Albemarle/Charlottesville Regional Jail

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The Torture Chamber of Virginia

Here we print stories about the above institution. The reason for devoting a separate page to it is twofold... one is the volume of mail we receive from inmates refering to the subhuman conditions there - of which we are aware from personal experience.

The other reason pertains to Dorian Lester, who suffered the worst degradation there in the course of two years of solitary confinement ("segregation", as it is euphemistically refered to by the correctional authorities).

Few in the "outside world" come to realize the atrocities committed in the name of their "safety", and I dare say, still fewer care.

It is important to remember, however, that the United States of America is in no position to criticize other countries' record of human rights abuse, while ignoring its own backyard.

Letter signed by Dominic Mondi, 19 May 2000...


To whom it may concern:

I am writing in regard to certain conditions at the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail, which people are being forced to endure unjustly.

Apparently, there is no accountability factor here, for any regulations that do exist certainly are not being followed.

While it is understandable that in an environment such as jail drastic measures are often needed to maintain a certain level of order, it is also understood that these same drastic measures need to be held in reserve and used as a last resort - NOT standard operating procedure, the way it is here. The examples are many and varied, overwhelming in fact... attempting to list each account would not be practical. Doing so, I believe , would end up sounding glib. In order to prevent that, and still accurately describe our plight, I'll simply refer to the following:

As I write this, I, along with eight other inmates have been locked in 5'x7' cells (two men per cell) where the water supply has been intentionally shut off as a form of punishment. This has been the case for well over thirty hours now. As a result, we are forced to eat our meals which are shoved through bars caked with grime and debris, in the midst of accumulated urine and feces which cannot be flushed. The response to our protests and complaints was being refused lunch. The officer responsible for serving our meal told his supervisor that WE had refused! A blatant lie, but effective nonetheless... for here we sit, hungry and sick... which brings us to the next issue:

A few men here are on prescribed medication to treat pre-existing medical conditions, but out of pure spite, that too is being denied. Added to that, certain officers refuse to collect our outgoing mail. Although that is a common occurence. As well as our outgoing AND incoming mail arcanely never arriving... I'll have to use a circuitous method to ensure this letter reaches it's intended destination.

Only a few of these men have been convicted of any crime - the others merely being held on "pre-trial status". Others are here for nothing more than child support. These men are not unruly or incorrigible by any measure. This entire episode boils down to a personal conflict between one inmate and one officer. The officer(s) obviously having the upper hand. This type of vendetta is common, and more often than not becomes intractable, causing many to be victims of circumstance. If this treatment could somehow be justified or condoned, why has every attempt to follow the grievance procedure or access to a telephone been denied?

By no means are we asking for special treatment. Personally, I'd like to know for sure I'm still American citizen, not a prisoner of war and not an animal! In fact, those analogies are unfitting for P.O.W.s and animals are treated far better. They also have advocates.

I have to accept that the majority of our society chooses not to focus on unpleasant issues such as this. I too used to think I was immune to the ravages and failures that plague mankind. It's always interesting when a twist of fate causes a loved one, a close friend or self to be subjected to these same circumstances.

"Dum Spiro Spero"
Dominic Mondi

 


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