• Cassie Jo Monaco

Are You Contributing to Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

Every single United States Tax paying citizen is contributing to the inhumane and cruel treatment of over two million men and women.

As taxpaying citizens, we show concern and raise our voices about how our money is spent on education, defense, infrastructure, social security, and medicare, but never have I heard anyone question how our money is spent regarding prisons. Is anyone curious as to how 80 billion dollars a year is spent on our prisons, and how effective are our tax dollars in our prison system?

The United States of America holds the record as having the highest incarceration rate in the world. With only 5 percent of the world's population, we house or instead warehouse 25 percent of the world's prison population. I think that most people who have not been incarcerated or have not had a loved one incarcerated believe that our prison system is designed to rehabilitate our citizens who have committed a crime. As a wife who has a husband incarcerated, I can emphatically tell you this is not true.

I was that taxpaying citizen who believed that people in prison are treated humanely, offered counseling, job training, and education. It makes perfect sense to provide rehabilitation, education, and job skills for a successful journey back into society. If I were a betting woman, I would have lost the ranch on this theory and belief because nothing can be further from the truth.

My husband's offense is wire fraud. It was his first offense and will be his last and only. I recall shortly after my husband reported to Federal Prison, he asked his case manager if he could continue getting therapy. My husband had been seeing a therapist for several years before going to prison. His case manager said, " Sure, we will put you behind the fence in the psychiatric ward is that what you want?" My husband answered with a swift resounding, "No." His case manager said," then don't ever ask again because that is where I will put you." The food menu might say chicken, but the food is unrecognizable, and the boxes the food comes in are marked "Not for human consumption." Besides the daily berating by the prison staff, our incarcerated citizens suffer in the most frigid temperatures without heat, and if they are caught with more than one blanket to try and stay warm, they will be punished by being thrown into solitary confinement. There is no way for incarcerated citizens to cool down from the sweltering heat summer brings to the south as thousands of bodies are crammed into a building like sardines in a can. The heat and humidity are so thick that it is hard to breathe, and as the temperatures rise, so do the tempers. People with health ailments are ignored and left untreated. There is a medical staff at the prisons, but it appears that it is all for show. The healthcare neglect in our prisons is criminal. I know of a man who lost an eye because the doctor would not prescribe him antibiotics for an eye infection. Guards will ignore men and women who have a heart attack because it is more cost-effective if they die. After an individual dies a slow torturous death, the guards will then call an ambulance. The dead body is handcuffed to the gurney in a ploy that the person is alive, and they "die during transport." These are just a few examples out of hundreds of thousands.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has attempted to kill my husband three times. One time in 2017, when they left him ten days without his vital prescription medications. This past October, they allowed my husband's white blood cell count to reach 198k (Normal is 4k-10k) he was in renal failure and close to death had they just waited another 24 hours they would have been successful. Now my husband has cancer for which the Federal Bureau of Prisons is not giving him any treatment or medical care. My husband applied for compassionate release on April 10, 2020; we waited for the 30-day administrative exhaustive period before filing our motion with the courts. The warden is lying about the date my husband filed compassionate release and has blocked his motion with the courts for another two weeks. The prison wants to finish off my husband before he is released and is trying everything in their evil power to do just that.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons wields such unchecked power and dishes out cruelty at an impressive pace. Many who read this will not be able to believe my words because it may be too hard to acknowledge their contribution to such cruelty and defying our eight amendment. Or some people say that people incarcerated deserve this treatment. I mean, the Federal Bureau of Prisons does not believe there is value in the life of an incarcerated individual. They do not think my husband's life has value.

I believe there should be a disclosure on our tax returns, which states. By signing this return, you are acknowledging as a United States Taxpaying citizen a portion of your hard-earned money will go towards the continued suffering and ruthless neglect of over two million of our citizens.

I am a criminal justice reform advocate because I learned how unjust is our criminal justice and prison system. If everyone could see what happens when overzealous prosecutors step over the line in hiding evidence or lying about circumstances to get the most significant sentence, they can without regard to a defendant's life. And then the inhumane way our fellow brothers and sisters our treated while incarcerated, I believe you too would fight for their lives. Or at least fear for your own life.

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© 2019 by Cassie Jo Monaco. Proudly created by Gabriella Shewfelt with