For Kini Seawright, and all the other women who bury a loved one due to police or prison violence...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

ASPC-Eyman Suicide in Custody: Mark Moore, 57.

Sad to report there's been another suicide in the AZ DOC's supermax prison, ASPC-Eyman; that prison is a death trap for people prone to self-destruction. This one isn't the usual prisoner suicide, though - which has been male, young and facing life, on death row, or just about to be free, for the most part these past 5 years. This fellow had been at the AZ DOC since 1986, had a decent job, was only medium custody (which meant he had more privileges and programming opportunities then most guys I hear from have), and he apparently hadn't had any disciplinary write-ups in over a year. Yeah, he was in for life, but he'd made some kind of life in there and adapted to it...look at his work record.

Latest Supermax suicide victim, 
Mark Moore, 57

The only clue to something changing I can see on his AIMS, which is public info on the DOC website, is that he had just been re-classed a week ago, likely to a lower  custody level. Based on letters I've gotten from other prisoners who were old-timers being re-classed, its possible he was told he'd be moved to another General Population yard, despite his apprehensions about being there given his history as a sex offender. But, given his history as a sex offender, I doubt the DOC would put him back in GP. I think they would be prohibited from it, in fact....except that that's not what he was doing time for, this time around. So they may well have told him he was not getting protective custody and would have to make it in GP. That probably kills more guys than any other single thing at the AZ DOC.

Given the possibility that he was already in Protective Custody and remaining there, though,  I wondered what else might have been going on to cause him to take his life. He didn't appear to be severely mentally ill, based on his steady employment history as a barber (they don't like giving the SMI guys scissors). Maybe he got a terminal diagnosis he couldn't deal with, or was sexually assaulted and the DOC didn't appropriately counsel him (all too often the case, the victim is put in the hole while the perpetrator remains free on the yard. The victim is then repeatedly humiliated by officers, especially those victims who are known to be gay, and moved from GP yard to GP Yard while begging to be placed in protective custody....). Both Jesse Cabonias and Duron Cunningham committed suicide in the wake of no or poor institutional response to their sexual victimization - those are just the two I know about, anyway.

The standard psychiatric evaluations offered to Eyman prisoners by Corizon leave a lot to be desired, as you can see here. Basically, the medium security folks are rounded up, chained to each other, and transported to a maximum security yard where they are then herded into a room together to have their telephonic appointment with the shrink. Reports from prisoners are that these meetings have been held while they were  still chained to other prisoners - the DOC flatly denies this. In any case, the prisoners only get a few minutes of doctor time and the experience they have to endure for the sake of it has discouraged many from seeking psychiatric care or continuing with treatment.

In order to maximize profits - which is what the legislature wanted DOC to hire them to do, to make a profit at taxpayer and prisoner expense -  Corizon has slashed staff time available to ill prisoners, and discontinued many psychiatric medications switching prisoners who were functioning well on one drug to older, less effective meds with more severe side effect profiles, which many prisoners understandably no longer wish to take. These are the drugs that pharmaceutical companies typically sell extremely cheap in developing countries for institutionalized people, because hardly anyone in the US uses them anymore due to the side effect profiles - some - even at low doses, can cause high rates of Tardive Dyskinesia, a serious neurological syndrome. Here, in fact, is another letter of concern from Donna Hamm to the DOC Director, Chuck Ryan, about psychiatric and health care at Eyman under Corizon.

Similarly, to save money, Corizon discontinued a good many prisoners, if not all, from their pain management medications when they took over the medical care contract. Even many of those who managed to get their doctor to start them on another medication found they were ineffective for the diabetic neuropathy, or back pain, or bone cancer they were dealing with, and felt compelled to resort to heroin for pain management instead - far easier to get on a prison yard these days than a single tablet of Tylenol 3. Some, facing unbearable pain, day in and day out, with no compassion or relief from medical providers who would just as soon let them die in agony, might even choose to end their lives themselves, the one thing they have ultimate control over when all else is controlled by the state.

Not all DOC medical staff are heartless or gutless, though - at least Teresa Short walked away and came forward about the ethical dilemmas she experienced at Corizon over the past year, working in the intensive care unit at Tucson prison. And some legislators wonder why there's a class action suit complaining about the "free" medical care prisoners are so lucky to get - they think the ACLU has nothing better to do. The legislature's willingness to turn a blind eye is a large part of the problem at the AZ DOC

Anyway, my condolences go out to anyone who cared about this man - as well as to the survivors of his murder victim, for whom his suicide will bring up a lot of feelings, I would imagine. If anyone has any hard info about how and why he killed himself, I'm Peggy Plews - contact me at 480-580-6807 / or PO box 20494 PHX 85036.