Saturday, January 26, 2013
DAY SEVEN: Prison Diary January 9, 2013 Solitary Confinement Okaloosa C.I., Crestview, FL
The Russians in Stalin's gulags (prisons) used to say that the years pass quickly, but the days go slowly. That is partially true today. When the lights cut on in lockup at 4:00 AM, blinding cell lights, two hours before breakfast, it seems like an interminable time until ten o'clock that night when they cut the lights off. Seven suns have risen and set, as our Native American brothers and sisters say, since I was unceremoniously shoved "in the hole," a week has passed, and what do I have to show for it? A lot, actually.
At nine o'clock this morning I was summoned to a legal phone call with my attorney, William Sheppard. After getting gussied up with a set of handcuffs, waist chains and leg irons, I shuffled to a little hearing room where my classification officer waited by a phone. She gave me the phone and left the room, closing the door. Attorney-client confidentiality.
After that, the nurse and doctor waited to complete my annual physical. I'd lost six pounds on the scale, but that wasn't counting the several pounds of steel bracelets and anklets I wore. Prison diet plan - go to solitary - no between meal snacks.
Considering the circumstances, I should be happy I am in relatively good health, all my lab numbers in the normal range. The doctor said my cholesterol level was very good, lower than his, and I answered, "Yeah, but I'm not eating those porterhouse steaks, baked potatoes and sour cream like you are." Not much cholesterol in beans and soy patties. I told the doctor I'm trying to survive this life sentence, and maintaining my health is crucial. Many prisoners have severely curtailed life expectancies, usually from bad lifestyle choices, and many look years or decades older than their actual ages. After living a monastic lifestyle for over 34 years, I'm doing better than most, not letting up now, but it isn't getting any easier. The hard, grating conditions, the endemic abuse, and the psychological torment inflicted on most prisoners wears down even the strongest of men. Apathy is a contagion that affects many prisoners and staff.
I am grateful for small blessings. It took me six days to get a toothbrush - one with a thumb grip, perhaps two inches long, I suppose so one so inclined can't stick anyone in the eye with it. Have you ever tried to brush your teeth with the corner of a towel for six days? It's not fun. The "stale" toothpaste they issue is made in India, probably from holy cows. It used to be made in China, but they had a major product recall - something about contamination, and they switched suppliers to India. Whatever happened to "Made in America?
Anyway, I had a brand-new bottle of Colgate toothpaste in my stored property, along with a bar of good soap and a paperback book. I sent in a request, since we are permitted such limited items, and today they brought the three items. Christmas in January. "When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose," the man said, but in here, where no one has much of anything, the little things mean a lot. So I got out my thumb-sized toothbrush, loading it up with blue-and-white "name brand" toothpaste, and woke my mouth up. No, I won't throw away the toothpaste from India. It's still good for cleaning the little stainless steel toilet.
After waiting for hours, it is almost time to take my quick shower. On Monday, the water was warm, but dribbled out like-I don't want to say what I was thinking. No washcloth - apply soap with your hands. The three-second push button barely comes in before it cuts off. You have to endlessly push it to get the drizzle. Very difficult to get wet, soapy, rinse and get clean. Perhaps that's why they call it prison. You don't want to come here.
Before I go, my web master says I must mention Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and "Psy," to keep up the hits on the blog, and attract a younger, more hip, and older, more sophisticated reader of the accompanying blog. Since today marks my 12,701st day of captivity, I'm not getting any younger, or hipper, either, so I guess we're even.
Thanks for reading this far, and keep in touch. If the grinches make me do the entire 30 days of retaliation in "the box," I'll get out on February 1st, right before Superbowl Sunday. Who do you think will win? Being cut off from all news sources, I don't even know who's playing.
In the meantime, goodnight, and I'll see you tomorrow, if the Lord is willing that I arise.
Monday, January 21, 2013
THE CONSTITUTION AIN'T IN EFFECT IN OKALOOSA COUNTY
DAY FOUR: Prison Diary January 6, 2013 Solitary Confinement Okaloosa C.I., Crestview, FL
You would think that these people should know better, locking me up in a cell for a month with a hundred sheets of paper and a pen. What could be the harm? As someone once said, "They can kill me, but they can't eat me."
My latest confinement poem for your enjoyment:
IN THE DARKNESS
In the darkness
I dream of light,
Where the sun shines
And grass grows,
Trees sway in rhythm
Casting cool shadows
While children dash and play,
Their laughter tinkling
Like so many wind chimes
In the breeze.
