Saturday, June 27, 2020


Wednesday, June 25, 2020, 1:59 p.m., Tomoka C. I., Daytona Beach, FL.

Where do I begin? I sent Update #28 to Libby this past Saturday, for posting, but she didn't receive it until today, Thursday, five days later. We are hampered by and at the mercy of JPay's Big Brother incompetence. Another email might be delivered an hour after sending. Nevertheless, the availability of tablets and emails to all prisoners, something un-imagined a few years before, has changed prisoner/family communication for the better.

I told you about the thunderstorm and lightning bolt that knocked out the Jpay WiFi over the weekend. Finally, Monday, after complaints from inside and outside the prison, the WiFi was repaired and went back on-line.

Other news---the weekend local TV news briefly mentioned that guards killed a prisoner at Lake C.I., near Clermont, Florida, during a ''use of force.'' Wednesday's early morning news from WESH-TV, channel 2 from Orlando, broadcast a fifteen-second clip of a handful of protesters carrying signs in front of the prison. No George Floyd protest marches over a Florida prisoner's death, no bodycam videos.

I briefly talked about the bogus disciplinary report (DR) I received last month. I haven't yet said much about it on these pages for several reasons, one being that FDC officials and staff read my blogs and emails, I am filing appeals, and I don't want to tip my hand until my complaints are officially filed with higher authority. My first court appeal, a ''mandamus petition'' goes to the circuit court in Tallahassee, with a $400 filing fee. Ouch!

New Quarantine Scare---In all their correctional training, officials decided to completely screw up Dorm K-2 by making it the confinement release overflow housing for inmates supposed to return to a full capacity B-Dorm, the higher security dorm for thugs, gang members, drug salesmen, troublemakers, and loudmouths. In the month or so I was gone on quarantine in dorm K-1, they moved out a couple dozen well-behaved, quiet inmates, replacing them with the above-described screw-ups.

On Monday afternoon, they released another screw-up to K-2. First thing he did was locate the drug and tobacco salesmen, telling them he had money on his debit card. Extend him credit today, and he would pay a premium tomorrow. Reminded me of ''Wimpy'' from the old Popeye cartoons--''I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.''

The guy smoked up all the drugs and tobacco, then fell out, faking a seizure. The guards and nurses showed up with a gurney and took the miscreant to the infirmary. He didn't fool any of us, but he faked out the nurses. Next thing we know, dorm K-2 is under COVID-19 quarantine. Locked down. No movement, callouts cancelled.

A number of prisoners questioned two officials making their dorm inspection about the bogus quarantine. They said that the inmate had been tested, and it would be a couple of days for the results to come back.

Today they announced the quarantine was over, the inmate's test was negative, and he returned to confinement. The drug dealers were not happy.

Thankfully, there have been no new coronavirus infections at Tomoka C. I.


Chicago, Illinois---A federal judge ordered the release from prison of an alleged organized crime enforcer who is said to have health issues that places him at heightened risk from the novel coronavirus.

Detroit, Michigan---Dozens of people in the Detroit area were bailed out of jail during the coronavirus pandemic by nonprofits pushing to dismantle the cash bail system.

Lincoln, Nebraska---The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services said an inmate at the Nebraska State Penitentiary has tested positive for the new coronavirus,

Rutland, Vermont---State officials said all staff and inmates at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland will be subject to testing for the new coronavirus on June 29. Testing also took place at the facility on Saturday.

All the best,


(Posting was delayed a week due to upset conditions in the system)

Friday, June 19, 2020, 8:45 p.m., Tomoka C.I., Daytona Beach, FL.

A huge black thundercloud moved west from the Atlantic Ocean onto land an hour ago, bringing torrential rain and lightning to Daytona Beach. It's still raining cats and dogs, as they say. A powerful lightning bolt struck nearby and knocked out the Jpay WiFi. You should have seen these tough guys yelling and freaking out when the bright flash lit up the sky. No telling how long it will be out: an hour, a day, a week. I can write and save documents, but no sending messages until Jpay repairs or resets the system.

