Sunday, January 13, 2013


DAY ONE: Prison Diary January 3, 2013 Solitary Confinement

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.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's completely outrageous. I am horrified by abusive, demeaning activities directed at a passive person. It's prison. Not torture.