Description: Blue pen of choice for the NYC Department of Corrections. The only soft, all-plastic writing instrument. Length of 4¼”, 100% flexible plastic construction making it difficult to be turned into a weapon. Water-based non-toxic ink, rolling ball tip.
Price: 3 for $7.50
Story: These are the only pens they allowed me to use in the psych ward. They’re cute and write really well so I collected them in the hospital and kept a stash in my room. I recently came to learn that they are called Jail Pens and are used in many correctional facilities. This makes perfect sense to me, because psych wards often feel like jails. Why do they feel like jails? I was given chemical restraints to take me to my room. I awoke one morning to find myself in leather restraints. I was placed in a lockdown ward – I was not able to come and go as I pleased. I was stuck inside without fresh air or direct sunlight for weeks. Even prisoners get to go outside. All of my belongings were rifled through when I was admitted and some were confiscated. I was subjected to random searches for contraband, including in the middle of the night. There were no private rooms to meet with families only glass enclosed ones in full view of everyone. There were no telephones in the room; you had to have emotional and private discussions using a public payphone in a hallway. I was highly sedated while I was there. I stepped out of line once, was pinned to the ground by several security guards and thrown into solitary confinement. For over a week I was placed on 24/7 security watch. There are no living things in the psych ward – no flowers, no plants. The activities were limited. Most people walked around the hallways dazed and seemingly confused or spent the day asleep. The food was less than good. And this - arguably the best psychiatric hospital in NYC - is the place where we are supposed to recover at a cost of several thousands a day. One day I hope to own my own humane treatment facility.
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