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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Heat Wave -- July 22, 2011

All this week, a sweltering heat wave has covered most of the United States. Record temperatures have been set from the upper Midwest to the Atlantic coast. Minneapolis hit 114 degrees on Wednesday. On Friday, New York City and the country's capital had highs of 105 F. What made these temperatures worse was the high humidity. Heat indexes have been over 120 F, making it feel like I imagine a tropical rain forest would feel. At Stateville, located in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago, no heat records have been broken. However, the oppressive heat has made life in captivity all the more miserable.

In the Roundhouse, there was a window in my cell and I enjoyed the breezes that went through it. However, in general population, there are no windows in any of the cells. Prisoners in G.P. live in large block buildings where cells are not located on the perimeter, but the inside. There is no air flow here and the concrete shells often retain heat. Fortunately, I am on the lower floor, which stays the coolest. There can be up to a 20 degree difference between the first and fifth floors.

Prisoners at Stateville are allowed to purchase 9" clear plastic fans. This week, my fan has been on almost continually while I have been in the cell. Sometimes I will move my fan from place to place to follow me. Last night, I slept with my fan inches from my upper body instead of setting it up at the end of my bunk. Usually, I become cold during my sleep and cellmates will be amazed how little I use my fan, but not this week.

The holding cage is directly across from my cell. Many prisoners stand in there waiting to go on a pass or to be locked up. They will talk, yell, or stare into my cell. This week, I had three people yell over to me to ask about my cell mate's fan. Cork's fan is a couple of inches wider than those sold here. The prisoners wanted to know where I purchased it and if they could buy it. They bother me instead of my cellmate, because I am often at the table writing or reading next to the bars. My cellmate bought his fan at Menard C.C., and although it is larger, it does not have the power as the fans sold here. If it were my fan, I would have sold it to one of these envious onlookers for more than its purchase price. I may have even been able to get double.

When temperatures are hot, it makes prisoners louder, more obnoxious and violent. I have tried to avoid these people as much as possible, but being near the cell house door, the holding cage, and in general population, it has been difficult. I keep my headphones on most of the time while in my cell, attempting to block out their yelling and rambunctious behavior. One benefit of being in C House is all the elderly prisoners here. They often remain in their cells hugging their fans and sucking on ice cubes. When I have left the cell, I often see overweight, older inmates laid out on their bunks like beached whales. It is almost like a geriatric ward on the first floor, and several people had to be sent to the hospital due to problems associated with the heat. Even my cellmate, who is only 41, has spent much of this week lying on his bunk with the fan on him. Yet, he still yells on occasion to people outside our cell, much to my aggravation.

This week, I was fortunate to get two visits. The visiting room is air conditioned, and it was nice to get out of the heat for a little while. Visitation on Wednesday was extremely crowded, however, even early that morning. I was able to get away from the heat, but not the noise. While I was waiting to be strip-searched, I asked the supervising guard when the best days were to visit. She said, "Monday through Thursday, but at the end of the month." The strip search room is kept very cool, and it is the only nice thing about having to go through the degrading search. Stepping out the door, I was hit with an oppressive heat, however, and had to remain in a crowded holding cage with a number of obnoxious inmates. I could readily see how a fight could break out on a day when the heat made everyone irritable. In fact, there was a fight yesterday.

While waiting to return to the cell house outside the gym, I was talking to my former cellmate, Cracker, who attended the religious service upstairs. We heard traffic over the guards' radios and one went running. Cracker asked a black female guard standing near us if that was a "10-10," which is an urgent call for assistance. She wiped sweat from her brow and, with an attitude, told Cracker it was none of his business. Another guard with a better disposition came out of the gym and told us there was a fight at Gate 5. Gate 5 is where prisoners wait to go on visits, or to be escorted back to the cell house.

Later, there was a fight in the prison Health Care Unit. My cellmate had gone over there to see the medical director, and he did not return until 6 p.m. He said he was there so long because the doctor did not seem to know what he was doing, and was taking his time seeing prisoners with health problems. He said a fight in the HCU also delayed operations as well. From what he told me, cellmates in the infirmary fought, and the Orange Crush Squad had to be brought in to extract one of them. People in the infirmary usually have just returned from surgery, are too sick, or crippled to be in general population. It was a surprise to learn they had a violent assault there. Even the heat could not have been a factor because that building is air conditioned.

