John Forrester, a prisoner at Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington state succeeded in castrating himself with a shaving razor this week. It was the second attempt by the man and only the latest case of self-mutilation by prisoners.
Penile amputations and mutilations are a constant problem within the prison system, often by prisoners who are found sane under the current high standards for insanity. For a prior such case, click here.
These cases often raise serious questions about our current standards for insanity that exclude many of the most serious cases of mental illness. For a prior column, click here.
There has always been a high number of prisoners with mental health problems in our system. However, the increased use of super max facilities and segregation often magnifies these numbers as well as the acute conditions brought by overcrowding. In Forester’s case, he was eventually placed in a unit with mental health capabilities.
Forester was convicted on July 1, 1977, for aggravated first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole.
2 thoughts on “Prisoner Castrates Himself In Washington State Prison”
The Japanese have an interesting cultural take on prisons we could take a lesson from. They focus on community rehabilitation over prison when possible. Prisons are considered “School for Criminals” and should be avoided except when necessary. But they don’t think that they are a substitute for a mental hospital either.
It seemed to me when Jeffery Dhamer was judged sane and could stand trial that that was the day it was revealed that no one trusts the justice system anymore. There are people that a society can’t take the chance will ever be let out from their prison and the only way to do that is to disregard the possibility of a madman being deemed cured. So everyone says an obviously insane cannibal is mentally fit to stand trial.
I think it goes beyond that too. No one believes in the rehabilitative nature of incarceration anymore and with good reason. Prisons are just warehouses and even they are reflective of a justice system that favors some based on social status and connections.
If you’re well connected you do easy time in a minimum security campus and if you’re no you do hard time. Bernie Madhoff is under house arrest and demonstrators at the RNC are being charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism under provisions of the Homeland Security statute. Certain classes of people and ‘crimes’ are now considered disposable and dangerous (by the government and citizenry) and prisons are just where they get put to neutralize them.
The system of incarcerating people in hospitals has no credibility either. Who goes and how long they stay are also politically driven. No one wants dangerous people put in a State hospital that might release them just because there’s a budget shortfall or the Governor decides maintaining them is a fiscal drain on their budget. Remember California under Regan?
No one respects or trusts the mechanisms to deal with people like Mr. Forrester. They are also burdened by two grossly stigmatizing attributes, they have acted violently and are insane; not too many people are worried about how they will be treated or fare during whatever treatment is imposed upon them. It doesn’t speak well for our society.
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