and buried, I openly spoke of [*] by name. And in doing so, any future posting that omitted her name would be pointless.
In other words, I did not name [*] to cause harm to her nor to redirect some kind of hostility her way. I am not attempting to villify her nor am I attempting to shift blame to her for anything that she is not accountable for. On the contrary – I believe I have gone out of my way to divert unnecessary hostility toward her by defending her on more than one occasion, including within this very post. I named [*] at a time when such issues as whether she was an alleged victim of a crime were not at issue, and as such there had been no need to consider omitting her name.
[*] is now eighteen years old, by the way, and reportedly in the US military. She is no longer a minor and is no longer under the undue influence of state agents, at least she should not be. As a legal adult, [*] could now step forward and tell the truth, tell her side of the story, tell about how her and her sister were kidnapped and how she was coerced into making false statements under the fear of never being returned home. She could take a major step in righting the wrongs that she was forced to commit. But personally, I have little hope in such an event occurring.
It would require an act of great courage and integrity to step forward at this juncture and admit to all she has done. Likely, she feels a great deal of inner pain and anxiety over what she has done. I know the authorities did their level best to convince her that I would hurt her if given the chance. This could not be further from the truth, of course, but these people are empowered by these kinds of lies, and I fear that their having over five years to imbed these fears in [*] has made hope of this kind of thing impossible. And I cannot seek her out in any way to ask if she would even consider this because I am compelled by court order to have no contact with her directly or indirectly.
In the end, all I can say is that [*] will never have anything to fear from me. Regardless of whether the truth ever comes out, regardless of whether I ever clear my name or not, I recognize that [*] has been made as much of a victim of the cruel machinations of corrupt officials as much as I have. Perhaps she was not the victim of a sexual assault, but being torn from your family and be made responsible for all that has happened must have a profound impact upon her. My heart goes out to all that she has suffered through the years, just so she could be used as a weapon against me. But none of this makes [*] a target of my indemnity. She was used as a tool, as a means to an end that was not her own. And I cannot bring myself to hold any anger toward her for that…
At any rate, I hope this post answers any underlying concerns about my using [*]’s name so publicly. As always, I welcome any comments…
Ciao for now…
Political Prisoner since 2004
I have to say at the outset of this that I cannot say how much of this is typical of authority in Goldendale or how much was just some level of cooperation with Montana as some kind of perverted professional courtesy. All I know is what happened to me and that was only during a very brief period that did not provide me the opportunity to compare my treatment to that of anyone else…
Immediately upon arrest, I began making calls to my business in Kalispell. Of course, these calls were recorded, and I have every reason to believe that the contents of those calls were relayed to the Kalispell authorities, at the very least to the Flathead County Attorney’s Office. I say this because of two things:
First, as I noted in previous posts, [*] (now [*]) was arrested exactly one week to the day after me on February 27, 2004. The information charging [*] was not filed at the same time as mine, nor was the warrant for her arrest issued then either. Yet something within the week following my arrest warranted the Kalispell authorities to include her within their net. Since the allegation against [*] stemmed from the same accusation of [*]’s on February 4, 2003, any genuine prosecution upon the same charge would have been filed at the same time as my own. But it was not. Clearly, it had been an afterthought to go after [*]. The question then would be why?
The answer I believe stems from the content of my recorded conversations from the Goldendale jail. Specifically, I was requesting for [*] to send me copies of files I had left in her care at our mutual business upon the possibility that Kalispell would attempt to take some illicit action against me. Included in those records were documents proving that the original investigations with the Kalispell Police Department (KPD) and Child and Family Service (CFS) had been closed in September, including records supporting that the two agencies had communicated these details between them. I had also requested that [*] request [*]’s medical records to prove the inconsistencies between her various stories, of Edith Paxman’s observations about [*]’s untruthfulness, and most importantly the records of Dr. Barney Houser that would reflect that Kori Taylor of CFS subjected [*] to an overly aggressive interview when [*] refused to say reassert the false allegation, an interview that had left [*] in tears. Further, I had been discussing with [*] about liquidating assets to aid me in my legal battle.
It is my belief that upon learning of my intentions to obtain these records that would exonerate me, and in the potential of liquidating assets to retain a private attorney, that Kalispell officials took steps to bar my access to any resources I could draw upon, specifically by arresting [*] and putting her under threat of harm should she aid me in any way. So long as I remained incarcerated, I had no hope of accessing these things myself – and if [*] could be made to not supply them, then these authorities would have complete control over what did and did not come to light in my defense, and further had control over the attorney that I would be forced to work with.
Keep in mind, the original allegation against me was on July 9, 2003. I was not actually charged and arrested for this alleged offense until February 20, 2004, almost eight months later. The investigation had been closed and only re-opened to bar my access to the police records. When I had sought default judgment, the court clerk had tampered with the file to bar my rightful legal relief. And my subsequent arrest only occurred when it became clear that the local authorities were going to lose the ability to block my suit if I could successfully move the suit to federal court, a week from the deadline of the thirty day time limit I had set, in fact. If all of these things could be perpetuated to stop me, it is not too much of a stretch to recognize that when I could have conceivably obtained evidence that would have once again removed me from their control that they would once again exert their authority to block such an effort by any means.
Coming after [*] was a coup. Not only could they bar my access to records that could exonerate me while I was still in Washington (and consequently outside of their direct control), but it also deprived me any chance of possibly liquidating my assets to retain a private attorney. This was not part of their original plan, or it would have happened at the same time that they arrested me. Apparently, Kalispell authorities believed that I no longer had support in Kalispell, perhaps thinking I had fled to start a new life. Afterall, this was exactly what Kori Taylor had insisted of [*] – that she dissolve all contact with me and evict me from my home and business in Kalispell. When they learned that I actually did retain my interest in the Kalispell business and still had [*]’s support, they took action to sever that support more directly – by arresting [*] on yet another false charge. However, they were successful in intimidating her enough that she finally did what they had wanted from her all along – she completely cut me off from my assets and from any outside support.
As an aside, I would like to say that, though I hold little resentment toward [*], as I have commented on extensively in previous posts, I hold a great deal more toward [*]. [*] was kidnapped and placed under extreme demands with absolutely no way of knowing what was really going on. She did not know the law, did not know that what was being done was illegal, nor that she had any right to challenge what was being done to her. [*] was only a thirteen year old girl who was easily intimidated and undereducated about what the government could and could not do.
[*], on the other hand, did not have this excuse. [*] knew that what CFS had done was illegal. I had shown her the specific laws that CFS had violated. She also knew from her own personal life experiences what the proper procedures were for CFS to respond to allegations of abuse – she had been a foster mother herself years earlier! She knew what was being done was wrong but in the end, to save herself, she collaborated with those that she knew were acting illegally, knowing that in doing so she was committing an innocent man to ongoing imprisonment and abuse.
[*] (now [*]) sold - me - out. Period. And this is not something I can so readily forgive.
