El Chapo's eyesight getting 'blurry' just two months into his life sentence at supermax prison, his lawyer claims
Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán is currently serving a life sentence USP Florence ADMAX in Colorado, which is also known as the 'Alcatraz of the Rockies.'
Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the notorious former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, is said to be suffering from poor vision because of the conditions under which he is imprisoned. Earlier this year, Chapo, 62, was found guilty of several criminal charges related to his leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel and was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 days. Two days after the sentencing, he was transferred from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan to USP Florence ADMAX in Colorado, which is known as the 'Alcatraz of the Rockies,' and where prisoners spend 23 hours a day in single, sound-proof cells and are kept under 24-hour surveillance.
Chapo, who is used to a life of opulence, has reportedly not taken well to the harsh conditions. Speaking about Chapo's plight, his lawyer Mariel Colón told Univision, "He looks much skinnier, a little duller. He is not doing well there. It is the saddest I have ever seen him. He told me that all he does is look at the wall, the ceiling, tries to watch television a little, but he cannot do it well because of the problem in his eyes. He is alone the rest of the day doing nothing."
"His eyesight worsened in a month and a half," she added. "It is not that he is blind, but he sees blurry. He can not read. He needs glasses ... He had not sought treatment because he does not speak English and he did not ask for an eye doctor until I went. I assume it was because of the pressures, the tensions." Chapo, like all the other prisoners at ADMAX, is only allowed outside his 7-by-12-foot concrete cell for one hour a day, which he can spend in an outdoor cell for fresh air.
Colón suggested that this isolation was partly responsible for her client's deteriorating eyesight. "It may be related to the impact of the prisoners' daily isolation. Being in a cell 23 hours a day, without seeing the sunlight, greatly affects your eyesight. Because prisoners who are like this can not use long-distance vision because they are always in a 'cube' and that affects them," she said.
She said that his inability to communicate in English had proven to be a problem as well. "He asked for a haircut, but since he doesn't speak English he could only say something like 'cut' and he [the barber] understood that he was shaving his head, but it was not what he wanted," she explained. Chapo has also lost several other privileges that were previously available to him. For one, he can no longer talk to his lawyers every day. Instead, he is only allowed to meet with them five times a month. But Colón insisted that the 62-year-old had not lost his faith to walk free once again. "He still has mental clarity," she said. "Mr. Guzmán is a person who has a strong mind and has not given up on his legal process."
Chapo is also allowed just one phone call a month, a call that he reportedly used to call his mother and sister in August. Amnesty International has warned that the severe isolation prisoners are subjected to in ADMAX could lead to prisoners turning to extreme self-harm or even suicide. "When he saw us he was happy because he saw a familiar face and for the simple fact that he was going to be able to talk to someone," Colón revealed. Colón and the rest of Chapo's legal team are said to be working to ease the restrictions placed on the 62-year-old.