John Kristoffer Larsgard – Consistent Sabotage
At the risk of putting this Norwegian citizen at greater risk of harm than he already is exposed to in Arizona state prison, let us look more closely at what we know since his prison sentence began. I would like to tie this to what is happening now, however, in part due to its urgency. See, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,” as Paul Newman put it in the film, Cool Hand Luke. Kris has sought to argue, since he was first placed in the Navajo County Jail, that he required medical attention – care, treatment and medicines he did not receive. He has, since, also sought to argue that his sentence was excessive. He has tried to study the law and has written his own motions (in English) to achieve re-hearing. Meanwhile, both prison administrators and medical care authorities have consistently sabotaged both his physical and mental well-being for no other purpose than to disrupt and ‘route’ his efforts, causing them to come to nothing. You can try to draw another conclusion from what I write here, but it is hard to argue that every prisoner is treated in this way. Sure, no one is perfect, but no one deserves to be treated as Kris has been in the time between September 24, 2011 and today.
Let’s start with this month, January, 2016. Kris was seen by a medical professional who confirmed on January 12th that Kris should be kept on the pain and anti-seizure medications he has been taking, including methadone. You know methadone is habit-forming, similar to heroin and is used to treat heroin addicts? Apparently, methadone helps Kris with the constant pain he has experienced since the “spinal cord injury of 2013” which occurred in Arizona prison. The professional also recommends updated imaging of the cervical and thoracic spine and recommends he see a neurologist. Other suggestions for possible spinal cord care were encouraged in the letter report.
Yet, on January 19th, he is brought from the detention unit he was in to an observation room where he is confronted by the nurse who earlier sabotaged his care in April of 2015 at another prison, Florence prison. The prison had discontinued two of his medications and he had complained, which was why she was seeing him. She indicated she had discontinued the two medications because she ‘did not believe they were appropriate treatment’ for him. She also said she was discontinuing methadone because “you just want drugs.” (Note the Catch-22.) Kris states that he tried calmly to tell her that the drugs were actually helping him function and without them he was in excruciating pain. The nurse then tells him that this is “decided” and that Kris will have to learn to ‘function without drugs for pain.’ She indicates they will (again) send him to a pain management specialist. Kris says he just saw a pain management specialist who suggested the medications be continued. The nurse indicates that that appointment was irrelevant – because she had not been the one who requested it.
The nurse emphasizes again that she will not give him any medications for pain and adds, “But you can grieve my decision because I know you like to file grievances and lawsuits.” The nurse then continues, stating that she will be removing Kris’s wheelchair. Reader, his walker was already removed from him on December 1, 2015 – why? Because he was being sent into a detention unit, similar to solitary, which has nothing to do with a person’s need to, well, actually walk around their room, if at all possible. The nurse then suggests he ‘learn to walk’ and insinuates that Kris did not have a spinal cord injury when, in actual fact, all the professionals involved in his surgery in 2013, as well as the one who wrote the letter one week earlier, recognize that he does. Kris then realizes that the nurse has had no intention of treating him by arranging this ‘appointment.’
Kris tells her that when he has a walker, he uses it, and he also needs a wheelchair – so he can go more than a few yards at a time. He mentions that he knows he will need that because he has a court appearance within about a month, a case he has managed to get some assistance with to file. The nurse insists that (despite the fact that Kris will continue to be in the custody of the state at all times), he cannot keep his wheelchair, and will have to figure out how to manage to get to court and appear there without it. As she tells him, to the following effect, ‘I’m just not going to allow you to believe and portray that you have an injury to people when it’s not true and hurts my colleagues.’ Kris begins to check out – I mean, he begins to lose control, is crying, is having flashbacks of being on the floor for three weeks at Yuma prison, and finally some other prison administrators arrive. Kris in the wheelchair has been slammed back against the wall, you see. He is worried about his neck as a result. Another medical nurse arrives, who presses on his neck, supposedly to prove that no new injury has just occurred. Kris is then seen by a psychology associate and returned to his cell.
What you have just read makes as much sense as Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky: “’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves and the mome raths outgrabe. ‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the frumious Bandersnatch.’” Well, reader, should we go on? Into the heart of going crazy?
