From [Truthout] On March 25, 2019, Christopher Caldwell reportedly found himself nearly immobile, shackled to a bucket at Limestone Correctional Facility in Alabama. His pant legs were taped up, and his belly, feet and hands were shackled. Caldwell’s handcuffs were shackled to his belly, preventing him from moving his hands above his waist.
Caldwell had just been transferred to the prison from a relatively coveted work release center, and had already undergone extensive precautionary entrance procedures: several body cavity searches, metal detectors and drug dogs. But, per Capt. Patrick Robinson’s “bucket detail” policy — known colloquially as “shitting in a bucket” — Caldwell’s processing wasn’t complete. After guards placed him in a cell, shackled and taped him, he was told his restraints would not be removed until he “shat six times” in the bucket, according to an organizing group that platforms prisoners’ voices, Unheard Voices O.T.C.J. (Of The Concrete Jungle).
Caldwell was bound to the bucket in a cell without running water for five days. His pleas for help were either ignored by guards, or met with mace threats.
Another confined individual subjected to the “shitting in a bucket” practice, Daniel Bolden (AIS #254848), said that his memories of eating like a dog (due to constrained hands) are etched into his mind. Unable to shower, he was forced to lie near and in his own feces and urine.
The Normalization of Torture and Assault
A prisoner and organizer who goes by the pseudonym “Potential” hasn’t spent time at Limestone, but has spoken with others who have. He said they have told him that “Limestone is a different breed of prison — it has its own rules. No one wants to go there.”
Truthout spoke with Jane (name changed), a mother whose son is currently confined at Limestone. Jane wishes to remain anonymous, fearing retaliation against her son. Surveillance cameras aren’t common at Limestone, she told Truthout. Another prisoner tried to sexually assault her son, Jane said, but when he reported the incident, there was no evidence to support his complaint. And when a prisoner is placed in “lockup,” also known as administrative segregation, they are generally handled one on one, without oversight of other guards on duty, according to Potential.
Jane’s son hasn’t been subjected to bucket detail himself, but has described it to her. “Everyone knows it goes on here,” he said to her.
“Lockup is so crowded, that ADOC [Alabama Department of Corrections] started putting men in closets with the bucket for several days,” Jane explained.
These conversations follow a Department of Justice (DOJ) report released April 2, 2019, where the agency concluded that Alabama prisons, including Limestone, constitute “cruel and unusual punishment,” a violation of the Eighth Amendment. The report focused on the ways the ADOC fails to protect “prisoners from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse.” The DOJ’s investigation into Alabama prison staffs’ use of excessive force and sexual abuse is an issue “pending with the court,” according to the report.
It is unclear whether the DOJ will release a report of this investigation. But preliminary conversations with those close to the Alabama prison system indicate a second report would probably not be any less damning than the first.
Jane said that she’s been extorted by lieutenants and guards (at a facility other than Limestone) for over $10,000. “Guards stabbed my son. Then I got a call from a Lieutenant who said things would get worse for him if I didn’t send money,” she said.
Another mother of a confined son at Limestone, who was also aware of bucket detail, told Truthout, “I actually had a female guard molest me on one of our visits. She literally put her hand inside of my underwear and touch [sic] my vagina.” The mother didn’t speak up out of fear of retaliation or a denial of her visitation. [MORE]