Prison health professionals are often faced with dual loyalty conflicts between their health care duties and harmful prison procedures such as prolonged solitary confinement. This conference brought together professionals uniquely qualified to discuss abusive conditions and what it takes to protect prisoner health care and the role of health personnel in preventing torture. The conference began with a screening of Expert Witness, followed by two panel discussions. The video recording of the proceedings is divided here into brief presentations by each panelist and the audience/panel discussion at the end.
Social Workers and Allies: Prison Experiences
PANEL 1: Johnny Perez, Mary Buser, Shreya Mandel, Jack Beck, Tina Maschi
Urban Justice Center
Safe Reentry Advocate Justice Center’s Mental Health Project
“Having spent three years in solitary confinement..I’ll speak from that perspective… and then I’ll talk a little bit about the advocacy efforts I’m involved in.”
Mary Buser, LMSW
author, Lockdown at Rikers: Shocking Stories of Abuse and Injustice at New York’s Notorious Jail
Vivid recollections “of my journey from idealistic intern to disillusioned Acting Chief of Mental Health in the solitary confinement unit of Rikers.”
Shreya Mandel, JD, LCSW
One World Mitigation and Forensic Services
Lessons learned from visiting over 70 NYS correctional facilities for the Criminal Appeals Bureau of Legal Aid Society and valuable training in documentation of torture.
Jack Beck, JD
Director, Prison Visiting Project Correctional Association of New York
“We got so outraged about Abu Ghraib…[in NYS prisons] humiliation, torture, happens all the time….but I am more optimistic today than in the 35 years I’ve been [documenting conditions of confinement.]”
Tina Maschi, PhD, LCSW, ACSW
Graduate School of Social Service Fordham University
As moderator of Panel I, Dr. Maschi concludes with a statement about the prison “culture of violence” and the importance of research on prison conditions and dual loyalty conflicts of prison health professionals.
Policies that Protect Prison Health Care
PANEL 2: Len Rubenstein, Ross MacDonald, Allen Keller, Martha Davis
Len Rubenstein, JD
Director, Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict,
Center for Public Health and Human Rights,
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Former President of Physicians for Human Rights.
Len Rubenstein directed a work group of over 60 professionals from 12 countries focussed on Dual Loyalty and Human Rights in Health Professional Practice. Here he discusses progress on protections of prison health practice since the 2002 report.
Ross MacDonald, MD
Medical Director, Correctional Health Services of the
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine,
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Dr. MacDonald is the co-author of a report on the experience of dual loyalty conflicts by Rikers health personnel and has established a unique program of dual loyalty training for Rikers health staff. He is a leader in recent NYC jail and health service improvements which he discusses here.
Allen Keller, MD
Director and Co-Founder of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture,
Assistant Professor of Medicine,
New York University School of Medicine
Dr. Keller is an internationally known expert on the treatment of torture survivors and has evaluated former Guantanamo detainees for evidence of torture. For several years he has led the fight for New York State Bill 4489 which would strengthen licensing oversight of medical complicity in torture and insure whistleblower protection for health professionals reporting prisoner abuse. Here he discusses why the bill is important.
Martha Davis, PhD
Director, Expert Witness: Health Professionals on the the Frontline Against Torture and Doctors of the Dark Side
The second half of this panel was a rigorous debate among the speakers and members of the audience on the relative contributions of health profession accountability, civil advocacy, prisoner input, and systemic change in the prevention of prisoner abuse. A consensus began to develop about the changes needed, the protection value of computer/confidential mandated reporting, and major progress made by the NYC Correctional Health Services.
The video proceedings are viewable on this website at no cost, but cannot be downloaded. For sharing, please send a link on your social media and websites to http://expertwitnessagainsttorture.com/prison-torture-dual-loyalty-conflicts-conference-video/. For information about using video clips or transcriptions from these proceedings for documentaries or articles go to expertwitnessagainsttorture.com/host-a-screening/.
After the conference screening of Expert Witness, Dr. Ian Hansen, President-elect of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, gave a brief update on the scandal over the American Psychological Association’s support for psychologists assisting national security interrogations.