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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Black Stones Raided -- August 2, 2010

Yesterday at 4 or 5 a.m. I was awakened by prisoners yelling, "I.A. in the cell house." I.A. is the prison's Internal Affairs Unit, and they are often causing trouble for inmates. Their appearance usually means they are about to search a person's cell, grab them for interrogation, or send an inmate to Segregation. Unlike the guards that work in the cell houses and often have things to do other than harass prisoners, I.A. typically does nothing but this. Internal Affairs' job is to investigate inmates and guards alike, but mostly the former. They can be a force to root out serious threats to the safety and security of the institution. However, they are usually preoccupied with petty matters.

Although I heard the warning that I.A. was in the building, I did not concern myself with it and fell back asleep. If I.A. was coming to harass me, they would have to wake me up. I was not going to stay up and worry about it. There was nothing I could do, nor was there any contraband in my cell. I was not involved in any mischief and although a snitch could fabricate a story about anyone, I cannot prevent it and must deal with it when confronted. I did not care to concern myself with any drama in the prison. Prison is something I want to think less about, particularly when dreams away from this miserable place await me.

About 7:30 a.m., I woke up and took a look in my breakfast tray. Inside was a scoop of scalloped potatoes and, to my surprise, a good-sized blueberry muffin. These potatoes I planned to put in my toilet, but I was looking forward to eating this muffin. However, it would not be enough to satisfy my hunger. This morning my gallery was scheduled to go to the gym, and I wanted to have a good meal before working out. I decided to make some instant oatmeal to go with it along with some peanut butter and mixed nuts. In order to make the oatmeal, I had to heat up some water in an improvised fashion and I would have to wait until my cellmate was done using the sink.

My cellmate not only spends an hour on the toilet, but about two hours getting ready to leave the cell. I have never seen someone take so much time to start the day, not even a girl. My cellmate has no hair, and does not wear make-up, but he will wash his face and bald head twice. He will brush his teeth two or three times in succession, flossing in between rounds. He will also stare in the mirror for a long period of time looking at his image. Fortunately I have a plastic mirror that will not break. Then he will spend a considerable amount of time cleaning the area he just slopped up in the back of the cell. During this time, he will also piss a few times due to the enormous amount of water and coffee he drank. This, of course, mandates that he vigorously scrub his hands each time. I think he is obsessive-compulsive. I attempted not to get angry waiting for him to go through his rituals and made my bed and did other things while waiting. I would not be so bothered by the delay, but I do not have a microwave or stove to bring water to a boil. It takes some time and even instant oatmeal takes ten minutes to cook. Gym line is always first to leave, and I did not want to miss it.

Eventually, my cellmate finished and I set about making my oatmeal. For a brief moment I thought about how I.A. would not approve of my contraption for heating water. However, they will never have me eating raw, uncooked oats or other meals. My cellmate had moved to the other side of the cell and was sitting at the desk by the bars. It is often difficult living in a closet-like space with another person. Regularly, a prisoner must be trading places and adjusting to accommodate a cellmate, or not feel encroached upon or claustrophobic. I have had the same cellie for a year and we are usually in sync. Today he was delayed.

While in the back of the cell, I asked him if he had heard or seen anything pertaining to Internal Affairs. He said he heard the shouts of inmates and then the opening of doors. He was on the toilet at the time, and said he was worried they would pass by or come to our cell and disrupt him. Sometimes I think most of my cellmate's concerns revolve around his bowel movements. Early in the morning is the most quiet time in this cell house, and my cellmate mentioned he thought he heard property boxes being moved about and concluded they were searching some cells and/ or testing people for drugs.

About 8 a.m., the recreation lines were announced over the loudspeaker. The bottom two galleries were going to gym and we were told to get ready to go, with our cells in compliance. A cell "in compliance" is one where all your property, minus a few items like a bar of soap or towel, is in your property boxes. When an inmate leaves his cell he is to have his property put away and we are often reminded to do so in the morning before details, chow, or recreation lines are run. Cell compliance was yet another reason I had to wait on my cellmate. It always takes him some time to stuff all his belongings in his box.

Not long after the recreation announcement, I heard an inmate yell out, "Orange Crush on 6 gallery," and then a moment later, "Orange Crush on 8 gallery." This was odd because when the Orange Crush team comes through, the entire cell house knows it. They come in great mass, yelling, and making a great commotion. I have not recalled a time when the tactical squad came in the cell house quietly, or with any stealth. Kind of difficult to be unnoticed or unheard in a bright orange jump suit, helmet, shield, baton, cumbersome body armor and combat boots. My cellmate looked out the cell bars with a mirror and he did not see anything. Minutes later, the cellhouse loudspeaker announced, "Two and four gallery--on your doors for gym."

When I walked out of my cell, I looked up at the upper galleries. There was indeed orange crush in the cell house. However, there was only a handful of them. I saw two walking casually on six gallery, and three on eight. I thought possibly they were conducting an extraction. An extraction is when someone refuses to come out of their cell, or refuses to let guards handcuff them from the cell bars. However, even an extraction would typically be done with more men, and they would not be walking casually. Furthermore, we would never have been let out of our cells for gym if an extraction was taking place. It was very odd, but I did not dwell on it. The gym line was going out the door.

At the gym, no one knew precisely what was happening in the cell house. I went to a man who I typically go to for information. He is a very social person and pays attention to all the prison gossip and news. All he knew was that I.A. had rounded up some people and their cells were being searched. He did not know the purpose of the Orange Crush. An hour into our time in the gym, a gym worker came to work out with me. I mentioned the Orange Crush being in my cell house. He informed me I.A. and a few men in tactical gear were in his cell house as well. He said they were targeting the Black Stones.

