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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Indefinite Discipline

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By Joseph Dole

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) deals with violent inmates in a variety of ways, depending on whom the victim is. It does this despite the fact that in Illinois there is no administrative regulation that stipulates or even permits increased punishment based on the identity of the victim. Nevertheless, while those who assault another inmate usually only face a short stint in disciplinary segregation, those who assault staff members are severely, and often both repeatedly and indefinitely, disciplined for it. A perfect storm of vague rules and regulations, an indifferent public, and an antagonistic justice system have created an environment where a prisoner can be repeatedly punished for the same offense in a plethora of ways. An environment where the bedrock logic of the Double Jeopardy Clause is easily discarded.

In Benton v. Maryland,¹ the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment provides protection for state citizens through the Fourteenth Amendment. One of the constitutional protections of the Double Jeopardy Clause is that you can’t receive multiple punishments for the same offense.²

The Illinois state constitution likewise possesses a double jeopardy provision which bars successive prosecutions for the same offense, either by both a municipality or the State.³ Although the IDOC holds more people than many municipalities⁴, and is an agent of the State, it is bound by neither of the Double Jeopardy Clauses nor the logic behind them. This is because the courts have held that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not apply to prison disciplinary proceedings.⁵ Which means not only that can prisoners be both charged in criminal court for an assault and punished in prison for it, but they are also denied any protection from being punished over and over again for a single offense.

The result is that when you assault a guard or other staff member, you will be retaliated against in numerous ways, actions from which you’ll find no relief from via the courts.

My case offers a perfect example of the gamut of discipline to be run by someone who assaults a staff member. On March 15, 2002, I struck an assistant warden at Menard Correctional Center (Menard) a single time in the face knocking him unconscious. Thereafter I put up no resistance and voluntarily “cuffed up”.

Often, the first type of punishment is the illegal kind. Immediately after I cuffed up, I was forced against a fence, face first, and repeatedly assaulted by a conga line of correctional officers. After innumerable strikes to my head and back, I was walked to the Health Care Unit (HCU) – not for medical treatment, but rather for round two of extralegal punishment. On the way there one officer assured me I would be glad we were going to the HCU when they “got done with me”.

Upon entering a room in the HCU, while still handcuffed behind my back, a guard slammed me head first into a metal biohazard container. A pair of unit superintendents and other staff beat me unconscious, conscious, unconscious, and finally, conscious again. The end result of the untold punches, kicks, and body slams, was numerous abrasions, bruises, a broken nose and mandible. In Menard, such retaliatory assaults by staff – or “excessive force” – are standard operating procedure.

Since none of the staff who had assaulted me were injured, it made it difficult to claim I was combative. Nevertheless, they made the effort. In addition to the legitimate disciplinary ticket for assaulting the assistant warden, a second ticket was fabricated alleging that I had tried to use my shoulder to strike the face of one of the guards who assaulted me. My having been assaulted would appear justifiable if they were to claim I had tried to hit one of them.

Guards and other prison staff are legally prohibited from assaulting prisoners or using “excessive force” in subduing them. To do so violates an inmate’s Eighth Amendment Right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.⁶ 

Although I was in the wrong for knocking out the assistant warden, that does not justify the guards' actions: striking me as I stood compliant. Nor does it justify staff taking me to the HCU ten minutes later – still handcuffed and fully compliant – and beating me to a bloody pulp. The Seventh Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, which is the federal circuit Illinois falls under, found that even where an inmate has stabbed an officer, once he has been subdued it is unconstitutional to beat him.⁷

You might think the staff responsible would face criminal charges, IDOC disciplinary proceedings, or a lawsuit for compensatory damages. Criminal charges against staff for assaulting inmates is a rarity, though. What usually happens, as in my case, is that the local prosecutor doesn’t feel there is enough evidence to prosecute.

When an incident occurs in prison, it falls under local jurisdiction. The prosecutor usually has friends and family members working at the prison, ordinarily the largest employer in the area. The prosecutor who reviewed my case claimed that it was my word against theirs and therefore not enough evidence to charge them. This decision ignored the evidentiary value of my numerous injuries, the multiple witnesses who had been interviewed and given statements to Internal Affairs and the Illinois State Police, and the fact that an internal investigation had uncovered my assailant's identities, not me. 

