Dateline Saturday, March 22, 2015
No one can say the prison system can’t act fast when it wants to — witness what has happened in just the past two weeks. I wrote “Another Midnight Ransacking,” my wife, Libby, sent it to Loen Kelley at www.prisonwriters.com , and she emailed Libby a few days later that it was posted on their incredible site, for the world to see (click on link above). Thanks!
If you haven’t read what happened during the midnight ransacking by the 21 or so stormtroopers and the two drug dogs, click on the link above. It is also posted here on the blogspot (scroll down).
The warden resigned and was replaced. And on Thursday, March 19, 2015, while I was on the telephone talking with Libby, the dorm officer told me to hang up, I was transferring.
“Transferring?” Great. I’ve only been here since November, 2014.
From 1998-2002, I spent four miserable years at Columbia C.I., when it was much worse than it is now, more violence (two murders within a four-month period in the building where I lived then), and the guards were even more off the chain.
During that time, they were building the “Annex,” about a quarter-mile west of the “Main Unit.” Inmate work crews were sent out every day as a construction squad. Although they are separate prisons, separate buildings, they are associated and the same administration runs both places.
So on that Thursday, March 19, in their wisdom, they swapped fifteen prisoners, one of which was me, from the Main Unit for fifteen from the Annex. That entailed an ordeal of several hours, including handcuffs, waist chains, and leg irons, and sitting on steel benches, parked, from around Noon until 6 p.m.
About the only advantage the Annex offers is that as a more “modern” prison, it is air conditioned (built with no functioning windows), or, I should say, it is supposed to be air conditioned. When I walked into the housing area and smelled the humid, stale air infused with the musky body sweat of 84 men, the “odor of the wild inmate,” as I once labeled it, I knew that the air conditioning didn’t work. And in the modern hermetically-sealed prison, that makes for uncomfortable conditions.
Did the publication of “Another Midnight Ransacking” result in my getting hustled out of one prison and into another one? I don’t know. “Be wary of coincidences,” I’ve been told.
As it is, another prison (number 20 for me in 37 years), results in meeting old acquaintances and renewing friendships. Old home week. One man I knew 35 years ago at “The Rock,” Raiford, when we both were young, and have bumped into each other several times in the giant pinball machine that is prison.
Instead of the strong young black man I knew years ago, however, he is now in a wheelchair, his legs paralyzed by a brutal assault at another prison years ago. His eyes were gouged and damaged during the brutality, and the resulting tunnel vision prevents his reading, except for very large print. A catheter and bag collect urine. “I’ll tell you about it, Charlie,” he said. And he did, a tragedy.
Another man I knew years ago got out and came back in on a new charge. I have little sympathy for such stories. No excuses. He had his chance. I’m still fighting for mine.
My mailing address is almost the same, Charles Norman 881834, Columbia Correctional Institution Annex, 216 S.E. Corrections Way, Lake City, FL 32025.
I will keep you posted. Please check out the www.prisonwriters.com site, tell your friends, and read Libby’s essay about prison from the visitors’ and loved ones’ view. Loen Kelley and her inspired team are providing a rare look inside prisons nationwide, and providing prisoners a voice. Thanks.