On the 25th of February a 64 year-old man who suffered from heart disease and respiratory problems died in . According to prisoners he appealed multiple times for release. Based on medical records his disability was estimated at 80% but this was ignored by officials who decided not to permit his release despite the provisions of the Act 110A allowing early decarceration for severely disabled individuals. This injustice must not go on unnoticed. The public discourse regarding conditions of incarceration and the treatment of prisoners by the Justice System must not be silenced as mass media shifts its attention away. The following article authored by Alexia Tsaggari was originally published on VICE and is comprised of prisoners’ testimonies revealing significant insight into the conditions of detention and the trauma of incarceration in St. Paul Prison Hospital.

December 8th

Alexia Tsaggari
 
On Feb. 15h 2014, 180 ill prisoners detained in St. Paul Prison Hospital, which is part of Korydallos Prison, decided to stage a public protest for the terrible conditions of detention via a twitter account. Simultaneously, they stopped taking their medications and abstained from prison rations. Despite the international outcry against Greece and the promise for change made by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice, no  essential improvements have been made regarding the conditions of hospitalization inside the notorious Kolastirio. Last Friday, a man in the final stage of cancer became another name on the long list of people who died inside the prison hospital. Five prisoners out of the 150 detained in St. Paul Prison Hospital, tell VICE their stories.

E.A., 45 years old

Convicted for attempted robbery and homicide, currently serves a life sentence

”It was January 1994, when I was first sent to prison in Nafplion, (Nothern Greece). Throughout the years I have been in every prison in the country and faced 49 disciplinary hearings which led me to solitary confinement. Now my sentence is served, 21 years without work… However, two months ago the Pireaus Court rejected my appeal for release under the pretext of not being rehabilitated.

I have been in the hospital for ten years and suffer from acute conditions of the circulatory system. Three years ago I had my foot cut off because of gangrene. Four months ago I was transferred to another hospital for a routine blood test. While I was there I was administered an IV and the last thing I remember was the doctor saying ”Saw, now”. When I woke up I couldn’t understand what had happened. A cleaner informed they had cut off my other leg. Nobody asked me and nobody even cared about the condition of my health. I believe that my leg could have been saved. I have two open sores which won’t heal and the doctors apply vaseline as a treatment.

I ‘d rather die instead of live like this, sitting on a wheelchair  incapable to look after myself. I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself. There are no words to describe the conditions inside the prison hospital. I have seen over 100 prisoners die in here. When somebody dies, he gets transferred out of here very quickly, then the police come, take a statement and the case is closed. Some of the people recovering here have already given up on their medications and those who have the strength will abstain from rations too.

It feels like a fire burning inside me. My father does not know the truth. What am I supposed to tell him? That both of my legs above the knee were cut off? He won’t be able to take it. I did promise him that we ‘d spend this Christmas together, but when the court ruled against my appeal I didn’t even call him. I don’t believe that I ‘ll ever get out of here. I ‘m determined to go on hunger strike until I die. Because I know now, that I ‘ll die in here. 

M. 45 years old

Convicted to 300 months in prison for financial crimes

”I have been in the prison hospital for seven years. I had a septicaemic episode which almost killed me. My disability is over 80%. This is not a hospital because there is no red cross and no healthcare. Last February the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice made a promise that conditions would be improved, but unfortunately nothing has changed since then. And ofcourse, none of them ever came in here. We were written-off. They only made a few superficial improvements but essentially nothing has been done.

My family does not know that I’m in prison. They think I moved to another city for work. I call them every day so they won’t get suspicious. Personally, I don’t have any hope that I ‘ll ever come out of here alive. The worst time for me was when TB spread in here and patients contracted it from each other. The other very intense moment I remember was when I woke up one morning, gave a pat on the guy next to me and realised he was dead. He was in the final stage of cancer and appealed for release multiple times. All those appeals were rejected and then one day he just didn’t wake up. Fear starts when someone next to you dies. Not because someone died but because you are then aware that your time will come soon. And when you see decarceration made impossible for terminally ill prisoners then you realize that nobody will ever feel sorry for you. Fear reigns in here. I’m afraid that I might not see the guy next to me alive again. I’m afraid I might not wake up again. I’m afraid that all my life will be wasted inside this hospital. Which life? The one I don’t have. Death is crawling in here.”

