It seemed like a simple trip to see the doctor. When you're in prison it's not like you must go across town or even further just to see the doctor for a routine check-up as the doctor's office is inside the prison. But anyone familiar with with how a maximum security prison is actually operated would know there is no such thing as a simple trip to the doctor. Nothing is that simple if it is not in the prison's interest to make access to even minimal medical care that easy.
Before I was sent to prison I was in the military and suffered an injury while on duty at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1978. This led to my early discharge and a permanent disability resulting in chronic lower back pain. Through the many years that I've been on Florida's death row I have consistently received treatment for this well documented disability, even though it was only minimal treatment in the form of providing prescriptions to general pain killers like extra strength Ibuprofen or Naproxen.
Throughout the now almost 30 years of incarnation, I have been examined by many prison doctors and not one has disputed my lenghty medical history of extreme and often physically dishabilitating chronic lower back pain - at least not until I ran across Dr. G.A Espino.
Dr. Espino is a licened physician, and chief medical officer primarily operating out of Colombia Correctional, another state prison in the adjacent county. It is his job to find ways to save the prison system money by reducing the medical care provided to inmates unfortunate enough to be incarcenated in one of Florida's prisons under his control.
On Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 I was awoken at 5:30 in the morning and told that I had a medical callout, and asked whether I wanted to go. I'm sure that they would have preferred it if I said "no" and effectively waived medical treatment. But I had to go as the Naproxen I take for the lower back pain had run out and I had to get the prescription renewed.
Shortly after breakfast (about 6:30) they came to get me. I knew the routine only too well - at Florida's State Prison, anytime you are pulled from your cell for a "callout" (medical, legal visit, social visit, etc) you must first be placed in hndcuffs, waist chains and black box, as well as heavy legg shackles. Once secured, they then pull you from your cell, and the trip begins. But since it's a medical callout, thet're going to make this trip as unpleasant and physically torturous as possible. This meant that I would not be brought directly to the clinic way up at the front of the prison almost half a kilometer away, that would be way too easy. So, under the pretense of not having an escort available, I was removed from my cell, walked about 20 feet, then placed in the shower cell for about an hour, all the while being kept in the chains and shackles.
Finally I was brought off the wing and began the slow and painful shuffle up the main hall towards the distant clinic, the heavy iro leg shackles now painfully cutting into my ancles, soaking my sock with blood.
When I finally reached the main clinic, I was again placed in a "holding cage" not more than the size of a small cardboard box (approx 2' x 2'), with no means of ventilation even though the Florida summer made the heat unbearable. But there I remained for at least 3 hours, alongside numerous other prisoners cramped ino identical small steel cages, sharing my same fate.
It was almost noon before I fnally was escorted into the airconditioned office and seen by Dr Espino. to my surprise, he wasn't interested in discussing my medical condition, but rather wanted to share with me his thoughts of a book recently released " To live and die on death row", by C Michael Lambrix, and my ritical opinion of Florida's prison system, especially the cess pool of humanity known as Florida State Prison.
After his unsolicied tirade, he then informed me that he was done and called for the guard to return me to the small holding cage to now await an escort back to my cell at the far end of the building. Altogether, this simple trip to see the doctor lasted almost 8 hours, during which time I was continiously kept in the iron shackles and chains, both my ankles bloody and my wrists bruised. Several days later when I still had not received the renewed prescription for the only pain medication I was provided for many years, I was only then informed that Dr Espino had terminated my prescription for no apparent reason but that he didn't appreciate some of what I said in my recently published book. Since he couldn't just physically assault me without a lot of paperwork, he did the next best thing to inflict physical pain upon me - deliberately taking away my pain medication.
I filed the standard "Emergecy Medical Grievance" to the prison warden, but I already know that he will automatically rubberstamp it "denied" as that's just how it goes here. (and this is what happened also...)
Cary Michael Lambrix #482053
Florida State Prison