Mark: 17 people have died at MSDF.… I was almost one of them

My name is Mark. I am currently being housed at Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility. I would like to give a first-hand account on what is going on here. Let me start by saying this is by far the worst facility I’ve ever been in. MSDF (as it’s known) is housing inmates in the worst conditions. Men are crowded into a small cell built for one person, three at a time. The third man is placed into a plastic bin on the floor called a boat. These boats force the inmate to sleep on the floor less than 1 foot away from the toilet all three men relieve themselves in. The placement of three men in the cell makes it impossible to move. This forces the three men to remain in the bed for the entire [time] they are locked in.

Video visits, no in-person visits with loved ones

MSDF goes above and beyond to make sure the inmate and the family of the inmate are as uncomfortable as possible. The units at MSDF, with the exception of two, are not air-conditioned, nor is the visiting area. Men are locked in for 22 hours in sweltering heat. The family members that come to see the inmates are forced to sit in a hot humid visiting room to visit their loved ones on a small television monitor. No contact is allowed. The staff at MSDF are in a climate-controlled center all day and only come out for a total of 3 1/2 hours on first shift and 4 1/2 hours on second shift. Third shift does a routine walk-through around every hour until end of shift.

Mark: I saw a mentally ill man beaten, pepper sprayed, strapped to chair

MSDF has nothing in place for inmates to be classified upon intake. Men with assaultive backgrounds are placed with non-violent offenders. Felony offenders and misdemeanor offenders are housed together. Many of the men at MSDF suffer from mental health issues. These men are often housed and treated the same as inmates with no mental health issues. I had the chance to witness firsthand an inmate with mental health issues cut himself while being housed on a general population unit. He was taken in segregation. I witnessed the inmate “Bailey” abused at the hands of MSDF staff. Over the course of seven days, I saw this man beaten, pepper sprayed, strapped to a chair for over 15 hours naked and unable to move. Then he was strapped to a bed unable to move. This for cutting himself. I have never seen anything so cruel in my 49 years of life. MSDF is continuing these practices despite numerous news reports and agencies pushing for the closure of the facility. They feel they are above the LAW.

Mark: No inhalers for asthma for 12 days

Seventeen people have died at MSDF have since 2001. I was almost one of them. On April 21, 2017, I was brought to MSDF for allegedly violating a rule of my supervision. When I arrived, I notified the medical staff I have asthma and required two inhalers. Two days later I still had no inhalers and began to have severe headaches. I informed the staff repeatedly. I was having shortness of breath and severe headaches. Nothing was done. I eventually blacked out and collapsed in the shower and hit my head on the floor. I was rushed to Mount Sinai emergency room by an EMT. I was diagnosed with sinusitis (sinus infection) and conjunctivitis (pink eye). I was forced to suffer for 15 days before getting medical treatment or inhalers, this only because I collapsed and had to be transported out. The current hold I am on, it took 12 days for MSDF to issue me my inhalers. …

Mark: Proper legal counsel denied

Men are denied proper legal counsel. The phone system in place is in inaudible. The caller cannot hear the receiver of the call and the receiver cannot hear you. The caseload of the public defenders are so backed up. They may not see the offender they are assigned to defend until the day of the hearing. Then they walk in unprepared and advise the inmate to take a plea and offer little to no defense at all.

Mark: Revoked with no charges

Thousands of men are being revoked and sent to prison with no charges. There are men here being revoked for being shot. I was revoked for being arrested even though I was not charged with a crime. I left a convicted felon in my wife’s car alone for over 30 minutes while I was in the house of a relative. I came out to find him in handcuffs and under arrest for being in possession of an open intoxicant and possession of heroin and cocaine. I was arrested and taken for the same drugs. The DA released us both with no charges. The agent supervising my parole used the arrest report as a grounds for revocation. I was given 18 months after being on my parole for 3 1/2 years. The 3 1/2 years is now placed back on my time to be served. The 3 1/2 years of compliance counts for nothing and I receive no credit for it. This extends my maximum discharge date from 2021 to 2025. They say it was unbelievable the drugs in the car were placed there by the felon during his 30 minutes alone inside the car. I was employed and making $20.53 an hour at the time. …

Mark: Access to drug programs denied based on race

MSDF is [mostly] African-American and Latino populated. The alternative to revocation drug programs are [mostly] white populated. This is blatant racism. 1 g of heroin for a black man is years in prison, for a white man 90 days in a program. This is done on a regular basis.

No sun, no fresh air

In addition to this we are not allowed to see the sun or have any fresh air. “Sensory deprivation.” It has taken me months to get my vision and sensitivity to light back to normal after being here on previous holds.

I pray you help put an end to the corruption, negligence and mistreatment of these men and myself. The department of corrections and MSDF are violating our civil rights on a daily basis.

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