On Monday, scraps of pork were served for lunch. I had not eaten any pork in a couple of years and wanted to go to the chow hall, despite how hot it was in there. Inmates were sweaty and some stank. I was lucky to sit at a table by myself to eat my heaping serving, which went over my entire tray. One of the kitchen workers who works on the line seems to like me and continued to pile the meat on my tray despite how I said that was plenty. As I ate my food, I looked around at the multitude of sweaty, foul, ugly prisoners with their poor manners. They reminded me of pigs.

When I finally returned to the cell house in the afternoon, I was told I had to go to the "B of I" which is short for the Bureau of Identification. The B of I is where inmates get updates to their ID card. It was about a year since I received my last mug shot. I did not want to go back up to Gate 5 where the office was near the visiting holding cages. I wanted to go to my cell, wash up, and then have my fan dry and cool me off. I was not sweating like most of the pigs around me, but I still wanted to get away from them and be more comfortable. There was no refusing an ID, and so I went with a line of other inmates that had also been missed.

I stopped trying to take good mug shots years ago, but I was surprised by how terrible this one came out. I thought I looked like a disheveled psychopathic serial killer. No wonder people thought I committed the Palatine Browns Chicken murders. I showed my photo to a man a few cells down from me, and he said, "Here's Johnny," in reference to Jack Nicholson's character in the movie "The Shining" when he stuck his head out a door he had cut into with an axe. He went on to say I must not have had a good visit earlier.

On Tuesday, my gallery had South Yard, which is a large yard with phones, tables, basketball and handball courts, as well as weights and a quarter mile track. Although we went out in the morning, it was 95 degrees by noon, and a heat index of over 110 F. I did not care. I was going to work out. Very few men lifted weights with me in the stifling heat, heat that reflected off concrete and metal bars that singed soft bare hands. One white man lifted weights with me for an hour before he quit and went under the cool water flowing out of a PCP pipe with holes in it. He has a disgusting arm vein due to improper dialysis implants, but he still tries to keep in shape.

I have been lifting weights on prison yards for 18 years, and I knew how to overcome the brutal conditions outside. I have exercised in sub zero blizzards, lightning storms, and days like Tuesday, where the sun blazed overhead at triple digits. I wore light gym shoes, shorts, two T shirts, and a navy blue baseball hat. Upon coming on the yard, I took my shirts off and put one on so the neck hole went around my forehead and flowed over my shoulders and upper back. I then put my hat back on. This gave me protection from the sun and allowed my sweat to evaporate easily. After the angle and intensity of the sun became more fierce, I put my other T shirt back on and smeared my arms with sunblock. Interestingly, I discovered later that my calves became sunburned. I never thought of putting sunblock there.

I exercised the entire 2 or 2-1/2 hours we were out on the yard, only stopping a couple of times to run my head under cold water. I not only lifted weights, but ran a mile. I was disappointed to clock myself at 5 minutes 50 seconds. Before I was sent to segregation, I was trying to break 5 minutes. I was getting close with runs at about 5:20. Someone I know has daughters on a high school track team, and they can run 5 minute miles. It bothers me immensely that a girl can outdo me. I will try this year to best them, even if temperatures stay over 100 and I must swallow several ibuprofen tablets for my back pain.

In F House, prisoners are only given one yard period, but it is for 5 hours. I usually spend the entire time exercising without breaks. However, on a day like Tuesday, I doubt I would have made it. Possibly, out of determination, I would have tried, but would have succumbed to heat exhaustion. There is no cool running water on the yard prisoners in the Roundhouse go to, although a couple of buckets of ice water are brought out.

In C House, prisoners are given three showers a week. The entire gallery is run, although there are only 8 showers in the shower room. Many people on my gallery work, and take their showers at the end of their shift, however, so it is not so crowded. A benefit of being in C House over the more violent and classified aggressive cell houses is that we are not locked into the shower room and can walk out into a fenced in area to get away from the heat. While I was in B House, I rarely took a shower because I was trapped inside, not only with violent and obnoxious convicts, but tremendous humidity during the summer. There is one exhaust fan, but it is so clogged with dirt, lint, and grime that it does not work.

Wednesday, I hurried into the shower room so I did not have to wait on others to finish. I had just completed my hour long core muscle and cardio workout, and I did not care to stand around outside for the shower room to clear out. Normally, I only wash my shorts a couple of times a week, but have found this is not sufficient in this weather. My shorts were soaked with sweat and stank. Although I was initially thinking that I would wait until after Thursday yard to wash them, I washed them in the shower room the day before.

