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Excerpts from the Farview tapes

The following are excerpts from tape recordings made by William J. Thomas at Farview State Hospital.

July 3, 1969.

THOMAS – You know the colored guy you said you'd put, how many inches you say you put your foot up his (behind)?

GUARD A – (name deleted).

THOMAS – We didn't know that was (name deleted) boyfriend. Now we know why he was walking around in such a daze.

GUARD A – I just signed my shoes. I shined my shoes on him. A guard took him to the (bathroom) and started walking away and he (patient) comes running after him. So that was the wrong move. We just put the boots to them.

THOMAS – Do any good?

GUARD A – Good for about a month. Three times we did it to him now.

THOMAS – Three times in one night?

GUARD A – No, about three straight times in three months. He'll wind up like (John) Rankins. They'll send him over to R Ward (medical unit) and he'll die over there. All them beatings catch...

THOMAS – Is Rankins dead?

GUARD A – He's dying. All them beatings caught up with him.

THOMAS – Well, this guy tells me, "they beat my kid up over on Q Ward."

GUARD A – We cuffed him to the bench and every other thing, Jesus, I found that ––––dandy and he was bent over and the guard was wrestling with him on the floor and I caught him tight in the (behind), that bone here. Boy, don't think that ain't a sore son-of-a-bitch.

THOMAS – Did you kick them?

GUARD A – I put my –––– foot about that far up his (behind). This other stupid –––– guard, the new guard who came off the night shift, he's there palming him (the patient). After it was all over, I dusted my shoes off and he's heading towards R Ward to get his hand taped up. I said, "You'll learn, you stupid ––––– especially on niggers." I ain't used my hand in here in seven years.

THOMAS – It doesn't pay to hurt your hands.

GUARD A – You can always buy a new pair of shoes. You can't buy another knuckle. Once you –––– them up, you're done.

GUARD A – You know that big fat (patient) that works in the Recreation Department, that big tub of lard? He was in the shower, tying up the shower. I said "hey, (patient) come on out." He says, "I ain't done yet." I says, "Hey, lookit, I ain't going to repeat it to you any more. Out." He says, "I ain't done yet." In I go. I get in there and this other guard he sees me and he comes over and I saw him and I swung and when I hit him on the button and down he goes and he slipped on the –––- floor and down he came. So I put the shoes to them in there. A job like this you come to be a sadist to a certain extent. This place ain't no Sunday school affair.

THOMAS – What happened to (Robert) Stonewall Jackson

GUARD A – He got the hell beat out of him.

THOMAS – Did he die as a result of the beating or did he die as a result of all the other ones he got?

GUARD A – Well, it builds up on you. You take a beating today and you get one tomorrow and you get one the next day. Eventually they take their toll. You can't trace it down to just one beating.

This conversation with Guard B occurred April 20, 1969, in the bathroom of the dietary department of the hospital.

THOMAS – This man that I'm seeing every week get therapy off of ...

GUARD B – A waste of time, a waste of time.

THOMAS – Nobody has any respect for him, yet I'm supposed to...

GUARD B – Waste of time, Bill. That man is sick. He knows you're smart, that you know the law upside down. He won't give in. He tries to keep you down as much as he could.

July 1969.

THOMAS – What is your reaction to the deaths of Russell Sell (in 1963) and Robert and Robert (Stonewall) Jackson (in 1966)?

GUARD C – This is pure sadism, has been, was, and still goes on. Let me put it this way. This is a farce, this hospital. It is an absolute farce. They bring men in here to rehabilitate them. As far as hospital care is concerned, that's nil. They're bringing men in here as prisoners. This is just a place to lock men up. That's all it is. There's no rehabilitation. There is no therapy. There's no nothing.

July 6, 1969.

THOMAS – Remember some time ago you were sitting out here and were telling me about how you and some of the guards caught two guys in the (bathroom) over there and beat their –––?

GUARD D – Q Ward. Yeah.

THOMAS – Somebody wrote a letter to Harrisburg about what happened over there on Q Ward and some other things, but I couldn't pick it all up because I wasn't listening until I heard your name mentioned.

GUARD D – Oh, we didn't beat them up, we didn't beat them up. We just gave them a couple of open handers. They can write all the letters they want. I don't know how they're supposed to prove it. And their word is no good.

THOMAS – I don't know if that was the incident or not. The only thing I heard was about the letter that either was or was not going to be smuggled out during a visit.

GUARD D – You know, what the hell good is it going to do a patient to send a letter to Harrisburg? I mean, after all, let's face it. They're locked up here and they're (Harrisburg) gonna take the guard's word for it. So what the ––– if a guard does cuff a guy up a bit? He's not marked. They (Harrisburg) come up and investigate, even if they did come up and investigate, Jesus, there's no marks on the guy.

When we work a guy over, we work him over very carefully. Now we don't mark them up too bad, not like we used to.

July 6, 1969.

THOMAS – Do you see anything that I could do here to better myself, to convince these people I'm ready to get out of here? I don't have any criminal charges anymore.

GUARD E – Jesus Christ, since you've been here you never give no trouble to anyone. You do your work. I can't understand. Unless it's a personal thing. They will sometimes pick on a guy personal, like (patient name deleted).

THOMAS – Do you think they're really unethical in the way they handle certain cases, like I mean you just mentioned (name deleted).

GUARD E– Well, naturally, naturally. They're unethical. There's a lot of guys that don't belong in here. Send 'em back to the pen where they belong. This is for insane people.

THOMAS – It's hard to believe that these professional men are so unethical in the way...

GUARD E – Aw, Jesus Christ! What's ethical mean? What the ––- professional men do you got in here? In the courtroom, psychiatrist or doctors from the institution is fighting and it's going to go against you. They'll say that your stone buggy and conduct in improper ways, but in different ways to they'll use some legal term or some medical term. The judge is ––-ed. He's got to stay with the doctor, the professional men. They got a million ways of –-ing patients. A million ways.