Ms. Erin Steffler
Erin Steffler is a bright and articulate young woman. She has had multiple encounters with George W. Hill Correctional Facility, having resided there six different times between 2012 and 2015. In total, she spent about one year at the facility. Ms. Steffler was convicted of a variety of drug-related charges, including "insurance fraud" related to drug prescriptions. There are no convictions for violent behavior in Erin's record.
When asked how she was treated by guards at the facility, her response is unambiguous: "Most guards treated us as less than human.” Erin recounts that she witnessed violence at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility on several occasions - sometimes it was handled well (i.e., professionally) and sometimes it was not. She says straightforwardly that "they just don't care.” She described examples of unprofessional behavior, including:
Waiting and watching for a bit while female inmates fought with each other
A "suicide watch" guard sleeping outside of the inmate's cell who they were charged with monitoring
A female inmate who was forced to give birth in her cell due to lack of care
When Erin was menstruating, the guards took her underwear away and they refused to give her sanitary pads
Erin says that the worst thing she saw or experienced at George W. Hill was when the guards took Janene Wallace's body out of her cell following her death by suicide. According to Ms. Steffler, some guards on her cell block "encouraged" Ms. Wallace to kill herself. Another particularly difficult thing Erin witnessed was a guard in the Medical Department beating up a mentally handicapped inmate who was handcuffed. The guard punched and kicked this handcuffed, disabled inmate. Ms. Steffler explains that inmates were frequently locked in their cells for things like storms, lightning, rain, cold weather, and any arbitrary reason the guards could come up with. And inmates in Medical Segregation (Med-Seg) never got out. Erin says that many guards at the facility "feel like it's their job to punish us more.”
For Erin, the hardest thing about being there was not being able to see her seven-year-old daughter. Another very difficult thing for her was that her grandmother passed away while she was incarcerated, and she couldn't attend her funeral services. Erin's family did not visit her during her incarcerations at George W. Hill (at her request), but Erin has had occasion to visit others when she wasn't an inmate there. She found the staff to be "not very helpful" and confirmed that "they don't answer their phones.”
Ms. Steffler says that there is almost nothing to do all day long and there is no rehabilitation. During the time that Erin was an inmate at George W. Hill Correctional Facility, she signed up for or participated in the following programs:
Anger Management (the program was cancelled by the prison staff prior to completion)
Pre-Release Education Program (PREP) - completed
Periodic 12 Step meetings
Erin wants the institution and its staff to show more compassion to inmates. She was forced to detox from opioids while there, and, with the exception of a prescription for Librium, she claims to have gotten no medical care whatsoever. We asked Ms. Steffler if the institution staff did anything right and she said, “They made me not want to go back.” According to Erin, things need to change at George W. Hill Correctional Facility because people are dying in there due to violence and suicide, and outside because they are failing to get proper rehabilitative services. A substantial number of inmates at the facility were there for drug and alcohol related offenses or for "dirty urines" - a Technical Parole Violation. For the most part, in her experience, the inmate population at George W. Hill Correctional Facility is not violent or dangerous, but they do need treatment related to substance use disorders/addictions and Mental Health disorders.