Jane "Daisy" Benson W28860
Miller A 114
California Institution for Women
Frontera, CA 91720
WOMEN PRISONERS CONVICTED BY DRUGGING (WPCD)
February 16, 1993
RE: Medications While In The County Jail
I am writing to request your assistance in helping me and other women that were illegally and involuntariy drugged in the county jail while awaiting trial and during trial. The purpose of seeking your help is we need those who witnessed the drugging of others in the county jails or themselves were subjected to drugginq of mind-altering medications which caused you and or others to sleep exclussively or cause you and or ethers you observed to function in a confused state of mind to please step forward via a declaration and state your observations.
Enclosed are articles and information that has been brought forth through the media in efforts to stop this drugging in the county jails. We have in the courts at this time on our cases and the drugging issue.
Your help in our endeavors would be greatly apprreciated and you can reply by responding to me as co-founder of Women Prisoners Convicted By Drugging (WPCD) at the above address.
Jane "Daisy" Benson
Jane Daisy Benson
Miller B, 117 L
Frontera, CA 91720
My name is Daisy Benson and I am currently incarcerated at the California Institution for Women serving a life sentence for the accidental shooting of a friend. I was deprived of a fair trial by the administration of both excessive and mind altering medications.
One hour after I was booked into the county jail, I was approached by a nurse who told me to get a cup of water; she then handed me a paper cup full of pills and said, "This will calm you down". I had not requested any medical attention, nor had I been examined or evaluated by medical personnel. at was not hysterical or out of control, but rather was sitting off to the side of the cell weeping quietly. Within the hour, I became nauseated, agitated, frightened, and confused. My vision blurred, my muscles began to twitch, and I began to rock back and forth uncontrollably.
That first cup of pills was the beginning of a nightmare that haunts me, even now, five years later. My jail medical records disclose that at received massive amounts of drugs throughout the periods of time that I was in custody, although at saw a doctor only four times over a several month period. On the occasions that confused refused to take the medication, at was stripped of all my clothing and placed naked in the "rubber room", where I remained until at agreed to take the medication. In the coercive and frightening jail atmosphere, I quickly learned to do as I was told.
at began suffering severe and terrifying side effects from all of the medication I was ingesting, such as audio and visual hallucinations, tremors, drooling, loss of coordination and memory, disorientation, anxiety, confusion, restlessness, paranoia, hives, and head- aches. My behavior in the courtroom was completely in appropriate to the situation and the jury was adversely impacted by it. at did not understand much of what was happening and at spent the days crying uncontrollably or rocking back and forth. On the day that at took the witness stand, I thought that the juror's faces were melting, and that the District Attorney had animals crawling on him. I was unable to assist in my own defense and no defense was presented for me. The jury quickly reached the predictable verdict.
When at arrived at the state penitentiary, at went into withdrawals and it took two years for me to complete' y recover from the massive amounts of drugs that had been forceably administered to me. I also learned that at was not the only pretrial detainee who had been forceably medicated with unnecessary mind altering medications. We formed a ad hoc group for which at am currently the spokesperson, and 47 of the women now have the medical records that document this illigal and unnecessary drugging. The F.B.I. has commenced an investigation into our claims and my own case is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
None of us are seeking to avoid responsibility for the underlying acts for which we were originally arrested. What we are seeking is the fair trial to which all Americans are entitled and which was denied to us by virtue of the involuntary drugging to which we were subjected. If you have any information or input that you would like to share, I would be happy to hear from you.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
U.S. Probing Complaints By Inmates of Drugging
By Suzanne Espinosa
Chronicler Staff Writer
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into 40 complaints from female prisoners in California who claim that prior to their trials they were wrongfully treated with mind-altering anti-psychot ic medications, which disrupted their ability to defend themselves.
The 44 convicts, who call themselves Women Prisoners Convicted by Drugging, claim that drugs were administered as "chemical restraints" to keep them sedated before and during their trials at various county jails up and down California.
Only one claimed to have had a diagnosis of psychosis or severe depression.
A January 26 article in The Chronicle featured the group. At the time, the Justice Department's civil rights division was reviewing the written complaints but had not decided whether an investigation was warranted.
Recently, one of the prisoners, Jane Benson, a co-founder of the group, called The Chronicle to say an FBI agent visited the Front era institution and obtained signatures on medical releases from at least 37 convicts.
Benson is serving a 17-years-to-life sentence for second-degree murder for a shooting in Lake County.
May 11, 1993