An Open Letter To The American Correctional Association Regarding The Plymouth County Correctional Facility

06/04/2017 12:28 pm ET Updated Jul 15, 2017

Lannette C. Linthicum President of the Executive Committee of American Correctional Association 206 N. Washington Street, Suite 200 Alexandria, VA 22314

Dear Lannette C. Linthicum, President of the Executive Committee of the American Correctional Association,

My name is Martin Gottesfeld and I am writing to you from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility (PCCF) in Plymouth, Massachusetts. My letter is in regards to the accreditation audit your organization is scheduled to perform here from June 5th to the 7th.

First, please allow me to apologize for not having sent this earlier. I understand that the notice posted in my housing unit asked for information to be submitted at least ten working days before the audit commences, which would have meant by May 19, 2017. However, that notice was not posted in my unit (BS1) until after the 19th, making such a submission impossible. So, please excuse the apparent tardiness of my letter. Regardless, there are a number of serious issues here that I think are relevant to a legitimate accreditation audit and that I know I would want to be aware of, if I were an auditor with ACA.

First, there is “Q5,” the supposed emergency mental health intervention here. As I have previously reported in HuffPost, Shadow Proof (1 and 2), as well as on international television, “Q5” is unduly punitive, frequently misused as an extrajudicial punishment, and even qualifies as a form of torture under international humanitarian law. Inmates report freezing cold temperatures, frozen food, deprivation of any sleeping surfaces whatsoever, the presence of dead flies, having to defecate in a hole in the floor, and becoming adhered to the ground like the clichéd tongue on an icy flagpole.

As has been found by the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, such conditions serve no valid therapeutic or correctional purpose and violate international humanitarian law. Further, the extrajudicial nature of “Q5” is belied by the way staff here routinely use it to threaten inmates who have no mental health histories and who clearly do not represent a threat to themselves nor others. Regarding putting inmates in “Q5“ under false pretenses, one staff member here rhetorically asked a group of us, “You think we don’t make up stories?”

In addition to “Q5,“ the inappropriate and inadequately monitored use of solitary confinement here has resulted in multiple inmate deaths. The most recent such fatality that I am aware of was 26-year-old William Lufkin, who died the day after he arrived here. His family still doesn’t know the full details of what happened and they feel PCCF has not been forthright in answering their questions. FOIA requests have been similarly fruitless, but perhaps you can find answers during your audit.

Shortly after Mr. Lufkin died, a 24-year-old Afghanistan war veteran and father of two was placed in segregation here despite his known PTSD diagnosis and previous suicide attempts in that very unit. He barely survived. In yet another instance, after over four years “in the hole” at PCCF and pleading to be allowed into general population, Eric Snow killed himself with a plastic bag.

Also, the attitudes of the medical personnel here present serious safety risks to the inmate population. In the first of just two examples over the last few months, Mr. Richard Gay suffered a massive brain trauma from a plumbing accident in 2013, and had been taking Keppra for post-traumatic seizure disorder before he came here. For the record, Mr. Gay was arrested following a car accident when an officer who was unaware of his medical history attempted to administer a field sobriety test and then obtain consent/cooperation for other tests without knowing that the trauma of the accident exacerbated his previous brain injury, leaving him completely discombobulated. Mr. Gay was then denied his Keppra medication here at PCCF until he had a seizure and again hit his head as he fell out of bed.

Before Mr. Gay, Mr. Steven Polwort came through here with a history of necrotizing pancreatitis. He asked multiple medical personnel at PCCF for the no soy/no cheese diet he needed, only to be denied. When he had a flare-up, and was in severe pain, staff here didn’t have him brought to the hospital nor provided pain medication. Instead, practitioners told him to “suck it up.” Tragically, Mr. Polwort’s entire arrest record stems from the painkillers he was legally prescribed for his pancreatitis.

Please allow me to reiterate that the experiences of the two gentlemen here are not exceptions, but the rule. Further, inmates in the H1 unit here became sick after being fed food that had been potentially contaminated with vomit and raw sewage. The unit was quarantined, but more serious efforts to stop the spread of the illness were not undertaken until after the Huffington Post, Shadow Proof, and other outlets began inquiring with the Governor’s Office and our state attorney general. Another potential issue was only recently rectified, perhaps in preparation for the upcoming audit. Pre-trial and sentenced inmates had been mixed in the BN2 unit here for over nine months. Then, there was the marriage fraud scam that was exposed here two years ago. The person running it was a PCCF supervisor.

One final issue I’ll mention, while assuring you there are numerous others I haven’t included due to the limited time I have before the audit begins, has to do with the telephone system here. Administrators are totally unwilling to add my current attorney’s mobile number to my call list. Similarly, I have submitted multiple written requests to add a new attorney’s office number – all fruitless. Further, upon arrival, inmates are not allowed to make a call at booking and it routinely takes days for their telephone account to be activated in the system. It was three days before I made my first call. Is this part of a strategy to hold onto the daily stipends PCCF receives for housing individual inmates for as long as possible by making it difficult for people to post bail?

In conclusion, I hope the above helps illuminate relevant issues here at PCCF for your audit. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

Martin “Marty G “Gottesfeld

ID# 71225 Unit BS1, Bed 6

Plymouth County Correctional Facility

26 Long Pond Road

Plymouth, MA 02360

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