Justin: When I got to DOC, nine minutes after I got here, to DRDC (Denver Reception & Diagnostic Center) back in 1997, they threw me in the solitary confinement, and I stayed in Ad Seg (Administrative Segregation) just straight, you know, from there.
My name is Justin Rueb. We're in the Colorado State Penitentiary in Cañon City, Colorado. I was in Ad Seg from September 14th, 1996 to about August 16th, 2011, first time. I really can't deal with other people very well anymore. When I got sentenced, I originally got sentenced to fourteen years in prison, and as part of the pre-sentencing report, the judge had a psychiatrist do a pre-sentencing evaluation. The psychiatrist had diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder with psychotic features and post-traumatic stress disorder, and they recommended that I be sent to the state hospital, and instead they put me into solitary confinement when I got to DOC. Finally, eleven years later, in the year 2008, I finally got some mental health people here at the prison to do an evaluation on me. She diagnosed me not only as still having post-traumatic stress disorder, but as having several new mental disorders that I didn't have in 1997.
They wouldn't let me out of Ad Seg, they still kept me in Ad Seg for another three years. When I got out of Administrative Segregation the second time, I'd actually been feeling myself growing increasingly violent over the years, you know, I had these increasingly violent feelings. I told a psychiatrist about that, that I was feeling these increasingly violent feelings, and she just, you know, she said, 'You know, Mr. Rueb, I have prisoners around here, that have much more interesting, worse problems than what you have. You just do whatever you have to do.' Yeah, and a few years after that, I end up punching two prison guards here. They had stripped me down to my boxers, and what they used to do to punish you, they would strip you down to your underwear, and they would chain you up around your waist, and put leg shackles on you and leave you like that in a holding cell downstairs for three or four days at a time. With the lights turned on 24 hours a day so you can't sleep, and the second or third day, I just wanted to hurt one of them. So I found a way to jimmy my handcuffs and leg shackles open, and when they came in to take me to use the bathroom in another cell, I punched two officers… I had never spoken to 'em before. They had never said, I didn't even know their names, but I just wanted to hurt 'em.
There's nothing good that I've seen come out of solitary confinement. As far as using it as a deterrent, to try to scare people into good behavior, I mean a lot of times it just has the opposite effect, It just makes people more defiant. You can't beat somebody, you can't just, you know, put your boot on the back of somebody's neck and then force them to, you know, genuinely become different people, and that's what Ad Seg is: solitary confinement. We're gonna put the boot on the back of your neck, and you're gonna do what we want you to do. and that's just, it doesn't work. I mean, we're all people. We're all human beings. We're not some kind of subspecies. We have our breaking points just like anybody else.
Narrator: The AVID Prison Project, Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities, is a collaboration between The Arizona Center for Disability Law, Disability Law Colorado, the Advocacy Center of Louisiana, Disability Rights New York, Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities of South Carolina, Disability Rights Texas, Disability Rights Washington, and the National Disability Rights Network. This video was produced by Rooted in Rights.
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The AVID Prison Project is a collaboration between The Arizona Center for Disability Law, Disability Law Colorado, The Advocacy Center of Louisiana, Disability Rights New York, Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities of South Carolina, Disability Rights Texas, Disability Rights Washington and The National Disability Rights Network.