Inhumane Prison Life in Suffolk County: "Riverhead did something to me"





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Published on Apr 5, 2012

Take action at www.nyclu.org/suffolkjail because people are not animals. (Transcipt below for viewers with hearing disabilities.) People housed at Suffolk County Correctional Facilities (Riverhead, and Yaphank) -- whether or not they have been convicted of a crime -- are forced to live amidst overflowing sewage, chronic overcrowding, rodent and insect infestations, pervasive mold and rust, and other deplorable and dehumanizing conditions, according to a federal class action lawsuit filed on April 5, 2012 by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Shearman & Sterling, LLP. For more information visit www.nyclu.org


You know, ever since I got out, I'm distraught a little bit, you know, I really don't know what to do. I kinda went through a lot. [Text: "It was like torture."] I've never been through that before, what I went through in Suffolk County Correctional Facilities. [Text: "I walk in circles."] I'm really not living life, and this is as real as it can get. [Text: "I can't function."] Riverhead did something to me. [Text: "It broke me, mentally."]


For the two months that I was in Riverhead we went through horrible prison conditions. My name is Jason Porter. [Text: Jason Porter, 33] I was in there for a misdemeanor. They don't realize that you are a human being, they don't care. To them you are not a human being. [Text: The NYCLU and the law firm of Shearman & Sterling LLP filed a federal class action lawsuit challenging the inhumane conditions in Suffolk County jails.] They see you like an animal because you committed a crime, or supposedly committed a crime. So, until the day that the judge says that you didn't commit this crime, you're an animal.

The drinking water is like a brownish, tannish color. The shower itself was disgusting. [Text: "Raw sewage bubbles from floor drains..."] There were different types of molds and funguses growing on the shower, out and around the shower. It's just trying to dodge that so you don't catch any infections or rashes, which is almost inevitable in that jail. You're gonna get something. [Actual handwritten inmate complaints flash through highlighting terms like, "rash" and "skin infections."]

[Text: More handwritten inmate complaints, with highlighted passages, quickly flash through the background as the following text appears: More than a hundred detainees filed federal lawsuits against the county to try to remedy their own situation.]

The night the toilets exploded, we were just basically sitting around, and the toilets in the every cell on the tier just exploded, projectiled about six to eight feet in the air, all over the walls, all over the cells, the ceiling. And, it just began to surmount to about seven inches high and float out of the tier and into the bay area. [Text: The toilets explode occasionally, and overflow regularly.] Feces, urine, a brownish, green liquid, about seven inches from the ground, just floating, forcing all of the inmates to retreat to the table area. We basically sought refuge on those tables for about 30 hours.

[Text: "The toilet in my cell, when flushed, my feces see[p]s into another inmates cell toilet. When the toilet next door flushes, his feces, overflows...into my cell toilet."]

The stench was so bad, to try to actually eat something, it would have been a waste. I don't know if you've ever tried to eat with a bowl of feces, or a floor full of feces, for that matter, in front of you, but, I wouldn't try it.

Harsh prison conditions is in addition to the sentence that the court just gave you.

Riverhead was not maintained for so many years that the problems that are going on with the facility, they can't be controlled, they can't. And, they could care less to control them anyway. I don't think anyone deserves to be treated that way.

[Text: Take action at www.nyclu.org/suffolkjail]

Alright, we may be inmates, prisoners when we go in, but we're still human beings.


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