In the darkness
My eyes open
To visions of clouds
In their whites and gray
Puffiness, moving cotton
Balls with blue sky
Framing them, birds coasting,
Incurious of the figures
Below, spread out on colored
Blankets patchworking the park,
Food and music - a happy picnic.
In the darkness
I feel the warmth
Of my lover beside me,
Her hand grasping mine,
I sense her smile
At the joy of children and dogs
Running, leaping, in clueless safety,
For a moment eternity is stilled,
I inhale the sweet scent of love
I see everything,
Although some say nothing.
In the darkness
I am young and free, for awhile.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
DAY SIX: Prison Diary January 8, 2013 Solitary Confinement Okaloosa C.I., Crestview, FL
Here we are on Day Six, a Tuesday, much like Day Five, with a few differences. The noise reverberating against the concrete walls, steel doors and stairways is unrelenting. Never stops, nothing to say. On Day Five I spent several hours composing and rewriting my grievance appeal of this false d.r. to the warden, who rarely, if ever grants anything. My situation is more crucial because I am spending 30 days in lockup "on the house," strictly on the word of an obsessed civilian prison employee who went way beyond her limited authority - abused it and violated the law many times, but no one supervisory over her apparently cares what she does. There is much speculation as to how she has gotten away with all her actions over the years, which I won't go into now, except that this camp is far from Tallahassee or any cities of consequence, and many people are close-knit for generations and interrelated. The movie, "Deliverance," comes to mind. Where is Burt Reynolds when you need him?
The Big Event in the evening of Day Five was shower time. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Tonight there are no showers for this wing, approximately 88 prisoners in two-man cells, close quarters. And it can be a long, musky time from Friday night until Monday's shower! The air gets very musty. Most have no money to buy deodorant, shampoo or soap. And for those who pace their cells for hours like zoo animals, working up a sweat, it can get awful.
Besides the thrice-weekly showers, the only other big event are the three meals a day. I've written about the paucity of food available on a budget of $1.54 a day, but actually they serve those in lockup better than those on the compound. Since a majority of the kitchen workers rotate in and out of lockup for stealing food and other nefarious infractions, those workers who dish out the confinement trays are generous with the serving, and don't "shake the spoon," prison parlance for a nasty server who loads up the serving spoon with the correct serving, then shakes most of it back into the serving tray for meanness. They might be in lockup next week, so mostly they are looking out for themselves and others.
Years ago at Raiford, a big smart-aleck prisoner on the serving line intentionally shook the spoon on Junior Bullard, a legendary chain gang fighter. Junior pointed his finger at the guy. A day or so later Junior caught him on the compound and pounded his ribs. The next time Junior went through the line when the smart-aleck was working, he gave Junior a double serving.
Today I spent hours writing out details of this incident to my lawyer, "renowned civil rights attorney," William Sheppard, as the newspapers describe him. I've been so busy with legal paperwork that I haven't been able to keep my goal of a poem a day while I am back here. I've completed three so far, that I'm fairly happy with, and hope to catch up when I've caught up on the paperwork. No books to read, no newspapers, no magazines are available, except for a Bible, but not even St. Paul would read the Bible all day for a month. As long as I still have pen, paper, stamps, and envelopes, I'll be okay, but that is running down fast.
Now it is time to wash my socks. Hurray! They don't issue socks in lockup. I came in with my personal socks, as well as tee shirt and boxers, and have to wash them in this dribbling sink if I want to maintain my own hygiene. The state isn't the least bit worried about that. Perhaps I'll get a letter in the mail with papers printed from internet sources, something interesting to read. A couple of old friends send me such things every so often.
As for now, arrivederci, buenos noches, and good night. See you tomorrow.
DAY FIVE: Prison Diary January 7, 2013 Solitary Confinement Okaloosa C.I., Crestview, FL
A happy birthday poem: GUARDIAN ANGELS
A Tribute To Merry And Libby
She sought sanctuary at a church,
A fitting place on a frigid night
A plaintive whine in desperation
Drew a guardian angel to the door.
What she saw clenched her heart
in pity, concern, and compassion:
A young dog, less than a year old,
a puppy still, black and brown,
a hound trembling in fear and cold,
curled up in hurt, injured,
starving, thirsty, abused,
wincing, squinting in the door light.
She took her in, careful now,
A yelp — I’m sorry, girl,
I don’t want to hurt you.
In the heated room the trembling
could not abate, the puppy,
given up, hope gone, on her last legs.
Let me give you a drink, girl,
you must be so thirsty,
The guardian angel said.
