Vol 2, Num 3 :: 2003.01.31 — 2003.02.13
Another man is present to gain support for a cause. John Keeler makes little effort to control his tendency to gravitate toward anyone with a camera or notebook. He had been in Pontiac Correctional Center for burglary for three years and wants to get the word out regarding unjust treatment of prisoners at that facility where, according to him, they “warehouse prisoners like they’re animals.” Corrupt guards (he knew from experience) aggravated prisoners’ attempts to rehabilitate by smuggling in drugs for them. Officers beat inmates and filed false disciplinary reports in an effort to keep inmates in longer and appear to be properly spending the people’s tax money. According to Keeler, the corruption is all about job security.
Another aspect of prison life at Pontiac that Keeler condemns is the inappropriate treatment of those who are suicidal. Disturbed inmates are expected to meet with a psychiatrist in their cells, where lack of privacy prohibits honesty and lack of honesty prohibits healing. If a prisoner is considered immediately suicidal, he is tied to a bed for a certain period of time and then released. One of Keeler’s own friends hung himself in his cell because of inadequate care.
Keeler says he documented all of this information and even sent it to state officials, but received no reply. Their only desire is to “turn a blind eye to the truth.” He gives me his pager number so I can reach him for more information.