A black homosexual I noticed has taken a liking to me since moving to C House. He has been sending me sweets and saying hello to me from time to time. Possibly I should have sent his commissary desserts back so he is not encouraged. I do not even like Honeybuns, and other highly sweetened foods with trans fats. However, I have been giving them to a man I know who likes them. I am not intimidated by the faggot who goes by the name Frankie, and joke about how I should continue to take his commissary and ignore him. However, I noticed in the shower how he intentionally took a stall next to mine. If he touches me, I will pummel him, even if I must do so naked in the shower. I thought possibly he may do something foolish due to the heat affecting his rational thoughts, but he was his usual self.

Thursday was the worst day of the week with temperatures topping out over 100F, and a humidity that made it feel 120F. The cell house was miserable, despite staying next to my fan and getting extra ice. Twice a day, ice is passed out to inmates from a large bucket wheeled down the gallery. I never drink the ice melt or put the ice directly in my drink. Workers are not very sanitary and I have heard rumors of men pissing or spitting in the ice. The scoopers they use also are not cleaned and may touch hundreds of prisoners' containers or bags before it is given to you. However, I do put a juice or milk from breakfast on the ice. On Thursday, I put two bottles of water underneath my bag of ice in the sink to bring with me to the gym.

I know from experience how hot the gym becomes in the summer, let alone a day like yesterday. There are close to a hundred men in the gym, many of them playing basketball or using the machine weights, which are in a terrible state of disrepair, but are still used. There are some windows high on one wall of the gym, but these are always kept shut. There is no airflow in the gym, and the heat and perspiration of all the men is trapped inside. Despite this, I went anyway. I have not been to the gym in over a year and was determined to make the best of the broken machine weights.

The gym had sauna-like conditions very quickly. While I used the weights, I sweated profusely. During the two and a half hours we were there, I rung out my T-shirt 5 times, and a shirt I used as a bandanna, 3 times. At times, I wanted to take off my shirt, but did not want to lay on the benches which had the sweat and germs of others on them. After an hour of exercising, I switched out of my shorts to my sweats. The prison has a foolish rule that inmates can wear shorts on the yard or in the gym, but cannot walk in them to those places. In any event, I had to wring out my shorts, which were soaked in sweat. They actually became heavy and at least a pint of water came out of them. My sweatpants also became drenched thereafter, and before I left the gym, I wrang them out as well.

Despite how much I sweat, my body did not become any cooler. I only became hotter and hotter as I worked out. The toughest exercise by far was using the leg press machine. Heat just seemed to emanate from my body in waves with every heart beat, which I could feel course through my body. At times, I felt slightly light-headed, but I did not care if I fell out. I work out intensely or I do not work out at all. Some little Mexican, who seemed a bit loony, said to me that he had never seen anyone work out so hard. I did not respond to him because I did not have the breath to waste talking.

When I returned to my cell, my work was not done and I had to wash all my clothes. I scrubbed out my toilet with disinfectant and soap before clogging it with a rag and adding hot water and laundry detergent. As I washed my clothes, sweat dropped into the water, although I had the fan directly on me. After wringing out my soapy clothes, I flushed the soapy water and began to rinse them. The cold water felt good on my hands and forearms. I cupped some of the water and poured it over my head. People may think this as well as washing and rinsing my clothes in a toilet is gross, but I am beyond such thinking. I have been in maximum-security institutions since I was 18 years old, and you do a lot of things you may not do in the free world. It is about practicality and surviving. I am a survivor.

After rinsing my clothes, I hung them to dry. However, with the enormous humidity, they would be damp all night. It was days like this that I wish I had two fans. My cellmate was gone and it was nice to be rid of him. In his absence, I was able to focus better. Even if he were present at the time, I imagine he would be lying in bed trying not to stir and soil his bed sheet with sweat.

I was feeling better from the heat, until about 5 p.m. when the power went out. No power meant no fan, and also no music through my headphones to block out cell house noise. My cellmate returned at 6 and asked about the power. After telling him everything was out he climbed onto his bed, and as I thought, laid there. Unfortunately though, he wanted to distract my writing by talking about fantasy football. Eventually, emergency power was restored to the outer cell house wall and the lights came on. There were a couple of electrical outlets on the outer wall. The cell house worker I worked out with on Tuesday was nice enough to collect a number of extension cords for us on the lower gallery so we could at least have power for our fans. With a 120 degree heat index and stagnant air in the cell house, this was a blessing. Power was not restored to the cells until 9 p.m.