She lapped the water from the bowl,
tenuously, nervously, cringing,
unused to kindness,
only pain, as so many suffer
the hatred, the angry kicks
and curses, unwanted.
The guardian angel laid out cushions
and blankets for a bed.
Let’s get you warm, little one.
I’ll call you Merry,
since it’s Christmas.
Merry licked her hand
in gratitude and relief,
Laid back and went to sleep.
The guardian angel fed her, nursed her,
loved her, treated her wounds.
The vet tut-tutted, she was almost dead,
someone mistreated this dog.
I know, but she is safe now,
she is home, she is mine.
As Merry strengthened and grew stronger
she never left
her guardian angel’s side,
At work, she curled up on a blanket
beneath the angel’s desk,
Alert to any visitor who might venture
too close, letting them know,
This one is mine,
she is under my protection.
At home, on guard, the mailman
never got past the door
in all the years Merry
stayed on duty, ever vigilant,
especially on neighborhood walks
when strange dogs came to sniff,
a growl was all Merry needed
to maintain the safety zone
around her guardian angel.
Merry made many friends over the years,
Marty and Buddy, Bentley and Blue,
Neighborhood dogs from the smallest
to large, Chihuahuas, schnauzers, a wolf,
a yapping trio of Bassett pups.
Everyone loves Merry,
She even forebore a series of cats,
Disdainful of those who lounged on her bed,
Calmly biding her time till the cat
left her bowl unattended:
Scarf, scarf, the cat food was gone.
It has been many long years
since that night in December,
Years of happiness and joy.
She’s fourteen now, slowed down some,
hard of hearing,
Yet some mornings she’s frisky as a pup
on the walks with her guardian angel,
the cool air refreshes her thick fur coat,
she’ll still chase a squirrel,
and ducks in the park,
She loves to wade in the surf
at Flagler Beach, and ban
every seagull in her vicinity.
She has loved long and well
Her guardian angel,
And guarded her in turn,
on late-night grocery runs
and ATM’s, then at home
in secure sleep, always.
For Merry has known
what others have not:
We are guardian angels
to each other.
by Charles Patrick Norman
He stared out the window through the blind
From afar she watched the sun come up.
Everything happens in order.
In a few hours it won't matter.
She pushed open the gate with her hand.
In some things you'll find that less is more.
She thought she saw movement, then no more.
She wondered how she had been so blind.
She knew he had been just a hired hand.
Why did she feel he had set her up?
It is only mind over matter.
Could he make her obey his order?
He made the call and placed the order.
She turned the knob and took one step more.
I don't want to deal with this matter.
Is love irrational, or just blind?
She entered the room as he looked up.
He touched her cheek with his cool, soft hand.
At deceit you may be an old hand,
But I will keep my thoughts in order.
A glass of wine, dear, might cheer you up.
I can't take your abuse any more.
Do you think I'm that stupid and blind?
You think this is a laughing matter.
She cried. He asked, Now what's the matter?
I believe you have the winning hand.
How can that be when you've robbed me blind?
Don't you care about law and order?
This is good wine. Would you like some more?
She reached for her purse and picked it up.
When she cocked the pistol he spoke up.
This is just a trivial matter.
Perhaps to you, but to me it's more.
She aimed the gun with a shaking hand.
I will not take another order.
For a moment the blast made her blind.
At the knock she looked through the blind, as a voice called, open up.
It was a man with an order; Can you sign for this matter?
She took the wine bottle in hand, and decided on one glass more.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Today is Friday, and I woke early as my second day of solitary, for exercising my First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and expression. An interesting sidenote: every state employee (including prison) must swear an oath to obey the Florida Constitution, state and federal laws, and the U. S. Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment.
We don't talk much about the Florida Constitution, but it is in effect, and its Declaration of Human Rights mirrors much of the Bill of Rights. Article I, Section 4 of that document, Freedom of Speech, states that every person shall have the right to speak, write, and publish their thoughts. Look it up! If you don't have a copy of the Florida Constitution lying around the house, ask "Mister Google," and he will take you right to it.
You can also view the correctional officer's "Code of Ethics" on the Florida D.O.C. web site, but who ever let something like sworn oaths to maintain ethics get in the way of committing reprisals against prisoners who weren't properly subservient and sycophantic toward those who trample on the law?
