worse than l knew

Last Wednesday I received a disturbing comment to my August 6th post, “Adult Consequences,” about then-14-year-old Blade Reed’s experiences at Wabash Valley Correctional Institution, one of Indiana’s maximum security adult prisons. Tonya Meadows told me that the horrors suffered by Blade, as listed in my post, were “much milder” than the true picture as it unfolded.

“I was privy to the information when Stephen received it,” Tonya said. (Stephen is Bade’s advocate and legal guardian.) “When he read me the documentation, we both wept. We couldn’t sleep for days…  Every time Stephen and I thought it couldn’t get any worse—it did.”

Tonya said I did not describe the severe injuries Blade suffered on an hourly basis. “In the prison documentation, it records Blade entering the prison infirmary with severe injuries from one attack only to return hours later with significant new injuries from additional attacks. There is documentation of Blade getting stitches in his head only to return later to receive additional stitches in new areas of the head.”

She encouraged me to ask Stephen for the documentation in order to paint you a truer picture. I asked Stephen why he had withheld this information; he had been holding back out of his natural disinclination to sensationalize any child’s story, but especially Blade’s.

Blade is autistic and had the mental capacity of an 8-year-old at the time of the murder. Brown County’s prosecutor Jim Oliver had succeeded in getting a 30-year sentence for Blade to be served in an adult prison where predatory inmates and violent guards prey upon vulnerable kids like Blade.

Stephen has been working for at least two years to get Blade reassigned to a humane setting, and he was worried that disclosure of the full facts would lead to more reprisals against Blade—especially by cowardly and twisted prison staff members who seem to derive perverse pleasure from inflicting so many torments on Blade.

“Well, Tonya’s forcing your hand,” I said.

“Yeah, I don’t know what to think,” he answered. But a couple days later he sent me selected infirmary reports. “There are more, but these are the worst ones,” he said. (So Stephen’s still holding back.)

Thus, with these infirmary reports added in and shown in italics, here is a revised litany of the abuse Blade Reed has suffered at Wabash:

January 6, 2010 – A much older inmate attempts to rape Blade. Blade fought back and there was a heated verbal altercation.  Blade entered the infirmary with a swollen left eye, and several bruises. Blade was written up and received 2 weeks in solitary confinement as well as the loss of 15 days of his 2-for-1 good time.

March 4, 2010 – Blade had a temperature of 100, and refused to attend class that day. He was written up for his refusal and lost phone and recreation privileges for 1 week.

March 29, 2010 – A much older inmate raped Blade in the shower. Blade was punished with 15 days in solitary confinement, 15 days loss of 2-for-1 good time, and loss of phone privileges for 1 month.

April 16, 2010 – Blade attempted suicide by slitting his wrists. He was punished with the loss of 2 more weeks of phone privileges, and loss of recreation privileges for 2 weeks.

April 22, 2010 – Upset that his room was disrupted by guards during a search, Blade refused to clean up the mess. He was written up for refusing to obey an order, but received no other punishment.

April 30, 2010 –Blade retrieved a basketball during recreation without asking the guard first. He was written up for being in an unauthorized area, and lost recreation and commissary privileges for 2 weeks.

May 24, 2010 – Following horse-playing with his roommate (the first roommate he had since his arrival at Wabash), Blade was written up for disruptive, unruly, and rowdy conduct. He lost recreation and phone privileges for 2 weeks.

May 27, 2010 – Blade tattoos himself and cuts his arm. He was written up for disfigurement and lost recreation, phone, and commissary privileges for 2 more weeks.

June 7, 2010 – Blade was raped again by another inmate in the shower, and cut with a razor. Blade managed to get the razor away from his assailant after being cut, and cut the other inmate. Blade was punished with 1 year solitary confinement. Afterwards Blade wrote to Stephen: “The CCU (consolidated control unit) section where I’m at, there are two gang members with violent histories. They took a padlock to some dude and cut his face all up. All they got was 3 months here in solitary. I defend myself, and they give me a year in here. Why?

