Wednesday, April 16, 2014


04/16/14 [I received a letter from Charlie this evening with the following]

It has happened again! No matter how hard I try, the forces of evil keep snapping at me, trying to bring me down. Today, Sunday, April 13, 2014, at 2:47 PM, I sit in solitary confinement “on the house,” which is prison talk for having done nothing wrong. I just asked a question and made a statement, which is protected speech, freedom of expression, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the Florida Constitution. Let me give you a synopsis.

I’m in “B” Dorm, the Re-entry Program, teaching classes, walking a very straight line, helping and encouraging others. Although “Re-entry” is a priority with the prison system now, pushed and encouraged statewide, there is a faction of guards who hold re-entry in contempt, who have attitudes against what they perceive as special treatment, which it is not, since re-entry prisoners are held to a higher standard of behavior, taking classes to prepare for release.

One way that certain prison guards exercise their contempt and hostility toward prisoners participating in a program that benefits them, their families and society is to deny B-dorm canteen access. When these guards are running the yard, they insure that canteen access is readily available to all the other dorms, including the ones that are frequently locked down for violence. The following is what happened to bring on the latest reprisal today [Sunday]:

The same officer ran the inmate movement to the rec yard and canteen on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Re-entry is supposed to be given the opportunity to go to the canteen and rec twice a day, since most all of the men are in classes, which limits their access.

On Friday, no one went to the canteen. On Saturday, this particular officer called every dorm on the compound except B-dorm. He also kept the canteen closed during the  lunch hour, when many men go, to avoid the swill. This officer always keeps the canteen closed at lunch when he works. The other shift keeps them open.

At lunch on Saturday, men in B-dorm asked him if he was going to call us. He said B-dorm would be called first after rec-call. False. Didn’t happen. When the night shift came on, the captain let B-dorm go to the canteen, but restricted it to a few items per each person, and no sandwiches, unlike day shift, when we can purchase whatever we need.

Sunday, when E-dorm was called out to the canteen at 8:15 AM, the second time this weekend that they had gone, I went to the dorm officer and asked if she could check to see if we were going to be called, or skipped again. Shortly thereafter, this officer with the hostile attitude called me out into the hallway and proceeded to profanely yell and rant for five minutes. “The dorm officer called the captain, the captain chewed me out, and I am pissed.”

The he called our dorm to go to the canteen. But the die was cast – he harbored a grudge, I could tell. About 10:30 AM, that guard came back, put handcuffs on me, and took me to the captain’s office. Although you are supposed to have an opportunity to make a statement to the captain, my fate had already been decided. The captain asked the guard what happened.

“I was counseling the inmate when he turned around, walked away, and said, ‘FUCK YOU.’ ”

I told the captain I had not said that, that I never use profanity toward the officer.

“Shut up,” he said. “Now you’re calling my officer a liar. Let me tell you something. Make this clear. I don’t give a fuck about you, I don’t give a fuck about the canteen, and I don’t give a fuck about B-dorm. You’re not going to disrespect my officer like that. Out.”

So he grabbed my arm and led me on the long walk to lockup, solitary confinement. When we walked out, I said, “Officer Walsh, I can’t believe you said that.” (No response.) “You know I did nothing wrong, and I never used any profanity toward you. You didn’t give me a chance to say anything. Why did you lie to the captain? I thought you told everybody you are a Christian.”  

“Now you pull that Christian shit on me I’ll really get pissed.”

This officer, when it suits him, when the chaplain or certain others are around, professes his Christian faith and brags about going to a local church. Hypocrisy abounds.

So I went to solitary wearing a tee-shirt, flip flops and blue shorts. I was writing out Easter cards when this occurred, stamped and addressed, but they are now “missing,” as are my envelopes and writing pens. Luckily, I got some writing paper and stamps, but without pen and envelopes, I am stymied. Perhaps that was their intent. Fortunately, I am well-known, have helped many others, some of whom are now in lockup. I am writing this with a little almost-dry pen that one man sent over, and another loaned me an envelope.

Several officers have come by my cell and yelled, “Norman, what are you doing back here?” Good question. They know “something is wrong with this picture.”

My several legal deadlines are about to expire, those that haven’t already. How long will I be back here? Who knows? What can you do to help? Prayers are always welcome. If you want to do more, contact Libby, and she will have some ideas, letters to be written, e-mail sent in protest. I can do virtually nothing on my own behalf; with fast-dwindling supplies, I am limited in what I can write and mail, in danger of becoming voiceless.

7:47 PM, Sunday: they are moving fast. At 6:46 PM an officer brought a d.r., log# 115-140359, written by CO I Patrick Walsh. Here is an excerpt: “On April 13, 2014, at approx. 11:05 AM, I was at center court counseling with inmate Norman about the canteen procedure. While counseling with him he looked directly at me and stated, “Fuck that, that’s not how we’re going to run this! I’ll have your fucking job!” Inmate  Norman was placed in wrist restraints and escorted to medical where he received a pre-confinement physical and then placed in administrative confinement pending disciplinary team action.”

Between 10:30 AM and 2 PM, when he wrote that, he totally fabricated a puny lie with a whopper. But I’ve called multiple officers, the nurse, and inmate witnesses to contradict his false time line, along with institutional records that prove I was in a solitary cell before 11 AM and could not have been out at center court at 11:05. Now we’ll see how many more lies get told. I told you, I’m fighting the forces of evil.

Some while back I wrote a poem, “I Wait,” that describes a similar occurrence somewhere else, another time. I’m asking Libby to print it here. It seems appropriate. Thanks for your attention, help and kindness. Keep the faith.



A poem by Charles Patrick Norman

I can hear it, but I can’t see it.
            What is it?
            I don’t know.
There is a window with a steel grill over it,
            but they put an opaque plastic sheet over that,
            so I cannot see out,
            only sense the lightening and darkening
                        of dawn and dusk.

They took everything — my Timex, too.
I tell time by the menu —
     breakfast-type swill means morning;
     a sandwich means it must be noon;
     supper swill appears thereafter.

They took everything — my paper, pens, envelopes,
What they call being held incommunicado,
            a good word; what is the verb?
What language is that?

I have something for them.
Don’t ask me how I got them past
     the strip search;
     the visual examination
     the cavity search.
Poor dental care means more cavities.
Try it — you won’t like it.

I had a choice:
The “run-around” came to the door flap.
The run-around is the snitch who brings the swill trays.
He will tell on you if he gets a chance,
            But I have something for him.

When you have nothing,
            a little can be a lot.
I trade:
     two stamps for some paper;
     two stamps for an envelope;
     two more for a pencil nub.
I need one for the envelope.
I have to pay him four stamps
            to put the letter in the outgoing

I have a choice:
            I can give the run-around two more stamps
                        for a ragged paperback book,
                        or for an extra swill tray.
                                    Not both.
I only have two stamps left.
            I am hungry.
            I trade for the book.
                        Louis L’Amour.
                                    Not my first choice.

Now I wait. The letter has taken flight.
                        Or not.
The run-around could have peeled off the stamp,
            trashed the letter,
                        or given it to the guards.
You have to trust somebody, even if he is a snitch.

I can hear something. I cannot see anything.
            It is dark.
            A thin line of yellow light comes beneath
                        the steel door.
A shadow breaks the yellow line.
            What is it?
                        I do not  know.
I hold my breath.
            Maybe it will go away.
                        Maybe not.
                                    I wait.

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