This is not to say that I do not in some way feel that [*] was a victim as well. She was put under threats and intimidations the same as [*] was – my fault in her lies in the fact that she, unlike [*], made an informed choice to betray me. And that is not something I can see to completely be okay with. And of course, [*] did more than turn her back on me with the authorities – she also cheated on me, but that’s something I will detail later.
The second reason I believe this was directly related to my phone calls to [*] was that immediately after [*] was arrested, within a couple of days, the Goldendale jail put a block in on my business' number. I could not call back to Kalispell to work on obtaining the records I needed nor maintain my support base.
At the time this happened, I had no reason that the block had been created on Goldendale's side - I thought that there must have been some kind of disruption on Kalispell's side, such as the bill not getting paid or too much toll charges on the phone (all calls from jail are collect and phone companies tend cap toll charges to a line after a certain amount). It was only toward the end when the block was suddenly removed two days before I left Goldendale, as they prepared for my leave, that I realized the block had been put in by Goldendale jail officials.
The only reason for such a block would have been to bar my access to [*] and my support structure in Kalispell. And since that access had absolutely no impact upon the proceedings in Goldendale, I can only presume that the block was placed at the request of the Kalispell authorities...
At any rate, I am running out of time on this post, so I am going to end this thread for today. Most of it was actually written before I started today, but I spent a lot of time re-editing the posts I wrote yesterday, so I did not have time to type much more on this post. I will continue this thread hopefully tomorrow.
Ciao for now!
Political Prisoner since 2004
As I detailed in my last post, the conflict that led to my actually filing a legal action against the City of Kalispell was exacerbated by a face to face confrontation with then-Chief of Police Frank Garner. When I went to the Kalispell Police Department (KPD) to request the production of records from their investigation that had been closed, Garner acted to obstruct the production of those records by re-opening the investigation, and later placed a call to Child and Family Services (CFS) to have them re-open their own investigation. Prior to this, I had verified through several sources that all official investigations had been closed in September, 2003 (September 4 for KPD and September 15 for CFS). And all of this happened on October 28. 2003).
Following the confrontation with Garner, I consulted with a freedoms of information attorney out of Helena, MT. I confirmed with him that Montana law does not provide for a law enforcement agency to withhold records, even with an active, ongoing investigation. Therefore, Garner’s actions to obstruct the production of records by re-opening KPD’s investigation and having CFS re-open their own was yet another act of official misconduct. The attorney I consulted recommended that I file a petition with the local justice court to compel the production of the police records.
Pursuant to such advice, I prepared a petition for production of records and attempted to file it with the Kalispell Justice Court. However, that court refused to accept jurisdiction and referred me to the district court. It was at this point that I filed the petition with the Eleventh Judicial District of Montana, In and For Flathead County. This occurred on October 30, 2003.
Upon filing of the petition, which I filed in person, the court clerk issued to me three summons, one for each named defendant (City of Kalispell, Kalispell Police Department and Kalispell City Attorney’s Office). I made a copy of one of the summons for my records, then personally stapled an original summons to each copy of the petition to be served. [*] (now [*]) performed service that same day upon all three. Thereafter, I personally filed the proof of service signed by [*] with the court clerk.
The filing of this petition initiated a wave of harassing letters from Richard Hickle with the City Attorney’s Office. It was also around this time that I learned that KPD officiers were contacting clientele of my business, spreading the malicious rumor that I was a child molester (it turned out that this had been going on since the initial investigation had begun in July, 2003, but I did not learn of it until early November, 2003). In an effort to bypass these harassments, I began placing calls to the City Manager (Chris Kukolski) and the Mayor (Pam Kennedy(?)). However, in spite of my best efforts to try to halt the harassments and defamations, they continued up until the point where I was forced to file an actual complaint on November 18, 2003.
When I prepared and filed this complaint, I did so again in person. I did so with the intent of having new summonses issued by the court clerk since I had added several new defendants to the action (Pam Kennedy, Chris Kulkolski, Frank Garner, Myron Wilson, Doug Overman and Richard Hickle). However, the court clerk refused to issue new summonses for the new defendants. I argued back and forth with the clerk for several minutes on this point – the clerk I spoke with insisted that since a summons had already been issued in the cause, that there was no need for a new summons. I knew better – I knew that adding new defendants compelled the new defendants to be served with summonses, too. Yet the clerk refused to budge on this issue, and I was forced to leave without the issuance of new summonses.
Keep in mind, at this juncture, I was still unaware of the full breadth of the corruption in Montana or how far reaching the influence was to block my claim against the City. I started this fight believing that there had been a rogue police officer (Myron Wilson), and then later believed that his department was protecting him when I pursued claims against his misconduct. Likewise, when other branches of the City began to run interference and to extend harassments my direction, again I identified it as an extension of the City covering up for the potential liability they would inherit due to the official misconduct of its police department. At this point, I was not aware that the corruption and collaborative efforts to cover it up would also come to incorporate both the county and State governments. In a nutshell, I was truly naïve to the level of corruption that existed here in Montana, and ultimately I lost my entire life to this struggle because I simply did not know that there simply was no relief available to a person standing alone against it.
Incidentally, I initially had a volunteer of my youth program, Jeff Berna, attempt to serve KPD and its officers on the night of November 18, 2003, but Frank Garner once again obstructed the legal process. When Mr. Berna went to the police department to perform service, Garner pulled Mr. Berna into his office and threatened to have him arrested if he actually tried to serve him or anyone in his department! The gist of the threat was the implication that Mr. Berna had no lawful authority to serve anyone unless he was registered with the State as a process server. Further, Garner went on to tell Mr. Berna that he did not want to “fall” because of “Glick’s little games”.
The applicable law, by the way, stated that anyone serving performing more than ten services of process in a calendar year had to register as a process server with the State; Mr. Berna had acted as a process server in two other instances, and his service of the KPD, Frank Garner, Myron Wilson and Doug Overmen would have brought his total services to seven. Mr. Berna was not in fact violating any law – Mr. Garner simply used his position of authority to threaten and intimidate Mr. Berna to avoid being served with legal process!
Needless to say, Mr. Berna took Garner at his word and would not perform the legal service. Mr. Berna told me directly that he could not afford to get arrested and that if I wanted to have KPD served, I would have to find someone else. Garner subsequently placed a call to me where he tried to threaten me as well, but while on the phone I referenced the applicable law online and proved that Garner was lying about his authority. However, Garner had succeeded in blocking service for the day since I did not readily have someone else to perform service that day.
The next day, I did find someone else to attempt service again upon the police department and the other city defendants, a client of my business, Ian Christiansen. He took up the service as a challenge and went to perform service upon the city defendants the next day, November 19, 2003. What Mr. Christiansen told me later was that he attempted to serve the KPD clerk, but that service was declined – the clerk told Mr. Christiansen that Garner had specifically instructed her not to accept service from Ron Glick. He thereafter went to perform service upon the City Attorney’s office and Richard Hickle, but the clerk there told him he would have to serve Hickle directly and he was not in the office. Mr. Christiansen then served the city itself by serving the City Recorder and tried to serve the mayor, but she was not in her office. Next, Mr. Christiansen went to Chris Kukolski’s office, and served him. Kukolski accepted the service without complaint and, according to Mr. Christiansen, was very polite about the whole issue.
