Greetings and welcome once again to the Roost.
I would like to begin with a very sincere thank you to Anna for guest-writing a beautiful post about writing to people in prison for you, our readers. (She sent me a hard copy to read.) It was very kind of her indeed.
Also I would like to apologize for my extended hiatus from writing. (Which is only partially due to the incident that will be the main subject of this post.)
Before the following event I was (and still am to a degree) in… shall we say… a dark mood. Several things contributed to this.
One of the big unsettling issues for me is that it seems several posts for the Roost which I have sent to Anna have not made it to her. One is the second half of the last batch of questions I was sent by you all to answer. I didn’t much care for that situation at all, as I do not want any of you to think I just decided to neglect your curiosity. Each and every one of your questions are important to me and I will answer them all (even if it is only to tell you I am not comfortable answering a particular question, which rarely happens but is not outside the realm of possibilities) and as soon as I get a letter from Anna telling me which answers were… lost… I will finish answering them for you.
Now it is always possible that a letter can get lost in the mail, but the second post that did not make it… well that is a different issue. It would seem Anna got the letter I sent with it, along with some artwork, but the post I wrote was missing from the envelope. This upset me deeply and I had several prison personnel involved in this issue. I was of course told it was not them (that they have removed nothing) and if there was “an issue”, they would have kept the letter, post, and envelope in its entirety. (Which, I must admit, is what they do.) But “the jury is still out” on me being convinced. There simply must be an explanation for the occurrence.
But knowledge of these things happened recently and I am still in the decision process concerning what is to be done about them.
My “dark mood” has other, older contributing factors, mostly personal, this place can simply “wear on” a person in many ways. I just let it get to me. It can happen when the things one has to do are so limited, it can be difficult to get beyond this place when there is nothing to focus on beyond “the cage”. My access to the outside world is very limited. But these are issues that are mine and I will keep them. I seem destined to deal with them on my own.
Now on to recent events that my participating in, and actions concerning, were beyond my control and choice due to the environment that has been created for me to survive in…
“The great epochs of our life are at the points when we gain the courage to re-baptize our badness as the best of us.” –F. W. Nietzsche
Boy, does this place give me opportunity far and wide to indulge in that!
I must be honest and state that Nietzsche did not have a situation like mine in mind when he wrote that…but it does fit. I live in an environment chock-full of bad people full of “evil intent” — and no, I do not separate myself from that description. I would not be subject to such an environment if I were not deemed bad and/or “evil” by society’s standards.
(You may notice that I put “evil” in quotation marks there– I do the same with “good” when I ascribe them to behavioral issues. I find it troublesome defining them in those situations. They are… situationally arbitrary.)
But delving into the behavioral concepts of “good” and “evil” are not the subject matter of this post. And I will leave it up to you, good reader, to put whatever label you see fit on the following occurrence. My aim is simply to give you a glimpse into the world that is death row. Your judgement– on it, on me, and on my actions– are yours.
At least some of you may remember my mentioning a “close-custody experiment” the prison was being forced into due to litigation. Well, last month, in their infinite stupidity, prison personnel told me to “roll up!” (that is “pack your shit” in prison lingo) as I was to be moved to central unit to participate in the experiment. (I was one of three people in general population to be included– the others were to be left behind.)
I suppose for this to make sense, I need to explain what “general population” is in prison terms. General population is a population of prisoners that have no crimes involving sexual violence, no crimes involving children in any way, and no history of snitching (informing) on anyone involved in criminal activity, and no history of dealing cordially with any of the above three types of people. In short, a member of the general population could be released into any prison yard (not containing those three types of people or their sympathizers) and be expected to get along without incident.
On the other hand, the aforementioned three groups of people (and those who choose to be involved with them), if they were to be released into an open prison yard, would suffer severe consequences.
At this point, I need to take care in what I relate to you, and even how I relate it, as it is easy to enter into the realm of snitching. (Which I do not do, even on prison personnel.) But it is rather difficult to believe that prison personnel, at some level, did not realize what was being done in putting three general population inmates into a situation in which they were literally surrounded by (and far outnumbered by!) sex offenders, child molesters, child killers, snitches, and their close personal friends.
