By Jim…After I was separated from my family and taken away from the courtroom I was placed in a holding cell. The cell actually had bars and was a carryover from the 60s when the courthouse was built. There I was stripped out and given an orange jumpsuit to wear. I was asked if I was suicidal and I replied, “I was given a life sentence what do you think?” Then I was transported in a van that was packed to the point where there was no room for any other people. Once I arrived at the jail I was booked, fingerprinted and processed by a medical. During my medical processing it was discovered that my blood pressure was 188/132 and I was immediately placed on high blood pressure medicine. After that I was placed on suicide watch where my clothes were taken away from me and I was given a suicide vest held together with Velcro to wear instead. Cold, Naked and Afraid for 3 days. Sounds like the name of a TV show.
I spent three days on suicide watch and spoke to a psychiatrist who was very sympathetic to my position, but of course there was nothing he could do about it. Compassion is freely given when it doesn’t cost you anything. He told me that in spite of the trial I still had an appeal that could theoretically set me free. Having already gone through the three ring circus sideshow of freaks that is a trial in the state of Arizona I didn’t take much encouragement from that statement. From my experience a trial is a game for which there are no winners. Nobody wins anything in a trial. The life force it sucks out of you alone can only wreck your health. One day in trial can literally put a year on you. You can feel it.
Once my time on suicide watch had been completed to their satisfaction I was sent up to 2 Sierra which was a segregated pod for sex offender’s. I was placed in room 1 with seven other men whom I later found out were all prior members of the military. Once we began talking with each other we made the discovery that in our pod we had representatives from every branch of the armed services. Representation for the Coast Guard came from me. I couldn’t have been in better company. Thanks guys.
It was here that I was beginning to get the impression that there was something going on behind the scenes that wasn’t readily apparent. How was it that by pure random chance a pod could be composed entirely of ex-military from every branch of the service? How could Uncle Sam stick its nose into the private lives of its service members for as long as it had with these people and not discover they had a problem while they were still in the military? I just didn’t see how it was possible. Consequently I was left to presume that their charges were just as fabricated as mine. Then when I finally arrived at Meadows Unit in Florence Arizona I discovered that nearly half of the prison population of 3,000 men was composed of ex-military. One of the members of my pod was a sniper in the United States Marine Corps. He was responsible for the security of Marine One, which is the helicopter that the President of the United States flies in. He was the guy that stood by the entrance to Marine One and popped a salute as the President entered the helicopter. He said later that in his stint at the White House he was assigned to sniper duty on the roof. All of us in that pod had at one time been given Top Secret clearance. That’s what I can’t wrap my head around. One day cock of the walk, next day a feather duster?
When I asked him what the nature of his crime was he told me that he caught his daughter slipping out her bedroom window in the night to visit her boyfriend. When he put his foot down and refused to let her do that anymore she went to school and told the school nurse in retaliation that he had molested her. Later she regretted doing it and tried to recant her testimony, but the Judge and the Prosecutor wouldn’t hear it. He was there on a probation revocation hearing where the Probation Officer declared in open court that she was in fear of her life because he was a sniper in the Marine Corps. Apparently it doesn’t take much to scare a Probation Officer. The nature of his Probation revocation hearing was that he was five minutes off his scheduled movements while on Intensive Probation because he was putting gasoline in his truck for use at work the next day. God help you if you get stuck in a traffic jam.
The guards had no problems from us because we carried on as though we were once again in the military. Our pod was always clean. We did what we were told when we were told to do it without any backtalk and we treated each other with the respect of fellow servicemen. I could have easily spent my entire sentence there and been somewhat happy if I remained with these guys. The best of them was a fellow from the Air Force named Tom. I really wish I could remember his last name because I would like to talk to him again. He was the funniest man I have ever met. Tom had the ability to make you laugh in hell. His offense was regarding a woman between 15 and 18 years old who looked and purported herself to be over 18. Yes he was a fully grown man, but unfortunately for the Shrinks and Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) teachers there is no denying that a middle aged male is not attracted sexually to a hag just on the basis of biology alone if not for the myriad of other reasons out there that are just as scientifically known. Even an 80 year old will choose a younger partner to one the same age or older. And here’s one for you – women do it too! If they say no, they are liars every one.
You know I was really taken back by a thought I had when it occurred to me that mankind, which has been around for over 6 million years and modern medicine which has been around for over 3 million years, never recognized that a woman was capable of ejaculation until 32 years ago. That doesn’t indicate we know ourselves very well at all! That indicates we as a species have a lot of growing up to do! Which is why most of everything that is going on with regard to sexuality and the law is completely immature and completely wrong! We can’t do anything right except by accident because we have no understanding of the situation.