Surprisingly, the IDOC did take disciplinary action against some of the staff who assaulted me in the Menard HCU. One guard killed himself shortly after being walked out of the prison, so no disciplinary action was needed. One unit superintendent retired prior to disciplinary action. The other unit superintendent was demoted. Also a medical technician (med-tech) was disciplined, and some other staff faced minor discipline.

I filed a civil suit against those who had assaulted me, but I realized it would be an uphill battle. Picking an unbiased jury would be difficult, if not impossible. Additionally, just as local prosecutors will look out for correctional staff, so too does the brotherhood of correctional staff look out for itself. They tend to work together to cover up any misconduct by their coworkers.

This phenomenon manifested itself in numerous ways. The med-tech destroyed the initial medical records detailing my significant injuries and tried to place his own fabricated version in my file. (His version claimed that I'd told him I fell and there were only minor injuries, no blood, etc. The ones he threw out – which had to be rewritten – recorded my true injuries and the fact that I had been assaulted by staff.) He would later be walked out of the prison by Internal Affairs and convicted and disciplined for his actions and for lying to the disciplinary committee.

In an attempt both to help their coworkers and hinder my ability to sue, IDOC staff in either Tamms Supermax Prison or at IDOC headquarters in Springfield destroyed or “lost” the two grievances I filed. Those “lost” grievances were later used as grounds to dismiss my complaint (failure to exhaust administrative remedies) which the trial judge granted.

I was forced to appeal the dismissal to the Seventh Circuit, which reinstated⁸ my complaint, allowing me to proceed to trial.

When I finally did get to trial, I found a jury packed with friends and relatives of IDOC workers (one juror was actually married to a current assistant warden at a different IDOC prison), and a judge who would admit into trial neither the Internal Affairs report, nor the Illinois State Police report – both of which supported my claim that the defendants had used excessive force. The jury ruled in favor of the defendants.

After four decades of tough-on-crime rhetoric, society has been conditioned to be biased against prisoners. The public, more often than not, couldn’t care less whether a prisoner is beaten. Unless, that is, it is a foreign national and it paints the U.S. in a poor light (think Guantánamo Bay or Abu Ghraib). Then when you add in the fact that I was beaten in retaliation for an earlier assault, the jury had little compunction about ruling for the defendants – not because they were innocent, but rather because the jury felt that I got what I deserved.

The second punishment I received was a transfer to Tamms Supermax Prison (later rechristened Tamms Closed-Maximum Security Prison, and then Tamms Correctional Center, both in attempts to be more media savvy). This was a legitimate punishment, but the manner in which it was done – without a hearing, notice, etc. – violated my right to due process.⁹

The transfer itself would mean that I would not be allowed to make a single phone call for the next nine years (when Tamms would finally change the no-phone calls policy).  It meant I could only see or talk to my young daughters when someone could drive them the thirteen hours, and my family could afford the time off work, along with hundreds of dollars for gas, food, and hotel room. They would need to schedule the visit (get approval) two weeks in advance. Only then could they visit me through thick security glass, while we spoke one at a time into an electronic recording device, while I was handcuffed, shackled and chained to a cement stump, my seat for four hours.

The transfer itself would also mean being subjected to conditions the courts would later rule were an “atypical and significant hardship”.¹⁰ The reason: prolonged isolation is not conducive to good mental health. The type of prolonged isolation used in supermaxes in America has been ruled as a violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.¹¹ It causes numerous mental health problems and “can make inmates … either mentally ill, suicidal, or irrationally violent.”¹²

Upon arrival at the notorious Tamms Supermax Prison in southern Illinois the day after the assault (3/16/02), I was put in a receiving cell and once again stripped naked by four neon-orange-clad riot officers. While naked I was photographed from head-to-toe for a second time and told to watch two intake videos.

The first video detailed the prison’s rules and regulations. The second video was of a judge attempting to intimidate inmates out of filing lawsuits against the IDOC or its staff. He spent over a half hour detailing how unsuccessful prisoner lawsuits are, and how, no matter what, sooner or later the inmate would have to pay the $350.00 filing fee.

