April #46 : Hang a Right - by Gabi Horn

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Table of Contents

L.A. Confidential

Fat Chance

Back to Life, Back to Reality: Ron Rosa

Back to Life, Back to Reality: Michelle Lopez


To the Editor

The Last Dance

Truth or DARE

Piece of Mind

Poster of the Month: Absolutely Not Enough

Hang a Right

Out in Africa

Mutual Disgust

8 Years to a Vaccine and Counting

Say What

POZarazzi: Shock Troops

High Time

POZ Picks


Back to Life, Back to Reality: Don Kao

Back to Life, Back to Reality: Roy Mead

Back to Life, Back to Reality: Linda Grinberg

The High Cost of Living

How to Make Art in an Epidemic

The Seven-Year Itch

Varsity Blues

A Woman Under the Influence

Integration Now

Get Over It

A Pocketful of Protein

Under-Celling PWAs

Brain Storm

Reefer Rap

Get Baked

All You Can Eat

Raging Hormones

Het Connect

Where to Find It

Frequent Flyer

April Showers . . .

Payback Time

From Fruits to Nuts

When Adam Met Eve

Aunt Evelyn's Letters

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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April 1999

Hang a Right

by Gabi Horn

Feds finger inmate’s suicide

Thanks to loose-lipped prison guards and a pointed suicide note, California corrections investigator and the FBI are snooping out an alleged breach in prison policy during the December 9 suicide of Michael can Straaten, 32, a Canadian citize and HIV positive inmate at Corcoran State Prison.

For two years, Van Straaten, an epileptic, requested transfer from Corcoran—a nonmedical facility and the subject of several brutality investigations—to the California Medical facility at Vacaville. Shortly after learning that his transfer had been denied, Straaten apparently hanged himself with a noose cobbled together from torn bedsheets and shoelaces. Two tips caught the FBI’s attention and kicked off a prison advocate’s campaign to expose the conditions surrounding his death.

First, the correction officers leaked info to The Los Angeles Times: Rather than popping open Van Straaten’s cell immediately upon discovering his dangling body, guards lagged outside for 18 minutes, videotaping the scene and checking his medical records. When they finally entered the cell, the Times source reported that van Straaten’s body was still warm to the touch. Investigators will determine whether his body was moving when he was discovered.

The second attention-grabber was the inmate’s final wish, expressed in a suicide note to his family: “let Judy Greenspan [of California’s HIV in Prison Focus] know that she can use my story to expose prison cruelty. In part, my death was solidarity.” Greenspan, who had advocated for Van Straaten’s transfer, is doing just that. In a full-steam media, Internet and letter-writing blitz, Greenspan is leaning on California’s attorney general to investigate Corcoran’s medical neglect of HIVers. “I am convinced that Michael would be alive today if he had been sent to an appropriate medical facility,” she said in a press release. “Corcoran is a death camp for PWAs. Michael was dumped there to die.”

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