The Black Stones is a large gang in Chicago and in the Illinois' prison system. The Stones have been around since the 1960s and are a semi-racist, militant black gang. They have an Islamic charter although sometimes the religion is used as a front, and many look up to black leaders such as Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm X. During their early formation on the south side of Chicago, it is said the Black Panthers were an influence. You can recognize Black Stones from their crescent moon and five-pointed star tattoos. I have been in battle against the Stones at the county jail and the early years of my imprisonment. In Stateville Segregation many years ago, a Stone attempted to stab me with a crudely made knife. However, despite these incidents, I do not see them as my enemy and I have been able to get along with some of their gang members. Furthermore, although I am white, I can respect their racial pride and some of their other values.

When I returned from the gym I looked up at the upper galleries of the cell house. Even with my back against the outer wall, I can not see all levels. However, on the first three, there were no guards dressed in orange jumpsuits and tactical gear. I noticed a couple of cells were empty and I assumed those occupants were taken to Seg. Operations in the cell house appeared normal.

It was a muggy 91-degree day and inside the gym the conditions were worse. There are no fans and although there are windows high up on one wall, they are always kept closed. My clothes were wet with sweat and I was eager to undress and wash up. As I was filling my sink with hot water, I noticed a brown smear on the wall next to the toilet. I took a floor rag and attempted to wipe it off. It was dry, but some of it came off on my rag. As I suspected, it was shit. My cellmate must have been so rattled by I.A. in the cell house that he somehow shit on the wall. I do not know how that is possible, but he did not do this intentionally. I have heard of people being so scared they shit on themselves, but I have not heard of anyone missing the toilet. Initially, I felt like leaving the excrement on the wall so I could put my cellmate's face to it when he returned, and scold him like you would a dog. However, I know my cellmate has bowel problems, so I just scrubbed it off the wall and continued about my day. I told my cell mate about the matter when he came back from the barbershop. He was embarrassed and apologized repeatedly. I was tempted to demean him, but I did not need him to be even more preoccupied and anxious about using the toilet.

I was going to go out for dinner to try to learn more about what happened today. It seems at times I must be an investigative journalist to have subject matter for my blog. However, chow was not run till late and I did not want to miss the season finale to the TV program "The Bachelorette." Today, the girl chose between the two remaining men. I had been watching the program since the beginning and did not want to miss the conclusion. At times I have mentioned to a few prisoners that I watch reality dating programs. They are astonished, and initially do not believe me. Last week, when I told Hawkeye that I was going to watch the Bachelorette show, he thought I was pulling his leg. I suppose I do not come across as a man who would be interested in such programming. Although I may have a stoic demeanor, I greatly miss the romance that has been absent in my life for a long time.

I ended up only watching part of the finale. After she dumped the man I was hoping she would chose, I changed the station. I was disgusted by her choice and thought they were the least compatible. For the last several programs, I would have been content if she chose any of the remaining men, other than that one. Personally, I was hoping the bachelor from the last program who broke up with the girl he picked in the final rose ceremony would make a surprising proposal in this show. After all, this bachelorette was chosen from the final four women in last season's show, but left because ostensibly she was going to lose her job. Personally, I think she was scared and wanted the bachelor to make a decision before the final rose was given out. These dating shows almost always disappoint me, and I am not surprised their relationships usually fail quickly.

Today I went to the law library and had some movement to discern what occurred in the prison yesterday. From a few sources, I was told I.A. received information on the Black Stones gang that concerned them, including meetings at these Islamic religious services. A number of them were interrogated and/or transferred out of the institution to Tamms or Pontiac. A few were put in Stateville's Seg unit. As a precaution, some guards were suited up in orange crush jumpsuits and tactical gear just in case the Stones gave any resistance. None to my knowledge did, and Internal Affairs probably acted early in the morning to catch them in their sleep and give them the advantage of surprise. I am not aware of what type of disciplinary tickets were written, or if any were written at all. They could merely be transferred on a suspicion and be placed on investigative status.

All gangs are considered by Internal Affairs as "security threat groups" or STGs. I.A. is often collecting intelligence on gangs and attempting to suppress their activities. In the late 1990s, the prisons were taken control of largely by breaking up and disrupting gang organizations. Many gang leaders were sent to the newly opened Tamms Supermax and Pontiac, which was converted into a segregation prison. A tight grip of oppressive control is now maintained by not only strict rules, but an extreme gang vigilance. I.A. will often act in overwhelming force or precipitously toward gang organizations.


  1. as for the shit on the way he said it had me laughing no doubt!! but i have been reading in order number and am lost, it went from him in seg to before?

  2. EDITOR NOTE TO TY: When Paul was sent to Seg, the posts he had written came very late in the mail and possibly out of order. We do our best to keep the posts in order and on time. I thought that part was funny, too. There's a lot of dark humor in Paul's writing.

  3. Gangs have values? Come on Paul...gangs are gathering of not-important trying to be important, that's all. Their violence is just a cry for atention and joining is just a request to power, wealth and women when in fact very few get these via the gangs. Some people just want to be slaves...some to their work, some to their leaders, some to their churches, etc. Note to future gang members: the top dogs will get all the breaks while the foot soldiers will get all the punishment, like in the real world where the driver gets fired for his idiotic boss messing up the schedule. Join a civilian gang-become a slave or join the military gang and you might end up a real man. Not rich but empowered with a mind good enough to deal with the world...

  4. Why did the guy try to stab you?

  5. The Bachelorette!!! I just can't envision you watching that. I am surprised they haven't used that as a promo commercial. A whole cell block anxiously huddled around a little TV watching the finally.


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