While watching the video, I reflected on the irony of a federal judge trying to dissuade a naked prisoner, who had just been violently assaulted while in handcuffs and completely compliant, from filing a lawsuit against the perpetrators. I should have known then no justice would be found in our civil judicial system. (I was already well aware justice had left the building on the criminal side).

Before the videos were over, and prior to temporarily being provided any clothing, I was served a disciplinary ticket for “100 Violent Assault Of Any Person and 105 Dangerous Disturbance” (i.e. knocking out the assistant warden), and an inmate orientation manual. I was told that since I would not be allowed any property where I was going, they would hold onto the manual and my copy of the ticket. I was allowed to read the ticket, and it made no mention of me allegedly putting up any resistance after striking the assistant warden.

The third punishment was illegitimate, yet under current law completely inactionable in court. I was taken to Tamms Health Care Unit (HCU) where I was once again stripped naked, weighed, and placed in an eight foot square furnitureless room. There was a toilet/sink, but no bunk, desk, or anything else. A narrow window to the outside looked out onto a cement wall, but it was too high for me to look out unless I got a running start and jumped up, pulling my face high enough to peer out.

There was a larger window though for people to look into the room. The floor was cement with a texture similar to sand paper – not comfortable under bare feet. I was given three items: a see-through paper jumpsuit which had the entire front torn off of it; a half-inch thick, greasy, foam “mattress”; and a 5’ x 5’ security blanket which could only cover my 5’ x 11” frame if I balled up in the fetal position.

Once again I was in an HCU for reasons antipodal to providing me health care. I was told I was being placed on suicide watch. When I inquired as to why, since I was I’m clearly not suicidal, I was told that everyone who has a natural life sentence and has been written a disciplinary ticket is placed on suicide watch. All I could do was laugh.

In reality, the reason I was wrongfully placed on suicide watch was to prevent me from contacting The Associated Press, who had picked up on the story of my being assaulted in retaliation for assaulting the assistant warden. The administration was refusing to disclose where I was in the IDOC, and was trying to buy time to allow the story to grow stale. The suicide watch also increased my punishment.

I was initially told my placement would only last 24 hours, that I would be provided magazines to keep me occupied, and stationery with which to write my family to inform them of all that had happened. After 24 hours with none of the above occurring and a constant stream of staff gawking at me through the window, I was told it would be 48 hours. When I asked about the magazine and stationery I was told that per the Tamms assistant warden’s order I was to be given no property. I was also told that he had ordered my continued placement in suicide watch, overruling the unanimous opinion of the mental health staff. I inquired how someone with no mental health training could make that determination and overrule those with mental health training. I received no response.

Forty-eight hours became seventy-two, which then became ninety-six. For four days I was denied a shower or even soap to wash all the crusted blood and boot grime from my face. I was denied toilet paper, pain medication, and was provided mainly inedible food – celery with shaved hair covering it, mysterious clear and white liquid substances covering food that was supposed to be dry, etc.

Although the courts openly acknowledge that mental suffering can be just as bad as physical pain, prisoners are barred by the Prison Litigation Reform Act from being awarded damages to compensate for their mental or emotional suffering unless it was accompanied by physical injury.¹³ This means that no matter what stress, anxiety, anguish, etc. the administration puts you through they won’t be held accountable for it in court. 

I suffered physical injuries a day prior to the four days of mental and emotional suffering, and argued it was part of a conspiracy to retaliate against me. But all claims of mental or emotional suffering during those four days were dismissed from my civil suit prior to trial because I didn’t suffer any additional physical injury during that time.

Upon release from suicide watch, I was taken to a completely empty wing of the prison and finally given some clothing, my mail that had accumulated, and the orientation manual. Missing was the copy of the disciplinary ticket. The original ticket needed to be disposed of and a new one written to try to further the fabricated narrative that I was combative after the assault.

Thus, my fourth punishment was a rewritten disciplinary ticket for my assault on the Assistant Warden. It was served on 3/20/02 – the day I was released from suicide watch. While the narrative was now fabricated to show me combative, the charges themselves remained the same. This punishment was a legitimate departmental disciplinary action, but I’d soon find out it would be taken to the extreme.