Day Two in solitary confinement began with cell lights blasting on around 4:00 AM, then it was the long wait until the food cart came around with breakfast - potatoes, grits, two hard biscuits, a small, dry disk of what they claim is "turkey sausage," but try as I might, I couldn't sniff a single gobble from it. I ate it, along with every other bland tasteless bite on the tray. I am in "survival mode" now, and must preserve my strength. It wasn't much, but it is a long time to lunch, and there is no canteen run in "disciplinary confinement." I am grateful that I am in solitary in America and not Colombia, Haiti, Pakistan, or Russia, where they do starve their prisoners. At least the food is reasonably warm.
About 7:00 AM, I was told to pack up my meager belongings again, I was moving to another wing, "DC Confinement," filled with those already found guilty and serving their disciplinary confinement time. (NOTE: everyone is found guilty in Kangaroo court. Like the song says, "There's no exception to the rule."). I'd spent the first night in "AC," administrative confinement, filled with those locked up for "investigation" or awaiting their fate in Kangaroo court. We desperados serving "DC" time aren't supposed to be around the "AC" guys, but as I said yesterday, there was no room at the DC Inn at the time.
So I moved to another wing, another identical cell in a far corner, trashed and filthy from the previous occupant. Did I tell you that most of the mentally ill prisoners spend most of the time in lockup? And they do funky things to their cells. Heck, they do funky things to themselves!
The guard asked me, "Are you going to clean this mess up?" And I answered, "Of course. I don't live like this."
It could have been worse.
Some years back, I had a Cuban "Marielito" cell mate who was one of the thousands Castro released from prisons and mental hospitals, freeing them to join other thousands of Cubans who came to Florida on the "boat lift" from Mariel, Cuba. No one ever said Castro was stupid. In a matter of weeks, he dumped the worst criminals and psychopaths onto Florida shores where many came quickly to prison.
My cellmate wasn't one of the worst, just a petty criminal who couldn't make it "on the street," but he had many horror stories about Cuban prisons that made me count my blessings to be where I was, despite the injustice and inhumanity. Since I spoke Spanish, it was a revelation to hear the stories of an illiterate man who spoke no English.
There is a large, thriving criminal element in Cuba, despite the totalitarian police state, and the criminals organize themselves in gangs of mostly geographic breakdowns. When the authorities transferred a group of Western Cuba prisoners to a prison filled with mostly Eastern Cuba prisoners, bloody battles broke out until they separated them. The guards maintain their own geographic loyalties, too.
A "big man," a powerful Havana gangster and his bodyguard were sent to a distant prison where the guards had animosity toward him before he even arrived, disdaining his "elite" status as a well-off, powerful Havana criminal.
Guards took them to a cell where two prisoners lay dead, butchered by a psychopath, the cell covered in blood. The guards pointed to a mop and bucket, told them that was their cell, to drag the corpses outside and scrub down all the blood.
The gangster was a bigshot, told the guards they weren't doing it, and to give them another cell.
The guards told him they had a choice - to clean the cell, or they were going to lock them in the cell with the dead bodies and the crazy guy who'd killed them.
They scrubbed the cell.
This cell wasn't anywhere near that bad, but it was filthy with brown steaks and boogers stuck to the wall. No cleaning supplies, but I used much of a bottle of my shampoo (what do I need it for? They shaved my head) and a piece of rag, along with the dribble of water out of the steel sink, to thoroughly wash the walls and floor. The cell seems bigger when you're cleaning it! It smelled a lot better, too. Now I'm not afraid to touch anything.
In "AC" they take showers Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. In "DC" it is Monday, Wednesday, Friday. For once I got lucky - took a shower in AC on Thursday night, and doubled back for another one in DC tonight, Friday. I'm not complaining. Otherwise I'd be taking a "bird bath" in the dribbling sink.
Since the mail grinch disapproves of my poetry and literary efforts so vehemently, I figured my best revenge would be to use this 30 day period to write a poem every day, along with this prison diary, to show you what it is like, and to keep my brain functioning at a high level. Hettie Jones says that writing is the best activity a person in prison can do, to keep themselves sane and make sense of the world. I agree. I am already behind, but I am catching up.
My friend and mentor, Stephanie Riggio, challenged me to write a sestina a year or so ago, and sent me the rules and some examples. Sestinas are particularly challenging poems that must be meticulously constructed using six non-rhyming end words that are repeated in a varying order in six stanzas of six verses that use all six words. What a challenge! Awell-crafted sestina that tells a story is quite an accomplishment, and my skills weren't up to it until recently, when I wrote my first one, fittingly titled, "A Sestina For Stephanie."
