October 4, 2023

On December 9th, Rae Haltzman, 65 years old and with high blood pressure, started vomiting but could not call for help. She lay with a blanket on the locked visiting room door and “waited for someone to come,” she wrote in a statement filed with the court. When she spotted a psychologist leaving the building, I knocked on the door and asked him to get a paramedic.

Ms. Haltzman was eventually hospitalized for nine days. After she was released on December 18, she was taken alone to a locked room “normally used for suicide surveillance or drug withdrawal cases,” she wrote. She was held there until January 2, despite the hospital’s infectious disease specialist saying there was no need to isolate her.

“I had panic attacks from being alone in the room for so long,” she said. “I felt like I was being punished for getting sick all the time.”

Another inmate, Denise Bonfilio, also fell acutely ill in the visiting room of the men’s prison. Her lips turned blue and she was taken to the hospital. She was found to be dehydrated but not admitted, and she returned to the room.

Due to her food allergies, Ms. Bonfilio was often unable to eat the meals provided, which may have contributed to her dehydration. In an interview, she described the treatment in the isolation room as “physically and emotionally brutal”.

“It was like surviving the fittest,” said Ms. Bonfilio.

The inmates had to order the items they needed from the inspector, recalled Ms. Torres, who was detained on December 23. “We literally bought halls, ibuprofen, and hot tea,” she said.

“We were all afraid,” said Mrs. Spagnardi. “We all thought we were going to die there and no one would know until they counted.”