July 22, 2010 – Blade shut down while coming back from the showers, and dropped to the floor in a fetal position. The guards said Blade kicked one of them while they were cuffing and shackling him (causing a bruised rib). Blade entered the infirmary with severely bruised ribs, several facial cuts including a cut over left eye which required 6 stitches, also a possible concussion. Blade never said who did it, but if you look at the reports from the guards from the same day, it’s a pretty good guess that it was the guards who beat the crap out of him. Blade was written up and received 1 additional month of solitary confinement.

August 2, 2010 – Blade attempts suicide a second time by slitting his wrists. He is punished with 2 more weeks of solitary confinement.

August 5, 2010 – Blade attempts suicide a third time by slitting his wrists. He is punished with 2 more weeks of solitary confinement. He was also written up for covering the camera monitor in his solitary cell, and was punished with 3 more weeks of solitary confinement.

August 8, 2010Blade entered the infirmary after overdosing on painkillers.

August 12, 2010 – Blade attempts suicide a fourth time by cutting his arm. He is punished with 1 month additional solitary confinement. Blade was also written up for resisting while being restrained by staff, and was punished with 1 more month of solitary confinement.

August 14, 2010 – Blade was severely beaten in the solitary shower area by another inmate. After he was injured, Blade once again managed to get the weapon away from and cut the attacker in self-defense. Blade entered the infirmary with a broken index finger, and several cuts on both palms (defensive wounds), knuckles, arms, and face. Blade was punished with 6 months additional time in solitary confinement.

August 17, 2010Blade entered the infirmary after overdosing once again on pain killers.

August 26, 2010 – Blade was assaulted and injured again in the solitary shower area by another inmate. Blade managed to defend himself and got the weapon away from his assailant. Blade entered the infirmary with cuts to both upper legs and groin area, also had issues breathing. He was taken to a local hospital where it was found he had broken ribs and a punctured lung. Blade was punished with 6 months additional time in solitary confinement and loss of all 2-for-1 good time.

September 5 and 6, 2010 – Blade was written up again for covering camera monitor in his solitary confinement cell.

September 10, 2010 – Blade was injured during a takedown by staff. He entered the infirmary with a broken nose, trouble breathing (ribs) and received 12 stitches in the back of the head for a severe laceration. Staff says Blade resisted takedown, but Blade denies this. There were no camera reports. He received a write-up, and of course was punished with 1 more month of solitary confinement.

September 12, 2010 – While recuperating in the medical unit from his staff-inflicted injuries, Blade was injured by another inmate. Blade tried to get the weapon away from the other inmate, and was injured again by staff trying to subdue him and “de-escalate” the situation. Because Blade resisted, he was written up and punished with 6 months of additional solitary confinement time, and placed on “habitual violator” status. Because a desk was broken during the “de-escalation,” Blade was also written up for destruction of state property.

October 15, 2010Blade entered the infirmary with a broken left wrist and immobilized hand suffered in an attack by staff. This was the second injury to the same hand, which had been injured previously at Johnson County Juvenile while Blade was being held there pre-sentencing. Blade submitted to wrist surgery, and while partial function has been restored to his hand, he will live with residual problems for the rest of his life.

(Mr. Oliver, does this please you? Do you still think justice has been done?)

What will parents in Brown County think of such “adult consequences”?

After Stephen got lawyers involved, the administrators at Wabash belatedly recognized they had a problem, and the sadist guards were fired and the repeated beatings and rape attempts against Blade ceased. It is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time that Blade was able to survive this ordeal.

I chuckled the other day when Stephen told me that Blade “has a thing for turtles. He loves ‘em,” as Stephen said with a note of bemusement in his voice. No wonder, I thought.

I cannot shake the image of Blade curled in a fetal position—turtle-like—his torso and head being beaten by those brutal, screaming guards. I can imagine Blade trying to withdraw further into an imaginary shell as the blood began to fill his eyes, as they beat him so bad about the head that he suffered headaches for days afterwards.

Blade loves turtles. What could make more sense?

The turtle is a prominent symbol of steadfastness, tranquility, tenacity, and strength in religion, mythology, and folklore from around the world. Its shell is thought to protect it from any foe.

