The Experiment

Greetings yet again and welcome to the Roost. I don’t have a lot to tell you about at this time (the amount of boredom can quite literally be mind-numbing when you live in a cage.) But I will try to do the best that I can.

The holidays, while not distant yet, are slowly receding. The holidays themselves mean very little in a place like this, but they can be mentally trying. I think (I hope) I am finally getting over them.

We have heard (one can never trust information in here– you have to adapt an attitude of “I’ll believe it when I see it”) that after the first of the year, a new “experiment” will be tried. I suppose I should give you a bit of background…

Over nineteen years ago, death row was moved (arbitrarily) to this “supermax” unit from a lower custody unit. It was known at the time that so-called “supermax” or “special management” lockdown prison units were detrimental to the mental health of human beings, so they were used for punitive purposes, for individuals who were deemed uncontrollable by any other means. (Basically, people who could not be stopped from assaulting other inmates, guards, etc.) To accomplish this behavior modification, the environment was designed to be as uncomfortable and stressful as possible. People in the mental field did studies and deemed that a person should not be exposed to such an environment for more than six months at a time. And that is what happened…to those people who were/are moved here for punitive reasons.

And that is what happened…to those people who were/are moved here for punitive reasons. They are subjected to an environment that is mentally unhealthy and physically uncomfortable for a period of six months to perhaps a year at most to induce a modification in unacceptable behavior.

Now that you have that information, I will skip ahead about seventeen years… through which every study and recommendation about punitive supermax units has been conveniently forgotten, and death row continues to be housed in an out-of-the-way, back section of a punitive supermax unit. Furthermore, said studies and recommendations deal only with a short-term transient punitive population, which is what it these units are intended for– not death row! (The deputy warden has actually been overheard telling groups of lawyers and prisoners’ rights activists that no one is housed here for more than a year.)

Well, a couple of years back, we finally found a group of lawyers that were willing to take our case to court. The Arizona Department of Correction is acutely aware that it has been doing something that can only be called inhumane– and they have been doing it for almost two decades. ADoC is also aware that it cannot withstand the light being shed upon this matter and will at some point be forced to modify its behavior and correct its wrongdoing.

The Arizona Department of Corrections knows that if this case is allowed to be adjudicated to its logical conclusion, they will be forced to either outright move the entire population of death row to a lower custody (and more humane) unit, or at least allow for some path by which people on death row can move to a lower custody unit. But they are aware that there are people who have been subjected to the mentally horrendous and stressful conditions of this unit for that entire nineteen years and may not be suitable for face-to-face contact with the prison guards that have been in some cases torturing them for almost two decades.

So the prison has an idea to thwart the court case…

This now brings me to the aforementioned “experiment”. After the first of the year, the prison will institute a “close custody” section of Special Management II (IE, the Browning Unit, where I am currently housed.) Close custody is the next-lowest level of custody after lockdown. But they are not doing it like it would be done if a court ordered it– they are doing it their own “special” way… as far as we can tell, anyway.

They appear to be marking people for this experiment whom they know, without a doubt, have isues with… shall we say… certain elements of the prison population which even we prisoners consider to be low-life pieces of human refuse. (That element would be child molesters, rapists, and “baby killers”… the people that the rest of us hate.) And they are (again, as far as we can tell) going to mix us in liberally with individuals (human refuse, that is) who, if a court ordered the prison had to allow death row off out of lockdown and into close custody, would have to be put into protective custody or special sex offender units for their own safety.

(Yes, I am one of the people that may be slated for inclusion in this experiment, whom the prison knows, without a doubt, will look upon the aforementioned pieces of human refuse with evil intent. There is nothing I hate more than a rapist or anyone who would hurt a child.)

This seems to be an effort to derail the whole court case (which has yet to be fully adjudicated) by creating a situation which may result in an extremely horrific outcome, after which the prison can say, “See! We can’t let these death row animals out of their cages! Imagine what they would do to the guards if we did!” Using the outcome of their very calculated “experiment” as an example. They even brought around a piece of paper for us to sign which stated we cannot contest our “housing assignment,” meaning they will mix in sex offenders, etc. whenever and wherever they please!

You may be of the mindset that would say “people did not have to sign this piece of paper if they didn’t wish to,” …which would be true, in your world. Prison is a society of sorts, a culture outside of yours, with its own ethics and rules. (A large book could be written on this subject alone, so I won’t go into it deeply). I will simply say that when the prison brings around a piece of paper like that, a person like me does not see choice. It is more of a matter of “sure, give me that thing; I’ll sign it!” and then afterwards what comes from it is dealt with, abiding by one’s personal sense of honor and the above-mentioned code of ethics and rules.

To go deeply into that would violate a code of conduct that is observed by the individuals in this environment which has been created for us to survive in by the society that you have created through your votes for elected officials, and your seemingly-nonchalant attitude concerning how your moral and ethical codes of conduct are visited upon your fellow citizens who have been caught up in this world, and ground into a base survival form of barbaric proto-human by an extremely corrupt judicial system…so it’s best for me to leave off there.

At this point in time, I do not know whether I will end up being moved or not, or even what sort of an environment I might end up in if and when I do, but I will try to keep you all updated on this “experiment” as I am able, and that will very likely provide some rather interesting blog entries as the future unfolds… or perhaps not, depending on what the prison officials in their seemingly infinite amount of unadulterated stupidity end up doing. (And one of the absolutes I have learned from living in a lockdown punitive unit for nineteen years is that the Arizona Department of Corrections has ane endless supply of stupidity, and the higher you go in the chain of command, the stupidity increases exponentially.) But in any event, the future here should be interesting.

Well, for not having much to tell you, I did go on a bit, didn’t I? But for now, I will give Anna’s much-appreciated typing skills a break. So, until next time, keep the shiny side up. And please remember to thank Anna for allowing you to keep track of my exploits here within this theatre of the absurd. I thank her, too, but not nearly enough.

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