Thursday, May 28, 2020


Thursday, May 27, 2020, 1:00 p.m., Tomoka C. I., Daytona Beach, FL

You won't believe what just happened. I was served with a disciplinary report (D.R.), for disobeying a verbal or written order. A finding of guilty could result in solitary confinement, loss of gain-time, and an extension of my parole release date. I am not guilty, and will fight it at a hearing. Following is the text of the D.R.:

''Inmate Norman, Charles #881834 is in direct violation of 6-1, disobeying verbal or written order - any order given to an inmate or inmates by a staff member or other authorized person. At approximately 2100 hours on 26 May 2020 I was assigned as the control room officer. I was advised via email of a Jpay video visit violation committed by inmate Norman. On 5/25/20 at approximately 0930 hours inmate Norman was conducting a video visitation. During the video visit inmate Norman removed his mask. Inmate Norman is in violation of written order from the warden, requiring all inmates to be wearing a mask. Inmate Norman will remain in general population pending the outcome of this report. The O.I.C. was notified and approved the writing of this report. By: ATL29 - Allen, T.''

Additional text: ''An impartial investigation will be conducted on this disciplinary report. During the investigation of the disciplinary report, you will be advised of the charges against you and you may request staff assistance. During the investigation you should make known any witnesses to the investigating officer. The testimony of witnesses shall be presented by written statements. See Rule 33-601.307 (3) for complete information regarding witnesses. You will have the opportunity to make a statement in writing regarding the charge and to provide information relating to the investigation.''

Actual facts -- The video visit consisted of me sitting in front of the Jpay kiosk at the assigned time, facing the camera, waiting for Libby to appear on the screen. This is a very primitive system, the image and voices are out of sync and delayed, the bandwidth weakness results in a blank screen for most of the assigned 15 minutes, the image freezes up for several minutes, and if we can talk for 30 seconds without interruption, it's a surprise. We keep trying, in hopes the program will eventually perform as advertised. On this day, same problems. No signals for most of seven minutes. I have severe allergies (lots of pollen in the open windows), and when my sinuses drain it causes me to cough and clear my throat. Warden Duncan has the same problem. I've had a persistent cough for years.

While we were waiting in front of blank screens hoping the signal would return, I had to cough and clear my throat. I never ''removed'' my ill-fitting mask. It remained on my face, secured around my head. It may have slipped down a little as a brief signal returned, but was never removed.

More on this later.

We aren't receiving any new coronavirus information from the authorities, so the men stay glued to the TV news. That can be good or bad. Like many ''free'' citizens, prisoners are affected by events near and far away.

One hot-button issue that stirs up the men is the latest federal court decision regarding the constitutionality of voting rights for ex-felons. Florida voters passed a state constitutional amendment giving ex-felons the right to vote, with the exceptions of sex offenders and murder convictions. The wording is straightforward, but the Florida Legislature passed a state law exemption denying the right to vote to any ex-felon who owes court costs, penalties, fines, or fees. Since most ex-felons are indigent, with little ability to pay court fees incurred perhaps decades ago, that law effectively denies the right to vote to a large percentage of the ex-felons.

Activists argued that the state law was effectively an unconstitutional poll tax that denied voting rights to the poor. U. S. District Court Judge Richard Hinkle agreed, and struck down the law. Many prisoners are offended that Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is appealing the federal judge's decision, denying the vote to potentially hundreds of thousands of ex-felon voters, playing politics.

Many states permit ex-felons to register to vote upon their release from prison, without exception, while a few states allow them to vote while still in prison.

Another touchy subject that is creating tension inside prison is the recent death of Gerald Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis policemen who were subsequently fired. The network news shows repeatedly broadcast the cell phone video of the cop with his knee on Gerald Floyd's neck, juxtaposed with scenes of thousands of protesters demanding justice.

It's not a black/white issue. Everyone is offended. But in prison, such actions create racial tensions, with white prisoners taking the heat for the actions of white cops on the street. In the early 1990's, the Rodney King videos ignited widespread assaults against white prisoners when the cops on trial were acquitted. When the O. J. Simpson trial a few years later resulted in his acquittal, FDC officials breathed collective sighs of relief that he was acquitted. No riots, cheering instead. So far, this latest incident has not resulted in any overt actions within the prison, to my knowledge.

Out of time and space. Later.


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