Photo by Ian Noble on Unsplash

Editor’s note: The writer submitted a copy of the receipt for the grievance report he had filed on January 8, 2021.

On the afternoon of January 6, 2021, the same day as the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol, I was assaulted by a corrections officer (CO). After bagging some trash, I went to the booth slot and stuck my hand in to open it as asked the CO to open the entry hallway door. But before I could get my full sentence out, there were quick footsteps, a big rumble and a hard thump that smashed my hand in the metal slot.

As my right hand was released, I saw a turquoise chair ricocheting. I cried out in pain, pulling my hand back. Once I recovered, I asked what she had done. She yelled, “I don’t give a f–k and I don’t care.” When I asked to file an informal complaint and emergency grievance, she told me, “F–k you, I ain’t gotta do a damn thing.”

As I left the booth to see if I had the forms already in my cell, there were inmates yelling at me, asking me what was going on. Some had heard the rumble from the booth and had come out of their cells to see if someone was fighting.

I filled out the emergency grievance form and showed my hand to another CO and a nurse on med call.

At 4:20 PM, I was seen by a medical nurse. An hour later, I explained what had happened. He took pictures and wrapped my right hand in a splint. I left there at 4:48 PM.

The following day a CO came over to me and said, “She admitted to kicking you.”

It took eight days to see a doctor or a nurse practitioner. On Jan. 13, my hand was X-rayed by a private contractor at the facility. Six days later, I went to the emergency room at the VCU Medical Center. Both reached the same conclusion: my fifth metacarpal was severely fractured due to indirect stress to my hand.

When I came back from the doctor, I was put in quarantine and finally given tylenol for my pain. I waited 47 days after the assault to be seen by an orthopedic surgeon.

The orthopedic surgeon told me, “You have nerve damage and a torn tendon, and the hand will never be the same. The finger will always have a permanent bend in it. You’ll need therapy.” He added that I could also experience spasms long term, and that I might lose my grip or my hand my lock up, which would make it hard to write or draw. He said surgery might make it worse.

On Feb. 23, more than a month after the incident, another CO asked me what had happened to my hand and went to verify my explanation with the CO, who had hurt me.

The CO relayed that his colleague said, “A chair flew into his hand in the booth.” I asked him if he believed that. “Well, I have to,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m not stupid, there’s no ghost in the booth.”

I quickly documented this on another informal complaint and emergency grievance because the CO, who caused the incident, wasn’t supposed to be in the same building as me. I have heard from multiple officers that this CO had cursed them out too and had been suspended for it in the past.

In March, I found out that my therapy appointments were cancelled by the doctor, who showed deliberate indifference. I’ve had to move 12 times from cell to cell with only one hand and no help.

The CO, who hurt my hand, continues to work and I’m still not getting the care needed. I’m very stressed out, with no companionship to confide in about my situation. This case is serious to me because if the facility feels the need to lie or cover this up, I can end up in a higher level prison and lose all of the credit I accumulated toward my time.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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Raphah Jones

Raphah Jones is a writer from Los Angeles who is currently incarcerated in Virginia.