At 5:30 a.m. this morning, they called breakfast while it was still dark, providing me with a rare sky event as we lined up outside waiting our turn in the queue. Low to the east, brilliant Venus lingered near the crescent moon, provoking multiple arguments as to what it was, a planet, a star, or the International Space Station. I stayed out of it. After scarfing down scrambled eggs, grits, potatoes, and two small tortillas, what they label breakfast burritos, we marched single file back to K-dorm. The crescent moon and Venus were gone, replaced by two mockingbirds on top of light poles entertaining us with their trilling repertoires.

During our weekly inspection Thursday afternoon, I asked another administrator what was the status of our family visits, the same person who'd been optimistic when I asked the same question a week or so before. He wasn't so optimistic this time.

He told me, ''You remember how it was here for weeks, when everything was locked down? That's how it is right now at around six other institutions, and I doubt there'll be any visitation until those places are under control. We can't risk any reinfections right now.''

What that has to do with us, I don't know.

In other local news, two prison buses brought back the F-1 Dorm inmates from Columbia C. I. this week, minus one. Supposedly, a Tomoka inmate committed suicide while in a ''psych cell'' at Columbia, hanging himself with his facemask strings. Of course I'm skeptical. No verification yet of the details.

On the local radio, a Florida Dept. of Corrections (FDC) spokesperson said that 1,645 inmates and 320 staff had tested positive for the COVID--19 virus statewide. Locally, 138 inmates and 23 staff tested positive for the virus at Tomoka C. I.. The women's prison at Homestead logged in the most, with 302 inmates testing positive. No one doubts that if every inmate were tested, the numbers would be in the thousands.

I asked an official, several weeks ago, about the COVID--19 antibody test. The local Department of Health announced they were giving free antibody tests in Volusia County. Tomoka C. I. is in Volusia County. I asked, ''Since they're offering free tests, would you call them about coming out here and giving us antibody tests? I would like to volunteer.''

He looked at me like I was crazy as he formulated a response. ''They won't come inside the prison,'' he said, walking away.

I wondered about that, since I'd heard that the local Dept. of Health Director, on a recent tour of the prison, saw the prison-made blue facemasks being worn by many prisoners, and commented, ''Those things are useless.'' Too bad we couldn't talk to him.

Still no educational, vocational, or wellness programs back in session. The Chapel has been closed for a couple months, and will remain closed until September, they say. So much for freedom of religion.

On a positive personal note, my mother, Lucille Norman, came home from the rehab center this week. She is very happy to be home. My sister-in-law, Diane Norman, my late brother Tom's widow, is staying with her, tending to her for now.

As for myself, nurses administered an EKG last week. I'm still waiting to see Dr.Westfall for the results.


Montgomery, Alabama--- The state prison system said that a fourth inmate has died after testing positive for COVID--19 as the numbers of cases among inmates and staff continues to rise.

Frankfort, Kentucky---Mass testing for the coronavirus is underway at a women's prison after at least14 people contracted it, Gov. Andy Beshear's administration said Monday. The state is trying to avoid a repeat of the major COVID--19 outbreak this spring in western Kentucky where the virus cases numbered in the hundreds.

Omaha, Nebraska---Another employee in the state's prison system has tested positive for COVID--19, and health officials say a second child in the Omaha area has been diagnosed with a rare and serious inflammatory condition that's linked to the new coronavirus.

Portland, Oregon---Gov. Kate Brown has asked for a list of names by June 22 of inmates eligible for possible release to limit the spread of COVID--19 in the state prison system.

Olympia, Washington---A prison is restricting movement in its medium-security unit after more than 100 officers and inmates tested positive for COVID--19. More than 1,800 of the 2,248 inmates at Coyote Ride Corrections Center are in quarantine because of potential exposure to the coronavirus, the state Dept. of Correction said.

Be safe.

Saturday, June 13, 2020


Saturday, June 13, 2020, 10:15 a.m., Tomoka C. I., Daytona Beach, FL

It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, as Garrison Keillor used to say on ''Prairie Home Companion,'' many years ago. That's both true and false for the inhabitants of Tomoka C. I. this past week.

