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A Program to Cripple Federal Prisoners

To the Editors:

As a result of arduous work combined with the determination and unity of the people, a federal court near the US Marion Prison was forced to issue an order on December 6, 1973, ordering Marion prison officials to release the remainder of those prisoners who were put into the Control Unit in July of 1972 for participating in a peaceful work-stoppage to protest the brutal beating of a Chicano by prison officials.

The Control Unit, formerly called the CARE Program (Control and Rehabilitative Effort), is now called the Control Unit Treatment Program. It is an experimental Behavior Modification Program based on a system of rewards and punishment. That is, a prisoner who will change his behavior and attitude or give up his values and beliefs, and conform to what the prison administration considers acceptable behavior, may be rewarded by being returned to the general prison population, either here at Marion or at another penitentiary.

For those who do not go along with the program, prison officials use Sensory Deprivation, or complete isolation, in an attempt to “break” the will of the prisoner. By being kept in a Control Unit, the prisoner is being deprived of culture and environmental contacts, which tends to bring about organic changes, that is, degenerative changes in the nerve cells, which can result in death, primarily because culture and environmental contacts are essential to SURVIVAL. Physical and social contacts are minimized, in everything including contact with families: Prisoners confined to the Control Unit are compelled to visit their families in a special visiting room via monitored telephones—a glass partition serves to separate the prisoner from his visitor.

The Control Unit Treatment Program here at Marion is just one of a number of experimental Behavior Modification Programs being funded and encouraged by the federal government. Its only purpose is to find new ways of Control over the minds and bodies of prisoners.

In the words of one of the three psychiatrists, who visited the Federal Marion Prison primarily to inspect the Control Unit Treatment Program for the purpose of giving professional testimony on behalf of the prisoners subjected to the program, Dr. Bernard Rubin states that “it is not a program—either in policy or implementation…. There is insufficient staff, without training. There are no resources for the programs: counseling, almost none or none occurs; educational, does not exist; vocational, almost non-existent; recreational, none. No group activities, with or without staff.” He goes on to say that “the setting and its organization demeans, dehumanizes, and shapes behavior so that violent behavior is the result…the organization and operation of the setting produces or accentuates frustration, rage, and helplessness.”

These programs are not voluntary, the prisoner has no right to choose the treatment of his or her choice, and since they are secret and not open to public scrutiny, there are no safeguards to protect the prisoner from unethical or illegal abuses. As Dr. Rubin says, “Coercive programs which attempt to change attitude or behavior always fail unless you kill the prisoner, permanently disable him, or keep him incarcerated for life.” Some prisoners here at Marion in the Control Unit Treatment at Program have been told that they will be compelled to endure the remainder of their sentence in the program. Some of these men are serving life sentences.

Presently, there are approximately fifty men in the Control Unit Treatment Program. Some of them were transferred here from other federal institutions, and others from as far away as the Hawaiian State Prison. These prisoners have NO history of mental illness—they are the ones who, because of racial or cultural backgrounds, political or religious beliefs, feel compelled to speak out against the inhumanities of the prison system. Because of this, we are subjected to these psychogenocide programs.

What can you do to help put a stop to these psychogenocide programs? You can organize and start massive letter writing campaigns. Write letters to US Congresspeople and US Senators demanding that they immediately put a stop and permanently discontinue these psychogenocide programs. Write letters of protest to Norman A. Carlson, Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Warden Aaron, US Marion Prison, PO Box 1000, Marion, Illinois 62959. (Aaron recently replaced Warden Pickett.)

As a result of the herein above mentioned court order, the writer of this article was recently released from the Control Unit Treatment Program. But as long as there is one single human being subjected to any form of degenerative behavior modification, I will not rest until those devastating programs are completely wiped out.

It is the desire of this writer that all who receive a copy of this article make every effort to publish or get it published in various publications. We must pass the word about these psychogenocide programs far and wide. If the letter writing doesn’t bring about positive results, then do what is necessary—concentrate your efforts in developing tactics that will effectively place the adversary in a position where they can easily be dealt with.

Alberto Mares

US Marion Prison

Marion, Illinois

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