It is no secret that the mental health treatment situation in this country is absolutely abominable. In our prison systems, it is even worse. However, the story you are about to read concerning the treatment of one mentally ill federal prison inmate is nothing short of unconscionable.
Jonathan Francisco, an inmate at the ADX-Florence “Supermax” prison, was the subject of an emergency motion in a district court hearing. Lawyers from the Justice Department in Colorado showed up, but offered little defense against the claims that Francisco had been mistreated in the prison, according to Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic.
The emergency motion claimed that Francisco “displayed a persistent pattern of bizarre and worrisome signs and symptoms suggesting that he suffers from a severe and worsening mental illness” over a five- year time span. According to lawyers, Francisco “spends most of his time standing with his face very near a wall, staring blankly at the surface before him.”
That behavior in and of itself, is, of course, indicative of mental illness. Now, if that weren’t bad enough, there was even more disturbing actions from the inmate, according to the lawyers. They said of his condition:
He also obsessively hoards and handles his own feces, placing it on food trays, rolling it into balls, making sculptures out of it, and smearing it on his walls and sometimes on his body or in his hair. He has repeatedly defecated in common-use shower facilities, and on at least one occasion has been seen consuming his feces.
Now, anyone with a brain knows that there is something very wrong if an inmate or anyone else is behaving in that fashion. Also, playing with feces is, of course, unsanitary for that inmate and everyone else. However, according to the documents, the Federal Bureau of Prison’s (BOP):
[…] response to his situation, thus far, has been to occasionally force him into a shower stall, and to pile sandbags outside his door in a futile effort to prevent the overwhelming smell of feces emanating from his cell from spreading throughout the part of the prison where he lives.
Shameful, but true. Andrew Cohen says that there was little defense for this abominable response, but that Francisco will be moved to Missouri, where there is a mental health prison. His mother, Linda Embrack, says of this development:
I thank God for this. The people said that he was just playing but I knew that he wasn’t just playing.
I concur. May you sleep better knowing your son is in better care, Mrs. Embrack, and shame on those who let him wallow in prison this sick for so long.
Shannon Barber, executive editor of Liberal America, is a self- described queer feminist and activist for LGBT rights, women’s rights, and secular rights in America. She is a lifelong lover of words, though her educational background is in computer science. She currently writes for three liberal websites, and keeps her own Humor Blog for lesbians. She hopes to change the world, one mind at a time. Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her public updates on Facebook.