The entire population, guilty of deliberate indifference

prison cellWhen a group that is viewed with disdain by the public as well as the legal system, this is the sort of thing that happens as a consequence.

In 2009, California High Desert state prison inmate Michael Bloom was put in a small cage and told to strip naked. Two correctional officers put his boxers on backwards and taped them to his body, wrapping the tape around his waist and thighs numerous times.

Then they put a second pair of underwear on him, facing the front, and taped those to his body. They dressed him in a jumpsuit and wound tape around his ankles, waist, thighs, and biceps. Then they put another jumpsuit on him, backwards, and taped it the same way. His legs were chained to one another at the ankles and his wrists were shackled to a chain around his waist.

[He] was then put in a cell, empty of everything but a metal bed. A correctional officer sat directly in front of his door and watched him constantly. At night, he was brought a thin mattress, but the bright lights were left on. He wasn’t given a blanket or anything to cover his eyes. He remained shackled as he tried to sleep. His chains dug into his back and wrists.


He remained like this for eight days. Some nights, correctional officers would force him to stand every 15 minutes and turn in a circle, preventing him from sleeping. At meal times, some guards refused to loosen his chains, so he had to bend over to eat directly off the tray with his mouth.

This happened more than 500 times in California last year.

And the guardians of their rights?

Over the years, a number of California prisoners have sued to challenge the practice, claiming it violates the eighth amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. But every case has failed so far.

Any particularly items that could make this any worse?

Among those upholding California’s procedure is ninth circuit judge Jay Bybee, who signed off on a controversial Bush administration “torture memo” that said acts only constitute torture if they produce the sort of severe pain associated with organ failure or death.

Oh, yes.


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