I know it’s been a while since we’ve posted an update, but we lost our webmaster months ago and have only very recently found someone to take this responsibility on for us —we are very grateful! Since John last sent us an update to post, he has been moved 2 times and is now back at Northpoint “Training” Center in Burgin, KY. He was sent to Northpoint from Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville, KY and it was there that John was the victim of a horrifying attack on August 29th, the focus of this update.
Before I describe this horror to you, I can only imagine what you might think if you’ve never had a loved one in prison and are not familiar with the way things are in the world of the incarcerated. I would be thinking the same too if this wasn’t my experience now: “How can that be? How was that allowed? Aren’t guards there to prevent things like this? Are you sure that’s what happened and you’re not exaggerating? John must have done something wrong or have deserved this in some way, right? But John’s a Ranger Vet—couldn’t he hold his own?”
I do understand these thoughts. But try to understand, as I have, that prison is a place where nothing makes sense and the rules of law and decency and practicality that might be a part of our lives on the outside have no relevance to the “inside” experience. It is truly a system easily—and usually—corruptible and corrupted. It is not a system designed to rehabilitate, it is one designed to punish, and then punish again. Inmates turn on one another for the least things of value, gangs are rampant with guards sometimes participating, and fear is the over-arching theme—fear of not being safe, fear of going to the “hole”, fear of intimidation and retaliation. John in many ways has been able to avoid many confrontations because of his physical presence, his Ranger training and creed, and his reserved demeanor. He is a warrior who doesn’t want to fight, but he will do so when he has to defend himself. Otherwise he will be killed. It’s just that sickening, and sadly that simple in prison.
On Aug 29th, a prison guard responsible for opening prisoner’s cells remotely opened John’s cell door. This allowed 6 dangerous prisoners to enter the locked cell of my nephew, a decorated 911 veteran and former Army Ranger. He was able to fight off the first two but then the others rushed in. The men tortured him for as much as an hour and a half, stabbing him and beating him with a padlock on a rope swung into his head face and body. His hair—which he had proudly grown very long, kept well-groomed and tied up– was shorn off crudely as well as his beard. Guards, including one supervisor, walked past the cell two or more times (as they are required to do) or never walked by—either way, it is a violation of the prisons procedures (Videos exist to prove this timeline) as affirmed by the prison security director. All of his belongings—clothing and all possessions—were stolen and his precious guitar which offers him a very much needed creative and emotional outlet was broken over this body. He had very hot water from the kettle in his cell poured on his lower body.
The assault that guards could have stopped continued and my nephew who risked his life in both the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and earned a purple heart looking for bin Laden in Tora Bora was almost killed. He received no medical treatment until–after visiting his son and seeing firsthand the injuries on August 31st–my brother, who is John Calvin‘s father, wrote a passionate and official letter to the warden upon returning back home to Colorado. I was with John Calvin and my brother at visitation on Nov. 1st and I can’t tell you how difficult it was to keep my demeanor together when I saw my nephew because I didn’t want him to be even more dismayed. I was able to do so that despite the fact that the left side of my nephews face was easily 30-40% larger than the right side due to the swelling in his head, he had a black eye and his hair and beard that he was so proud to take care of had been crudely cut, with some patches of skin showing through.
One the day that the Warden receiving my brother’s letter, John Calvin was taken to an emergency room in Richmond. They photographed and identified injuries only from the waist up (he received 2nd degree burns below the waist in the attack), received a shot of morphine and no treatment for the injuries to his head after being beaten with a padlock, despite Kentucky DOC’s knowledge that he is certified by the VA as 100% disabled with PTS and brain injury ( Kentucky’s Department of Corrections were given the VA medical records years ago) This visit to the ER, which occurred in the evening, was short and simply confirmed the injuries John already knew that he had. John returned to the prison in shackles around midnight. Ultimately weeks after the attack—and after the 3rd letter sent to the Warden from John Calvin’s dad John, John Calvin was seen by a maxilla facial surgeon for his face–Dr. Laui from UK Medical Center on September 16th. The doctor said he wouldn’t do surgery (the prison medical certainly wouldn’t pay) and that his face would “probably” heal in a year (but in what condition??) Then he asked John how his injuries happened, and when John Calvin told him, he was horrified and said (like you might) “How is this possible?” He also said he was writing in the official notes of the visit that John needed to see a neurologist. John was in the “medical” wing of the prison for about 2-3 weeks—no medical treatment there—and then was released by the medical doctor and into Solitary Confinement (aka “the hole”). The 6 attackers were all in the “hole” with John, yelling and mocking him from their cells. A week later, at least 3 of those men were released into general population and others moved to another prison. Meanwhile, John the victim remained in Solitary…. With no books, a concrete slab for a bed, a bare toilet and sink.