After being found guilty of the charges, I was sentenced to “Indeterminate (disciplinary) Segregation” (IS).¹⁴ IS is the only punishment that is open-ended (Administrative Detention (AD) can likewise be indefinite, but the courts have illogically ruled that AD is preventive and not punitive,¹⁵even though inmates are usually subject to severe isolation and have highly diminished privileges). The section of the Illinois Administrative Code governing IS is silent on how one gets released from IS, so it has become an easily abused correctional tool. When the administration has unchallengeable discretion to continue IS placement, its use as retaliation against inmates who assault staff is both obvious and difficult to prove.

Offenders are reviewed after one year and then every six months thereafter to determine if they deserve release from IS. At each review the deputy director may either leave the offender in IS or establish an IS release date. While there are seven factors listed as guidelines in determining whether to establish a specific IS release date, there are no factors that require a release date (for example, good behavior / no disciplinary tickets for an entire year). The factors listed for determining an IS release date are more commonly used as arbitrary, boilerplate justification to deny an inmate a release date.

Thus, the same factor – “the seriousness of the offense” – was used to deny me both release from IS and an IS release date at the initial hearing in March 2003 and at hearings every September and March for the next seven and a half years. So altogether, I received the same letter fifteen times from the deputy director stating: “Due to the seriousness of the offense the deputy director has determined to continue your placement in Indeterminate Segregation”. The seriousness of the offense will never change, so it could be used as justification indefinitely.

Another inmate was likewise denied for five years “due to the seriousness of the offense”. The differences between his case and mine would argue that I be released from IS in less time than him. While in IS he continued to catch disciplinary tickets, didn’t complete any rehabilitative programs, was in IS for murdering his cellmate, and still won release from IS after five years. I, on the other hand, had knocked out an assistant warden, had an otherwise spotless disciplinary record, and completed dozens of rehabilitative programs, but was repeatedly told that I would never be released from IS, and only won release after 8 ½ years and the intervention of numerous people in the community, including an Illinois State Representative.

So, while the other offender’s offense was more serious (murder compared to “aggravated” battery), I was the recipient of much more punishment, and the same factor was used as justification. The obvious explanation is that the administration uses IS to retaliate against those who put their hands on staff. Since the Illinois Administrative Code does not allow for more severe punishment based on the identity of the victim, the administration circumvents this by abusing its discretion under IS.

To do so though denies an offender fair notice that assaults against staff will be punished more severely than assaults against inmates. More worrisome is the fact that IS is a black hole from which you have no right to release. Had I not obtained outside intervention I quite possibly could have served the next six decades or so of my life-without-parole sentence in IS.

Even the stipulation that inmates in IS can ask for a reduction in the amount of time they have to spend in segregation¹⁶ is meaningless. It is nothing more than encoded myth. When an inmate in IS does ask, as I did several times, he will simply be told he has no segregation release date, is in IS, and cannot receive any cut on an unknown amount of segregation time.

I was also ordered to pay $14,186.54 in restitution to the State of Illinois, allegedly to reimburse the State for the assistant warden’s hospital bills. No records were ever released to prove these hospital bills resulted from injuries sustained when I hit him. For all I know the assistant warden could have gone in for anything from elective plastic surgery to a vasectomy or any other unrelated medical care he may have wanted or needed.

Had I refused to make monthly payments for restitution, a hold would have been placed on my inmate trust fund account, depriving me of the limited commissary privileges still available.(17)  I would have been unable to purchase snacks, coffee, etc... as well as the numerous necessities that the State no longer provides in sufficient quantities – soap, deodorant, clothes, pens, paper, envelopes, etc. – for the rest of my life.

The last aspects of the disciplinary action were to recommend that a year of good time be taken away (inapplicable due to the fact that I’m serving a LWOP sentence), and I was demoted to C-Grade (18) for one year, which meant that I was limited to spending $30 per month on commissary for a year.

