Five: My name is Five Mualimm-ak I am the director of the Incarcerated Nation Corporation (INC). I served twelve years. In 2000, through 2012, and throughout that time, I've served over five years in solitary, some time at Rikers, sometimes at MCC (Metropolitan Correctional Center), and the majority of my time in New York state. It's a different lens living in a world of punishment. It's a different lens to navigate through incarceration because people don't understand, you know if you're problematic in the city, in New York or wherever you live at in the community and you need a therapeutic environment to function you're going be even more problematic inside of this microcosm of an environment of incarceration.
The problem in this state is that there was no comprehensive mental health rounds. I mean I did time in Lakeview, Upstate, I never see nobody. Nobody came around, even in a person with Bipolar Disorder or schizophrenia sometimes needs constant talk therapy every time before an appointment I had to prove that I needed that appointment. It felt more that I was proving it and validating why I was there than treatment.
In the state I've done years of solitary at a time. And the problem with that is that you keep getting reoccurring tickets, right. First I went to solitary for reasons that were just ridiculous, sharpened wooden objects which were described as weapons, and hoarding and unauthorized exchange. The sharpened wooden items were pencils; I'm an artist so I do portraits. The hoarding was too many poster stamps I had more poster stamps than I was allowed to have. I had too many t-shirts. For me it was liked locked in there with like two other people. I have two voices in my head everything seems personal. The wind under the door is talking to me, cursing at me, and you end up talking to yourself because, you know, you're just having a conversation out loud, you end up catching yourself, you're trying to talk to the person two cells down you gotta repeat yourself everything he says, every little thing frustrates you and you're being ignored. Your officers come by, they feed you, they're not to have any eye contact, they're not to have any type of physical contact, and it's an odd impersonal process. They put the tray on the slot, you step back, you grab the tray, you pick it up and they move on. You try to have a conversation with them, they're ignoring you, you become upset. You yell at them, what...you don't hear me I'm talking to you and the person doesn't validate you.
And when you suffer from extreme paranoia when a person doesn't validate you instantly start thinking what that person is thinking, and you're thinking that oh this person is...looking at me and you get angrier and you get louder. It doesn't get no attention you start banging, still doesn't get any attention. But every step that you go gets you even more angry. And you're like, this guy didn't even talk to me he's probably… And you start having this conversation with yourself. Human validation. It doesn't mean a lot, but it means a lot when one thing can have your thoughts spinning off and off. One of the major problems with the system is that we don't realize that even though you have people with mental illness when you go to jail it's just unrecognized.
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 is 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.