However, right after he was served, Kulkolski received a phone call while Mr. Christiansen was still in the office. As reported to me, Kukolski responded, “Yes, he is here”, followed by, “Yes, I accepted service”. The rest of the conversation was apparently little more than affirmative and negative responses, and ended by, “I’ll come over and talk to you”. Kukolski informed Mr. Christiansen that the call had been from Garner, who it seems had been calling the named defendants and trying to encourage that no one accepted service. Kukolski then told Mr. Christiansen that he was going to meet with Garner and asked him to wait out in the front lobby.
Mr. Christiansen reported to me that he spent roughly twenty minutes in the lobby as Kukolski disappeared into the police department. As he sat there, Mr. Christiansen reported that Garner (who he did not immediately know at the time) made several trips past him and down the hall to the city attorney’s office, apparently glaring at Mr. Christiansen at each pass.
Finally, Kukolski re-emerged from the police department with Garner at his side, and Garner, in what I am told was a very resentful tone, agreed to accept service for himself and on behalf of the police department. He also agreed to have the other defendants who had not yet been served to be available that evening for service, I believe around 8pm, if I recall correctly. When Mr. Christiansen appeared at the scheduled time, defendants Pam Kennedy, Myron Wilson and Doug Overman were there to accept service – only the City Attorney defendants remained to be served. But Mr. Christiansen would do no more, which required me to find yet another person to complete service on the City Attorney the next day, James Valentino. As I understand it, Valentino had no trouble making that service.
Upon completion of the services, I again personally filed the proof of services with the court clerk on November 20, 2003.
As an aside, these events happened over five years ago. My memory on some of the details may be slightly askew for this reason, but I have attempted to detail the events as accurately as I recall them. Certain things, especially the actions that I personally took, are indelibly imprinted in my mind. However, my memory may not be as clear on issues that were told to me by others. If there is a minor detail or two out of place, the rest of the details should not be discounted. The essential elements though – that three summonses were issued directly to me by the clerk of court, that service was performed upon all parties, with summons in service of the petition, and that I personally filed all three proofs of service with the court is absolutely a fact. There is no discrepancy in these details – it is only a possibility that issues and sequences of events as reported to me by others may not be entirely accurate. On this issue, I simply have no control. However, I do believe that what I was told is accurate, or I would not be detailing it herein.
This wraps up this flashback. My next post will detail the events that began in January, 2004, and the reason for this flashback will become more relevant.
Ciao for now!
Political Prisoner since 2004
By the way, for anyone seeking to verify any of this, the cause number in question for my suit against Kalispell is DV 03-572, Eleventh Judicial District of Montana, Glick v. City of Kalispell, et al.
Shortly after setting up in Goldendale, [*] (now [*]), then my girlfriend and business partner, informed me that a letter had been received at the Kalispell address from Clerk of Court, Peg Allison. I believe this letter was dated January 4, 2004, though I have never actually seen a copy of the letter (despite requests to have a copy mailed to me, [*] never did). The essence of the letter was that the default judgment filed for would not be granted because service had not been “properly performed” upon the defendants of the cause.
As an aside, it is not the position of a court clerk to make this determination. The party being defaulted against needs to file an objection to the motion for default judgment in order for the court to consider such a defense. The clerk of court, nor the court itself, can lawfully presume to assert the defense of a party in a legal action. Since the parties in question had been lawfully served with a copy of the motion for default judgment, it was the parties’ obligation to raise this defense. Allison’s raising this obstruction violated due process. But this issue is minor compared to the innumerable unlawful acts Allison has taken against me through capacity of her office over the years.
At any rate, as I previously attested, I called Allison and asked for clarification. I had worked as a paralegal previously in California for two years and I knew I had performed service properly, so I needed to know what she was claiming was not done properly. Initially, Allison insisted that there were no proof of services in the file to validate that service had been performed. As one will note in my flashback posts, I knew this not to be true because I had personally filed the three proofs of service in the file.
When I told Allison this and offered to have copies forwarded to her from my Kalispell files though, she completely changed her story. When confronted with evidence that disproved her position, Allison then insisted that she had been thinking of another case and that the problem with my case was that there was no summons issued in the cause.
Again, one reading my flashback posts will note that there had been summonses issued – three summonses had been issued on October 30, 2003, when I filed the initial petition, though the clerk had actually refused to issue additional summonses on November 18, 2003, when I filed the actual complaint and added six new defendants. So though there might have been grounds to say the additional defendants had not been properly served (though this was the fault of direct obstruction from the court clerk’s office), three valid summonses had been served at the outset of the cause. Therefore, at the very least, default judgment should have been issued against the initial three defendants: City of Kalispell, Kalispell Police Department and Kalispell City Attorney’s Office.
However, when I told this to Allison, she insisted that there was no record of a summons in the court file (Note: I have requested on numerous occasions for a copy of the docket to this cause to confirm or refute Allison’s claim, but Allison has ignored each of my requests). At the time of the phone call, I could not recall whether I had actually made a copy of the summons, and Allison played off this uncertainty. She insisted that since her office had not issued a summons, any service that had been performed would not be legal, and as such, no default could be granted.
Remember, I knew three summonses had been issued and knew that I had personally stapled a certified copy of the summons to the front of each copy of the petition that I had had [*] serve. Therefore, I knew that what Allison was saying was untrue. I could not be sure who had tampered with the court file, but it was obvious that, if I assumed Allison to be telling the truth, that someone had. And also remember, that at this point, I was not aware that the county court would aid and abet the city in unlawful conduct. So, at least at first, I had taken Allison at her word.
Without being able to recall initially whether I had made a copy of the summons, I reverted to statutory law that a sworn oath of someone conducting service was sufficient to establish that service had been performed. Therefore, I proposed to Allison that I would call [*] and have her attest to the service of the summons. Allison agreed and told me to have [*] call her.
Immediately after getting off the phone with Allison, I called [*] and asked her what she recalled from serving the initial petition. I asked her if she remembered serving a summons with each copy, and she said that, though she did not know exactly what a summons was, that she did remember a cover page being stapled onto the petition that was titled “Summons” that did not look like any of the rest of the filing (ie, the cover sheet was not printed off a computer like the rest of the petition was). This was sufficient to satisfy whether a summons had been served since I personally did know what a summons to me and that I had personally stapled those to the front of the petitions, this would satisfy the chain of evidence. That [*] was willing to attest that these documents had been attached to the documents she served and that she did in fact serve these upon the defendants should have been enough to satisfy the legal prerequisites. Had someone tampered with the court file and removed the summons, there were now myself and [*] to attest that not only was a summons issued, but it had in fact been served as well.
Unfortunately, this would require that the rules of law were being followed.
