My name is Harold Cunningham, and I’m housed at DC correctional jail. My DC number is 233634.
I’m back after 30 years, hoping to have a new trial and hopefully be released within this year. I would like to speak on the illegal uses of the restraint chair, especially those who suffer from mental illness that are being mostly placed in these restraint chairs, and I have been placed in a restraint chair a number of times throughout my years of incarceration.
And the way the restraint chair is designed is it’s a big huge plastic chair that moves on wheels. The restraint chair within itself got its own wrist straps and restraints which is the only straps that you posed to be under while you in the restraint chair, but this is how they illegally doing it now. They placing you in three, four restraints meaning belly chain around your waist, handcuffs around your wrist, and that belly chain is tightened so tight you can barely breathe, the handcuffs around your wrist is already gonna be cutting within your wrist how tight it be on, so once they put you in a chair, and the way the chair is designed, it’s hard to describe but once you sit in it, you basically sinks down into it so the more pressure you gon’ have the belly chain, and then not only that, once they put the belly chain on and the restraint, they put in the straps that the restraint chair has on it which the strap goes around the belly chain, which is compressing the restraints even more to tighten around your waist as well as tightening the handcuffs around your wrist, and then you got the shackles around your legs and they strapped to the restraint chair as well. And this is how they used to do me.
They put you in a restraint chair- first of all, especially if someone who suffered from mental illness, which I did and be seeing psychology and everything like that, before they can put you in, they supposed to have permission from the psychologist, and it’s supposed to be for reasons that you were so disruptive, either you was a harm to yourself or you was a harm to others or it was in an accident, but before they even put you in there, they supposed to see f it’s alright with the psychologists to put you in there, if you calm down or whatever.
They do none of that, and so I used to be placed in it- once they put you there, they put you in an isolation cell, then they have you facing a blower with cold air blowing up but- this is nothing but torture, cold air blowing out on your face. This is so you won’t go to sleep. This is so you have faced all the pain and have to endure all the pain for the hours that they put you in there.
Now they both do restraint check every two hours with a nurse coming to check and see if they too tight or if they can put their finger through it which no nurses come, they don’t see if they can put their fingers through the handcuffs and see if they too tight or around the shackles as well. So I used to be in there- the Supreme Court case said you can use- the maximum of time supposed to be nine hours. I used to be in it no less than 72 hours each time.
Excruciating pain, I don’t know how I survive each time the number of times I’ve been- I’ve only been through the will of God. And I guess for me, I’ve been shackled down so many times when I was in solitary confinement for 17 and a half years when I was in ADX, the times that I was used to be shackled to the bed, shackled to concrete. All this type of stuff I bet doing is well documented from my case finally got out of ATX if you see Harold Cunningham v. Federal Bureau of Prisons.
So once again, I want to thank Prison Radio for giving me this opportunity. And I look forward- I got many poems I would like to read, and I got a book that I just finished completing the manuscript and looking to get it published. It’s called “Scars Deeper Than the Eyes Can See.” So I look for your support, and y’all got my support as I continue to fight for those who suffer from mental illness and those who suffer in prison even if they don’t suffer from mental illness.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.