Yup– they did not separate the populations as is done in every other environment in this system! If they had moved all of general population, at least we could have made an environment for ourselves in which we were insular from the issue at hand if we so chose, but we were not afforded that opportunity… three among sixty or seventy… that is what we were given…
I attempt here not to justify anything== in the world made for me to survive in, “justification” is a sketchy concept on the best of days. And certain behavior is not only expected of an individual, but demanded without any excuse accepted. Certain behaviors must be adhered to or one can find oneself neck-deep in a pile of doo-doo with no way out…and the rules apply to everyone! (See above regarding what happens when one is branded a sympathizer with certain elements.)
Just about twenty-four hours after my arrival at central unit (CBS) I was charged with a “2B Felony Violation– Assault on Multiple Inmates.” (And subsequently found guilty of it– don’t you just hate cameras?!) This assault insisted of me beating the holy crap out of an individual who is here because he sexually tortured and then killed a woman…and then beating the crap out of another inmate who thought it was a good idea to jump in and defend this first piece of crap! (For the record, the first “target”– the rapist– is about twenty years my junior and should be perfectly well capable of defending himself. His “protector” was about my age or perhaps a little younger.)
For the record, no, I do not feel bad about what happened. I find the existence of an individual who did what was done by the first person to be loathsome in the extreme (when I used the words “sexually torture” I meant it literally. I will spare you all, and Anna, the details, but what he did was… I have trouble coming up with a word horrendous enough to fit. But to give you an idea, when arrested he was found to still have… nope, I won’t go into it. It upsets me even to consider it.) I feel no remorse at all for the person assaulted, or the one who decided to jump in and defend him. If that makes me a monster in the eyes of some, then so be it.
I am now on the “F-You Tour” of prison life. I spent about a week (or was it a bit longer?) at CB-6. (the maximum security unit at Central) so it could be decided what to do with me—and in the meantime, no shower, no property, no mail, no nothin’ over there! — and apparently they decided that they did not want me, and I was moved not only back to Browning/SMU II, but right back to the very same cell I was taken out of in the first place: G-14! So now I await for them to finish breaking, taking, “losing” my property and bring that back to me. I have been able to get a little bit… but not actually what I need.
I asked for a bag that contained nothing but my clothes, my sheets (I sleep on only a blanket since that is all I have right now), and shoes in it…also, I asked for a cup out of another box to drink from. (I drank out of half-pint milk cartons I get in the morning and wash out and save…also, I have only the set of clothes I have been wearing for a week or more at Central Unit… well, one of the floor cops sees and understands the situation, goes to Property Storage… and comes back with a plastic bag and says “This is all they will give me!”
In this bag were three pairs of boxer shorts, a pair of sweatpants (it’s August in Arizona!) and a bar of soap…all of use to me… but still I cannot leave my cage if I am washing my shirt, and I only have the one pair of socks as well.
And the milk cartons… I’ve been drinking out of those for weeks now. (They only last so long before they spring a leak and I have to replace them.)
People around me have given me things to read, but with nothing else to distract myself they don’t last long. I can read a four-hundred page novel by lunchtime if I don’t put t down and do something else. I am meditating a lot…reflecting…spending time inside my own mind (not a place for the faint of heart, I can tell you!) doing some tune-up work on me.
In case anyone is interested, no, I did not sustain any real injury in the incident. (I jammed or perhaps otherwise injured my right wrist but I am pretty sure that occurred from me beating on others.) I did get pepper sprayed, then tazed when the the pepper spray did not really affect me. (It did after the adrenaline wore off! That new stuff is potent!) The taser probes were pulled out at the scene and I was stuck in a very hot shower. (Hot water and pepper spray don’t really like each other all that much) to wash off the pepper spray residue (I was, of course, still chained) but otherwise refused any treatment and was eventually taken back to my cell to await transport (to CB-6 to begin the F-You Tour.) Yes, I did get an opportunity to wash up better and put on clean dry clothes before they came and got me and my stuff (which means my wet clothes went in a plastic bag and I can’t imagine what shape it will be in when I get it back…maybe the pepper spray will keep the bugs out and slow down mold growth? Hey, I can hope!)
So that is where I have been… for a time anyway. I hope to be able to start posting on a more regular schedule again now. (Rest assured, you will have another post coming on the state of my property when you get it back… I expect to be pissed!) But until then, I am writing on borrowed paper, with a borrowed pen, and sending this to Anna with borrowed stamps I am not sure how I can pay back… (sigh, such is my life!)
For now, dear readers, you all take care… and please remember thank Anna, without whom you could not be reading this right now. She is a dear friend and a very kind person.