Tuesday, February 5, 2013


DAY NINE: Prison Diary January 11, 2013 Solitary Confinement Okaloosa C.I., Crestview, FL


There are all kinds of rules in prison, rules that supposedly apply equally to prisoners, guards, and those higher ups who wear jeans, dresses, and ties to work. Sorry, Charlie, not true.

Prison is a societal hybrid, little plots of totalitarian dictatorships plopped amid wide expanses of democracy, like spots of  melanoma infecting someone's back. The people locked up in these places have been judged guilty of violating society's laws, so they are removed from the democracy and placed into the prisons for reform, revenge and rehabilitation. Yes, revenge. Society demands its pound of flesh. When someone has satisfied the burden placed on him or her by society for recompense, when their time is up, or another "authority" decides that person will live a law-abiding life, they are released into the not-so-open arms of society for another chance.

Meanwhile, someone has to work in this totalitarian hybrid, to run the operations. In come the public servants, selfless people with only altruistic aims to help their misguided brethren mend their wrongheaded ways. Again, Sorry, Charlie! - not true.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they speak to people they consider both much lower and higher on the totem pole than they are. Smiling faces. In prison, we see stark contrasts. An employee - a woman, let's say - talks to a prisoner, who she considers her social inferior, "like a dog," as the expression goes, condescending, insulting, "getting off" on the power trip of lording over another person. In the tyranny of prison, there are many petty tyrants who use their "authority" to satisfy their own inadequacies, insecurities, and personality shortcomings. Many of these people are most notable by their ill-bred lack of common manners. Everything is personal. Friend or foe. If you are considered an underling, or "scum of the earth," as they depict those beneath them, if you don't kowtow to their every whim, bow and scrape, they'll say you don't have the proper attitude, and use that as an excuse to harass you and get you "back into line," where a good slave should be. The Civil War has been over for 145-plus years (NEWS FLASH - ya'll lost!), but the slavemaster mentality lives on in the tyranny of prison.

Former prison official, Dave Brierton, once said, "People are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment." That distinction is one of the hardest things for many prison staff to understand. It is not their job or mission to inflict additional punishment on those under their control. It is bad enough just being here, separated from loved ones and freedom.

Switch to SCENE TWO: a higher-ranking person approaches the employee described above. It doesn't have to be a much higher-ranking. Let's say he wears a tie, how does the other person act? Have you ever seen an orphan cocker spaniel at an animal shelter when a human approached who might adopt the pitiful dog? Not just the tail wags - the entire dog wags, and whines, submissive to the max, will lick that superior human's - well, you get the picture. They will say or do anything to please their superior, no matter how far they must abase themselves. The words, "sycophant," "toady," and a few others come to mind. Fill in the blanks.

Sorry, Charlie, I don't play that game. Do you remember the words, "All men are created equal?" I happen to believe those words, and the ones about how every person has "inalienable rights," endowed by their Creator. They don't want to hear that in prison. But not everyone - there are many examples that prove the rule, many fine, moral employees who come to work to do their jobs, go home, collect their paychecks. Many military veterans come to work in the prisons after going to war, have seen it all, and maintain their military courtesy, work habits, and professionalism.

That's what I'm up against here, in this place, today. Do you remember, "Fatal Attraction?" Michael Douglas and the psychotic, obsessed Glenn Close? In this case, it's not even close. Just unbalanced and fixated on harassing me. And when the truth isn't enough - lie! Who will they believe?

That's what I went through this morning with being baited by a transparently two-faced sycophant who, like a spoiled child, has had her way so long, and now wants to smash anyone who won't stand for her abuse. And when the "superiors" have been snowed and flattered and conned for so long by such a person, not even they will make the right decision to stop the employee's illegal and unethical acts, even if it lands them in front of a federal judge. Enough said for now.

That's how the morning started out. Then they came and got me to take a walk to the prison dentist office. That required the several pounds of hand cuffs, waist chains, and leg irons, shuffling from confinement to the medical building. Fun.

We passed the smoking area where several women employees enjoyed their cigarettes and coffee, acting like some scruffy-looking, unshaven character chained and in leg irons passing by was no different than Mr. and Mrs. Jones out strolling down Honeysuckle Lane. "Good morning (smiles), how are you?" (How do I look like I am?) "I'm fine, thank you." "Have a nice day." "I will. You, too." "Thanks." (puff, sip).

It takes an eternity to get in to see a prison dentist. $5.00 copay. So what? When you have a tooth broken in half while you were eating, and it's hurting, you don't care what it takes to fix it. Thank God the caveman era is over.

If you want your teeth examined by the prison dentist, you have to send in a request to be added to the list for a treatment plan, which includes cleaning, x-rays, and a check-up. I've waited as long as 18 months just to get in the door. Right now I'm in the middle of my "treatment plan." I saw the guy in October, and if I get done in 2013, I'll be surprised. It only took six or eight months to get in to see him this time, so I feel lucky.

The broken tooth was not part of the plan. Does your dentist talk too much? Don't you hate that? There you are, mumbling, "Pull it! pull it, pull it," and he's droning on and on about how he has to do this and that and the other, interminably, saying he hasn't got time to look at it today, or pull it, but I'll be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity, yadda, yadda.

Well, Doc, if you'd taken a quick x-ray and shot me with novacaine when I came in, instead of giving me this windy canned speech, I'd have been out of here already. But no. Maybe next week.

Actually, on the whole, the majority of prison dentists do fine jobs and know their business. They just talk too much.

We had the "turkey sausage" for supper, although I couldn't get nary a gobble from the beast. Looked like a fat, short hotdog. They picked some turnips out of the field, but they boiled them to death. Most of the turnips wind up in the swill barrel.

I had a hot shower and some wonderful mail, so my evening is complete. See you tomorrow.


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