I found the second one several degrees more difficult and struggled to complete it. But complete it I did, today. I will share it with you here tomorrow, if you care to read it.
Meanwhile, I will attempt to sleep on this rock-hard narrow bunk, and see you tomorrow. Good night.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I never fail to be amazed at how Charlie maintains a positive attitude and his unique creativity under the most adverse conditions, as evidenced by this latest edition of his ongoing prison diary. But he needs the moral support of friends during this trying time. Charlie has battled hard against corrupt politicians who've abused their power and generated lie after lie to keep him imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit. It is shameful.
If you have any comments about this prison diary you can make them to me by e-mail, and I will forward them to Charlie, or you can make your comments and send words of encouragement directly to him at Charles P. Norman, #881834, Okaloosa Correctional Institution, 3189 Colonel Greg Malloy Road, Crestview, FL 32539.
Be sure to use "Charles." According to the mail grinch, "Charlie" is NOT "Charles," so any mail addressed to "Charlie" will be unceremoniously returned to sender.
Please feel free to pass on Charlie's story to any friends you think would be interested. Thanks.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
When I was rudely awakened near midnight on December 4, 2012, to be served another false "disciplinary report" fabricated by the evil "mail grinch," a so-called civilian clerical employee who has been hounding my correspondence since my arrival here in April, I didn't worry much about it. Even the officer who delivered it to me was astounded at the rambling illiteracy that comprised 23 separate ridiculous allegations going back to 2007, four prisons ago, who said it should have been shredded. This person, who has been the central figure in keeping me separate from my mail, has focused her vitriol on me in retaliation and reprisal for my filing complaints against her for mail theft, theft of postage stamps, "losing," tampering with, hindering, delaying and photocopying incoming and outgoing mail, for months.
Has anyone in the Florida panhandle heard of the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution? Considering how higher-level prison officials defer to this person's total disregard for the law, one would think not. Even prisoners have the First Amendment right to send and receive correspondence from people in "free society," or so the U. S. Supreme Court says, backed up by "Chapter 33" state prison regulations, Florida Statutes, the Florida Constitution, and federal law. Apparently not in this county!
A guard once told me one of my favorite ignorant quotes, "The Constitution ain't in effect in Columbia County." That was twelve years ago. Guess what, M.W.? It ain't in effect in Okaloosa County, either. This is another world, where the rule of law does not apply.
The mail grinch began her assaults with a post-it note: "Inmates can not[sic] write short stories," then followed up with, "Inmates can not write poems." Considering the ungrammatical use "can not," I wondered if it was a value judgment, or a statement of fact, like, "white men can't jump?" "Inmates are incapable of writing short stories?" Is that what she meant? Or was it "Inmates are forbidden...?" Both statements are false, untrue.
People incarcerated in Florida prisons are allowed to write short stories, poems, essays, books, plays, letters to their mothers, and to their congressmen. I know. I've been doing it for over thirty years, with the full knowledge and approval of many prison officials. I've also taught approved creative writing courses, including "short stories," as recently as last January at Wakulla Annex, under the "faith and character based initiative." The State issued certificates. Maybe she just doesn't like poems. I know - no pictures! That made it more difficult to understand.
What prisoners are not allowed to do, according to Chapter 33-602.207, is to sign marketing agreements with literary agents and seek compensation for their work. Section (2) of that rule provides the disclaimer: any inmate seeking to publish his writings must send a statement to the mailroom staff that he is not seeking compensation. I did that here at Okaloosa on May 17, 2012. Didn't matter.
In the days that follow, I will fill in the blanks and explain what happened in the month from when the mail grinch concocted those phony charges until I had the Kangaroo court hearing, today, which resulted in my being sentenced to 30 days lockup in solitary confinement again, for pursuing my First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and redress of grievances.
Meanwhile, I will recount Day One of 30 for you. I was in the law library at 10:00 AM this morning, Thursday, January 3, 2013, when I was told to report to my dorm. (They euphemistically call it a "dorm," but it is merely a large prison cell packed with 75 narrow steel bunks and 75 prisoners in tight quarters. The word "sardines" comes to mind.)
Upon arrival, the guard said, "Pack your shit, you got a d.r. hearing." Great.
So I packed most of my earthly belongings in mesh bags, and a couple of friends carried the mostly legal documents for me. Since I've suffered disk injuries to my back, I refrain from lifting much and further damaging my back, if I can avoid it. Forget about prison back surgery!
