April 28, 2015

Heather Gets to Visit Her Son - Follow Up To: How the Manifestation of Mental Illness Results in a Prison Sentence and Worse

George's Note: Please check my blog entitled: How the Manifestation of Mental Illness Results in a Prison Sentence and Worse. It will provide background for Heather's visit to her son Nikko who had been in solitary for 2 years and lost 40 pounds. Please sign the Nikko Albanese Petition.

Heather's account: "Nikko looked like a Holocaust victim."

Horrifying. Standing there just skin and bones, his eyes are all dark and sunken in his face. I watched as the guards removed his shackles. He had a look of panic and confusion on his pale white face. Each time the guards came near him to unlock another lock on his shackles he would flinch.

I tapped on the glass. Nikko looked at me squinting his eyes. I was smiling and waving at him. At first there was just a blank stare. Once the guards had left the room and locked the door (size of a telephone booth), Nikko shook his head as if he had some type of recognition. There is a small opening in the glass to allow communication. You need to put your mouth right near the opening so the other person can hear you. "Nikko, Nikko! It's me Mom!" 

I was able to feed him. Extremely hungry. This is when he told me:
Nikko: I haven't been eating mom.
Heather: Yes I know. Why? Why are you not eating?
N: The food is really disgusting.
H: Yes, I know that Nikko. I know there are cockroaches in the food and sometimes the they put things in it as well. But Nikko, why are you not eating? With much shame and in a very low voice he told me.
N: I don't know.

This is when I explained to Nikko what has been happening to him for the past couple of years, what has been happening to his brain. Due to long term solitary confinement. All of that psychosis is the voices you've been hearing. Not wanting to leave your cell or your bunk for that matter. Just stopped eating. It's because parts of your brain have died.

It's not just you, it would happen to any human being subjected to such torturous conditions. I started talking about all of the research. Then I started telling him about all of the people that have suffered through the same things he has and is. His eyes  got real big.

Listening to every word I said. With comfort and much relief. At the same time, Nikko is inhaling the food, constantly looking over his shoulder. Flinching if someone passed by.

H: Nikko, what do you think of Dr. Biskey?

Nikko looked at me confused, shook his head, "NO."

H: Nikko, your doctor is Dr. Biskey?
N: I don't know who that is.
H: Nikko, who is your doctor?
N: Ummm, Dr. Greenfield?
H: You've been seen by Dr.Greenfield once or twice. When you first got here to Union CI.

Nikko shook his head yes. 

H: Nikko, how did they know you were not eating?
N: The inmates.
H: What inmates?
N: The inmates next to my cell. One of the inmates noticed my food tray. All the food was on it. He told the other inmates. They kept watching my trays. "Boy you need to eat!"
H: What did you say?
N: Nothing. I don't talk to nobody. The inmates started screaming at the guards everyday. "Boy's not eating, boy's not eating!" This went on for a long time. Yeah, I thought I was going to get in trouble. But I couldn't mom.
H: It's OK Nikko. Then what happen?
N: The inmate started screaming, "boy going to die in there, boy is going to die." Like a week and a half ago a guard took me out of cell. He weighed me.
H: Did you see the doctor then?
K: No. The guard said, "you know what's good for you, YOU going to eat!"
H: Like a threat?
N: Yeah.

I told him there is an army of people out here that care for him and are also fighting for him. He was very surprised. I asked him if he would like to receive some letters or a notes from some of the people (in his army) that really do care about him. He smiled and shook his head, yes.

I was very strong in front of Nikko. I was very specific on what I wanted him to do. I told him he needed to exercise within his cell every day, his body and his brain. He needed to eat. I would keep money in his account so he could get food from a commissary (closed management inmates are only allowed 3-4 bags of chips a week).

I'm devastated. When I was leaving, Nikko stood up. "Where are you going mom?" He had that look of fear. He looked a child. Standing there just skin and bones, his eyes are all dark and his face sunken in.

N: Are you coming back?
H: Yes! As soon as they let me! 

I put my hand on the glass. Nikko did as well. I'm so devastated. It's actually worse than I thought. He's receiving absolutely no care at all.He hasn't even had a civil conversation of any kind in years. This is the best I can do for now. I can't even reread it. I'm sure there's typos and everything, I'm sorry. I'm destroyed I haven't stopped crying and I haven't slept.

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George Mallinckrodt