Cecily McMillan, the graduate student and Occupy Wall Street protestor who was jailed for two months at Riker’s Island for allegedly assaulting a police officer, was released from prison last Wednesday. On coming out of the walled city, McMillan lost no time in getting back to her movement and adopting another – medical care and better facilities for inmates. McMillan claims that in her two months as a Riker’s prisoner she saw and heard of many instances of medical malpractice in the prison, and is now a devoted activist for the movement for prison reforms.
How about just getting a job and contributing to society many people wonder? How about fighting for health care reform since Obamacare has destroyed the insurance plan for millions? How about not defending criminals like yourself?
Stories from beyond the bridge
Five o’ clock on the morning of the fifth of July, Cecily was woken up by prison guards and driven in an unmarked van to Queensboro Plaza where the guards dumped her and told her that she was free to go about her life. The procedure that is followed when letting out inmates wasn’t OK with her. Despite the shock and the unwarranted treatment, McMillan was back at the gates of Riker’s fielding questions from reporters. This time, she also shed light on how her two month stay at the prison has helped her better understand the plight of the women in the system and moved her to fight for their cause.
Cecily narrated the case of an older inmate called Judith, nicknamed Jack, who died in the jail due to chronic health issues. Cecily said that her case was one that medical malpractice lawyers would have fought to take on because it clearly showed that medical negligence was rife in the country’s jails. Jack’s death was caused by an alleged high dose of methadone given to her by the jail doctor’s who also denied her an entire day of treatment when she began coughing blood later on.
In the outside world, a situation like this would have medical malpractice lawyers filing lawsuits left, right, and center against the doctor in question. But inside our jails, this is just another everyday happening. Cecily also talked about how inmates are forced to sign fake grievance forms whenever they try to voice their opinion. A woman named Alejandra, nicknamed Fat Baby, whom Cecily befriended had asked for medical care post a concussion but was refused categorically.
When she tried to file a grievance, the officials gave her a different statement and asked her to sign it. In a better world, this type of accident and inhuman treatment of a concussion patient would have earned the wrath of medical malpractice lawyers but in the jail system, situations like these go unnoticed.
Reforms, rehabilitation, and education
In her statement that Cecily read out to the press hours after her release from Riker’s Island, Cecily stated how her two month stay at the prison had made her more aware of the lacks in the system. Using her position as a political and social activist, Cecily is now campaigning for women’s rights and better rehabilitative, educational, and health care in American prisons. Also, included in her list of demands is the need for better medical care and access to medical malpractice lawyers to uphold the rights of women prisoners to better healthcare and living conditions.
Cecily wants armed robbers, killers, people that abused animals, car thieves, to be very comfortable in prison.