On July 1, 2003, I had a Mental Health callout with counselor Pat Chance at 10 am.
During this callout, Officer R. Davis was in an adjoining room.
At 11 am, I went back to my unit. Officer R. Davis was on the unit. She said to me, "You better get to your cell before I hurt you."
I responded, "Please don't make comments like that to me. I've been physically and sexually assaulted by correctional officials and I take comments like that as threats to my safety, security and well-being." Officer R. Davis simply laughed and I continued walking to my cell.
At approximately 12:40 pm that same day, Officer Davis asked me, "Who's trying to poison you Bannister?"
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
"I overheard you talking [with the counselor] and I don't want to hear that kind of talk or I'll roll you up and toss your butt in segregation and make sure you're buried back there," Davis replied.
I responded, "Whatever you heard me talking about with Mental Health Counselor Pat Chance is confidential medial information. You have no business to eavesdrop in on it and you have no business making comments about it."
I then reported what took place to Officer Horn. He then reported it to Corporal Deanda, who reported it to Captain Yoder. I was told that Officer R. DAvis would be spoken to and that such inappropriate behavior from her would stop.
On July 7, 2003, Officer R. DAvis came on at 7 am. Within the first 15 minutes of her shift, she threatened to grab me by my scrawny neck and hurt me. I asked her, "Why do you keep making threatening and intimidating remarks to me? If you continue to do so, I will report you to the superintendent and security manager."
According to Oregon DOC policy 20.1.2, "A correctional official's fundamental duty is to protect Department of Corrections' incarcerated persons against deception, oppression, intimidation, violence or disorder." Oregon's DOC policy 20.1.3 states, "An employee shall not use brutality, physical violence, profanity, obscenity or otherwise abusing language or intimidation towards inmates."
My question is: What part(s) of those policies does Officer R. Davis not understand?
Are unprovoked situations such as this really necessary? After all, inmates are sent to prison as punishment, not FOR punishment. Yet correctional officials throughout prisons in the U.S. go out of their way to subject inmates to various forms of harassment and assualts. Prison is an ugly affair, but must it be made uglier by prison officials going out of their way to make an inmate's time harder?
In my opinion, correctional officials should role model positive values for inmates and, while maintaining appropriate boundaries, correctional officials should interest and motivate inmates through respect and dignity. Correctional officials should have a responsibility to society to ensure inmates return to the community no more angry or hostile than when they were committed.
Let me know what you think.
Barrilee Bannister #11309597
PO Box 9000
Wilsonville, OR 97070
Note: Barrilee Bannister also edits a zine of writings and art by women in prison. For more information about "Tenacious: Writings from Women in Prison," contact email@example.com