Instruments of Torture: The Torture Chair

by Sehu Kessa Saa Tabansi


Power to the people!

Since this is the holiday season of consumer shopping frenzies and enlarged corporate profiteering I thought that it would only be fitting to offer a present of my own to the millions of workers out there that rarely get a glance inside the US Torture Centers first hand to see the American torture devices right off the assembly line.


Photo #1

This is an exclusive expose to the masses that read Workers World Newspaper. Illustrated in Photo #1 is the clever marketing publicity photo of just one of many designs of numerous companies in the US pushing this sanitized, sterilized version of the so-called “Compliance Chair.” This product’s original design purpose was for immobilization and secure transportation of a human being to a vehicle or a close destination within the bureaus of corrections and other judicial centers. In the photo the machine may not appear too threatening. At a quick glance or to the inexperienced public it would be easy not to see the enormous pain inflicted by this sadistic device.

It is this monstrous machine that prison plantations nationwide have co-opted and adopted into a torture device where human beings are strapped in for eight to fourteen or more hours of severe pain.


Photo #2

Straight from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections we have for you laborers and readers of Workers World Newspaper Photo #2, which is a picture of this torturous mechanical device as it is used absent the inviting display used by companies to market this device.

This device is used throughout every prison plantation in Pennsylvania, on men, women and children. What you are seeing at the top of the image are called “shoulder straps” which bend the shoulders backwards on a decline. In the middle of this barbaric torture chair are the waist restraint straps which pull the pelvis and abdomen into the chain in such a manner as to cause an arch in the spine between the shoulder blades and the lower back spinal cord.

On the sides are two hard planks of plastic with straps and no cushions. These are called the “wrist restraint straps” and they are responsible for cutting off the blood circulation to both hands. Finally, at the bottom you have your “ankle restraint straps” which, like the wrist restraint straps, also stop the bloodflow to the lower extremities.

So at this point you are seeing a torture device that cuts off blood flow to the fingers and toes. Here in Photo #3 is a more detailed look at those ankle straps. What you are seeing is tough fiber coated in plastic.


Photo #3

When the agents of repression assemble these plastic-coated straps around the ankles there is no space left between the ankle straps and the skin, thus no blood circulation to the feet. The sorry human being that is restrained in this fashions will feel their feet swell and turn blue, green and purple, causing incredible pain for eight to fourteen hours or more.


In this close-up photo, readers can see the wrist up close and personal. What is most revealing however are the two hard plastic planks which the arms are laid into. This is a hard surface with no cushion or anything of that nature; there is nothing cozy or comfortable about this instrument of pain! The oppressors apply these straps in a deliberate manner so that they are so tight against the flesh, similar to the ankle restraints, that the poor soul’s hands can swell three times their normal size. Discoloration occurs in phases, from blue to green, then purple to black, while the fingers sting and then eventually go numb from lack of blood circulation. Further, the waist restraint straps guarantee that the victim of this torture is unable to move, often for periods of eight to 14 hours or more.

For the victim of this torture device, there can be no movement from the head to toe. The pain is so unbearable that, over the course of an eight-to-fourteen-hour confinement to the chair, the victim will travel outside their body in shock and will hallucinate. We want readers to know that on top of this prisoners are naked, and that it is not unusual for there to be cold air blowing, for the victim to be sprayed with pepper spray, and for the victim to have to sit in their own urine and feces until release.

Besides Christmas, New Years, Hannukah and Kwanzaa there is “Watch Night.” I’ve been told that this is the night that slaves knew at midnight they would be free because of the Emancipation Proclamation (so they thought). With instruments of torture, the whip has simply evolved. So I ask readers and workers, are we really free? What’s the difference between whips and straps?


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