After speaking with me, [*] called Allison to inform Allison that she had served summonses upon the defendants on October 30, 2003. Unfortunately, Allison was actually the one working to obstruct the cause and instead of accepting [*]’s attestment (or alternatively requesting a signed affidavit for the court file), Allison instead chose to threaten [*] with perjury charges if she tried to testify that she had, in fact, served valid summons! The gist of what [*] later told me was that Allison told [*] that, as court clerk, she was the only one who could attest whether a valid summons had been issued or not and that if [*] tried to attest that there had been one issued, Allison was prepared to have perjury charges brought against [*]!
When [*] called me back, she was in tears. Allison had scared her into thinking, much like Garner had done with Mr. Berna previously, that if she tried to make an official statement about her service of the summons, that she would be arrested! I tried to tell [*] that Allison’s threat was meaningless, but to no avail. I tried to tell her that first of all, she would not be attesting to whether the summons were valid, I would, since the summonses had been issued to me; the only thing [*] would be attesting to would be whether she had served the summons that I had provided. Also I told her that even if [*] had been the one to attest to the summonses authenticity, she could not be charged with perjury unless she willfully made a statement she believed to be false under oath; if [*] believed the summons to be valid at the time she had made the service and attested to such, there could be no perjury charge! But [*] could not be dissuaded – she believed what Allison had told her and refused to sign an affidavit attesting to her service of the summons for fear of being arrested!
This, by the way, is another form of witness tampering, and is a felony under Montana law. Allison could not lawfully intimidate a witness to withhold her testimony or to attest to something she did not believe to be true. [*] believed that I had provided her certified copies of the summons because they were each embossed. She believed that the summons she served with valid and Allison’s threats and intimidations were specifically designed to tamper with [*] as a witness. It was at this point, when I heard what Allison had told [*] that I recognized that it was not some unknown person tampering with the court records either – it was Peg Allison herself. And that implied that agents of the county were willing to commit crimes themselves to cover up the official misconduct of the city and its agents, even though the entities were supposed to be separate under the law.
I spent the next couple of weeks trying to convince Allison to grant the default judgment. I confronted her over the fact that what she had done was felonious, that she was herself making herself a party to the action and that she could be named as a defendant herself. None of that mattered to her, and she refused to budge on the issue. And [*], intimidated by the threat of being arrested, would not forward me a copy of my file that I had left in her care to produce the copy of the summons I had by then recalled was there.
Finally, on January 28, 2004, I took the penultimate action that would lead to my arrest: I wrote a letter to Peg Allison informing her that if she did not immediately halt her unlawful obstruction of my cause and have the default judgment granted within thirty days of the letter, I would have no choice but to move my suit to the federal court pursuant to 18 USCA Section 1983, and adding herself, as well as the district court, the county attorney’s office and CFS as defendants for their separate actions in abducting [*]’s daughters, as defendant to the cause.
At that point in time, a letter could travel between Washington and Montana within five days. It was like clockwork. Which meant that Allison received my letter by February 2, 2003. On February 4, 2003, [*] re-entered the picture as she was subjected to another interview wherein she once again reasserted the allegation against me (which she had already done on December 9, 2003), but also added that when she had recanted her story, that I had forced he to sign a statement that I alone had prepared and that she had had nothing to do with! Further, she claimed that the reason she signed the statement, even though she had had nothing to do with it, was because [*] had told her she had to change her story!
As one might recall from my previous postings, I had asked [*] for a statement following her recantation of the allegation in October, 2003, the month after the official investigations had been closed. Initially, I had wanted [*] to do it on her own, but after a few days, [*] asked me to help her put the statement together. However, I did not do this with [*] alone – I asked Carrie Beth Mountjoy to sit in as a witness to confirm that what I typed in was what [*] told me to. Later, when interviewed about this, Carrie Beth confirmed that she had been present in the room, but [*] actually insisted that Carrie Beth was lying about it. Ironically enough, Carrie Beth had demonstrated in her interview that she was no longer a supporter of mine and that she had come to believe [*]’s story to be true. As such, clearly Carrie Beth was not trying to help my cause by lying for me – which means that the only person lying in this scenario was [*] herself.
Also I should reiterate that though I have said several times that [*] has lied about not only the initial allegation and the subsequent events thereafter, I do not completely blame [*] for this. [*] was under undue influence, first from her grandparents and later from CFS officials who had abducted her from her home. [*] was a young girl trapped in a circumstance that she honestly believed she could not get out of without cooperating with those who had authority over her. I have had the opportunity to read quite a few psychology articles on this subject and I believe that [*] was not entirely to blame for all that she did. I believe that, like so many other young people, she had been indoctrinated to believe in the purity of authority figures and would do whatever an authority figure pressured her to do, even if she knew that what she was doing was wrong. So though I make allusions to [*] lying, I do not mean in doing so to impugn her character beyond what the circumstances entailed.
Of course, that being said, it did not help matters that [*] had a long-standing propensity for lying in the first place. She had never been the most honest child even before this fiasco, so it was likely easier for her to tell lies as she was required to because that kind of behavior was already part and parcel of her character beforehand. In contrast, her younger sister, regardless of the amount of pressure placed upon her, to this day has refused to make a false allegation against me. Just goes to show the level of credibility that I am talking about when it comes to [*]’s independent integrity.
At any rate, the important factor about this second interview was that, like the one in December, it had been conducted not by a Kalispell police officer, but by a Columbia Falls officer named Brandy Arnoux. Arnoux, it turns out, is a known sympathizer with CFS and their less-than-lawful tactics used to abduct children from their home, and could be relied upon to ask the questions that Kori Taylor (CFS’s case worker) wanted asked. With Arnoux guiding the interview, [*] was asked about specific elements of the affidavit she had signed and provided [*] the chance to outright lay the accusation that she had been tampered with by both [*] and myself.
Of course, none of this was true, but it gave Kalispell the pretense to come after me with full barrels. It did not matter that [*]’s then-current story contradicted her original allegations, nor was there an effort to actually investigate what was being said. All the authorities wanted was an accusation on tape that they could act upon. And they did.
On Februrary 20, 2004, an information was filed in the Flathead court and a warrant issued for my arrest upon the charges of sexual assault and witness tampering. There was no grand jury indictment nor review, since in Montana that is not required to bring felony charges. I was provided no notification of the charge being filed nor an opportunity to respond to the filing, since again, under Montana law this is not required. And though typically a warrant is issued and delivered to law enforcement to have the individual arrested if he should be encountered by law enforcement, this warrant was faxed immediately to Goldendale, WA, where I was arrested that very same evening at my home there. The warrant was not even lawful in Washington since it was specifically worded to law enforcement of Montana, but still I was arrested. And I was not even Mirandized. And I remained incarcerated continuously thereafter.
A week following my arrest, [*] was also arrested on a witness tampering charge, though she was shortly thereafter released upon threat that if she aided me in any way, directly or indirectly, that if she had contact with me or provided me access to my business assets, that she would be re-arrested and remain incarcerated until I saw trial. Again, [*] folded under this threat like a house of wet cards. And others who were less than scrupulous took even further advantage by using [*] as an example, saying that anyone that helped me would suffer a similar fate – they would be arrested and face felony charges. And once the threats were made and with [*] proving that such a thing could be done, every iota of personal support I had simply vanished. I was locked away, my access to court completely severed, and with no resources to aid me in my fight against the corruption that had been leveled against me.
