Sunday, October 30, 2022

Journal from Solitary Confinement


October 10, 2022

Prison Gestapo Strikes Again

Just when I thought things were moving in a positive direction, they struck again. It happened the way it usually has happened, out of the clear blue sky. I had just returned to the dorm after attending a “Principles of Art and Design” class sponsored by the University of Central Florida. I’d just gotten on the phone when a guard came in the dorm amd motioned for me to hang up the phone, I was going to confinement. What charge? No charge – under investigation. For what? No one knows. Captain Stoops knows – his orders.

I do nothing wrong. I walk the straight and narrow. Every year or two, “they” will get angry at something I wrote about and harass me by putting me “under investigation,” then let me go leter, after losing personal property and visits. They know that the only way they can hurt me is by depriving me of visits. Visiting was scheduled to be resumed on Saturday, Oct. 15, after a two-week closure due to Hurricane Ian. I may not make it.

What’s it all about? Good question. Bad timing. I have a legal call scheduled and legal appeals I’m working on. “They” censored several emails I sent out about talks I’ve been having with the transgender prisoners that are living in our dorm.. I am filing grievances on the censoring of my emails. They haven’t heard about freedom of speech in Lake County. That’s all I can think of that could be the cause of being under investigation.

Fortunately I had gone to the canteen, and have “trade goods” I can barter for paper and stamps.

ANTS! Millions of them! My food is in a pillow case on my toilet, slowing them down.

What can you do? Prayer is always welcome. and keep in touch. I can’t send email, but I can receive it and snail mail a day or two later.

Best to all from Solitary Confinement.


Day Three  Wednesday, October 12, 2022   Solitary Confinement

Over 40 years ago, Jack “Murf The Surf” Murphy, imparted prison wisdom that some old-timer told him years before, about the people who run prisons — “If their lips are movin’, they’re lyin’.” That’s haow you can tell; are their lips moving? then they’re lying. I experienced that yesterday, Day Two, Tuesday.

A group of officials making their required rounds, passed my cell. One said, “What’s he doing in here?”(It’s very surprising to see me, an elderly man, model inmate, 44 years in prison, uninvolved in any prison hustles or gang activity, to be in lockup, under investigation.)

Being inside a steel box, sound is muted. I called out to a female classification supervisor, “Why am I locked up under investigation?” In passing, not slowing down, she said, “An email you sent said you were getting paid for writing articles.”

That’s totally false. Check my canteen account. I denied it. She kept walking. When my classification officer went by, she had nothing to say.

Next, the sergeant over gangs brought a “witness statement” to fill out. that will be brief, I know nothing. I’ve done nothing wrong. I asked him why I was in here; he said, “Someone wrote a kite on you, said you were going to escape.”

Hah! (a kite is an anonymous note written to get someone moved or in trouble.) His lips were moving. I told him, “You should know better. I can barely walk to the chow hall.” I asked him again, “Do you really believe that?”

“No,” he said, leaving the cell.

“Then let me out.” I yelled to his back. He was gone.

They have been tampering with my JPay emails for years, but more so lately. I’ve filed grievances for improper censorship. They erase emails that Libby has paid for. DOC rules state since there are no specific rules governing emails, they are under “routine mail” rules, Chapter 33-210-101 of the Florida Administrative Code, also the Florida Constitution Declaration of Rights and the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. They don’t care.

I’ve found that it is more effective to drown the thousands of ants infesting the cell than to try squishing them. Pouring water around the walls slows them down.


Day Four   Thursday, October 13, 2022

Here I am, still in my solitary cell. I have successfully beaten back the ant invasion. Only two or three make it to my bunk to bite me every couple of hours. I poured a ring of water around my cell walls and the cracked corners they come through, drowned a few thousand and squished the ones that get through.

The lips are still moving. The captain who ordered my lockup came through today. I asked him why he locked me up. “I don’t know.”  He said he had locked up half the people in confinement, and didn’t know why, but it was probably verbal disrespect, or refusing to work.

What? No way! That makes four reasons, none true.

