How the State Produces Hate: Peter Sunde in Prison Part 2
(Continued from part 1)
Time passes and our father becomes ill. Peter is worried about what is happening. Our father is old and has severe pains in the leg. After the lung cancer twenty years ago he only has one lung left. He had surgery for the heart and the hip. And this summer his weight has plummeted.
Why does Peter not get day-leave?
Because they are taking revenge.
That is the only plausible explanation.
I say it again: There is no reasons at all, nothing that should stop Peter from getting day-leave. But now there is prestige in it. He wins small battles about (for us on the outside) small things. The Ombudsman does not ignore his filings. The post department is forced to change its routines. The inmates refuse to leave the yard before a full hour has passed. He helps the others with documents and appeals. He pushes through a claim that the department should have its own example of the law book available. He submits appeals and applications. They get annoyed at him. They say: “there is a possibility that you MAY get a day-leave”, but that’s incorrect. According to the law, rights are for the inmates as well. Rights that are not to be used as rewards for docile behaviour, but that is how they are used.
Those who demand their rights, must be punished. “Good news! Your application is rejected!”
Dad gets worse and ends up in hospital. It is the foot, it is the atherosclerosis, it is the herniated disc, it is the lung, it is the severe weight loss, it is the pain and the suspected cancer. The summer of 2014 will go down in history as one of the worst in the history of KSS. The hospital is understaffed. Nurses speak out in media about how they are weeping for not being able to keep up. There is a large shortage of space. And dad is moved between several departments. Peter tries the best he can. He applies for day-leave again and again. And lo and behold, finally the day-leave almost goes through…
The situation is serious but Peter receives no ordinary day-leave. Instead two guards follow along. The trip from Västervik to Skövde is long. Because of this he is only allowed to see his dad for three hours. But sure. It is definitely something. At least he gets to see his sick father.
But they still refuse to give him an ordinary day-leave. The guards that followed along are kind. They understand, everyone understands, who wouldn’t? – that there is absolutely no escape risk. Dad is ill. He wants to see his son. Peter wants to see his father. And he gets to meet his father. This time and one more time.
How does one judge a prisoner’s probability for escaping? How does one make a risk analysis? The system for day-leave is designed in such a way that a succesful day-leave leads to new extended opportunities. Six hours will eventually become twentyfour hours.
Anyone that receives a day-leave also has a right to apply for a transfer to a different department and increased chances of ankle monitor. Those who have not received day-leave have very small chances of either, even though the prison care rules only state that the inmate “should” have had day-leave before an ankle monitor may even become an option. In this system a ‘special guarded day-leave’ is not counted as a normal day-leave.
Therefore it’s as if Peter was never outside the prison walls. He got to see dad. He traveled guarded. He behaved. He has been examplary. But he receives no day-leave. There is no new data to review if he is allowed day-leave. Despite that the deputy chief now tells the lawyer that there is no barriers at all that stops Peter from getting it. But a few days later the boss makes himself unavailable.
Peter would most likely run away, according to the decision.
A correctional facility may not hand out more punishment than what is already sentenced in court. But it’s hard to draw other conclusions, when it comes to Peter’s case, that it’s pure punishment in combination with anxiety and cowardice. If he escapes. Then. Then a media hell awaits the correctional facility that has been criticized by the Ombudsman the most often.
Peter says that they have barbed wire fences with razor blades. That they pay large sums each year in fines for this. They themselves call this “dispensation”. The correctional facility says that they put safety first. They feel that they need razor blades, because of this they break the rules and pay the fines each year. They must have razor blades. Otherwise people escape. The proof on the efficiency of the razor blades? The relatively low number of escapes. But of course it happens that people still escape. On day-leave, for example. Of course it happens.
Dad’s illness turns worse. The summer keeps passing out there on ‘Billingeslänten’. Sweden’s oldest tower for television keeps transmitting signals, just like Sweden’s tallest tower does close to the Västervik correctional facility. But soon the summer is over. And after the vacations the ordinary boss returns. Recently there was an improvement. Peter was about to get an ankle monitor, receive day-leave, granted a transfer. But with autumn approaching the strict regime returns. day-leave is obviously not even a possibility.
Peter should stay where he is.
Because of the system nothing is verifiable. It is hard to gain insight into the penitentiary. It is a closed community within the society, without regulatory authority, with a security classification on most things.
Therefore everything I write is fiction. Nothing is true. Nothing is real. That’s why I treat the fictive guards and bosses as I please. They are nothing but fictionary constructions. This small boss tries to become responsible for security of the entire prison. But, also the other small boss roars every now and then. His face turns red and he calls the inmates things that no one should be called.
At the correctional facility the system is shaped so that the only ones expected to act calm and rational are the inmates. There are urine tests, isolation cells, removed privileges, sudden visitations and interrogations. An employee has no needs for worry. There’s no transparency. Therefore there is no truth either. Then everything is hearsay, delusions and libel.
Everyone knows that this is not the way it happens. There is NO conspiracy. Why would they have a desire to mess with him? It goes without saying. It falls flat on its face. And doesn’t he deserve it, if that is the case? He is sentenced. Sitting in jail should be hard and tedious. It is the ‘chair of shame’ for the society. Isn’t he supposed to sit there? Taking shame for his crimes. Taking his punishment. Don’t rock the boat. And it must be hard for the employees. They only have a few days of training. It’s a harsh environment. Their paychecks are bad. And they only do what they are told.