The same day I received the rewritten disciplinary ticket for assaulting the assistant warden, I was also served an investigative ticket for an alleged violation of “205 Gang Or Unauthorzied Activity” occurring in Stateville Correctional Center on 3/16/02. But I had been in Menard and Tamms on 3/16/02, and I wouldn't set foot in Stateville until more than a decade later, in 2012.

Nevertheless, it took me nearly a month before this ticket was terminated and expunged on 4/15/02. Despite the fact that I had “beat” this ticket, I was still falsely labeled an active member of an STG (Security Threat Group). This is yet another form of punishment as STG members are constantly discriminated against in prison by the administration.

The simple act of labeling me as STG ensured that I could never be released from Tamms unless I successfully renounced my alleged membership in the gang they had chosen. Renunciation was a prerequisite to transfer out of Tamms.

Renunciation requires you to admit you’re a member of the STG they claim you belong to. If you’re not actually in a gang, or deny that you are, you are not allowed to renounce. Your refusal to acknowledge membership is seen as proof of your insincerity.

Those labeled STG who fail to successfully renounce are discriminated against in a number of ways. In Stateville for instance, former Tamms inmates like myself are told we cannot obtain any job or transfer unless we successfully renounce. Without a job we are kept economically depressed. Without opportunity to transfer we’ll remain behind the wall with extremely limited privileges, never permitted medium or minimum security, where conditions are better.

Once labeled as a member of an STG it is virtually impossible to get rid of that label. Renunciation hearings are arbitrary and mainly used as an intelligence gathering tool for Internal Affairs. If a prisoner refuses to inform on other inmates’ activities, his renunciation will not be accepted. Also, just going to the hearing can put his life in danger with his former gang members.

Many gang members in Illinois prisons who would like to renounce choose not to mainly because the mismanagement of the policy and hearing has created the belief that there is little chance of a successful result (especially those who are falsely labeled). And those who have been approved have implicated others in crimes. For the renouncer, little would be gained while at risk of being targeted for retaliation by both the administration for not telling them what they want to hear, and by the gang  -- because they’re now labeled as a snitch.

Furthermore, it is not what an individual knows or relates, but rather what the committee believes he should know, and what or who the committee chooses to believe. Thus, if one individual gives false information and the committee believes it, it can have a devastating trickle down effect where anyone who fails to confirm this false information or contradicts it during their own renunciation hearing is denied as not being sincere.

Another major concern and impediment to successful renunciation is that of self-incrimination. Individuals are asked about numerous prior incidents. These renunciation proceedings are taped and preserved. If an individual pleads the Fifth Amendment his renunciation is not accepted as sincere. If he does answer he may have the evidence used against him later in a court of law. Now that Illinois has passed its own version of the RICO Act, even gang recruitment is a felony offense.

So even though I was not found guilty of the disciplinary ticket for alleged STG activity, I am still falsely labeled as a member of an STG. 

Three days after receiving the bogus STG ticket, and more than a week after being assaulted, I was served the other fabricated disciplinary ticket. It was for “100 Violent Assault Of Any Person, and 102 Assaulting Any Person,” for allegedly assaulting one of the staff members who took part in assaulting me. None of the staff who had assaulted me suffered any injuries themselves, so the ticket read “while escorting inmate Doyle K84446 to the HCU, inmate Doyle struck this officer… in the face with his shoulder forcing me into the corner of the exam room…I.D. was made by inmate I.D. card”. Funny that my name was misspelled, if they had my I.D. card. They'd charged me with a “violent assault” when no one was injured. Violent assault requires not just an injury but a serious injury.

Both IDOC Internal Affairs and Illinois State Police would later conduct full investigations and find no evidence I had resisted in any way or struck anyone with my shoulder. The ticket was expunged  when the Adjustment Committee came to give me this news months later. The assistant warden of Tamms – who was the chairman of the committee, whose appearance is unheard of – told me it didn’t matter because they would never let me out of IS based on the other, legitimate assault ticket.

I had only been out of suicide watch for a few days when the last of these tickets arrived. I'd already received numerous threats from Tamms staff; after being assaulted and thrown in suicide watch. Still completely isolated, I began experiencing heart palpitations whenever I heard the door to the wing open. I constantly wondered – What now? Another ticket? Another assault? This free-floating anxiety, a symptom of both isolation and post-traumatic stress, would be a constant companion for the next decade that I would spend in isolation.