What would drive you crazy – or anger you to the point of being made crazy? Having an extremely serious injury, caused and exacerbated by those in control of you, people who not only decided intentionally to permit you to suffer with it, but also made it impossible for you to get well or get better – and who would also make it impossible for you to make your case, that you did not belong there or, at the least, required consistent medical care and pain management? And what if you thought you were in a new ‘home’ but they kept moving you around? What if, every time they moved you, you were not permitted to keep almost anything you had managed to acquire? This would include things such as paper, notes, books, research, your own writing? What if you were moved sometimes in the middle of the night, awoken and told to prepare to be taken to a new location, a new cell? What if you were told you could bring nothing with you? And everything you were working on in order to make your case was, as a result consistently taken from you? What if, when you asked for those items, you were told they were “lost”?
Let us descend to another level of the hell that Kris has managed, to date, to survive in the Arizona prison system – how, you say? By reviewing his transfer record of course. It’s in black and white. Granted, some of those transfers are related to his need for medical attention, but, as his mother puts it, “I know that many of the moves were because he had such torturing pain. Then they would move him to isolation and say it was psychiatric. At one point, he got psychiatric medications from a psychiatrist, but these were not for Kris – they gave him terrible nightmares.” Liv continues, “And in one case a health worker took Kris for a talk. He said to Kris, ‘But how do you feel’. Kris said the pain and spasms were so bad that it would be better to die. The worker said ‘You are not allowed to say anything like that. I will have to start a disciplinary case again you for saying that.’ And they did – they made a disciplinary case out of that, put Kris in isolation – of course in pain without medications. This is just an example of how they operate.”
So what does the Arizona prison system think is the reasonable care of a human being, a Norwegian who drove wrongly down the wrong street, tried to turn around and leave and instead, scared some kids and got his nose broken by a local bully? The following year, the local prosecutor got a special award for his efforts to enhance community safety and security.* (*See earlier blog posts in this series for more information.)
With his nose broken, Kris was jailed in Navajo County jail, beginning on the afternoon of September 24, 2011 in Winslow. His bail was set to $1 million dollars for that alleged crime so he was effectively trapped. Seven months later he was transferred to the Arizona state prison ‘reception’ facility at Alhambra. And here begins the dramatic, incredible and heart-breaking list of his transfers to date.
Transferred May 10, May 21, June 20, July 16, July 20, October 28, 2012
On May 10th, 2012, Kris was transferred to Lewis-Stiner prison, then on May 21 to Lewis-Bachman, on June 20 to Yuma-Cibola, on July 16 to Yuma, CMU, on the 20th back to Yuma Cibola, and on October 28, 2012 to Yuma CMU, the isolation unit.
This October 28th transfer to the Yuma CMU unit was because, as Liv puts it, he was, on October 25th suddenly attacked from the back by an unknown person who kicked his head causing him to fall down. He was in such pain, but the doctors would not prescribe pain medication. He was therefore sent to isolation without medications. Liv believes this attack was arranged for by the health care provider at the time, who was miffed at Kris’s repeated ‘Health Need Requests,’ written and submitted by Kris.
It was at this point that Kris had the seizure that resulted in his falling backwards in his cell on December 3, 2012. One deputy warden told Liv they could see how much pain he was in after this and told the medical administration – who did nothing.
Transferred December 19 & 26, 2012
Finally, on December 19th he was transferred to Tucson – Rincon unit, a medical unit where they claimed he was faking being ill. This month he was in ‘mental health watch,’ which meant Kris could not possess any writing instrument, and therefore could not write complaints and requests for care he wished to write.
Finally, on December 26th he was transferred to Tucson – Winchester. On December 30th 2012, Liv got her first phone call from Kris in which he told her he was very ill. While at Winchester, he was unable to walk and had little feeling in his left hand and side. As a result, some inmates there borrowed a wheelchair and helped take care of him themselves.
Transferred January 1, February 6, 2013
Finally, on January 1st, 2013 he was – literally - dragged to medical care. He was given a CT scan and sent immediately to the University of Arizona Medical Center for emergency surgery. After surgery he was guarded in the hospital during post-operative recovery. There he was threatened with violence by one guard monitoring him after Kris, while trying to re-adjust himself in bed, bumped the TV remote control the guard had left there, causing the channel to change while the guard watched TV.
On February 6, 2013, he was released from the hospital and transferred to Tucson prison’s health unit.
Transferred May 9, May 10, May 14, 2013
Then, in May, 2013, he was transferred 3 times, from Tucson prison’s Whetstone unit to the Rincon health unit and then to the Rincon psychiatric unit, a unit reserved for the seriously ill psychiatric prisoners, also not Kris and not a medical unit.