Because it is a slow, peaceful creature, the turtle is often misconceived as “slow,” but in Aesop’s fable a tortoise defeats an overconfident hare in a race. In African fairy tales, the tortoise is depicted as the cleverest animal. In Tibet it is a symbol of creativity. In the cosmological myths of some Native American cultures, the turtle carries the world upon its back and supports the heavens. In Tahiti it is seen as the lord of the oceans because sea turtles migrate over such great distances in the oceans and the Tahitians revere them for this ability. In Polynesia the tortoise personifies the war god, and tortoise tattoos were customary among warriors.

Blade could not have picked a more appropriate animal totem to help him endure the unendurable while we continue to try to get him out of that horrible prison. Let’s hope and pray it helps him to be strong, survive, and go far.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Da Palani with Nevergreen performing “The Turtle”

20 Responses to “worse than l knew”

  1. 1 Gloria
    August 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Those sadistic guards should have been arrested and incarcerated. Just fired them is not enough. God, this is really sickening. And after that, why there are still kids on that place? Why they continue doing it?:(

  2. 2 Kelly
    August 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    When I started to read this post I had figured all the details wouldn’t/couldn’t be posted. I am glad I was wrong and that you posted the details about what happened. How digusting!! This should NOT ever be allowed, but sadly, I am sure it happens a lot. So much of it is covered up. Thank you again for exposing the TRUTH. What can be done?

  3. 3 matt
    August 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Perhaps Brown County (and for that matter, all of Indiana) needs to be made aware of what is going on, on their behalf. Any chance of buying newspaper editorial space to enlighten them?

  4. 4 abram
    August 14, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    That is a good idea Matt. Expose the criminal acts towards these juveniles and maybe the public will be enraged to do something. But then what if the guards punish the juvenile for complaining about it? Put a cam which is never allowed to be off or not functional on every guard; this way the juvenile can never be punished for exposing any guard’s wrongdoing.

    • 5 matt
      August 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm

      Obviously a delicate maneuver. Unfortunately, to “genericize” such an editorial letter might take away much of the impact, as folks may consider it fiction. This is something that is best left to experienced people like Stephen and Tonya and perhaps attorneys to assess.

  5. 6 abram
    August 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    A cam on every guard will make them think twice and they will tend to act civil and professionally for they will know they are at risk of joining the prison population if they don’t.. I also think they should be trained to be more compassionate or at least to reduce their animal instincts.

  6. 7 abram
    August 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Lastly don’t ever put any juvenile in an adult prison. That is a crime in of itself for it tends to cause the juvenile to become a danger to society – if ever released – or to end up dead, from the barbaric treatment they receive.

  7. 8 abram
    August 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Stephen and Tonya yes, but show me attorneys who are interested in justice rather than money and I’ll show you a mouse – they have no clout.
    A cam should quell the fiction notion.

  8. August 15, 2011 at 4:34 am

    This kind of torture is totally unacceptable. Men with power abusing the weak, because they are given the authority to do so! I do not believe a child should ever be placed in a adult facility. Think about it… a child trying to function in a mans world. It doesn’t take Einstein to realize Somthing is wrong with that equation. These officers should be brought up on criminal charges. It is against the law to assault any one. Furthermore, its called Felony Child Abuse, to abuse a child.

  9. 10 steve morgan
    August 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

    let me at them. how dare they let boy at a young age get raped by a older man. he should of not been raped at any age. the boys has a disability thats not being treated. now i cry. Blade needs to be taking at them or boy is gonna die. he may wish he was dead. who can blame him, physical, emotionally, menatally, healthy, sexual abuse going on. those people who has hurt young blade has totally destroyed him. Blade is a kid, hes no animal or a bin laden scumbag. well i say whoever id doing stuff to blade is a scumbag. if i was able to be there i would stop that person, people hurting a boy. Hes a human being a kid, a gift from God. I would find a home for blade if i could. what did he do to get abused and raped and almost dying. Nothing. Blade don’t deserve a hard beating from the scums creeps whos harming Blade. YOUI HAVE GONE TO FAR HURTING HIM AND ANY OTHER KID YOU MAY OF HURT. EVEN A KID WITH METAL PROBLEMS, DISABILITY. HOW SHALLOW. LOW.I better say no more at this time, this burns me angries me dont wanna be accused of threats to these people whos trying to kill blade amke him suffer and dont wanna say bad words. dont wanna be in prison and get beat also. what waste for people are for sure. SO I SAY BACK OFF BLADE NOW. REMOVE HIM NOW NOW NOW. I DONT CARE WHAT THOSE OFFICERS, JUDGE, PROSECUTOR, ABUSERS THINK OF ME. BLADE WE ALL LOVE YOU AND PRAYING FOR YOU. RELEASE BLADE NOW AND I MEAN IT.