N. 43 years old

Convicted to 13 years in prison for car theft and launching a criminal organization

”I suffer from diabetic retinopathy and I gradually lost my sight. I had 16 operations without any positive outcome. Today I can only see shadows and cannot take care of myself. The prison manager in Halkida did not accept me in the facility so I was sent to the prison hospital in Korydallos.

I was 22 when I went into prison for the first time and I was later convicted to 13 years for car theft and launching a criminal organization.

I rely on the assistance of other inmates because I can’t eat nor go to the toilet by myself. My life is terrible since I live in the darkness. I’m not optimistic that I ‘ll be released someday. Why would they let me out when dying men are not released? The other day a man in the final stage of cancer died. He was left to rot in his bed. I can’t see but I can hear plently that’s what upsets me the most. I heard that so-and-so died, I was told ”don’t sit there, you ‘ll contract TB”  so I don’t even know where to go or sit. I am not aware of what goes on around me. Apart from a few exceptions everyone in here looks out for themselves and their own interests. I guess it’s normal, since this is a prison.

So I just sit on a bed and wait. In my mind there’s an image of the hospital from previous years and I can imagine it’s now in a much worse state. People come in here fine and leave in cascets. A month ago an inmate was sitting down in the corridor and suddenly died of heart failure.  Last week, I heard one of the staff screaming ”We are losing him, we are losing him ”. I could not understand what was going on until I heard a death rattle and then I knew. I ‘m not only a prisoner. I ‘m a prisoner within me. Dark in the darkness.

K. 58 years old

Convicted for unlawful impersonation to 7 years in prison

”I had a stroke and my health has deteriorated. My disability is estimated at 95%. I suffer from ankylosis on both of my legs and can’t even sit on a wheelchair. I must do physiotherapy every day but there is no recovery centre here. So, I must wait for a police-car or an ambulance to take me to the hospital, which ofcourse never happens. The conditions in the hospital are terrible. There used to be a gym and a physical therapy unit, but now there is nothing left. Every day somebody dies. I ‘m afraid… I don’t want to die. Fortunately, my brother comes  to visit once a month and gives me 100 euro. When I came into prison I was standing up now I’m in a ward full of disabled patients. We ‘ll rot and they won’t even notice. It’s a hell hole in here.”

translation: BlackCat

 

Prisoners in ”Kolastirio” tell VICE their stories

December 8th

Alexia Tsaggari
 
On Feb. 15h 2014, 180 ill prisoners detained in St. Paul Prison Hospital, which is part of Korydallos Prison, decided to stage a public protest for the terrible conditions of detention via a twitter account. Simultaneously, they stopped taking their medications and abstained from prison rations. Despite the international outcry against Greece and the promise for change made by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice, no  essential improvements have been made regarding the conditions of hospitalization inside the notorious Kolastirio. Last Friday, a man in the final stage of cancer became another name on the long list of people who died inside the prison hospital. Five prisoners out of the 150 detained in St. Paul Prison Hospital, tell VICE their stories.

E.A., 45 years old

Convicted for attempted robbery and homicide, currently serves a life sentence

”It was January 1994, when I was first sent to prison in Nafplion, (Nothern Greece). Throughout the years I have been in every prison in the country and faced 49 disciplinary hearings which led me to solitary confinement. Now my sentence is served, 21 years without work… However, two months ago the Pireaus Court rejected my appeal for release under the pretext of not being rehabilitated.

I have been in the hospital for ten years and suffer from acute conditions of the circulatory system. Three years ago I had my foot cut off because of gangrene. Four months ago I was transferred to another hospital for a routine blood test. While I was there I was administered an IV and the last thing I remember was the doctor saying ”Saw, now”. When I woke up I couldn’t understand what had happened. A cleaner informed they had cut off my other leg. Nobody asked me and nobody even cared about the condition of my health. I believe that my leg could have been saved. I have two open sores which won’t heal and the doctors apply vaseline as a treatment.

I ‘d rather die instead of live like this, sitting on a wheelchair  incapable to look after myself. I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself. There are no words to describe the conditions inside the prison hospital. I have seen over 100 prisoners die in here. When somebody dies, he gets transferred out of here very quickly, then the police come, take a statement and the case is closed. Some of the people recovering here have already given up on their medications and those who have the strength will abstain from rations too.