Hopefully, they will get called on this, let me go. Eliminating all the ludicrous possibilities, I know why they are doing this. They don’t want me to write, so they silenced me. No tablet, no email, no writing. Censorship. Illegal. Someone will answer for this eventually, but now I am noe burdened with more hassles, that I don’t need.

more later. Charlie

Day Five   Friday, October 14, 2022  Lying Lips Continued

Today was a little better than yesterday. Just finished my supper — mystery meat patty, watery instant potatoes, green beans, two slices white bread, a piece of sheet cake. The food in confinement is better than that served to the compound. Kitchen workers get locked up for stealing, refusing to work, disrespect, and more. Perhaps half the men back here are out of the chow hall. Their friends prepare the trays and fix them up, all the trays, so when they go to lockup, sooner or later, they will at least eat well. Looking out for each other.

Another day of lying lips, pr more accurately, silent lips. They call “Inspection,” we have to stand up when the officials whiz by our cells, no opportunity to ask them questions… “Why am I back….” Whiz, they’re gone.

The property room gave me two legal folders with a few envelopes and paper, so I’m not so desperate about writing. As I said before, I can’t send email, but I can receive them. they print them out, and I hopefully will receive them a day or two later. I get the USA Today newspaper, and it has been a lifesaver — reading material and crossword puzzles!

Friday night — shower time, Mon., Wed., Fri. At least the heat broke after the hurricane, so the stuffy cells are bearable.

Good night, Charlie

Day Six  Saturday, October 15, 2022  Solitary In The Dark

One thing about solitary is you can catch up on your sleep in bits and pieces, no early morning sliding steel doors slamming the heavy doors closed. 4:15 am nurse handing out medications. 5 am lights out. 6:30 am lights on — chow; 6:45 am lights off, just as I was about to start writing. Six feet up the outer wall a horizontal window, a little light filters in. I can hear the sandhill cranes and their haunting honks passing overhead. I worry about the seven feral cats in the storm drain — no one to sneak sardines and meatballs to them.

It’s 9:50 am, and I can barely see to write. This myasthenia gravis has adversely affected my vision and handwriting.

A friend passed a book to me — “1984” by George Orwell. How appropriate. It has been decades since I read it. I now live in a totalitarian society All I remember is Winston Smith, “Big brother is watching you.” (How true in here.) and the verse, “Beneath the spreading chestnut tree, I betrayed you and you betrayed me.

It is 8:28 pm, Saturday night now. Quiet. They’ll be screaming over football in J-2, my old dorm.

Uneventful day. Read about half of “1984,” filled in my last USA Today crossword puzzle, battled ants. Rewrote a formal grievance on censored JPay emails. Got a lot of rest. No cell mate to deal with.

I regret greatly missing our visits. No phones either.

No matter how closely I walk the straight and narrow, every now and then that old devil sticks me with his pitchfork to test me. I’ve been tested enough. Let me go! Evil!

More later. I pray your circumstances are better than mine.


Day 7  Sunday, October 16, 2022  Solitary

Saturday night wasn’t too bad – only got awakened by ant bites 4 or 5 times. I’ve successfully fought back. I made a little levee of rolled up toilet tissue along the wall where the ants come in. I I pour water on their long line of march into the cell — they don’t like water — disrupts their scent trail. They climb the wall and I squish them. That’s good for an hour or two. When the water dries up, they are back. Ouch! One bit me on the neck [ant revenge?] Let me pour more water.

The cell is dark. I can rarely see this writing on the page. Waiting now for lunch and for the lights to come on.

I want to tell you about Friday’s shower night. Forty-two cells, 1st floor and 2nd floor. Very depressing. Suicides and suicide attempts are common. The only time you see any other prisoner outside their cell is when someone goes to a medical callout or shower night, Mon., Wed., and Fri.

I am well known in a positive sense, to various staff and inmates as “Mr. Norman.” The guard let me out of my cell to go to the shower, and several men looking out of their little cell windows began yelling. I couldn’t help but laugh when this young, heavily tattooed gang member yelled out, “GAWD! What’s this place coming to? these assholes done locked up Mr. Norman, the nicest man at Lake. I know you ain’t done a damned thing wrong.”

Amen, brother, you’re right.

The sandhill cranes just landed by the pond, and continued honking for a good five minutes. I believe they are calling for their missing baby.

Gotta water the ants. Back later. Charlie

Day 8 Monday, October 17, 2022  Solitary

Quiet day in “the box.” Another “drive-by” inspection. The warden passed by so fast — “Beep-Beep” — thought it was the Roadrunner with the Coyote on his tail, of Looney-Toons cartoon fame.