  10. 11 Stephen
    August 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Most of Blade’s issues at Wabash, as you can see, were during a specific time frame when guards had access to him who were sadistic and who had a hit-first-ask questions-later mentality. Those guards/staff members are long gone. He has had some issues since these, but they have been minor compared to what happened during the above time frame.

    He has been put through so much in his life, and yes, turtles are the perfect species for Blade to emulate. Blade is extremely creative, and does feel as if the world is on his back.

    A child deserves every chance to get it right-they are after all, just that…..CHILDREN.

    I don’t know how Mr. Oliver, and other prosecutors like him, can live with themselves, full well, knowing what abuse likely awaits kids whom they sentence to the adult prison system. They should be ashamed of what damage they are doing to the future, our children.

    Blade deserves a second chance in life, not continuing to rot away, and losing more of himself every day that he’s locked up. He is a great kid, and it is an honor to call him family, even though we are not blood relatives. But in our hearts….we are.

  11. 12 Jessica
    March 5, 2012 at 10:41 am

    You seriously need to check your facts!

    • March 5, 2012 at 11:07 am

      Oh? What makes you think I have not checked them? I would not be writing about these facts if we did not have documentation from the prison thoroughly documenting these abuses against Blade.

      And who are you, anyway, Jessica? Are you in possession of documents describing contrary information? If so, then I challenge you to produce your information. We are only interested in the truth here.

      (A little later… ) Hey, Jessica, we just checked your IP address to see who you are. Why didn’t you just tell us that you work for the state of Indiana? Do you work for the Indiana Department of Corrections? Engaged in a little disinformation campaigning, are we?

    • March 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      Jessica take a hike young lady suggest u back off and do as dan and say why don’t u jessica take a hike with all the other uncaring people who don’t know what justice is and the ones that abusing blade various ways. Blade needs special help with his issues with disability and he is going thru so much beyond hell now has been since hes been in tht god forsaken hell hole adult prison by demon guards Who needs to have their ;;; kicked hard messing with Blade Blade don’t need your abuse either jessica so back off blade ok.

  12. 15 Michael
    March 9, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I’m the grandson of the elderly man brutily murdered and my grandmother who was also brutily attacked when she had just asked to put a pillow under my grandfathers head after he had been shot in it and was lying on the floor. This boy who was part of the stabbing, shooting, and throut slashing of her. My grandmother helped these boys when the one had been shot, giving him bandages, towels, alchol to clean it after all this had already been done to her. This boy made his choice and commited adult acts, and thus deserves adult consequences. I can fight and argue that anyone has issues, but no issue gives one the right to do this. Bennie and Blade reed deserve every bit of the punishment they get, physical, mental. As far as Brown County or Jim Oliver goes we did the right thing in giving him the sentence, if more severe punishments would be given to those who deserve them then maybe crimes of this nature would deminish.

    • March 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      First of all, Michael, I am sorry for your loss, and I do mean it.

      Blade is a troubled kid who belongs in a mental institution, not an adult prison where his symptoms are exacerbated. He is unlikely to benefit anybody but your family’s understandable desire for vengeance by being where he’s at. He deserves the compassion of all who deal with him, otherwise we are coming down to his and his brother’s level. We’re better than that.

    • 17 Serjo
      August 11, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      “I can fight and argue that anyone has issues, but no issue gives one the right to do this.” – And no crime gives anyone the right to rape, beat and endlessly torture a young boy who obviously has some issues, especially not those fucking pigs who call themselves police officers even though they’re the worst and most disgusting kind of criminal.

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