Still, some may wonder what kind of professional was he with the inmates? Well, he received many letters of thanks from the men over the years, both while they were in prison, and after they were released. However, as most staff in prison know, it is almost unheard of to receive a "thank you" from a family member after the inmate has been released. Why? Because their lives move forward, and, understandably, they want to move beyond those experiences. That's why when Jon received such letters received from the family members they were most precious to him, as he knew it took quite a bit of extra emotional effort for a family member to go to the trouble of sending a "thank you."
Those are the letters that really touched him over the years, as they were most gratifying to hear from those who could confirm actual positive changes in their family member, from before they went in to after they got out. So, we convinced Jon to let people see one of those letters. As you read the following (it was a Christmas card), it will become apparent to what extent he was appreciated by both the inmates and their family members, and just how much Jon was willing to invest of himself in the lives of men who weren't even technically assigned to him.
Scripture is filled with the truth that there may well come a day in each person's life when he/she is faced with a significant moral dilemma, where they are forced to decide whether to step-up and do the right thing on behalf of other's being significantly negatively impacted by others... or to pretend not to see, to turn a blind eye, to rationalize away the moral and spiritual responsibility of rescuing the oppressed and protecting those who are unable to speak for themselves. It is in those moment's that the Lord is watching, waiting to uphold those willing to answer the call (Isa. 63:5).
Though few knew, it was just such a situation, behind the walls of a Pennsylvania prison, where no-one would know or hear, that Psychological Services Specialist, Jon K. Uhler, elected to step-up. Instead of protecting his career, reputation, and his own comfort, he "blew the whistle" on the abuse of mental health inmates within a solitary confinement setting, and he was joined by two of his other co-workers. Together, the three psychology staff members would play the key role in the nation's first case against a prison system for sanctioning the abuse of mental health inmates in solitary confinement. And, it would be this case that would initiate the changes throughout the nation, with regard to ending the punitive use of long-term Solitary Confinement as punishment against inmates with mental health diagnosis.
Predictably, as a large, closed systems become morally dark, it doesn't take kindly to light. As a result of their actions, the 3 whistle blowers were systematically targeted for removal. The first of the 3 had allegation fabricated against her, and was gone within weeks of the first coworker's "sudden retirement" (she elected to retire, as opposed to have them slander her name and reputation). Next, allegations of "Christian proselytizing". Yep, you read that right... after the US DOJ Investigation got underway, allegations were made against Jon Uhler by none other than the man being investigated, Chief Psychologist, James D. Harrington. Hmmm... suddenly, 8 years into his stellar employment career... poof... allegations are suddenly made against him. Who would have imagined?). After a formal PA DOC investigation, those spurious charges were unsuccessful... much to the consternation of James Harrington and others.
However, as is so true about those who don't take kindly to having their dark deeds unmasked, James Harrington displayed an unusual degree of persistence toward ensuring that the remaining two whistle blowers would meet the same professional fate as their co-worker. So, he simply regrouped, in order to look for another opportunity to retaliate against Jon Uhler, for his part in blowing the whistle on the abuse of mental health inmates in Solitary Confinement. Though it took James Harrington 2 additional years of dogged determination, he and others who had been named in the US DOJ Findings once again lodge allegations against Jon... but this time with gusto. They would actually go so far as to charge him with bogus crimes. And, they were especially pleased with themselves this time around, as they managed to get the local small town newspaper to feature the alleged "charges"... all to add to the smear campaign.
No doubt, they felt as though it was "mission accomplished". However, what they didn't count on was the judge who would review the manufactured charges quickly saw through their act of retaliation, saw through such a blatantly corrupt strategy employed by the PA DOC to slander Jon Uhler's good name and reputation. What did the judge do as a result? He looked at Jon with an understanding glance, noted how "unusual" it was for such charges to be leveled against such a professional, and... dismissal of all charges. From beginning to end, the entire charade was put to rest within 5 months. Jon was vindicated, another retaliatory plan was thwarted, the perpetrators were dismayed, and Jon's record and reputation were unblemished.
As was the case prior to such a strategic attempted smear, his personal and professional record remains sterling to this day... which is why he continues to hold active professional licenses within 2 states. Such licensing background checks are detailed and robust, and both state licensing review processes found him to be credible, ethical, and entirely professional.
Understandably, Jon elected to retire (with full benefits) after that experience. The last remaining staff was targeted, with allegations made of her not being able to maintain her job performance. Thus, she retired a years later. Though each three whistle blowers paid a significant personal and professional price for stepping-up...
The wheels of divine justice would prove to be active... as the Scriptures are filled with the truth that the Lord upholds those who are willing to do what is right, those who act with integrity... those who risk it all in order to protect those being oppressed, and will vindicate those who do right (Psalm 57:2-3).
It was in Oct., 2018, two years after his retirement... that another state agency acted... but this time, it would be PA Dept. of State bringing formal charges against licensed psychologist (Institutional/Regional Psychologist for the PA DOC), James D. Harrington, listing multiple counts of unprofessional conduct, relating to his role in permitting the abuse and suicide of numerous mental health inmates under his watch. Unlike the bogus charges James Harrington et al. had managed to get lodged against Jon Uhler, these were real charges, based in reality, much of which stemmed from the findings of the US Dept. of Justice's exhaustive investigation. And the outcome? Over a year later, and after exhausting the appeals process, on 12-2-19, the PA Board of Psychology issued a scathing rebuke of James Harrington, finding him guilty on all charges, and permanently revoking his professional psychology license. Though a long time in coming, such vindication was heartening to Jon Uhler and his coworkers, knowing that the Lord will judge those who perpetrate injustice, and will vindicate those who do what is right, just, and fair (Psa. 52:1-5; Psa. 50:16-23).
What's the take-away from all of this? As Jon has written,
"In each of our lives, we are confronted with moral dilemmas of different sizes, of varying degrees of significance. Some of those may be small, some quite significant. It is at such moments we find out what we're made of, what our core values are, and whether we will do the hard thing... regardless of the personal price. Like Moses in the Old Testament, may we each strive daily to be ready to do what's right, to put principle over pragmatism, to engage when it comes to protecting others being harmed... for that is the high calling and high price of the road less traveled."
As an aside... because of Jon Uhler's key role in bringing the abuse of inmates to light, his role of protecting those who could not speak up for themselves, and because of his exemplary and unblemished personal and professional background, he has been asked to serve again as a key witness in an upcoming civil case, filed by the family of one of the inmates who killed himself under James Harrington's watch (which has named many within the PA DOC including James D. Harrington), as being negligent and culpable in their individual capacities for the harm endured by vulnerable mental health inmates.
Though it is sometimes hard to convey what the abuse of lower functioning and/or mental health inmates looks like to those who've never experience what solitary confinement is like, the following will give you a sense of how otherwise normal looking officers can reveal a very dark, cruel, and sadistic bent.