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Institutional Torture

Substantial evidence supports the charge of systematic prisoner abuse at the Yazoo Low prison and throughout the prison system. These are not just the isolated instances officials claim.

A number of web sites report similar stories about prisons in various parts of the country. Sometimes it involves overt abuse, such as beatings, but frequently it takes the form of various kinds of deprivation or neglect: withholding medical treatment, adequate nutrition, clothing, or bedding, for example, or by arbitrary punishment for imaginary infractions, solitary confinement for extended periods, moving inmates to a prison far from home, or waiting until family members fly in from a distant location to visit and then denying them entry. Jay Kimball says, “Yazoo Low Prison operates to deliberately aggravate, frustrate, intimidate, confuse, anger and cause friction between prisoners while Coleman Low and Coleman/Medium Security Prisons do NOT.”

Witholding medical treatment has resulted in numerous deaths. On his now-defunct website, discovery-experimental.com, Kimball listed forty-nine victims of medical neglect/torture, with details of their cases, including his own. The other men are either dead, still suffering, or their current status is unknown. Kimball says, “BOP medical staff told Kimball their ‘directive’ is: they must ‘appear’ to be providing professional medical care even though they are ‘ordered’ not to provide such.”

Two doctors who refused to condone this neglect have quit or been fired. Jo Kimball, Jay's wife, says that the former medical director at Yazoo City, Brenda Hines, quit because of the way medical care was being withheld. Dr. Hines runs several psychiatric clinics in Florida. The medical unit at Yazoo City operated under her license.

Another doctor, Dr. A. Traore, was ordered by Dr. Hines’s successor, Anthony Chambers, to sign an inmate’s death certificate, according to which the inmate died of natural causes. The web site says Chambers is “unlicensed and not board certified as an MD by any state within the United States.” Because the inmate actually died of medical neglect, Dr. Traore refused to sign the certificate and was fired.

Another example of prisoner abuse involves a food strike at Yazoo City and its aftermath. The food was so inedible (e.g., green luncheon meat) that last April, the inmates conducted a food strike. They just didn’t eat lunch one day. Retribution was swift and harsh — Jo Kimball has produced a 15-page memo about what occurred. Subsequently, she says, a number of inmates were transferred to medium-security prisons (for not eating lunch).

Kimball’s web site has letters from several inmates victimized by the strike. One says, “I have also been sitting in a 6X9 cell alone for the last two months, getting fed through a food slot, 23 hours a day.” Another says, “I am still being held here at F.C.I Talladega in Special Houing Unit with only litter privilege, like the phone only Sat an Sun only and rec one hour a day from Mon-Fri in one man cages like animals and in rooms all day by yourself like beast. I beg for mercy ever night and day ...”