The Legal Investigator Vol.37, Issue 2, Summer 2012 : Page 3

inmate (for a lack of medical treatment), but for the rest of the inmates who are subject to being gassed and must suffer for hours in extreme pain from irritated eye and respiratory issues? Assault (both physical and sexual) is rampant, as is the use of degrading language and slurs intended to be derogative in racial or sexual ways. When fights or rapes occur, it is not uncommon for guards to look the other way. One client told me that it is better for the guards to ignore gang issues and inmate on inmate attacks, because, “If [inmates] were taken care of and had no issues to worry about, they might become a cohesive unit and turn on the guards.” In other words, many inmates believe there is no hope of conditions improving, because the institutions knowingly and willfully mistreat inmates and place them in conditions that lead to unrest and violence—presumably for the safety of the guards. The legal investigator’s first job is to listen to their incarcerated clients. During visits, always ask how they are doing, and how their daily lives are going. Are requests for medical care being ignored repeatedly? (This is very common, and another way prisoners suffer needlessly.) Are there gang issues that are affecting your client, even if he is not part of a gang? Is your client sharing a cell with someone who is abusing them, either physically or sexually? These are ugly topics that most of society would prefer to ignore, but this is daily life for most of our incarcerated clients. Another source of finding out about whether prison abuse is occurring is other inmates. Many inmates will place investigators on their visitor lists so they can talk to us about prison conditions, which can be arranged by writing to inmates at a particular institution. It is good to find out if the problems are widespread throughout the prison, and if so, there can be power in numbers when formal complaints are made. Many prisons have at least one “old-timer” who has been there for years and has seen everything. Find out who that inmate is, and try to get a visit with him. He is a “historian” and can provide countless examples of abuses, poor conditions and neglect. More importantly, he can provide names. Sometimes the most vocal inmates can be helpful— look in “letters to the editor” sections of newspapers summer 2012 Platinum Patron Paul Jaeb Minneapolis, MN Member since 1998 Platinum Patron Ellis Armistead, CLI Denver, CO Member since 1992 Platinum Patron Jayne McElfresh Phoenix, AZ Member since 1995 Platinum Patron Cynthia Hetherington Wayne, NJ Member since 2001 Platinum Patron John Hoda, CLI White Plains, NY Member since 2002 5

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