"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

- United States Declaration of Independence

Monday, May 2, 2011

And, prison inmates are given fresh air under law...but not psych inpatients!

With the coming of Spring, having grown weary of the cold and staying inside, we reawaken to the benefits of nature. But hundreds of peers in Massachusetts are still forcibly kept indoors, in sterile hospital units and residences. They can only look outside and yearn for fresh air - at thirty hospitals, and at group homes.

In addition to restraint, lack of informed consent and widespread violation of basic rights, denial of the essential healing gift of fresh air is another collective insult we face.

My last mass email on the subject featured a Federal law that guarantees fresh air to livestock.

Now, here are some State regulations regarding prisons:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Department of Correction
Regulation 103 DOC 472

Section 472.02: Inmate Access to Recreational Programs and Leisure Activities

1. General - It is the department's policy to provide inmates within its custody equal access to recreational and leisure time opportunities and equipment, including, when weather permits, outdoor exercise.

3. Program Access for Inmates in a Department Disciplinary or Special Management Unit [i.e., Maximum/Supermax settings] - All inmates in such units shall receive a minimum of one hour per day, five days per week of exercise outside their cells.

So – organic livestock and prison inmates are protected the law. Peers are protected by neither…

PLEASE NOTE: I am not, in any way, suggesting that animals and prison inmates shouldn’t enjoy basic civil rights. Additionally, I regret any possible (but erroneous) implication that prison inmates are in any way ‘animals’ or ‘animalistic.’ Rather, I am illustrating the fact that while animals are seen as ‘less worthy’ of rights - and prison inmates are jailed for “corrective” purposes, they still have MORE rights than us. This begs the question: what does this say about how society sees us? It sends a message that we are seen as “less than,” and less deserving of rights than those society deems worthy of harsh punishment for their actions!

Also, the ‘purpose’ of psychiatric hospitalization is intended to be therapeutic, even despite the reality that it usually isn’t. Neither farms nor prisons are designed with that same intention. So why is a ‘therapeutic’ environment actually becoming more restrictive than ANY other? And what heals better, with no side effects and very little cost, than nature?

As we enjoy the blossoms and fragrances of Spring, let’s think of our peers who are needlessly kept from it, and continue working hard to put an end to this practice!


  1. This is amazing to me. I live here in MA and I cannot believe this is happening. Then again, when I was a psych inpatient, I did not want to leave the hospital initially. I felt safe on the unit; however, that doesn't mean that I feel that patients should not be given time outside when it is safe.

  2. One of our community based hospitals put in a dog kennel for the patients. This was progress? I don't know if this was fixed because many people complained.

    In CA, there were outdoor facilities, but now that I am in MN, there have never been any. I am glad I've never been in long term