Today the hot weather was broken by a strong storm that passed through in the morning. By coincidence, the rain began to come down in sheets just as I was walking to the chow hall for lunch. I may have been annoyed to have all my clothes drenched with water, but it was a respite from the heat. For a few hours after the storm, temperatures were comfortable.

As I finish this journal entry, the power has gone out again. I do not know what the cause is, but it seems odd that it occurred at the same time as yesterday. In the Roundhouse, I would not only be without a fan, TV, or radio, but without plumbing as well. The Roundhouse has all the toilets on 10 minute electric timers. Most of the sinks are also controlled by electricity, although I am uncertain why. Hopefully, power will be restored before I go to sleep, so I have a fan to cool myself with during the night. Unlike yesterday, no one has connected extension cords from the outer cell house wall outlet to the ground floor cells in the vicinity.

Power was restored. It is now 8:30 p.m. This heat wave cannot end soon enough for me, although I see in the extended weather forecast it will be here for some time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

General Population -- July 14, 2011

Last week, I was told to pack up my property because I was being moved to general population. I had been in the Roundhouse for almost a year and had become accustomed to living there. Despite the roaches, noise, and turbulent conditions, I did not want to leave. I could be placed in one of the most austere and deplorable conditions, but as long as I was alone or with a cellmate I was on friendly terms with, I could endure. Men in maximum-security prisons in Illinois spend the vast majority of their time in their cells, and a good cellmate was my largest concern. After I packed up my property, I wished Josh farewell, and regretfully left the wretched cell I knew and thought of as home. I dreaded the unknown more than what I had.

The guard had been rushing me to leave, but after finally having my boxes and other property brought downstairs, I was put in a holding cage to wait two hours. In a cage next to mine was a man who had been transferred from Robinson C.C. Robinson is a minimum-security prison, and he claimed not to know why he was here. He said he had less than a year to do. All I could think of was that he had been given a serious disciplinary ticket, or was sent to Stateville to go to court in Cook County. I did not care too much to figure out his deception or bewilderment. I was being moved to a new cell house in a new cell with a new cellmate, and it preoccupied my thoughts.

The man in the cage asked me what it was like to live in the Roundhouse. I told him it was continually loud, disruptive, and miserable. I went on to say that he will most likely be put in a cell in a poor state of repair, with cockroaches, and a hostile, annoying and possibly mentally ill cellmate. He did not like the picture I painted, but he had to realize anywhere at Stateville was going to be an abrupt change for the worse, coming from a minimum-security unit. While he paced his cage in apprehension, I stood staring out the bars contemplating what awaited me.

I had been told I was being sent to C House. C House was known to have the oldest prisoners, and the least amount of violence. The huge rectangular general population building was split in quarters, and are many times referred to as the "quarter units." Two cell houses house inmates who are classified with high to moderate aggression levels. The other two were for medium or low aggression inmates. C House held mostly the former. Despite this, I knew there could be hostilities anywhere, and even a categorized non aggressive inmate could be loud, obnoxious, inconsiderate, and very difficult to live with. Those inmates classified with low aggression also were not incapable of violence. The inmates at Stateville were, in general, people I wished to avoid, let alone share a 6' x 11' cage with for 24 hours a day.

Finally around 3:00, a guard was willing to escort me to C House. An F House worker was told to come with to help push the cart with all my property on it. He did not want to go, and said it was not his job. Movement workers, according to him, were supposed to do these tasks. Angrily, he pushed the cart quickly through the tunnels and down the concrete walk. I held my television so it did not fall off and break. We eventually walked along the side of the enormous concrete general population cell house. They did not call it the big house for nothing. At the C House entrance, I brought my boxes and other property in until I was told what cell I was assigned. The guard in F House mentioned the cell number, but I was too busy packing to pay attention. I was assigned cell 242, which was close to the door on the first floor.

Upon entering the cell house, I was greeted by a man who I knew and who had formerly worked in the law library. It was nice to see a familiar face, however, later I learned he was the only person on the gallery with whom I have ever had a conversation. He asked me what cell I was moving into, and I told him. He responded that I was two cells down from him, just like I was when in general population before. I asked him about my cellmate who was asleep on the top bunk. I could only see the top of his bald black head. He told me I was fortunate and had "Doc" for a cellmate. Doc was a tall, old white man who was very easy to get along with, he began to say. He stopped while he was talking when he looked into the cell. He said "Where is Doc?" I told him I do not know. I just moved here.