This ends this thread, as it wraps up what happened to me prior to my arrest. I will start a new thread to discuss what happened to me in Goldendale and throughout the process that ended with my extradition back to Montana. That should be a relatively short thread (for me) and hopefully I will be able to start the next thread detailing my treatment once I returned to Flathead County. Finally, I will try to detail what I experienced once I was actually committed to the Montana State Prison.
Essentially, this end of the story is in sight….
Ciao for now...
Political Prisoner since 2004
Saturday, March 28, 2009
But this goes beyond what I described in my last post. Simply put, I ran out of time before I could detail the whole scenario. But before I finish this part, let me back up just a moment to clarify the earlier events.
As I mentioned in my last post, I filed the initial petition against the City of Kalispell, Kalispell Police Department (KPD) and the Kalispell City Attorney's Office on October 30, 2003. This followed a face-to-face confrontation between myself and then-Chief of Police, Frank Garner, on October 28, 2003. I had been told that the police investigation was closed (which was, in fact, closed on September 4, 2003, though I was not informed until the first week of October, 2003), and had confirmed this through no less than five sources. Since my letters requesting production of the records of the investigation ignored, I had visited City Hall myself to request these documents. I first visited Richard Hickle of the City Attorney's Office, who claimed that the records could not be released for "confidentiality" purposes. After Mr. Hickle provided MCA statutes which he claimed set the restrictions for not releasing the records, I reviewed the same and found that they did not bar my rights to such records, though did set forth the requirement that I make the request through the agency holding the records. And so I went directly to the KPD.
When I went to the KPD's office, I was eventually referred to Mr. Garner (though he did not identify himself immediately). Mr. Garner stated very bluntly that he had no intention of releasing the records and, despite having verified through multiple sources, including CFS, the investigating officer, school counselors, the city's insurance agency, etc., that the case had been reported as closed, he suddenly insisted that the case had never been closed and that he was going to have the case sent to the county attorney with recommendations for prosecution. All because I wanted my records, and all because I had a pending claim against the KPD for their official misconduct. Clearly, Mr. Garner did not want me to have access to records that might incriminate his department. I later learned that in addition to his re-opening the KPD case, Mr, Garner called CFS to have their case re-opened this same day, as well.
One of the more interesting elements of this conversation was that Mr. Garner insisted that he did not have to turn over any files from an active case (his reason for re-opening the case to bar my request for records). I had had a copy of the actual law with me that day (MCA 2003 Section 44-5-214) which clearly did not permit such a distinction. When I tried to show him the law, he refused to look at it. When I asked him then under what authority he was using to bar my access to the files, he stated, "Under what authority? Because I say so. That's what authority!" Clearly, this action was not a legal one - it was outside the boundaries of law, and Mr. Garner was not going to be compelled to follow the law.
For the record, it was four months later that I was actually prosecuted - not because of Mr. Garner's recommendation on that day, but as a follow-up to what later happened with Ms. Allison.
After consulting with a civil rights attorney in Helena, MT, I filed a petition for production of the police records on October 30, 2003. This is the action that actually initiated my suit against Kalispell proper.
Out of time again, so I will conclude this Flashback on Monday. I am being loaned the use of a separate computer on Monday, too, so I expect to get a lot typed in that day.
Ciao for now.
Political Prisoner since 2004
Friday, March 27, 2009
For anyone who was not able to attend this meeting, I am posting the contents of the speech here. This speech is lengthy, but hopefully it will be able to posted in its entirety without too much trouble...
Note: this will actually be the second post for today, so if you are reading this, be sure to read the following entry as well for all of today's postings.
I would like to take a moment before I start to thank you all for having me speak to you today about what I have witnessed regarding the treatment of mentally ill people within the Montana criminal justice system. When Boyd first suggested that I speak with you about this, I felt that this was indeed an ideal forum to discuss this issue, as it provides the people most affected by this issue with information that you otherwise would not have access to. You are the people that need to know about this topic more than anyone else, and so I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity to share what I have learned over the last five years.
What I will be speaking of today is not something that you will hear about from any elected nor appointed official. This is not something that would be very politically acceptable and for liability reasons, I am certain that a direct inquiry about these issues would be flatly denied. But I assure you that everything I will be discussing today is absolutely true and anyone who attempts to deny that these things are happening has a motivated reason for lying to you.
First, let me tell you that I am not an extraordinary person by any means; I am simply an ordinary man that has lived through some extraordinary experiences. In the course of living through the last five years, I have witnessed first-hand how the mentally ill are really treated in this state once they are removed from the public eye, especially when they are committed to the criminal justice system. And I must tell you that that is publicly represented and what truly goes on behind closed doors is not the same. Mentally ill people are not afforded the protections allowed by law when your government officials believe they can deprive them such rights in the interest of their own profit margin.
The way mentally ill are treated in our society, within our city, our county, our State, and even in our country as a whole, is a great to everyone in this room, I am certain. And it needs to be a great concern to our society as a whole, since whenever any group can be summarily denied their legal rights, it only makes it that much easier to deprive others of their rights later on.
Reverend Martin Niemoller wrote about this once in a very poignant way. He wrote, “First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.” By saying these words, Rev. Niemoller made it clear that when people do not stand together, even when it is others’ rights who are being infringed upon, that sooner or later when it comes time for your own rights to be defended, that no one else would be around to aid if one did not first help in defending those first down-trodden.
Then of course, there is a quote from Benjamin Franklin that said this even clearer: “Let us all hang together, or surely we shall all hang separately.” In this, he was quite literal in that he meant that one would be hung by the neck until dead if they were convicted of treason against England, and that only together could the colonists hope to stand against the tyranny of the English Empire. But regardless which statement you rely upon, both say the same thing: if we do not stand united against this deprivation of rights, we only leave ourselves vulnerable to the loss of more rights in due time.
My own mental illness is minor compared to what most mentally ill people must face each and every day. But though my own limitations are minor by comparison, the fact that I do suffer from a mental illness at all provided me a window of opportunity through which to observe the treatment of mentally ill individuals as a whole as I sought treatment for my own condition.
Personally, I am a claustrophobic, this condition stemming from a childhood trauma of being trapped under a house when I was around ten years old. My arachnophobia also stems from this same event, but that particular phobia has never been debilitating for me. A few years ago I found out that I suffered from claustrophobic anxiety when I was forcefully detained in an enclosed environment. Prior to the first anxiety attack, I was not even aware that I was claustrophobic. But when I was incarcerated for a crime I did not commit, I found that the constant confinement had a progressively detrimental impact upon me to the point that I did become debilitated. The first anxiety attack involved an episode where I could not even breathe, and later attacks had even further effects upon me, including my inability to sleep, a constant fear sensation, excessive nervousness, and more. Worse still, I learned that when my freedom was taken from permanently, that my disease could be used against me as a weapon.