Think about this—John was traumatized by this attack. The nightmares and voices he suffered for years after his wartime experience had largely ceased, but both returned after this attack happened. He was moved to Solitary where he was alone and in a cell for 23 hrs. of the day. He is in pain, he can’t eat, and he has nothing to do. He is called names and mocked; there is screaming and other noise in the “hole” 24 hours a day. Just think about that for a moment….This is where he stayed for weeks until his recent transfer.
At the time this attack on my nephew occurred, it appeared to us through some of their actions and words that prison administration was concerned about the attack– due to their deliberate indifference in allowing the attack to occur. Perhaps guards actively encouraged it. We know they actively participation in the assault – opening the door, failing to meet policy for inspection walks in the pod – this was the reason that the attack occurred. The last celar chance in presenting this attack lay with the very authorities responsible for preventing violence in their prison. However, as of today, no response to the 3 official letters sent to the Warden, the KY Sec. of Justice, to 2 State Senators on the justice committee. NONE. And now that John has been moved, there is no process to sue for medical treatment or the attack.
It’s now almost 2 months later and he has still not been seen by a brain specialist. (The Lee County Adjustment Center Doctor=who works for a for-profit private prison company called CareDivic—refused to see John for over 2 week. when she did see him (probably precipitated by John’s father’s numerous letters), she told him it will take at least 6 month to see a neurologist) There are documented numerous broken bones in John’s face, his nose is broken, his ribs are broken, and as a result he has difficulty breathing. Nerve damage from the assault has left one side of his face numb from the lip up to the eye, he has a twitch in his eye and his vision goes in and out. He believes that he is losing his vision in his left eye. He has horrible headaches, he lost about 30 pounds and he is hearing voices and suffering nightmares. He experienced these same voices and nightmares when he returned from the war, but they began receding in 2006. The assault brought him full circle, to where he was when he returned from 3 combat tours. The Commonwealth of Kentucky turned to CoreCivic again two years after firing them for inadequate medical care and controlling the violence in their facilities. The very reason they were fired is what John endured now. CoreCivic and the Department of Corrections to date refuse to provide any real medical care for pain and injury and for the brain trauma brought on by this grievous assault.
Our limited personal experience with the Warden at Lee County Adjustment Center informs us that he doesn’t like family members who rock the boat…and he is not used to dealing with family members like us. It’s so sad to think that this situation happens to macu prisoners—Most prisoners have no family that will stand up for them! We believe that John Calvin’s precarious condition was brought on by torture, torture the Warden’s people actively allowed to occur. This administrator also does not like our “demands” for reasonable medical care to mitigate the results of his facility’s indeliberate indifference to John’s needs for humane medical care. We do not believe it is too much to ask that DOC provide this decorated combat veteran basic medical care. It appears to us that Core Civic, and perhaps even KyDOC, disagree. As John says, al-Qaeda POWs receive better health care than what he received in his own country in the DOC system.
John has now been shunted off to Northpoint Prison but as of this writing has still not received any medical care for his broken bones, his nerve damage in his face, and more importantly for the traumatic brain trauma exacerbated by this attack. He is still very sore, and is sometimes confused and short of memory. He also still has horrible headaches. These symptoms are very alarming to us—John is a very intelligent young man (one semester shy of a college degree) with great communication skills. We are very worried about permanent damage to his brain. John has been very demoralized over this attack, as you can imagine–such a strong man who fought bravely for his country under circumstances that most of us could never survive, and who felt safe in his own strength.
There has never been a more crucial time to not only pray for John, and to rally to his cause—Please click on Help Free An Innocent Man and sign our petition to the Governor of KY to reopen John’s case. We are working with an investigative journalist right now on John’s story and we have an appeal that is working its way through the very slow stages it must go through. This is a long and laborious road, the appeals take years and it is easy to grow weary and feel hopeless, but we need community around this young man to continue to encourage him. Please see my brother John—John Calvin’s dad—update on our legal battle to overturn this conviction and see his son freed. John must have his day in court with all the available testimonies and evidence that were not allowed to be heard and presented because of police and judicial malfeasance.
If you would like to write to John, please use the “contact us” button at the top and we will give you the address and tell you what the rules are for corresponding with John. If you would like to leave encouraging words for John here, please use the comment section and we will make sure he gets them!