You are reading a rare, detailed account of everyday life in Stateville Prison.

Click to read Paul's blog quoted on:
To contact Paul, please email:
or write him at the address shown in the right column. He will get your message personally.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Staff Assaults -- April 30, 2010

This morning I awoke with the knowledge I have been incarcerated 17 years. It was this day, 17 years ago, that I was paraded in front of the news media as the man who killed 7 people at a Brown's Chicken restaurant in Palatine, and sent to the Cook County Jail. I remember that day clearly, despite how much time has passed. I was escorted, in handcuffs and shackles, by police to a squad car surrounded by dozens of news reporters who were shouting questions and snapping photographs. I recall the unfriendly welcome and processing at the county jail--I did not know it at the time, but at 18 years old, my life was, for all practical purposes, over.

As I ate breakfast and looked at the news images on my TV, my thoughts drifted again. Two days prior to my detainment at the Cook County Jail, I was arrested by numerous gun-wielding members of the Palatine Task Force and FBI agents, as Chicago police tried to block traffic. Between the 28th and 30th of April, 1993, I was interrogated by two police officers: John Koziol and John Robertson. I spent hours upon hours enduring their intimidation, abuse, and other coercive interrogation techniques in their attempts to get me to answer their questions. I was not cooperating, and in vain, I continually asked for a lawyer. However, this did not prevent John Robertson from ultimately fabricating a story that I admitted being told by my roommate that he planned to kill someone, and that I lent him my car. This lie cost me my life; there are some days that I can forget this, but on the 28th and 30th of April each year I think of what happened.

Near midnight on that April 30th, I was taken to the Barrington Police station. The two days prior, however, I was at the Rolling Meadows Police station where I was being secretly held. My interrogation was conducted there to prevent any lawyer from finding me and to avoid the scrutiny of the press which was following the unfolding news very closely. No, I would not be allowed to see any lawyer, and no, the media would not have access until after I was charged with murder.

I would probably have been interrogated for days longer had I not tricked my interrogators to let me speak with the states attorney. The police were very interested in finding the weapon my roommate used to kill the victim. I told them I might be able to help them, but I would only speak with a states attorney. When Patrick O'Brien arrived, I told him about the two days of abuse by police, and the violation of my Miranda rights. Pat O'Brien will probably never admit this, however, nor the fact that he ordered John Koziol to take down a light blue sheet that he had put up over a two-way mirror in the interrogation room. On the evening of April 30th, I was transferred to the Barrington Police station where I was finally treated civilly, and allowed to use the telephone.

About 11 a.m. today, chow lines began to be run. I was not in a good mood to go out and deal with the noise, the herding of inmates, and the obnoxious behaviors of those who live here. Furthermore, on the menu was Sloppy Joes made out of turkey-soy meal and beef seasoning. However, I got ready to leave my cell because this week the kitchen was putting yogurt on ice and inmates could take as many as they wanted. The yogurt was meant for the guards next week during Officer Appreciation Week, but, the yogurt arrived early and would go bad if not used immediately. Thus, instead of letting all the yogurt spoil, it was given to the prisoners. Instead of eating the imitation Sloppy Joes, I planned to eat several servings of yogurt. I also planned to bring some back to put in my toilet to keep cold and eat later tonight.

The outgoing chow lines were run as they normally are. The first gallery to go out was the top floor, or 10 gallery, followed by 8, 6, 4, and then my gallery, 2. I tried to avoid the loudmouths when I came out for chow, and I lined up next to a couple of older white men, one of whom readers may remember as Hawkeye, or as I have nicknamed him "Chickenhawk." I try to line up near people I want to sit and eat with. The inmate lines go into the chow hall in order before becoming a herd that leads to two feeding counters. When you leave these counters with your food, a guard is usually waiting to direct you to a seat. I do not know why this seating cop is necessary. Inmates can easily find a table to sit at, and what difference does it make where they sit? In any event, if you do not want to be seated next to a person you dislike, or conversely if you want to sit with someone, you should pay attention to who is around you while in line.

As I left the feeding counter behind Hawkeye, I heard someone yell, "Modrowski! Modrowski!" It was the lieutenant who works the 2nd shift in my cell house, and at times, I debate politics with him. The lieutenant was apparently working two shifts today, and had been assigned to work in the chow hall during the day. I stopped with my tray in hand, and the lieutenant walked over to me. He asked me if I had a visitor yesterday. I said yes, indeed, I had. My mother had come to see me. The lieutenant then said, "God, that is how the other half of society lives?" Last night during a political discussion, my Marxist cellmate had told him how I came from an upper-middle class family, and that I did not understand the woes of the poor. I remarked to the lieutenant that with all the double overtime he works, I knew he must be pulling in six figures easily and he should know very well how the other half lives.

