[Anna’s note: Tod wrote this post on the 25th of January 2017.]
Hello again and welcome to the Roost.
I was planning on making my next post about the new program where they are putting two people out in “basketball courts” (just a concrete slab, fenced in, with a bare basketball hoop at one end) together. I still plan to tell you all about that soon.
But something just happened yesterday that I think may be of interest to at least some of you. It illustrates the chaos that is prevalent in this world. So I hope no one minds if I relate this occurrence today.
I have to begin by telling you that just about three weeks ago, a major unit-wide “quarterly search” was conducted. As the title indicates, these searches are done approximately four times a year, during which they look for weapons and “contraband” and in general do their level best to disrupt people’s routine as much as possible. So, that means that about three weeks ago all our property was gone through thoroughly and searched.
Now that you have that background…
I was recently asked by one of you whether I am worried about people who work for the AZ Department of Corrections finding out about this blog. (The answer was and still is “no.” If I needed something to worry about, I could find better.) And I am not sure, but I may have been asked what would happen if they did find out. (I know I have run down some possible things that could happen, anyway.)
Well, to perhaps remove the mystery… I may just have found out what would happen if these asswipe bastards found out about this blog.
To be fair, I must tell you at this point that I am not sure that is what has happened. But I have thought through the possibilities and the one that keeps rising to the top of the file, given what was done and “targeted” is that the blog must be the cause. But, this is all conjecture on my part at this juncture. And I want to make that abundantly clear.
Now, with this said, I will relate what happened for you.
Yesterday was a day I was supposed to get recreation time and a shower. (I was in fact supposed to go out to the basketball court with someone!) But everything was “shut down”. Those who asked for a shower were given some vague excuse about a “personnel shortage” and perhaps later. Others asked different guards about recreation, and each was given as different response…something was clearly up!
When a “normal” search is conducted, the search team starts in block or “pod” one, and they continue around the cluster (which holds six pods of ten cells each) until they complete the circle and are done. This is not what happened yesterday. At a bit after 9:00 (9 AM is when administration gets here and fills up their offices in a building adjacent to the prison unit proper.)
The door to this block (I am in pod two) bangs open and in rushes enough cops to “post up” on every cell. (Have not had this type of search since I got off the violence control unit pod years ago!) We were all strip searched (I have described this process before so I won’t go into detail again) and told to “dress warm” and were allowed to take bottles of water with us. We were taken out of the cluster where we encountered at least two, perhaps three, squads of SSU (special security unit… which I also have not been searched by since I was last in VCU). Generally there is only one squad here, so the extra were brought in from other units. Of course at this point, “the jig was up” and we knew we were not just getting hit, but hit hard.
We were taken to outside holding cages where we were put on constant watch by a guard who mostly just sat and looked at us. Asking anyone that showed up as we might about what was going on, we were told that they did not know and were only told that death row was to be “locked down” with no movement until further notice. This in and of itself was odd, as there have been no assaults or communique intercepted by anyone to warrant such a response. So this type of search, while not unknown (if you are in VCU and assaulting people) is unusual, and reserved for “special occasions” as it takes the type of preparation and personnel that it does, and is therefore expensive to pull off, both resource-wise and monetarily.
As I have said before, a “normal” search means we are pulled out and stuck in a shower or something for fifteen minutes or so while a team of two or three guards (not SSU) go through our stuff, and then we are put back in our cages right away.
After an hour and forty five minutes (!!!) we were removed from the outdoor holding cells and brought back inside.
Based on previous behavior of this type, I was expecting us to be moved to different locations all over the cluster (due to time involved and SSU being the perpetrators of the search). This is done when a group of people become too “one-minded” in that one person’s problem with staff becomes everyone’s problem, or there seems to be just too much organization in a block…
But, no, that was not the case. We were brought back to our cages to find the whole hour and forty-five minutes was spent going through our stuff!