“You don’t understand how it works in here.”
“But you’re breaking the law.”
“You don’t understand. It would be so much easier for you if you didn’t complain so damn much.”
A statement, an illusion. Even this a fiction since nothing can be verified. Say that this is about a prison in Alaska or Siberia. Then it becomes easier. At this correctional facility, on the tundra, all medication is payed for by the prison (without any help from subsidies). A heart medication has the cost it has. Same for other pills. It is a burden for the correctional facility that does its best to keep the cost down.
When a heavily medicated and psychotic man goes to the doctor the latter has two issues to face. How to make sure that the person doesn’t hurt himself and how to keep the cost down?
The solution is as simple as ingenious. One takes away all the drugs, much of it anxiety dampening, and makes sure the inmate ends up in an isolation cell under guard for a week or two.
And what happens with the heart patient
that is deprived of his expensive medication
in this fiction
He dies, of course.
And it will be cheaper in the long run.
Our father came to Sweden in the 60s. He was one of all those Finns who looked for work and found it quickly. The history has been told many times and is nowadays an important part of the national self-understanding. Dad and his friends arrived in Stockholm on a Saturday. Monday morning they were working at Volvo in Skövde.
Now he was laying in KSS. This is where it all began, he said. We called the nurses to ask about the results of his tests and medications. During a few weeks, almost fifty years ago, he worked onthe construction of the hospital but now he mostly examined the small faults in the room. What a damn construction fraud. The wheel comes loose from the flip screen. The painting hangs tilted on the wall. Small annoying things.
Definitely a professional pride, but also a way to talk about other things. About angles and distances. And it has cost the country nothing that he moved here. For society it was a pure profit deal until he turned ill. All those constructions that he pointed out whilst we drove down the highway. “I was part of building that” “That was when we worked at the airport”.
Then the boss for Peter’s correctional facility said:
“But is it really sure that he is ill? It could be that you’re just saying that he is ill? Now you also received two guarded day-leaves. You should be grateful for the day-leaves you have already received.”
Suspected cancer in the remaining lung. A nonexistant blood circulation in the leg, it turned black and had to be amputated. Gangrene bacteria infected the wound. Within six hours they had spread so much that a new emergency amputation had to be performed. This time they took as much of the leg as they could. Suspected metastasis, hard to control since he only has one lung. The wound did not heal. Maybe the hip prosthesis has to be removed as well, but then that would happen at Sahlgrenska. Although that was probably not a real alternative.
Peter then ought to be grateful. He received two brief, guarded day-leaves. The escape risk was significant. The media disaster.
There is no proof that the former chief has said that the possibility of escape is nonexistant for Peter. If he got the question, he would never admit it. But the guards have heard it. The inmates have heard it.
All decisions may be appealed to the person who took the decision, who then makes a new decision, that then can be appealed to the Administrative Court for a procedurial opinion that involves the submission of statement after statement after statement. Then the Administrative Court takes the side of the correctional facility. That is how it works. That is how the state control of the correctional facility works.
And then the choice when dad passes away:
“Would you like to say goodbye now or at the funeral?”
And he chooses the funeral. We want to say goodbye of our father together. We decided that dad should be buried in Sweden. He lived here. He created a new life here. This is where he belonged. And of course, a special day-leave can be arranged. Peter chooses to attend the funeral.
But as the weeks pass by something happens. Somebody escapes from the correctional facility. Someone runs away from the guards. And security must be increased. The ordinary chief is keen on security. Security is the first priority. There is nothing more important in a Swedish correctional facility that aspires for higher security classification. They want to be completely sure around security safety. That means a new deal.
The way the Swedish penitentiary is shaped doesn’t just punish my brother. It punishes me, it punishes my now dead father, it punishes my mother, my family, my relatives and my friends. It has no resemblance, whatsoever, to rehabilitation and care. Instead, it makes people sick. It makes inmates apathetic. It institutionalizes.
In its secret and invisible heart rhe guards are working, despite knowing that they break laws and regulations. They defer to their bosses, they follow orders, afraid to speak up. Some even enjoy the small power they have managed to usurp inside the walls. All criticism, even the one from the Ombudsman, runs off them like water on a greasy goose.
They are proud of the security. They are extremely proud over their security thinking. But I have a hard time seeing how security is compromised if they let my brother go to the funeral without guards.
They now say that my brother would escape if he came with only two guards. And all the risks must be eliminated. The best action had been to deny him completely. To say that it isn’t possible. You have no day-leave. But they aren’t inhuman. They are still named kriminalvård. So he may come. But with guards from the security department.
“But I am to carry my father’s coffin.”
“You can’t count on it. You will have handcuffs.”
“And chains around the stomach.”
That his how security awareness is at the Västervik correctional facility.
That is how you treat inmates in this country.
That is how you create distrust towards the system.
How the state produces hate.
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About Josef Ohlsson Collentine
I'm a dual citizen (American/Swede) and try to integrate my reflections from a more global perspective if possible. I'm the organizational leader for Pirate Times and work actively to strengthen the pirate movement through this work as well as being the international contact for Piratpartiet (PPSE). Elected board member of PPSE for 2015-2018. If you would like to ask me something I speak English, Swedish and Spanish. Find me on the links below