I was concerned with who I would be forced to sit with and left the lieutenant quickly before he could respond. I need not have been in a hurry today though. There was no seating cop, and I was able to sit where I wanted. At the chow table, I offered my tray to those who were seated with me. No one, however, wanted any extra soy-Sloppy Joes. I ate the lettuce on my tray and opened up one of the containers of yogurt. A few people commented on how they thought the yogurt tasted horrible, particularly the plain kind with no fruit in it. I responded that it tasted better than the turkey-soy meal they were eating, and it was more healthy too. After I finished eating, I slipped two yogurts into my socks. The guards do not want prisoners taking food back to their cells from the chow hall, and thus I have had to think of unique ways to smuggle food out without being noticed.

Something happened in the prison--after 6 gallery was sent back to the cell house, line movement had stopped. Inmates are usually given little time to eat, and there was obviously some unplanned delay. I noticed the lieutenant on his radio, and his attention seemed to be raised. About 20 minutes passed before 4 gallery was sent back, and then we waited again. An inmate shouted that a Latino had been seen handcuffed by Internal Affairs and was going to Segregation. At the tables, people began talking about a lockdown.

We had been in the chow hall over an hour before the lieutenant finally opened the gate. Then, instead of being sent back to the cell house, we were put in chow hall number one. There, prisoners talked at tables near the exit until a large contingent of guards and lieutenants came into the building. They shouted at us to line up facing the wall. I heard people say another guard must have got his ass whooped. As we line up facing the wall, I knew we would be searched, so I took the two yogurts out of my socks and dumped them on the floor. I was correct in my assumption, and guards began to pat down all the inmates. Then five inmates were handcuffed behind their backs, and escorted to the cell house by several guards. Groups of five continued to be handcuffed and taken back. I was at the end of the line, and as I waited I thought how the police were being rude and overly security conscious.

When I was locked in my cell, I asked one of my neighbors who stayed in from chow if he knew what happened. He told me that a movement officer and a man from Internal Affairs had been assaulted. I asked him the circumstances, and which guards were involved. He told me the name of the movement officer, but was uncertain which I.A. staff was hit. He also had no idea why or exactly what took place, but was happy, regardless. Any time a guard was assaulted, it made him happy, and two guards assaulted made him especially so. I did not share his sentiments, but did not disclose this to him. A prisoner may not be liked if he does not always side against the police. Instead, I sought more detailed information from him. Again, he said he could not provide any. He only knew what he had overheard being shouted on the galleries above.

My cellmate returned from the barbershop along with others from their assignments. Everyone in the prison was being locked in their cells for a level one lockdown. My cellmate had no news to tell me about the incident, other than he had heard that two guards were assaulted. He began to complain about how we will be on lockdown for months, and the Orange Crush Unit will be sure to come. I did not expect such a long lockdown, particularly if no one was seriously injured, and it was an isolated incident. More than likely, I thought, an inmate had thrown a few punches and had been quickly subdued.

Over the course of the day, I learned the details of what really occurred. Contrary to what I thought, there were two separate incidents. The first occurred when 6 gallery was returning to the cell house. Apparently, an inmate had words with one of the guards in control of movement lines. This escalated into a physical confrontation, and the inmate knocked the guard onto the sidewalk. He then got on top of him and began to pummel him with punches before being seized by a number of guards. From what I was informed, the guard was badly beaten, but able to get up unassisted.

After 6 gallery was secured in their cells, 4 gallery was brought back. Because of the previous incident, Internal Affairs was called, and on the walk. For some reason unclear to me, the head of the I.A. unit grabbed a prisoner out of line and began to handcuff him. The inmate swung the hand being cuffed, and punched him in the eye. The cuffs apparently hit the lieutenant causing his skin to split. He was seen after the incident with a large bleeding gash to his face. The lieutenant in charge of I.A. is a big guy, and I assume he was caught off guard. The Hispanic that hit him was the one people saw in the chow hall being sent to Seg. I know who he is, and he is a rather little person. However, I am told that he knows how to fight very well, despite his size.

With the two staff assaults occurring one right after the other, I see now why we were taken back to the cell house in groups of five with handcuffs behind our backs. However, I still tend to believe the administration overreacts and is overly security conscious to the point of being ludicrous. Never have there been so many rules, regulations, and staff in the history of the Illinois Department of Corrections as exist today. And yet, I would not be surprised if the guards' union lobbies to have more staff and overtime pay due to these incidents. I do not, however, believe that my cellmate is necessarily correct in his opinion that the warden will order an Orange Crush invasion or a 3-month lockdown. This warden seems more reasonable, and wiser than some of his predecessors. The previous administration was particularly crass, dogmatic, and asinine.


  1. All desease starts in the gut. All, from cold viruses not being stopped, to cancer. Your intuition about yogurt is right on the it has probiotics which...duh...are the personal doctor, together with digestion enzymes produces by pancreas (which explain why pancreatic cancer is the worst of them enzymes...death coming right up. Eat as much yogurt as posible, and those over 50 better load up on pinapple juice, if available and no acid reflux is present. (after 50 the production of enzymes goes south fast and idiots call it "beer belly" whne in fact is lack of digestion belly.

    1. I bet they don't get much fresh food or juice in prison. Sad. Inmates should get basic nutrition needs met.


If you choose Name / URL, you can write any name and you don't need a URL. Or you can choose Anonymous. Paul loves getting your Comments. They are all mailed to him.