The guard opened up the door to my cell, and the man on the top bunk rolled over. Doc, I learned later, had been moved to another cell on the gallery because he was classified an extreme escape risk, despite being a 70-year-old man on dialysis. My new cellmate told me he went by the name "Cork," and added it was spelled with a "c." Apparently, he did not want me to mistake it with the meat. I did not care to ask him the distinction or why he went by that name. Men had many strange names in prison.

Cork was a black man about 40 years old, I estimated. He claimed to have just been moved to this cell a month ago from the 4th floor of F House, where I had just been. I did not recognize him, but I do not pay attention to many people. While I began to put some of my property away, Cork told me he transferred from Menard C.C. after having spent about 10 years there. This was his first time at Stateville, although he seemed to know a lot of people here.

The first day I was in the cell with him, he must have spoken with over 20 people. I discovered quickly that our cell was positioned in the midst of most of the movement in the cell house and noise. The cell house door was 30 feet away, and was where everyone entered and exited the building. Directly across from the cell is the cell house holding cage is where everyone waiting to go on passes or returning from them are kept until a guard is available to escort them or lock them in their cells. Between the holding cage and the door is a cage where guards sit. The cages press traffic towards my cell and there are numerous people continually walking by. C House is the quietest and laid back cell house in general population, but because of where my cell is located, I am in the most distracting and noisy area. To say the least, I am not happy.

The cell I moved in was different from those in F House I had been accustomed to. The floor area is greater, but the ceiling is lower. The bunk beds are towards the back instead of the front, and while this is safer so that people are not as able to strike or stab you from the bars while you sleep, it is an uncomfortable distance from the toilet and sink. A steel table with an attached metal stool are in front between the bars and double bunk bed. I am at the table writing this journal entry. It is difficult writing here because I am continually distracted, despite having my headphones on attempting to not think about all the movement and noise around me. There is also a counter running lengthwise on the wall opposite the bunks. Bars, instead of glass rectangular windows or perforated metal and Plexiglas, make the front perimeter of the cell. Although C House is not as loud as F House, having open bars makes it seem so, much to my aggravation.

I was not able to quickly move into my new cell because I had to figure out where and how to place my property. My large box was not able to fit under the bunk horizontally due to my cellmate's box being there, along with two triangular wedges connected to the lower bunk and vertical beam. In most other cell houses, prisoners have removed them to make shanks, or maintenance has taken them out to prevent their use as weapons. I reordered my box and took off the sliding lid so I could place it lengthwise underneath the bunk and not be greatly inconvenienced. Reordering my box took a long time, and I still do not like how things are placed inside it.

My cellmate has his radio and fan on the counter top, and has half the lower shelf filled with various things. He also has a huge bag of clothes behind his box almost certainly because he does not have room to fit them inside. I despise the clutter, and wish he did not have so many things outside his box. I often feel claustrophobic in these cells, and it bothers me immensely to see things out of order. I have never seen the TV show "Monk," but people say I am similar to the lead character. In F House, I had heard guards were regularly doing cell compliance checks to make sure all of your property fit inside your box. Apparently that is not so, or the checks are no longer done. Also, guards do not care much if you leave your cell with property outside.

When I moved into the cell, an extension cord went over the toilet to the counter where my cellmate's fan and radio were. I could not live with a wire over the commode and blocking the sink. Thus, I used one of my extension cords to connect to it so it could be pushed underneath the sink and along the wall. Cork told me that when we wash up the cord could get wet. Apparently, having it crossing the corner of the cell was better. I told him I will eventually secure it above the sink and along the wall.

In my F house cell, I had made numerous things to make my life easier and more comfortable. This cell lacked those accommodations. I spent most of the evening of arrival recreating them. I wedged my TV between a horizontal bunk beam and the overhang of the top bunk. I also tied my TV to the bunk just as a precautionary measure in case it came loose. I tied my Walkman to a bunk post, wrapped my watch around another beam, made a hook to hang my cap on, and made myself a new remote control stick to press the buttons on my TV. I also cleaned the floors, walls, table, counter top, and the mattress. The mattress in this cell was like my previous one, wrapped in vinyl, and I simply wiped it off with the same soapy rag I used to clean everything else. When finished, I was very tired and irritable. I put my headphones on and watched a movie on the prison's DVD system before falling asleep.