Had filling tray of spaghetti and meatballs, green beans, chopped raw cabbage, and 2 slices of bread for lunch. The kitchen buys large bags of small commercially-made meatballs, smaller than ping-pong balls. “Out there,” in the dorm, several men sneaked out their meatballs for me to feed the feral storm drain cats. Six meatballs per tray. I try to get 21 meatballs, 3 for each cat, at least one good meal for them.

You should see those cats eat! I scatter the meatballs on the asphalt, and it looks like an eating contest. One cat is like chipmunk — she takes a meatball in her mouth, then stuffs in another one, and runs away from the crowd to wolf down both. May not be able to do that anymore. No telling what may happen, even a transfer.

Monday night, shower night. Some guys refuse their showers. Whew! Body odor! Hot and stuffy all the time in here — no air circulation at all in here. I take all of mine, and stay in until they run me out.

I’ll take a break for now. Finished “1984.” Numerous parallels to prison life. Slavery. Now I have “Lord of the Flies.”

I pray this solitary journal doesn’t continue very long. Keep in touch. I can receive emails.



























Friday, September 30, 2022

Hurricane, Cranes, and Feral Prison Cats


Friday, 09-23-2022

I signed up for a new class --- Florida Prison Education Project--- sponsored by the University of Central Florida. First class-- Principles of Art and Design. Outside instructor, they furnish materials. Looks good.

If it's not one thing it's another. Now the TV has Hurricane Ian, every channel, all the time. No murders, robberies or bad accidents when a hurricane menaces. I'm not particularly concerned. It will lose some force before it hits the Orlando area. Wind and rain. We've endured far worse. What is happening in the rest of the world?

Visits Saturday and Sunday cancelled statewide. Disappointing. This morning they called canteen at 9 a.m. Drizzling rain and strong wind. No big deal. One hour later I had to pick up a prescription at Medical, on the far side of the compound. Now the much-stronger wind blew the rain sideways. Five guards escorted me. Nothing else going on. Umbrellas turned inside-out. Only three escorted me back, then they disappeared. I don't suppose they were concerned that I would make a desperate climb over two razorwire fences. The baby sandhill crane didn't fare as well this week.

We've been watching a pair of sandhill cranes for well over a year, from their fascinating mating rituals to the emergence of the downy brown chick several months ago. Eventually the baby reached adult size, although the mother still shared her food with her offspring. I called them Lucy, Desi, and Little Ricky.

Last week the baby got its leg tangled in the razorwire..Fortunately, the state game wardens untangled the injured bird and took it for treatment. A number of prisoners are praying for its recovery.

The seven feral cats living in a storm drain are facing hardship, too. More fences isolating the north end demolition/construction area block off the south end, where we all live. Can't get past the fences to share our meals with them. Plans call for a four-story, $115 million dollar mental hospital to be built next to a large sinkhole. What's wrong with this picture?

Meanwhile, bag lunches with a peanut butter sandwich and turkey bologna sandwich is on our menu.

All the best... peace, joy and love... Charlie

postscript: Lake C.I. and Charlie, having not experienced any direct contact with Hurricane Ian, came through the weather okay: rain and wind, but no loss of power, no flooding, no flying debris; however, visits remain cancelled. Be safe.

Monday, September 26, 2022



 Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022


Tammy 11 years old,

Charlie 35 years old


Tammy and Charlie,

Charlie 73 years old





Saturday, September 17, 2022, marked the second anniversary of my mother, Lucille Norman's, passing. This otherwise somber occasion was brightened by the visit of my brother, Dan Norman, niece Tammy Norman, and aunt Alice Walker from Tampa.

We spent most of the visit reminiscing about the quirks and recounting humorous anecdotes about dearly departed loved ones.

We had two photos taken.  I asked Libby to place the 1984 photo of Tammy and me next to the 2022 photo, to show the passage of time. Forty-four years in captivity, these photos are thirty-eight years apart. It's time to go home.

It was hard saying goodbye. The weekend was redeemed by my dear wife, Libby's visit on Sunday. We had a good time laughing together.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022, would have been my late brother Tom's fifty-sixth birthday, another taken before his time.

When someone goes to prison he takes his loved ones with him, quietly suffering with him. I pray that soon I will be paroled and the suffering will end.