It feels like a fire burning inside me. My father does not know the truth. What am I supposed to tell him? That both of my legs above the knee were cut off? He won’t be able to take it. I did promise him that we ‘d spend this Christmas together, but when the court ruled against my appeal I didn’t even call him. I don’t believe that I ‘ll ever get out of here. I ‘m determined to go on hunger strike until I die. Because I know now, that I ‘ll die in here. 

M. 45 years old

Convicted to 300 months in prison for financial crimes

”I have been in the prison hospital for seven years. I had a septicaemic episode which almost killed me. My disability is over 80%. This is not a hospital because there is no red cross and no healthcare. Last February the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice made a promise that conditions would be improved, but unfortunately nothing has changed since then. And ofcourse, none of them ever came in here. We were written-off. They only made a few superficial improvements but essentially nothing has been done.

My family does not know that I’m in prison. They think I moved to another city for work. I call them every day so they won’t get suspicious. Personally, I don’t have any hope that I ‘ll ever come out of here alive. The worst time for me was when TB spread in here and patients contracted it from each other. The other very intense moment I remember was when I woke up one morning, gave a pat on the guy next to me and realised he was dead. He was in the final stage of cancer and appealed for release multiple times. All those appeals were rejected and then one day he just didn’t wake up. Fear starts when someone next to you dies. Not because someone died but because you are then aware that your time will come soon. And when you see decarceration made impossible for terminally ill prisoners then you realize that nobody will ever feel sorry for you. Fear reigns in here. I’m afraid that I might not see the guy next to me alive again. I’m afraid I might not wake up again. I’m afraid that all my life will be wasted inside this hospital. Which life? The one I don’t have. Death is crawling in here.”

N. 43 years old

Convicted to 13 years in prison for car theft and launching a criminal organization

”I suffer from diabetic retinopathy and I gradually lost my sight. I had 16 operations without any positive outcome. Today I can only see shadows and cannot take care of myself. The prison manager in Halkida did not accept me in the facility so I was sent to the prison hospital in Korydallos.

I was 22 when I went into prison for the first time and I was later convicted to 13 years for car theft and launching a criminal organization.

I rely on the assistance of other inmates because I can’t eat nor go to the toilet by myself. My life is terrible since I live in the darkness. I’m not optimistic that I ‘ll be released someday. Why would they let me out when dying men are not released? The other day a man in the final stage of cancer died. He was left to rot in his bed. I can’t see but I can hear plently that’s what upsets me the most. I heard that so-and-so died, I was told ”don’t sit there, you ‘ll contract TB”  so I don’t even know where to go or sit. I am not aware of what goes on around me. Apart from a few exceptions everyone in here looks out for themselves and their own interests. I guess it’s normal, since this is a prison.

So I just sit on a bed and wait. In my mind there’s an image of the hospital from previous years and I can imagine it’s now in a much worse state. People come in here fine and leave in cascets. A month ago an inmate was sitting down in the corridor and suddenly died of heart failure.  Last week, I heard one of the staff screaming ”We are losing him, we are losing him ”. I could not understand what was going on until I heard a death rattle and then I knew. I ‘m not only a prisoner. I ‘m a prisoner within me. Dark in the darkness.

K. 58 years old

Convicted for impersonation to 7 years in prison

”I had a stroke and my health has deteriorated. My disability is estimated at 95%. I suffer from ankylosis on both of my legs and can’t even sit on a wheelchair. I must do physiotherapy every day but there is no recovery centre here. So, I must wait for a police-car or an ambulance to take me to the hospital, which ofcourse never happens. The conditions in the hospital are terrible. There used to be a gym and a physical therapy unit, but now there is nothing left. Every day somebody dies. I ‘m afraid… I don’t want to die. Fortunately, my brother comes  to visit once a month and gives me 100 euro. When I came into prison I was standing up now I’m in a ward full of disabled patients. We ‘ll rot and they won’t even notice. It’s a hell hole in here.”

Οι Ασθενείς-Κρατούμενοι του «Κολαστηρίου» Διηγούνται στο VICE τις Ιστορίες τους | VICE | Greece

 

 

image

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of