I finally received the inventory of what property had followed me to Tamms. The guards who packed my property had liberated numerous items, including numerous personal items like my address book, family pictures, and a bible. They'd broken my radio, and told me that I had to send out or destroy 90% of my property as it was verboten at Tamms. After suing in the Illinois Court of Claims, I was denied any compensation for the items that were stolen, but reimbursed for the cost of the radio. This was the seventh punishment.

The local prosecutor also felt he needed to get in on the action. A few months after my arrival at Tamms, I was notified that I was being charged with aggravated battery with an extended term sentencing range of 5-10 years in prison. This would be the eighth punishment.

No IDOC Policy permits increased punishment for those who assault staff members, but when inmates are charged with battery in criminal court, the fact that the victim was a correctional employee means the charge is automatically enhanced to an aggravated battery.¹⁹ This sentence range jumps from up to one year in jail (the maximum sentence for a Class A Misdemeanor for battery in Illinois), to 2-5 years in prison (the sentencing range for a Class 3 Felony for aggravated battery in Illinois). In addition, most prisoners who assault staff have previously been convicted of a more serious offense than aggravated battery, so this make them eligible for an extended term, raising the sentencing range to 5-10 years. That’s what happened in my case.

During the plea bargaining process, the State’s Attorney had the audacity to say that if I took his offer of five years imprisonment (the minimum extended term) consecutive to my current life sentence (LWOP – so after I’m dead), he “would agree not to file [charges against me] on anything that occurred after [I] was taken to the Infirmary at Menard.” Now, remember, the only thing that happened, even according to the Illinois State Police and IDOC Internal Affairs was that I was the victim of a retaliatory assault while handcuffed.

I could not handle the manner in which I was being transported to and from court – shackled, wrapped in chains, and triple padlocked in a steel box – so I quickly accepted the State’s offer of five years to avert future torturous trips to court.

The criminal conviction didn’t end my punishment for the assault. Nor did being released from IS after an eight and a half year battle. Instead I was punished for the ninth time for the same act. The same assault ticket was then used as a basis to place me in Administrative Detention (AD). AD in not viewed as a punishment by the IDOC,²⁰ or the courts,²¹ but that is exactly what it is. Being placed in AD meant remaining isolated in Tamms and enduring all²² I had endured for eight and a half years already. It would take me another year and a half of challenging my AD placement before I would finally win a transfer out of Tamms.

Even then, I would not be released back into general population. Since I wouldn’t renounce the administration’s fabricated STG label I was forced to go through a nine month step-down program,²³ to "re-acclimate" me into ordinary prison life. This was my tenth punishment.  The administration claims this was needed due to the psychological effects of prolonged isolation. But if you successfully renounce and tell on others, you will be released directly back into general population. 

Inmates who assault a staff member face the real possibility of perpetual punishment. For those with life sentences it can mean a lifetime of retaliatory acts. There's little they can do about it while the public supports such treatment and the courts are indifferent about it.

Since many consequences of assaulting a staff member are illegal or illegitimate, the majority of them are unknown to inmates prior to assaulting staff.  So any deterrent effect is negligible if not non-existent. The injustice of the punishments, combined with the arbitrariness of the administration’s actions, engenders less fear of disciplinary action than it does hostility towards those treating them so unjustly. So punishment contributes little to prison order. Staff assaults rise and fall based on how prison conditions are and how staff treats inmates. Not on how harsh or prolonged the punishments are.

The best things the prison administration can do to reduce or discourage staff assaults is to: 1) improve prison conditions; 2) provide more educational programs; 3) have staff treat inmates with respect; 4) follow the laws; 5) stop retaliatory beatings; and 6) address prisoner grievances professionally rather than dismissing them arbitrarily.


NOTES

1. 395 U.S. 784, 89 S.Ct. 2056, 23 L. Ed. 2d 707 (1969).