After sentencing I was transported to a classification unit called Alhambra, which used to be the State Mental Hospital. When a new hospital was built on the same property the old buildings were given to the Department of Corrections. Just walking into the place will give anyone the creeps. I can’t believe that the conditions there were ever acceptable as a mental institution. My definition of acceptable is completely different and much more compassionate. At Alhambra they pack prisoners in. They have so many that people sleep on the floor. In a four man cell you will find eight people. In a 14 man cell you will find up to 20 men all waiting to be classified and shipped out to their final destinations. Alhambra should be destroyed for the monument to cruelty and absence of compassion that it is. Regular prisons are bright, clean and friendly places compared to Alhambra.
The first time I went through Alhambra they did not segregate sex offenders and this was their policy until someone in general population killed one of us. After that we were locked up 23 hours a day and let outside for an hour locked up in a cage. Ordinarily the average stay at Alhambra is about 14 days. Upon arrival you will be stripped out of jail clothing and given orange pants and a T-shirt and booked and fingerprinted again. Because Alhambra did not segregate sex offenders I’ll be honest with you, I was in fear of my life, so I requested protective custody not knowing that there was a difference between protective custody in jail and protective custody in prison which falls under something called DIC 69, which is protective custody for gang members and informants. This request prolonged my stay at Alhambra to a month instead of 14 days needlessly.
Once I was transported to Meadows Unit in Florence, Arizona I was processed again, given a housing assignment and sent to pick up my clothes and bedding. Here I had to wait in line which gave me a chance to examine my surroundings. Because it was time for morning recreation I was shocked to see over 1,500 men out on the yard. I had never seen so many men gathered together in one spot and remarked the same to an inmate. He told me that the people I was seeing were only half of the people on the yard because they only let half of them out at one time for rec.
My first housing assignment had quite a few hardcore prison types. I witnessed several beatings, one of which ended in a pool of blood on the floor. As time went by I was transferred to the medical pod because of my high blood pressure and weight. The medical pod was much more friendly and relaxed. It was here that I became a member of the legal club, which gathered at rec every day in southwest corner of the yard. The North side had their own legal club but it was nothing like ours. We were organized. We had the North side finding ways to get to the health unit during our rec so they could ask us questions, because North and South were not supposed to mix, but we developed ingenious ways to get legal stuff done anyway. Most guards when they saw what we were passing knew who we were and what we did for people and when they saw it was legal stuff they didn’t want to be involved and looked the other way when we told them they were on the other side of the yard and this was the only way to get it to them. When you arrive in prison it becomes immediately apparent to you that the only way out is a guerilla approach to studying the law and the legal club was the only place to do it. In the legal club there were people who knew the law better than some lawyers. The best of them was Robert Hoke and we became best friends.
I was given a public defender for my appeal which didn’t give me much hope as I had already seen firsthand the quality of their work, but the one assigned to my case seemed interested in the claims that I felt were important to me and included many of them. At least the most important claims and with the training of the legal club there was no way someone was going to hoodwink me.
There’s not a lot to write about regarding prison because very little happens there and if something does happen it’s usually very bad. You have all these men who are locked up in one place with nowhere to go and nothing to do, just waiting for time to pass and be released. What kind of environment do you think you have created? If it’s not what you wanted only you can do something about it because you and your ancestors built the damn thing. You get to the point you are so sick of looking at the same faces and dealing with their little personality quirks that you forget this won’t last forever and start to do something violent about it. This was something I recognized from being on a ship in the Coast Guard.
There are many similarities because you have a very similar environment, only in the Coast Guard there’s more to do like scraping paint or working on machinery. In the military even if you’re scraping paint you still have a sense of value and purpose. Prison takes all that away from you leaving you with nothing. Which sends the message that you as a person have no value and no purpose except to observe the passage of time and that’s what society thinks of you.
Human progress isn’t measured by industry.
It’s measured by the value you place on a life.
An unimportant life. A life without privilege.
That’s what defines an age, that’s… what defines a species. (Doctor Who)
Welcome To the Dark Ages
I don’t derive my sense of self-worth from what I do. Aviation drummed that out of me a long time ago, but many people haven’t had that life lesson and the environment in prison affects them very deeply. And then you let someone that you as a society have done this to out. I’m not even going to debate the wisdom of this so called rehabilitative process because there isn’t any, and I would have to stoop so low I began to think stupid things and drool on myself! Nothing but foulness arises out of stupidity, until the day dawns that stupidity is recognized and the person or persons concerned do something about it. Until then you’ve got nothing! Not even credit for showing up.
The question you must now ask is, “Is this what you want?” And if it’s not you are now morally obligated to do something to change it. Even if it’s small, get involved, spread your voice, make yourself be heard, because while this kind of change is difficult in any governmental system, it’s not supposed to be that way in ours. Who’s in control in a constitutional republic? We are!
And… Oh dear boys what happens next?