And yet I was not alone in any of this. As I was made to suffer for five years, I also witnessed others suffering from various mental illnesses also being mistreated in this way. I observed both directly and learned through stories told to me by other sufferers how negligently the State of Montana treated individuals with mental illnesses. During my incarceration, I met countless people whose only “offense” (and I use this term with sarcasm) was to be mentally ill and incapable of fighting back against their mistreatment. Most of these people did not genuinely belong in prison – in a hospital perhaps, but not in prison. And yet they were committed to institutions as part of a faceless body count.
Today, I would like to share with you some of what I witnessed do that you can be properly informed of what really goes on within our State correctional system. This is not a minor issue but a chronic problem. I am hopeful that by providing this information to you that you will not only be made aware of this crisis but also provide you much needed ammunition to speak out against this abusive system.
Before I begin though, I would like to tell you something about myself and how I came to be incarcerated myself. I mention all of what follows as pretext to the subject of treatment of mentally ill people within the criminal justice system because I want express that your group is not alone in being mistreated by your government and that you should not have to face the challenges associated with fighting these improprieties alone. My example will show you that not only is such abuse of the law widespread, but that if you are isolated from each other, that you will be far less effective in your struggle.
For five years I was committed to the Montana State Prison for a crime I did not commit. My entire adult life, I have been committed to working with one form or community benefit nonprofit enterprise or another, just as the better part of my adult life has been plagued by medical problems in one form or another. After high school, I attempted to go to college, taking a curriculum in English-Creative Writing as a major with a history minor but could not continue due to lack of finances and for having developed a sleeping disorder. I left college and began working in retail, but did a lot of work with crisis counseling and as a sponsor for Alcoholics Anonymous. Having been raised in a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic step-father who abused the family for over sixteen years, I felt drawn to helping others overcome these kinds of problems.
When at twenty-two, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid variant disease, I turned my efforts to providing nonprofit services within my personal area of expertise, collectible genre, specifically by providing a trading card service that eventually exposed me to the area of collectible card games, or CCGs. This was significant because, after moving to Montana in 1996, I turned my interest in these kinds of games into a youth recreations program that promoted these kinds of games as educational activities for youth. With these games, I helped inspire such worthwhile traits as problem solving, goal setting and positive social interaction into financially challenged youth in first Polson and the Kalispell.
In 2003, following some severe harassments and defamations from officers with Kalispell Police Department, I filed a lawsuit against the City of Kalispell. In retaliation, local authorities abducted my step-daughters and had myself and my girlfriend arrested on manufactured charges. My girlfriend was released upon threat of being rearrested if she provided me aid or even access to my business or personal assets, but I remained incarcerated while the authorities ultimately railroaded me into a false conviction, sentencing me to twenty years, five of which I was forced to serve within the state penal system because I refused to “confess” to a crime I did not commit. Though I am no longer in prison, having been released only last month, I remain a prisoner in this State, my civil liberties restricted and the threat of being returned to prison for another fifteen years constantly hovering over my head.
What happened to me happened largely because local authorities were given free reign to terrorize people in my life – first my step-daughters, then my girlfriend and through her everyone else in my life. The message was delivered that anyone supporting me could be arrested and it was a successful enough threat to isolate me from any support outside of jail. I urge you then that if you do choose to stand against the wrongs perpetuated against mentally ill persons in this State, to stand together and remain together. You all stand a far better chance of succeeding if you remain united than if you permit others to divide you.
In spite of all of that has happened to me, or perhaps more because of it, I have become a vocal advocate against the widespread official misconduct perpetuated against the citizens of this State by its own government. As such, I have become (not by personal choice, I assure you) an enemy of the state and been mistreated, abused and deprived of even greater civil rights simply because the powers-that-be do not wish my voice to be heard. I cannot even get simple due process is a separate legal action trying to secure my business assets because the local court clerk will not issue a summons nor will the court itself issue simple default judgments to which I am entitled. This is one reason why I am so grateful for this opportunity today – because it gives me a chance to share at least some of what I have learned with a group of people who are at risk of very real dangers posed to their own liberties.
It was during this five year period of time that, though I was sentenced to the Montana State Prison, I was actually confined between all four state operated male prison facilities and had the opportunity to witness the treatment of inmates in every such institution within the State. The only state facility I have not been in has been the Montana Women’s Prison, for obvious reasons. This has provided me a unique perspective from which to view how inmates, mentally ill amongst them, are treated in this State. In fact, I have a class action lawsuit filed against the state corrections system in the U.S. District Court even to this day, addressing innumerable civil liberty violations including deliberate indifference to inmate medical care. So as you can see, this issue is close to my heart, as I continue to challenge the State on this very issue.
In an ideal world, every individual would be accepted, regardless of differences or limitations. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world, and too often those in positions of authority take advantage of the weaknesses of those below them on the societal rungs. Though laws have been passed to try to bring us closer to an idealic world, laws must first be followed before their purpose can be honored. And in Montana, too many government officials are committed to working around these laws, believing themselves above the laws of our society in general simply by virtue of their positions of authority, for these laws to have any genuine impact. You must learn to speak out against those who abuse their positions of power to advance their own agendas. Public officials are servants of the people and they must follow the laws that have been passed down just as any other citizen must. And they must be made aware that treatment of the mentally ill in this State in anything other than humane and compassionate ways will not be silently conceded to, or that the mentally ill as a group can be stripped of their rights indiscriminately.
As I mentioned, there are laws designed to protect the mentally ill from abuse. These laws, amongst other things, require that mental competency be a factor in defense of a crime, that a person with a mental illness be provided adequate medical care if incarcerated and that officials in charge of mentally ill persons not be permitted to abuse them. Yet in spite of these laws, which stem from the United States Constitution, each and every one of these issues is ignored in our State when it comes to practical application to those who are entitled to these rights. People with mental illnesses are routinely taken advantage of and too often treated as violent, uncontrollable offenders as an excuse to deny them the treatment and respect they deserve. Prison and jail officials torment, harass and intimidate people with mental illnesses as means by which they can dominate and control these people. And far too often, genuine medical needs are simply outright ignored.
This kind of treatment of mentally ill persons goes beyond being inhumane, beyond subjugation to cruel and unusual punishment; this kind of abuse is, simply put, sadistic and obscene. When helpless and confused individuals can so brazenly have their helplessness and confusion turned against them simply to permit the State to gain advantage over them, the very State that by law is supposed to be protecting these individuals in the first place, it becomes simply inconceivable that such a perverted system could remain empowered. And yet it is and it continues to flourish because no one outside the system in normal society is aware what is really going on behind the prison walls, because the people who are perpetuating the abuse are the same ones who have the power to hide the abuse. The walls of a prison may well exist to protect society from the offenders contained therein, but Montana has used those same walls to hide their criminal mistreatment of their inmates from the outside world as well.