2. North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 89 S. Ct. 2072, 23 L. Ed. 2d 656 (1969).

3. Article 1, Section 10 of the Illinois Constitution.

4. At the time of this writing in 2012 it was around 49,000.

5. See e.g. Porter v. Coughlin, 421 F. 3d 141, 146-48 (2d Cir. 2005).

6. Constitution Of The United States Of America, Amendment VIII.

7. Bogan v. Stroud, 958 F. 2d 180, 185 (7th Cir. 1992).

8. Dole v. Chandler, 438 F. 3d 804 (7th Cir. 2006).

9. Westefer v. Snyder, Civil No. 00-162-GPM (7/20/10) (U.S.Dist.Ct.So.Dist.Ill).

10. Westefer v. Snyder, Civil No. 00-162-GPM (7/20/10) (U.S.Dist.Ct.So.Dist.Ill).

11. Kamel, Rachel and Kerness, Bonnie. “The Prison Inside the Prison: Control Units, Supermax Prisons, and Devices of Torture.” American Friends Service Committee. Philadelphia 2003.

12. Gustitus, Linda J. “Guest column: Tamms ‘supermax’ prison in Illinois was a mistake.” rrstar.com July 10, 2012.

13. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (e).

14. 20 Illinois Administrative Code Section 504. 115.

15. e. g. Smith v. Shettle, 946 F. 2d 1250 (7th Cir. 1991).

16. 20 Illinois Administrative Code Section 504. 115 (d).

17. 20 Illinois Administrative Code Section 504. 140 (b) (2).

18. 20 Illinois Administrative Code Section 504. 130.

19. 720 ILCS 5/12-4 (b) (6) (West 2002).

20. 20 Illinois Administrative Code Section 504. 660.

21. Smith v. Shettle, 946 F. 2d 1250 (7th Cir. 1991).

22. Westefer v. Snyder, Civil No. 00-162-GPM (7/20/10) (U.S.Dist.Ct.So.Dist.Ill).

23. Administrative Detention Re-Entry Management Program.


Joseph Dole K84446
Stateville Correctional Center
P.O. Box 112
Joliet Il 60434


Joseph Dole is 41 years old.  Born in Saginaw, Michigan, he moved to Illinois when he was 8 years old.  He has been continuously incarcerated since the age of 22, and spent nearly a decade of his life entombed at the notorious Tamms Supermax Prison in complete isolation (Tamms was shuttered in 2013 after an intense campaign by human rights groups, and the families and friends of prisoners who were confined and tortured there).

Mr. Dole is currently serving a life-without-parole sentence after being wrongly convicted of a gang-related, double murder.  He continues to fight that conviction pro se, and has recently uncovered evidence suppressed by the State, which proves that the State´s star witness committed perjury on the stand.

His first book A Costly American Hatred (available at  both as paperback and e-book) is an in-depth look at how America´s hatred of “criminals” has led the nation down an expensive path that not only ostracizes and demonizes an overgrowing segment of the population, but is also now so pervasive that it is counterproductive to the goals of reducing crime and keeping society safe;  wastes enormous resources; and destroys human lives.  Anyone who is convicted of a crime is no longer considered human in the eyes of the rest of society.  This allows them to be ostracized, abused, commoditized and disenfranchised.

Mr. Dole´s second book, Control Units and Supermaxes: A National Security Threat, details how long-term isolation units not only pose grave threats to inmates, but also guards who work there and society as a whole.

 He has also been published published in Prison Legal News, The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, The Mississippi Review, Stateville Speaks Newsletter, The Public I Newspaper, Scapegoat and numerous other places on-line such as www.realcostofprisons.org and www.solitarywatch.com among others.  His writings have also been featured in the following books: Too Cruel Not Unusual Enough (ed. By Kenneth E. Hartman, 2013); Lockdown Prison Heart (iUniverse, 2004); Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People´s Gude to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time (James Kilgore, 2015); Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement (The New Press, 2016).

Mr. Dole´s artwork has been displayed in exhibits in Berkeley, CA, Chicago, and New York.  He has also won four PEN Writing Awards for Prisoners, among others.

He is both a jailhouse journalist and jailhouse lawyer, as well as an activist and watchdog ensuring Illinois public bodies are in compliance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

You can see more of his work on his Facebook Page

He will respond to all letters.


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