I did not ask everyone, but the two I did ask were– like myself– targeted for information. (Paperwork gone through, pads of paper rifled through, that sort of thing.) In general, these types of searches on death row are pretty rare. They are usually reserved for members of prison gangs (which I am not) to try and find out about gang activity information. The last search I got of this type, with SSU being involved and everything, was literally years ago. (Again, when I was on VCU.) and then it was generally after a major and serious issue that had happened somewhere (like an assault that the cops believed had been ordered by another inmate) and nothing like that has even occurred here recently that I am aware of.
But let me tell you what was personally done in my cage on this search. Some (but not all…almost like it was a diversion of some sort) of caches of paperwork (legal work) in envelopes and files were apparently gone through. Letters that have been sent to me were also gone through. But a composition book I keep (and jot down mostly unimportant things in that I want to remember or keep track of) was barely touched! (Which would be the exact sort of thing they would be interested in on an information search…the asswipes do not know it’s nothing until they take it, copy it, and look for non-existent “codes” in it!)
I also have a small file on people of “personal interest” on the row, and although again, this is something that should interest them… well, I am not even sure it was looked at. But none of that… nope…
What they did take was a pad of paper that I had future blog ideas written down in– even a partial post written up on the basketball program was in there! And that was what they took.
They also took every pen I have! (I found this one that I am writing with now rolling around in the bottom of a box.) They took the rolled up paper holders I make for pens because I only get pen fillers to write with, not the plastic part that the filler goes inside of. As far as pencils, I am only allowed to have three-inch-long “golf pencils” so I made a holder for those to fit in and they took that, too! I have had that pencil holder for literally over ten years…gone through I have no idea how many searches! The leads on most of my pencils were broken.
I am pretty sure I am being sent a clear message!
I am very aware that, after extended periods of time in punitive lockdown, some degree of paranoia is bound to set in. (As well as any number of mental issues.) But I have tried to see what was done from other angles, and nothing else makes a lot of sense. I suppose there is some degree of chance that things just happened, out of the blue, to go the way they did. But can you imagine the odds of that? Because I can’t.
To me (a self-admitted asshole) the message that is being sent is simple: under no circumstances will I stop writing entries for this blog!
I must assume someone found Muninn’s Roost and clearly does not like it. Their problem, though, is that there is nothing they can do, legally or otherwise, to stop it! I am within my rights and no laws (or even prison rules!) are being broken, either by Anna or by me.
They can screw with me and make my life miserable. Some of my posts and letters may even “get lost” on the way to Anna. But they are otherwise powerless against their mortal enemy… the truth!!!
As I stated at the beginning of this post, this is all supposition on my part. I may never know one way or another whether my suspicions are correct. (Other than by my treatment here.) There may be clues that can be read (such as if the letters I send to Anna have large gaps between the date on the letter and the stamped postmark date, or if the envelopes are cut open on one end and taped back shut… that means the asswipes are opening them.) But as neither Anna nor I have or are doing anything wrong legally or otherwise, that may be all the evidence we will ever have.
I will have some trouble replacing what was taken. (Perhaps this was their plan? They know my financial situation– they have that on file in their computer system.) The pens I cannot afford to buy. The paper? There were only fifteen or twenty sheets left so I got to use over half anyway. (But it does sting a bit to have it stolen like that.) I can make my pencil holder up again and see if perhaps there is a market for cards….one or two, perhaps? Card drawing is pretty seasonal, except for birthdays, and there are a few people “gettin’ their hustle on” that way. Valentine’s Day is approaching… not a lot of time to get any business together for that, however. Just have to see.
I do know that I will keep posting about this place for as long as I can. I think it is important that I do that– especially now!
Yes, there were other things that were taken, non-blog-related things. Stuff not usually messed with (like my pencil holder) things that I use to make my existence a little bit less annoying. I may not make replacements, actually– my thoughts turn toward “pushing back” at this point.
Well, that is about all I have for this post. I will be back as soon as I can, and I will keep you updated if I ever do find out the reason for what happened. Oh, and I will tell you about the basketball program in the next post, barring any major upheavals here anyway.
Please do not forget to thank Anna….you would know nothing of me were it not for her.