Transferred June 22, June 25, August 6, 2013
Kris’s next transfer occurred a bit over a month later, on June 22nd, 2013, to Rincon SNU Unit M. There he was, according to his mother, ‘disappeared’ for three days. Later, he told his mother how they came in the evening, stripped him naked and put him in an isolation cell. The walls and floor had excrement and blood all over them. Kris asked for a blanket and was given a rug covered with blood. The guard then said, “You are not worthy to have anything else.” This was done, he was led to believe, according to Liv, as a retaliation for his having spoken to the Norwegian reporter from VG, the Norwegian newspaper, for a short interview on June 14, 2013.
On June 25th, 2013, Kris was transferred back to the Tucson Rincon psychiatric unit, not an appropriate placement for him, where he spent most of the summer. He was then transferred to Tucson’s Manzanita Unit on August 6th, a medium-security prison designed to “help inmates prepare themselves to rejoin the wider community.” There, he was kept for the next 7 months, during which time he was to wear a large neck-body brace-girdle he had gotten after his surgery. He was also supposed to be seen by a neurologist and a pain specialist.
Transferred March 12, March 12, March 12, March 12 & March 13 2014
After an assisting attorney filed a motion to secure Kris’s re-examination, which was not happening, he was transferred on March 10, 2014 for a CT scan at the University of Arizona Medical Center. After that exam, Corizon health personnel stated they had decided that Kris was now completely well and did not need any medical care. They wished to send him to Yuma prison, where his neck was broken in the first place. During one single day, while Kris contemplated being returned to his former place of torturous ill treatment (the three weeks on the floor place with no medical assistance or examination – see Blog post 6), he was transferred to 4 different units in a period of 24 hours. That was March 12, 2014. First, he was sent to Tucson’s Whetstone prison, then to Tucson’s Complex Detention Unit, then back to Whetstone and then to the Rincon psychiatric unit (which was inappropriate for him). These transfers were effected in what is called in Norwegian a ‘glattcelle’ – a cage designed to protect persons from hurting themselves or others - such as those which, in February, 2014, were judged by the state of Norway to violate human rights. The day after the 4 transfers, March 13, 2014, Kris was sent to the Tucson Manzanita Detention Unit, a solitary style holding cell. Here he was kept for 5 days.
Transfers and attempted transfer March 18, March 27, March 28, March 29, March 30, March 31, 2014
On March 18, 2014, the Arizona prison system tried to transfer Kris to Yuma prison. Kris was chained onto a bus headed for Yuma. On the bus, Kris had a seizure, in part due to having been taken off of his medications. “Fortunately,” writes Liv, his mother, “the bus had rubber mats on the floor.” The bus returned Kris to Manzanita where an ambulance was called. Kris was then taken to the hospital in Tucson where he received necessary medications and was then sent back to the detention unit at Manzanita prison.
It was just a few days later on March 27th that they again came, early in the morning, to Kris and told him they were taking him to a neurology appointment. Kris was then taken directly to Yuma prison without any appointment.
As Liv says, “Yuma prison is like a death sentence for Kris. They have just a small hospital and no medical unit. But since Corizon reported him completely well and in no need of medications, he was being sent into a no-treatment situation.”
Of course, things could not go well for Kris here, who needed both medications and regular medical care. One day after arrival, he was transferred to Yuma’s Dakota C unit, the next day to Yuma’s Dakota CLOS unit, the next day, March 30th, 2014, to Yuma’s Dakota Isolation unit and the next day to Yuma’s La Paz unit. Here, he managed to live in one room for 17 days in a row.
Transferred April 17, May 2, October 18, November 3, December 25, December 26, 2014
On April 14, he was moved to Yuma’s Dakota unit again. Here, he managed to live for 14 days in a row before being moved again to Yuma’s La Paz unit. Here he managed to survive another 5 ½ months before being moved to Yuma’s Dakota unit again, where he stayed until November 3, 2014 when he was finally transferred away from Yuma, to Florence prison East unit.
But, sadly, it was at the Florence prison that the local health providers (Corizon health) began their determined efforts to remove him – again - from necessary pain medications and treatment, using persistent efforts to sabotage his health, both physically and mentally. From Florence’s East unit on November 3, he was transferred on December 25th to Florence’s Kasson M unit. Then, back again on December 26 to the Florence East unit.
