Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Dateline: October 10, 2009


You think you have it bad, with the neighbor who cuts his grass with a loud mower early Sunday morning, or the one whose Great Dane loves to plop huge, smoking piles of doggy-doo on your St. Augustine lawn, or the little old lady across the street who’s always spying on you, writing down tag numbers of your visitors, calling the cops and complaining about the truck parked in your driveway, or the dog barking?

You think you have it bad? At least you can close your drapes when the reflection off Granny’s binoculars keep glaring through your dining room window at breakfast. At least you have drapes!

You think you have it bad? You should see my neighbors. I live packed in a two-story concrete and steel building, capacity 228 convicted felons in 114 little cells the size of small bathrooms, two hard steel bunks with thin, lumpy mattresses, a toilet, and a sink with pushbutton cold water. My neighbors range from convicted murderers (myself included), armed robbers, kidnappers, child molesters, rapists, carjackers, and burglars, to drunk drivers, probation violators, and “gunslingers,” particularly irritating idiots and sickos who expose themselves to (mostly) female prison guards and publicly masturbate until the guards come and get them or they get done. Thirty days in lock-up, get out, do it again.

In my neighborhood, forget about doors or burglar bars or personal security. Go to breakfast and you’re likely to come back to your little cell to find your locker broken into, your meager possessions stolen, traded for drugs, or to pay gambling debts. Throughout the day you have hammering sounds reverberating as desperate men straighten and bend pieces of steel into crude, but effective stabbing “shanks” for self-protection or revenge to satisfy rampant paranoia.

One of the biggest problems in prison is dealing with the mentally ill. “Back in the day,” criminals went to prison and the insane went to Chattahoochee, Florida’s main nut house, insane asylum, looney bin, whatever you chose to label it. They had satellite nut houses at Arcadia, Macclenny, and many “county hospitals,” as they called them. Then the political winds shifted, they began closing all the facilities for the mentally ill, resulting in thousands of hapless people incapable of shifting for themselves filling the streets, parks, homeless shelters, jails and prisons.

I have learned something about mental illness since I was put in a county jail cell over thirty years ago with a pitiful soul named Willie McGee, a toothless, stunned, over-medicated man who’d spent the previous eight years at Chattahoochee waiting to be judged competent to stand trial. In my untrained psychological opinion, Willie McGee was no more competent to stand trial than was Calija, the wooden Indian, in that Hank Williams song. What do I know?

One thing I’ve learned is that the average high school graduate prison guard is poorly-equipped to deal with or even understand the thousands of seriously-mentally ill people crowding the prisons. For an excellent account of how the federal court got involved in Florida’s pepper spraying and tear-gassing of the insane for rules violated, check out “Prison Legal News” at www.prisonlegalnews.org, September, 2009, edition, page 22, “Using Chemical Agents on Mentally Ill Prisoners Unconstitutional,” by David Reutter. Paul Wright, a former Washington state prisoner, publishes a monthly paper that is despised by prison systems across the nation. Needless to say, thinking prisoners love it. Check it out.

The federal court got involved when guards at Florida State Prison (FSP) continued to spray prisoners with “Liquid Jesus,” our name for pepper spray, with good reason. Take a good shot in the eyes with a chemical about a thousand times stronger than Tabasco sauce, and you will either find Jesus, become a believer, or scream, “Jesus Christ” at the top of your lungs as you writhe on the cell floor, eyes on fire.

This could become a powerful conversion tool, since every guard is now issued a personal spray can of “Liquid Jesus” to use when the industrial-sized fire extinguisher-type sprayers aren’t handy. The only problem is that sometimes particularly belligerent disturbed prisoners take the spray cans of “Liquid Jesus” away from the guards, and use it on them, with negative results.

The federal courts’ position is that some prisoners are so crazy that they don’t have the ability to obey the rules, resulting in repeated cries of “Jesus, Jesus” throughout FSP.

Just how crazy are these people? Let me quote the court’s descriptions of two prisoners, who I now nominate as candidates for “Cellmate of the Month.” Don’t laugh—I’ve had cellmates little different from these characters.

“Thomas’ symptoms include auditory hallucinations, impaired thought process, and paranoid delusions, and his behaviors while incarcerated have included acute agitation, maniacal banging on his cell door (to the point of breaking his own hands), eating his feces, pouring urine on his hands, exhibitionist masturbation, urinating on his mattress, attempting to cut his penis, and repeated suicide attempts.”

“McKinney has marginal intellectual functioning and propensities for anger and anti-social behavior. His ‘pathological’ behavior has resulted in 320 disciplinary reports over 18 years in prison. He has a history of self-injurious behavior and has been diagnosed at various times with having an adjustment disorder with depressed mood, anti-social personality disorders and major depression with recurrent psychotic ideations.”

If you can’t figure out what all that means, ask your friendly, local psychologist or shrink to explain it to you.