I spent much of two uncomfortable days this week in the medical building lobby sitting on a hard backless bench waiting for an electrocardiogram. For several weeks I've had periodic mild chest pains, and since I had to go to medical anyway, to replace prescriptions lost during last week's dorm moves, I decided to relieve my mind and ask for a long-overdue EKG. 

The first day the nurse told me to wait, someone had slashed their arms with a sharp object and the doctor and other nurses were occupied with sewing up the wounds. She said the chest pains were most likely anxiety, anyway. Some years ago, a friend went to medical at another prison, complained of chest pains, the nurse said it was indigestion, gave him antacid, and sent him on his way. He collapsed on the outside sidewalk, dead of a heart attack.

I don't care much for off-the-cuff diagnoses any more.

It got late, the sewing-up took longer, so they told me to come back the next day. After more hours of waiting, the next day I finally got hooked to the machine and tested. Results next week.

The coronavirus appears to have ebbed, with most everyone off quarantine status, with the exception of a few prisoners still under observation in an E-Dorm isolation wing. Thursday during their weekly ''inspection,'' I asked an official passing through when our family visits would resume. ''I don't know. They're talking about it. Maybe soon,'' he said. We worry that an upsurge in new virus infections statewide will delay Visitation's return. Everyone I know who get regular visits is demoralized by the enforced family separation.

The unfortunate men in dorm F-1 who were shipped to Columbia C. I. without their belongings are supposed to return any day now.

No educational, vocational, or wellness classes have returned, and the chapel will remain closed until September, they say. The library is also closed, so access to reading material is limited. Book swaps are common. They're still maintaining separation of dorms, and one dorm is escorted to ''chow'' as another returns from food service. It's funny, one long line of prisoners heading north while another line passes to the south, everyone's faces half-covered by masks, looking like hundreds of bank robbers.

Numerous men greet me in passing with repeated, ''Hi, Mr. Norman,'' Hey, Charlie,'' ''Mr. Norman, how ya doing,'' and other brief greetings. I don't recognize many of them, but I return their hellos.

One fellow prisoner behind me in this long single-file line remarked, ''Man, you must know everybody on the compound.''

''Not really,'' I said, ''but more know me than I know all of them.'' Longevity counts.

It was a mistake moving back to dorm K-2. In the time during my stay in quarantine, they moved so many prisoners out and in that the entire ''personality'' of K-2 was changed for the worse. Before, the dorm housed medium and minimum security prisoners, mostly older, quiet, more mature men who wanted to do their time in peace and quiet. But now, they've turned it into an overflow dorm for troublemakers released from confinement, mostly younger fools smoking dope, yelling and screaming day and night, disrespecting the female officers, hollering to buddies walking down the road, bringing ''heat'' from officers who threaten to ransack the entire dorm in retaliation for their misbehavior. These are the ones who give all prisoners a bad name.

My mother is still in the Hawthorne Rehab Center in Brandon. She'd hoped to be released by now, but they want to keep her longer, until June 25, for more rehab. She's in good spirits, but wants to go home.

Not much more to tell you for now. It is count time again, and I must go.

All the best, and God bless you and yours.


Prison Pandemic News from USA Today:

Houston, Texas--- The Texas Dept. of State attributes the state's spike in coronavirus cases to increased testing in prisons. According to the Texas Tribune, the number of prisoners reported to be infected with the virus jumped from about 2,500 to 6,900 in the two weeks since prisons started reporting test results May 26. Overall cases jumped by 34% from May 25 to June 7, and nearly a quarter of the increase came from 10 counties with prisons and meat packing plants.

Portland, Oregon---State public health officials said an outbreak at a North Bend prison has been resolved. The minimum-security prison at one point had 25 inmates and three infected employees, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Phoenix, Arizona---The number of Maricopa County jail inmates who have tested positive for the new coronavirus has increased sharply over the last five days, leading officials to consider mass testing at county correctional facilities.

Montgomery, Alabama---Multiple men incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp have signed their names to a lawsuit against the Bureau of Prisons, asking a federal judge to order officials to begin processing inmates to home confinement, compassionate release or to another prison to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Topeka, Kansas---The Lansing Correctional Facility is the largest single source of Kansas coronavirus cases, followed by Tyson Foods meat-packing plant near Garden City, a public health document showed.