While I was waiting for the Kangaroo court hearing (verdict and punishment discussed and decided upon before I walk in the door), a prison guard who knew me asked, "What did you get a d.r. for? You do nothing wrong." I told you he knew me.
I showed him the charges. (If you would like to read them, send a response to Libby on the "contact" e-mail, and she will send them to you).
He couldn't believe it. "No way! You won't go to jail for this. I've never read anything like this in my career. This is ridiculous."
Famous last words. When I tried to say something in my defense, I was threatened with, "Shut up, back up into that corner, and don't say another word, or I'm going to end this hearing right now and lock your ass up on another d.r. for thirty days."
So much for a "fair and impartial" hearing where I could speak, present evidence, and request witnesses.
That was about 10:40 AM. Property taken, hands cuffed behind my back, and escorted to lockup. First, I went to medical for a pre-confinement physical. 236 pounds. Next, I was locked into a tiny steel cage shower the size of a small phone booth. (Do they still have phone booths out there?) Cuffs removed, then strip-searched, locked in the tiny shower/phoneless booth for almost two hours. They were busy, there wasn't room - confinement is booming - no vacancy. They had to let someone out to find a bunk in a cell for me.
They brought me a lunch tray. Forgettable. A famous prison memoir from the 1970's was titled, "Where Flies Don't Land." You could use the same description for the tray.
After an hour or so of being cramped and trying to find an angle to get more comfortable, I accidentally bumped the pushbutton that cuts on the shower. That worked! There I was, trapped in a steel cage, with cold water spraying and soaking me! (Important note: avoid pushbuttons!)
Then, the guard came by, noticed my soaked condition and asked a couple of stupid questions. Finally, I was escorted to my new cell - bare bones - a hard, thin plastic-covered mattress, one stained sheet, one ragged, patched blanket.
Hours went by. They gave me toothpaste, but no toothbrush. That makes sense. They served supper - "chow." I've already forgotten it, or maybe just blocked it out of my mind.
Later on, strip down to boxer shorts, hands cuffed in back - shower time. First, they shaved my head, part of the dehumanizing/humiliation process, the "P.O.W./mental patient" look. Once a week they re-weigh everyone in lockup, to see if anyone is starving to death or on a hunger strike. If you lose so much weight in thirty days, they have to release you. So I was re-weighed - 210 pounds! A new record. I lost 26 pounds in eight hours! Obviously an error but they wrote it down.
Then back to the infamous steel cage shower, where I was locked in and cuffs removed, ostensibly so I could wash. Five minutes. Back to your cell.
I was tired, mentally and physically exhausted, so around 9:00 PM, I curled up on the hard plastic mattress on the steel bunk and tried to drown out the cacophony of lost souls calling out to any human voices who would answer them. So much for DAY ONE in solitary. Good night. See you tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
January first heralds the 12,693rd day in my captivity. April fifth will mark my 35th year of wrongful imprisonment, a prisoner of corrupt politicians, who fear that their highly-profitable political careers will be ruined when the truth comes out about how and why I was convicted of a 1975 murder someone else committed.
But what about the two men who were given "immunity from prosecution for first degree murder" in exchange for their false testimony that Charles Norman told them he shot someone? Many people do not realize that only the guilty receive "immunity," because the innocent don't need it. Or what about the other felons who were released from prison at the behest of the prosecutor to commit perjury at the trial of Charles Norman?
The actual shooter in the 1975 murder bragged that his wealthy father had paid off the prosecutor for his immunity. I refused the offers to pay the bribes and "...make it go away..." - I was not guilty and believed the system of "justice" would prove that truth.
And one dirty secret that the prosecutor hides is that his actions resulted in the rapes of 8 women, because one of the felons he had released for my trial became the notorious "Eastside Rapist."
Nothing is said about the only eyewitness to the shootout that resulted in the death of a young man. The eyewitness was the only non-felon to testify for the prosecution, and to the chagrin of the corrupt prosecutor he said Charles Norman was not the shooter - the actual shooter was a smaller and shorter man.
People ask me how I've survived, how I've done all this time, and I tell them, "Like a man." I am sustained by my faith and the love and support of family and friends who have not abandoned me.
Although others have done their best to silence my voice, I continue to express myself in ways that reveal what is inside me, to work, to write, to read, to share with others. On this first day of a brand new year, I would like to share two poems that I identify with, one from the Bible and another written by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) . Perhaps they will have meaning for you. May 2013 be a time of health, happiness, and joy for you.
My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie among ravenous beasts -
Men whose teeth are spears and arrows
Whose tongues are sharp swords.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black is the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.