Down the hall from me lives a man who gets monthly testosterone injections because he castrated himself some years back. He’s one of the better behaved ones I have to live with.

In their endless drive to classify and pigeonhole prisoners and their conditions, the D.O.C. labels prisoners with “Psych. Grades 1, 2, or 3,” in open population. A “Psych – 3” is one of those prescribed psychotropic medications who have moderate impairment in adaptive functioning due to serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression, or borderline personality disorder. Nearly 80% of FSP’s 1400-plus prisoners are Psych-3’s. And you thought you had problems. Take some cookies to nosey Granny across the street and thank God Thomas or McKinney don’t live there.

I am a “Psych-1,” no mental illnesses, no psychological counseling, or psychotropic medications prescribed or needed. According to the D.O.C. experts, I am as “normal” as a person can be, especially considering that I have been living in nut houses for over thirty-one years and am surrounded on all sides by hundreds of “Psych-3’s” in varying states of mental disrepair. So why am I still here? Good question.

Thirty years ago, Dr. Walter Afield, a psychiatrist, Harvard Medical School, etc., testified at my trial after examining me that he had his doubts that anyone could twenty-five years and emerge to be a functioning member of society, but if anyone could do it, Charles Norman could. Thanks, Dr. Afield, for the endorsement. You were right. I just hope I get the chance to prove it soon.


Anonymous said...

This pretty much sounds like the people who have moved in around my family trying to steal their property. Five murders, numerous spies, tons of crackheads and hos and outright WHORES, buncha uglies whose family is mostly shanking others in prisons close to you ... bikers with meth, shooting at people as they walk by ... I'm sure there's plenty of masturbation going on and the mental illnesses just ride right in on bicycles because in a car you could identify them... murdering good tampa police men and blaming it on the homeless who are too busy slinging dope for the mob in fear for their own lives to murder anyone. faux witnesses but you would know about that. And now ten times worse since we talk to you. I'm thankful not to witness the masturbation but still people do have needs. ROFL. None of this went on until Pam Iorio and her skanky connections who include Pam Bondi (king) pam iorio(king) and ALL THE ILLUSTRIOUS graduates of SOUTH TEXAS LAW SCHOOL whom jebbster bush appointed to the bench. Pam and her crime families (one owns four/five houses in this hood) where four/five murders have been committed just since pam was in office ... purposely move these people back and forth to terrorize the innocent families in the hood. It's so obvious that a child spots it. Because if they can terrorize you they can STEAL FROM YOU .. so this is city-sanctioned murder and thievery and domestic terrorism. Semantics is not cutting it, charlie. When you fail to see the connection and instead pull a comparison .... that's divide and conquer the oldest trick in the book. That's how "THEY" win. It doesn't matter who has it worse; what matters is whether the victims can HELP EACH OTHER or quibble semantics. I'm PAYING for this situation as though it's a home and family life. You're stuck there as though you did something wrong. My family PAYS for water that pigs can't drink or use. We pay for garbage service that atte pts to run us down in the street. We haven't even gotten into the pig firemen who along with their paramedics slaughter people in their driveways (same hood) and they claim it was a fight with a two or four door car no one's sure and then the paramedics BOLT like thieves in the night. Eddy james ivey. I'm just sayin .. stop dividing. People know how bad prison is.(thinking people do anyway) You don't know how bad they've made it out here. Instead of dividing and comparing ... work with others .... and keep your rat republicans up out of the koolaid.
Also, that sorting and labeling you speak of? Same out here. You need to come home and see this. A person like you would be very helpful out here.

Anonymous said...

oh but better, also ?? they add CHILDREN to the mix. And I forgot to mention the sexual predators ... so no doubt there is LO the plenty masturbation going on. this guy does his own daughter. AND, the city sanctions this as he marches up and down the street pleased as pie intimidating others and enjoys MORE FREEDOM than those who have committed no crimes !! AND has a better job. You know why? He's a loyal meth slinger and a card-toting fire dept SUPPORTER.... they in bidness together ... which makes him KIN to your friend, mark ober.
I think that perhaps someone is not passing on our communication verbatim and you seem way more interested in PERSONAGE than INFORMATION-age. What's up with that? In your position I'd be grasping for help from an honest person I wouldn't care if it were satan's brother gone good. So, here for the world to see. Maybe an honest counterpart will pass this on to you VERBATIM.
When Mark Ober sends his cops and private state's attorney cops out to chase YOUR family down then you will know that some one of them has stumbled on to the right track of how you ended up where you are and how to end that and you'll pay attention. Because doesn't it make sense to you, a street-wise former cop and current prisoner that if MARK OBER put you in there and then started chasing MY FAMILY around when we started talking to you that ummm WAKE UP CALL, there's a connection !! Are you suffering for US? Because we are suffering FOR YOU. PAY ATTENTION.