Tortured in Prison, Mark Grangetto Probably Won't Live to See Reforms As the headlines all scream that low voter awareness is causing support of a $7 billion plus prison expansion, a young man is dying a slow, tormented death.
I have mentioned Mark Grangetto and his courageous elderly mother Nora Weber, an insurance agent from Bakersfield in my columns many times over the past three years. Follow the link to see torture photos
Nora Weber had no choice but to file two separate lawsuits for the ongoing abuse and slow State murder by medical neglect of her son at several California prisons. In my daily newsletter to UNION members I have journaled the major crises of his deterioration and our combined efforts to get him help from any source from a bureaucracy that is spending billions on prisons. You'd think we could get help for ONE dying prisoner with all the big headlines about medical reform, wouldn't you?
Thousands of people have died preventable deaths during this struggle to get medical care provided to the prisoners since 1990 and probably before that time. I have been involved in this drawn out process in dozens of cases and done my best as an unpaid volunteer to try and help UNION subscribers get relief. The brick walls are high and a number of people have died at my feet so to speak.
It is probable that Mark Grangetto, like thousands of other prisoners, won't live long enough to see reform of the medical care system. He will likely be unable to spend his last days with his mother or be cared for in a comfortable place such as an outside care facility.
What you are witnessing here in the photos at the link below is a young man who had a motorcycle accident in 1990 which killed his friend and almost severed his left arm. It was never established which one of them was driving the motorcycle, but he is the one who lived, and he received a 20 year to life sentence over the accident. Mark was born brain-damaged (Respiratory Syndrome Distress)due to deprivation of oxygen from birth and his decisions weren't always the best ones, but he was never a violent person.
When Mark Grangetto went to prison, the incompetent doctors misdiagnosed his brain damage and deliberately prescribed him many drugs over the past 17 years of confinement. Elavil, Neurontin, Prozac, Risperdal, Ativan, Seroquel, Doxepin and other drugs to silence him from writing 602's asking for medical and other relief. He was put in five point restraints and injected with Geodon in retaliation when Nora filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections (CDCR). In fact, their forced administration of anti-psychotic medication to Grangetto without court approval under the "Keyhea law" took place on two occasions according to medical records.
These medications were contraindicated and possibly caused Mark to become diabetic as well. Mark is now Hepatic impaired from Hepatitis C. He was not a diabetic upon entering prison nor did he have Hepatitis C or Tuberculosis, another widespread epidemic in prisons. The physicians who took care of Mark's injuries on the outside prescribed him braces and ordered surgeries for his arm and his knee which the prison system denied. Can you imagine that?
But denial of surgeries and medical appliances is commonplace by the California Department of Corrections, even when it will result in permanent disability. Soon his left hand clawed up due to lack of a brace and proper medical care so that he cannot ever use it again. His paralyzed left arm was re-broken and intentionally injured several times by both prisoners and guards. He also lost his ability to walk when a brace and surgery were denied for injuries to his knee which occurred while he was incarcerated. This medical neglect was intentional and resulted in permanent disability.
Those are not sunglasses on Mark's collar in the photo. They are special glasses for the legally blind who are extremely sensitive to light which is why Mark keeps his eyes closed when he is not wearing the dark glasses. He caught Hepatitis C from the filthy conditions in prison and weighs only about 100 pounds even though he is 5'8" tall. His elderly mother who standing next to him is 4'll' and weighs about 94 pounds, so you can see how abnormally thin he is as he barely clings to life.
Mark has been in the hospital three times in the last two weeks and that only happened because of the hand of a Hanford judge who made it quite clear to CDCR that Nora Weber is the legal guardian of her son and that she currently has the right to accept or refuse medical care for Mark.
It has taken many court dates (over two years since Nora Weber started the court actions) and reams of paper work by an attorney to obtain medical care. Thanks to a very honest Judge, progress is being made with the lawsuits. In April, Mark was taken to Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield . They kept Mark for 24 days for a blocked intestinal track and found large lacerated, inflamed ulcers caused by the H-Pylori bacteria which tens of thousands of inmates have but are never treated for, an abuse which is causing untold damage to the health of thousands of prisoners.
Grangetto spent most of his seventeen years in prison cast into Administrative Segregation and a Security Housing Unit (SHU), a concrete tomb with very thick walls that isolates thousands of mentally ill and brain damaged prisoners from everyone until they go mad. Mark was too physically vulnerable to be double-celled with another prisoner. At one point he was stabbed 11 times at Salinas Valley Prison by another prisoner and robbed of his belongings. This victimization is typical within the prison system and one of the primary reasons why they should not be there at all.
Grangetto was forced to crawl around on the floor of his cell as if he were an animal because the prison supplied him with a thin mattress thrown on the concrete floor. With only the use of one hand he could not even use the toilet properly. He was denied the use of a wheelchair cell and at most times even denied the use of a wheelchair.
B. Cayenne Bird is a 45-year veteran op-ed journalist and publisher. A descendant of Mary Todd Lincoln, and General Andrew Porter, she is passionate about human rights and criminal justice issues. A mother and grandmother with advanced degrees in Journalism, Liberal Studies, and Humanities (Cultural Anthropology) she has focused on prison reform making great strides in Calif. supporting the landmark Plata-Coleman case for a decade which resulted in major prison reform. She writes scholarly articles too but prefers op-eds.