This kind of abuse happens every single day behind the walls of not only prisons, but jails as well. And because no one on the outside of these facilities can actually see these wrongs being perpetrated, they continue unabated. “If it is not seen, it does not exist” seems to be the maxim of our government. Well, I am here today to tell you that I have seen it and that this abuse does exist. And I hope that after today it will not be my voice alone raised up in protest against it.
So far, I have spoken in generalities. Let me now speak of specifics. I will forego using the names of the people I have met simply because I do not have their permission to publicize their circumstances. And I would not intentionally draw more attention to them without their consent. But I assure you that the people I will speak of are real with very real mental illnesses, and that each and every one was committed to a state prison in lieu of a medical hospital where they could have received treatment for their needs.
I mentioned earlier that mental competency was often disregarded when people with mental illness are accused of crimes. It is worse than just this simple statement suggests though. Public defenders, attorneys assigned to assist indigent defendants, often take advantage of people’s weaknesses to maneuver them into convictions that assist not their clients, but instead the State that is prosecuting them. In the case of the mentally ill, far too often public defenders will take advantage of their clients’ confusion and dependency upon authority to deceive them into circumstances that are designed not to defend the person with mental illness, but to streamline an easy conviction.
This specific situation is created by multiple factors, from the overwhelming caseload public defenders are assigned, making the attorney inclined to rush through the cases assigned to him, to cooperative efforts with the individual courts to keep from overloading the system and creating a larger workload for the courts, which serves to keep the attorney in favor with the seated judge, since a judge’s political career is based upon the number of successful prosecutions he oversees, not by the number that are successfully defended. There is also the factor that a public defender is under no genuine obligation to succeed or fail at his representation – win or lose, he will always have new clients.
One instance where this kind of neglect happened was in the case of a young man, whom I will call Noah for purposes of anonymity, who suffered from hallucinations, schizophrenia and paranoia. Noah’s mental illnesses had been well documented and he was taking his medications for his conditions. However, he became resistant to his medications and suffered a serious episode where he witnessed an old lady “transform” into a demon. Believing himself in danger, he attacked the “demon” and was subsequently charged with a felony assault upon the woman.
Typically, Noah should have had a solid defense: he had not willfully or purposely harmed the victim of his assault – he had suffered an episode that rendered his ability to distinguish between his hallucinations and reality impossible. For Noah, the transformation and subsequent danger he felt were very real. In his mind, he was under threat f harm and acted accordingly. But the reason for this was not because he intended harm to the woman; it was because he thought he was going to be attacked by a demon. He did not commit a crime, he suffered from a medical attack and should have been treated accordingly. Instead, he was convicted of a felony crime of which he shuld not have been.
In any other State, Noah would have been found innocent by reason of mental illness and probably remanded to a state hospital until his medications could be properly adjusted. In this case though, his public defender, taking advantage of Noah’s mental state to convince Noah to waive his rights to a jury trial and just permit the judge to decide his case, what is known as a bench trial. Noah trusted his attorney as an authority figure over him and put trust in him to be honest with him. However, the public defender only wanted to play to the whim of the court. A true jury trial would have found Noah innocent because there was no escaping the fact that Noah had a well documented history of mental illness. And so Noah was manipulated into foregoing his jury trial and to place his fate into the hands of someone who had already made up his mind about the case. The judge was not inclined to let a young man who had assaulted an elderly woman be found innocent and instead found Noah guilty of the assault and sentenced him to a sixty year prison sentence!
And yet this was not the end of the abuse heaped upon Noah, either. Though the judge in his case disregarded his defense of mental incompetency, he did at least acknowledge the existence of Noah’s mental health history. Though the judge sentenced Noah to the state prison, he also decreed that he could be transferred to a mental hospital if a treatment counselor at his prison facility believed it appropriate, and even allowed for the possibility of reducing the committed portion of his sentence upon recommendation of the counselor.
The problem with this decree was that it required the prison facility to provide Noah access to such a treatment counselor. One would think that this provision within Noah’s sentencing order would make such access mandatory. However, the Montana Department of Corrections has adopted the policy that unless a medical need is life-threatening, it becomes discretionary treatment that the State does not have to provide. In Noah’s case, because access to a treatment counselor did not meet this criteria, that not being provided access to a treatment counselor did not endanger his life, Noah was not allowed to seek the recommendation that could have transferred him to a medical hospital or to subsequent release.
Individual medical facilities interpret the Department of Corrections’ policy differently on specific issues, the underlying allowance of this policy is to reduce medical costs to the State. There are a plethora of federal cases mandating that inmates not be denied medical treatment that would make them suffer in any way, defining such deliberate indifference to medical care as a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. To disallow any medical treatment that is not simply “life threatening” violates this standard. And yet no authority within Montana’s borders will compel prison officials to rescind this policy.
As a result of this policy, Noah could likely find himself committed to prison conceivably for the rest of his natural life. All because he was firstly deprived his lawful defense based upon his medical history and secondly that the State has taken the position that Noah is not “entitled” to receive mental health services to which he is constitutionally mandated to receive.
This latter example of being deprived access to mental health services is true in most cases within both the jails and prisons of the State. Montana operates its penal system as a for-profit enterprise more than anything else. In the national media, this kind of system has been called “prison for profit”. It represents a growing movement within our nation of the federal government supplementing penal costs to States and private companies to insure that federal corrections guidelines are followed. However, what this does is provide a well from which to draw unprecedented funds into the States’ coffers just for housing inmates within their jails. In other words, despite politicians claiming record costs being spent on corrections, the truth is that the States receives far more every year through federal grants than it actually spends. There is a reason why private prisons are ranked within the Fortune 500 standard and are such successful stock investments – there is a great deal of profit to be made in corrections and the States are reaping the benefits as much, if not more so, than the private corporations!
In Montana, this measure has been taken even further though – the State is not only concerned about using the prison system to profit off of, it is also doing everything in its power to maximize these profits. The system in Montana is designed not only to incarcerate people in need of corrections, but seeks out any excuse to fill beds within their institutions. From simply depriving accused individuals of their initial defenses as I discussed earlier to a sophisticated scheme of double jeopardy involving imposition of simultaneous suspended and probation sentences, Montana’s justice system is designed to keep as many people incarcerated at any given time as possible – after all, the more inmates it can report housing, the greater the funding it receives from the federal government. And with one of the most expensive portions of incarceration being medical care, this is also an area ripe for cutbacks to even further maximize profits if the standards of care are lessened.
In a nutshell, Montana’s prison system is a calculated equation of profitability. By maximizing the number of individuals incarcerated and reducing overhead costs such as medical care, the State views the corrections system as a source of never-ending revenue. In the process though, civil liberties are discarded and any method that can place a living body within the prison system to add to the profit margin is seen as a justifiable trade-off. Unfortunately, this also makes underprivileged classes of people like the mentally ill easy victims for this kind of duplicity, both as they initially fall into the system, and as they try to survive it from behind the prison walls.