Transferred April 27, 2015
January, 2015 lead on to February, March and April. On April 27, 2015, Kris was transferred to the Eyman prison’s detention unit. This transfer was brought about by Corizon health staff after stopping Kris’s pain medications on April 21st. But why was he transferred? He had an appointment with a pastor of the Norwegian Sjømannskirke (Seamen’s Church, with worldwide locations, this pastor from the church in San Francisco), a meeting that was approved and set up for the morning of April 27, 2015. When the pastor arrived, Kris was not there – because he had been transferred away in the early morning hours – in other words, in the middle of the night. This visit from a representative of a Norwegian state organization, whose primary duty is to lend comfort and support to Norwegians around the world, was intentionally sabotaged by Arizona prison authorities.
Transferred May 20, May 25, June 4, June 26, June 29 & July 6, 2015
From Eyman prison, he was transferred about one month later to Lewis prison’s detention unit, and 5 days later to Lewis’s Stiner unit, then 11 days later to Lewis’s Buckley unit. This was on June 4, 2015. There, he was able to call Liv, and told her he was warned by some prisoners that Corizon staff had told lies about him – in order to make some prisoners take him and hurt him. Liv felt lucky that Kris had just recently been given the right to call her, which right had been denied for about 5 months. Liv reported what Kris said to an attorney who assisted him and contacted the prison, where Kris was sent into detention, which they felt was an effort to save his life.
On June 26, he was sent to Lewis’s Bachman unit and 3 days later back to Lewis prison’s Stiner unit C. Making it 4 transfers in about 4 weeks, he was transferred to Lewis prison’s Morey unit on July 6, 2015.
But let’s give the Arizona prison system a break here. They were after all attempting, on July 1st, 2015, to respond to a major prison riot uprising at the Kingman prison complex, where the prisoners were not fighting each other but against inhuman prison conditions. As a result of this uprising, a total of 2,404 inmates had to be moved quickly to some other prison, so there was a lot of shuffling.
Transferred August 25, 2015
Kris managed to live in one place at Lewis prison for 6 weeks before being moved back to Tucson’s Manzanita unit on August 25, 2015.
Since November 28, 2015, Kris has been refused calls to his mother. Since December 1, 2015, he has been held in Tucson’s Manzanita Detention unit, similar to an isolation unit. On that day, his walker was from taken from him by prison authorities.
And now, reader, we’ve come full circle. Would you like to remind yourself where we are? Go to the top of this blog and start reading it again. That’s where we are. Nowhere. Disappeared. Denied his medications and the equipment he requires for physical exercise and mobility.
So why go through this listing of all of his transfers? It’s all just facts, so what. There is nothing special about it. Yes, some transfers occurred in order to provide better care for Kris, but many seem pointless or cruel for someone with physical handicaps, handicaps brought on by and within the prison system itself. The reason, from my perspective, to dwell on these is, in part, to recall that, at almost all times, Kris was attempting to write and challenge both his sentence and the condition of his treatment, care and medication. At all times, these transfers removed all materials he had managed to assemble while attempting to make these efforts and did not return them nor let him keep them, regardless of how harmless those pieces of paper were, regardless of how harmless those law books were that his mother bought for him, regardless of how his notes were written by him and he had a right to keep them. At no time was this permitted to occur, and the system of sabotage of Kris’s efforts was effected easily enough – by walking around his human rights, by transferring him repeatedly and consistently. By sabotage.
According to a general dictionary, sabotage is any willful underhanded interference with a cause, an intentional undermining of a cause. It’s usually found in the law of war, but perhaps we are in a war here. After all, synonym verbs include: disable, vandalize and cripple, all things Kris has experienced under the detention and at the very direction of Arizona prison authorities – repeatedly and repeatedly.
Kris was, as a result of these conditions, unable to be effective in reviewing and contributing to his own appeal, already taken and denied despite serious problems in the district court’s record. We are also talking about transcripts from that court disappeared, the denial of access to transcripts, and files disappearing. We are possibly talking about serious corruption here. Anyone interested?
In my next installment, I hope to discuss more fully the Arizona prison system’s prisoner population, release possibilities and update you on the new hell he will surely face as he prepares, hopefully, to go to court on his own behalf to discuss his treatment and care, as well as his sentence. In the meantime, I am requesting that more attorneys in prominent criminal law practice and immigration practice in the federal district of Arizona and/or 9th Circuit Court of Appeals consider assisting Kris in his efforts. These should include efforts to achieve early release under Arizona’s own statute, “Release to deportation at one-half of sentence imposed,” ARS sec. 41-1601.14, designed to release inmates who are foreign born into the custody of their native country. This should bring U.S. federal authorities and the state of Norway into a discussion – and a capacity for action on Kris’s behalf - due to the coordination needs for such a release to be effected.