A prime example of what I have been talking about is when a prison facility will hire a mental health counselor as a pretense to meeting medical needs, but who actually has no authority to actually provide more than basic mental health services. Essentially, the facility caps the mental health expenses by hiring a professional on retainer, but then discourages that professional from providing more than the most generic form of counseling. No expenditures on medications above the most basic prescriptions and no actual authority to provide medical care beyond simply meeting with inmates to “talk out” their issues. Unfortunately, as I am sure you all well know, mental illness is not always treatable by just “talking it out”.
To illustrate this point, let me tell you about another inmate I knew, whom I will call Avery. In this case, Avery was actually a cellmate of mine for awhile so I was privy to many of his struggles to receive mental health services, even when Avery himself did not believe the issues were of that nature. For example, among several issues Avery had was that he was subject to hallucinations. He had told me about seeing unicorns, sphinxes and other fantasy-based creatures, about seeing people appear and disappear and hearing voices. One of the more disturbing hallucinations he had was that of something crawling beneath his skin, which he was convinced were actually parasitic worms. He had shown me scars under his arms where he had previously tried digging out the worms; Though he insisted the scars were from cysts the worms made, the scars were clearly from more than sub-dermal cysts.
When Avery began talking to me of digging the worms out again, I convinced him instead to seek medical treatment. I did my best of course to not enable his delusions by agreeing that the worms were real – in fact, I told him that I believed they were not, but that if he believed he were that he should seek medical help in removing them. The end result was that Avery sent a request for medical care.
Avery saw the mental health counselor on three separate occasions, but the only thing the counselor would do would be to placate Avery. The counselor admitted to Avery that there was nothing they could really do, but she did play along and agree with Avery when he insisted the worms were real. Clearly, if the counselor believed the worms were real, she would have sent him to medical for treatment. But instead, Avery kept seeing the mental health counselor. And all the while I was left to try to convince Avery not to dig out the worms once he returned to the cell!
In other words, faced with an inmate who suffered from sensory, visual and auditory hallucinations and who was contemplating self-mutilation to “cure” himself of phantom sensations, the mental health counselor did absolutely nothing to treat Avery because it was not considered a “life threatening” condition!
This was very similar to how I was treated when I saw care for my claustrophobic anxiety. Initially, I was given a so-called anti-anxiety medication, but when that had no effect, I was taken off that medication and essentially just told to “wait it out”. I really had no serious problems with my anxiety until I began being transferred to regional state facilities other than Montana State Prison, since all of the regional facilities are completely self-enclosed. I began doing the regional shuffle in early 2007, in response to my beginning to protest civil liberty deprivations within the prison system. Basically, since I had a “limited” amount of time left on my sentence (less than two years remaining when I first began being moved between facilities), the prison medical staff determined that I was not really in need of mental health care. I literally had a doctor, at my eleven month marker, tell me that I only had a little while left and that I could “tough it out” for the remaining time.
This is hardly adequate medical care, but it is consistent conduct throughout the State. I have witnessed similar atrocities in every facility that I have been in within the State. In fact, this treatment constitutes willful infliction of harm and is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. And yet the abuse continues.
None of this is meant to suggest that no one in the Montana penal system receives any form of treatment at all. Many inmates are actually prescribed medications for varying mental and physical conditions. However, actually obtaining such medications can take years and there are far too many inmates that remain untreated altogether. And many others, like myself, are given only one chance at medication and if that prescription is not effective, no other alternative treatment is provided.
Also, this is not meant to deny that there are actually inmates who try to defraud the medical system to gain access to medications to satisfy their addiction needs. However, this kind of abuse can be screened like in any other medical provider environment without depriving inmates with genuine medical needs from receiving treatment that they actually need.
In my time within Montana’s penal system, I have met inmates who suffer from hallucinations to anxiety, from paranoid delusions to schizophrenia, even in one case to an inmate who displayed symptoms of a multiple personality disorder. And I can honestly say that only a small percentage of these people actually receive the mental health treatment that they need.
As I have said, most of these individuals belong in medical facilities, not prisons. Even those guilty of actual crimes not related to their illnesses deserve treatment for their conditions. However, the State does not receive federal grants to treat the mentally ill, at least not enough to rival the profit they gain through the prison system. So if an individual can be routed to prison instead if a mental hospital, it is to the prison that that individual will be sent, regardless of his underlying medical needs.
And even when the State goes through the pretense of “screening” an individual for mental illness, the doctors at the state hospital at Warm Springs still turn away people with genuine mental health issues. Avery, who I mentioned earlier, had this very thing happen to him. The doctors at Warm Springs determined that Avery was just making up his symptoms for attention because he suffered from narcissism, and discharged him without treatment. In other words, the doctors found an excuse not to treat him and sent him on to prison. And Avery was not the only inmate I met with a similar story, either. Apparently, even the doctors at Warm Springs are under directives to not treat individuals destined for prison.
Finally, State officials are also prone to using an inmate’s mental illness against them. I have seen officials provoke inmates who are prone to instability, play up to an inmates paranoid delusions, even play mind games with mentally ill inmates. This may seem like a kind of sadistic game, but it actually serves a purpose – it gives the prison officials to dominate and exert control over the mentally ill inmate. By being in command of the inmate’s environment and having absolute authority over the inmate, the official gains the ability to subjugate the mentally ill inmate to his will by essentially turning on and off the circumstances that agitate the inmate’s mental condition.
This was even done to me. I was initially moved between facilities as a means of punishment for my challenges to raising complaints against the prison system. But when it became clear that moving me to the enclosed facilities had triggered my claustrophobic anxiety, and I had not stopped pursuing claims (in fact, it was only after being retaliated against by being moved between facilities that I actually filed the class action I mentioned earlier), prison officials began taking steps to raise my anxiety levels. Their actions included everything from provoking other inmates against e through spreading of false rumors, to deprivation of privileges without cause and punishments for offenses that I had not deserved. At one point, I was even confined solitary confinement for “protection” for over a month, deprived of all but the most basic things to keep my mind occupied. The prison officials were well informed of my claustrophobia, yet still confined me to an environment that was intentionally harmful to me. In my case, I did not break and provide the control over my personal self that the prison staff desired, but it did in the end make my life incredibly hard and painful to endure.
All of these issues are serious and they need to be addressed. But what can be done about this crisis? If the laws protecting the mentally ill from this kind of abuse are already in place, what else can be done? Well, I believe that the first thing that needs to be done is to establish some kind of independent oversight, whether through an existing organization or some new state-wide initiative. What is not needed though is to permit the State government to continue to oversee itself. It is clear that government officials are not going to hold each other accountable under the law – otherwise these abuses would not be continuing. It will take citizen-based review to hold these officials accountable to the standards of law.
We must all remember that this country was founded as a government of the people and for the people. It was not designed to be run by an elite few who would sit above the law, but by elected and appointed representatives answerable to the citizens of this country. It is time for each of us to make these representatives answer to us for their misdeeds. And as far as I am concerned, it could not happen soon enough.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Hope this helped, people. Wish me luck that I don't get repercussions for making such a public stand... If I suddenly go silent, you will know why...
Political Prisoner since 2004