The following day, I worked on the cell a little more, and wrote some letters. The noise and movement outside my cell was very distracting. To bother me even more, my new cellmate began playing a hip-hop cassette tape on his radio. This is why the administration is no longer selling radios or televisions with speakers. Men in prison have no consideration for others who must listen to their music. I told my cellmate I did not appreciate his music, and he replied that is to be expected. I asked him if he would use his headphones, whereupon he told me the headphone jack did not work. He continued to play his music until I could not bear it any longer. I told him if he continued to blare his radio, I was going to put it over his head. He said some words of hostility towards me and then turned his radio down. I cannot stay in this cell, I thought, and with my letters to my attorney, parents, and a friend, I wrote a pleading letter to the placement officer to move me.

On my second day in general population, the prison went on lockdown. There was a fight in the inner chow hall where men are served their food. During the guards' attempts to break it up, two warning shots were fired. A female kitchen supervisor was hit in the leg with some deflected buckshot, but was not seriously wounded. A kitchen worker lives next door to me, and I overheard him talking about the incident when all of the workers of the prison were brought in for lockdown.

Initially, I was not happy to learn the prison was going to be placed on lockdown. I did not want to spend any more time with my cellmate than I had to. However, as the days passed, I discovered it was much better on lockdown than off. There was no longer the constant traffic and shouting outside my cell. Furthermore, there was no one standing inside the holding cage or cell house workers loitering nearby. While on lockdown, I did not have the aggravation of going to the chow hall for lunch and dinner. Although most inmates like getting out of their cells and being able to socialize, I hate it. I much prefer the "room service" of the Roundhouse and was pleased to see guards bringing the food to us, although it was especially meager and distasteful. My cellmate and I did not have any more hostilities, and I was glad he stopped yelling and talking to numerous people. I was happier still that he stopped playing his music, which on top of everything else, was maddening. I would rather hear nails on a chalkboard all day.

This Tuesday, the prison was taken off lockdown and operations were run as normal. That meant once again that I had all of the cell house movement, noise, and distractions. Yard in C House was in the morning, and I stayed in to work out. The yard the men on my gallery were going to is a small concrete yard that is basically two basketball courts surrounded by fencing and razor wire. While I exercised, I had men watching me from the holding cage. It was very annoying not to have any privacy. Later, when I washed up in my sink, I wish I was able to put up a curtain that would block their entire view. However, my sheet only went up to about my chest. I will eventually make a higher hanging hook. I thought there was no privacy in F House with most of the men around the building able to look in, but this was just as bad.

Commissary was passed out on Tuesday, and I was glad to receive everything I had ordered. I had not had my entire commissary order filled in months. One benefit of being in C House was that many commissary workers lived here. In fact, there are more people here with assignments than probably any other cell house. Having workers in the commissary made it more likely you would shop timely and get all of your store. Furthermore, this quarter unit shops before anyone else, so the prison commissary is usually well stocked. F House was the last cell house to get their orders, and often the inmates there only received half their store, or had many substitutions. It was nice to have a box full of food again. Stateville is feeding us more poor quality foods. Plus, now I did not have to go out to eat if I did not want to.

Yesterday was a very busy day in general population. I went on a visit to the Health Care Unit, to the chow hall, and afterwards to the evening yard. About 10 a.m. I was informed I had a visitor. Usually a guard says your name and cell number over the loudspeaker, but because I am only feet away, he just told me from his desk. While the visiting room was not terrible at first, it quickly filled up and was loud and aggravating. A number of times I had to lean forward to hear my visitor speak. Directly after my visit, I went to the Health Care Unit and waited for hours in a cramped and noisy holding cage. A man who had shot his wife, and the man in bed with her, spoke to me almost nonstop about his post conviction appeal and his case in general. He told me I should request to be moved to his cell house, and take his cellmate's place.

Eventually, I was able to speak with the prison's medical director and was glad to get away from the holding cage, as well as the man talking to me. The medical director is new to Stateville, and this was obvious. He did not know how to do things, and asked a nurse and even myself at times. He did know, however, he could not continue my NSAID prescription because it was not covered by the prisoners' health insurance. Instead, he prescribed me 800 mg. ibuprofen. He also knew he could not prescribe me the other pain medication recommended by the specialists at the U of I Hospital in Chicago. At least I was able to convince him to take me off the medical hold so I could transfer to another prison, hopefully some medium security prison.

After seeing the medical director, I saw my prison psychologist. She was concerned how I was adjusting to my new living quarters. I told her I was doing very poorly and wished I was back in my former cell. All of the new people, places, and environment in general, had been a difficult and disturbing transition. She seemed to believe just being out of the Roundhouse would be an improvement. I told her that little in my life was improved. I had ever more distractions and noise due to where my cell was located. Worse, I had a cellmate I did not get along with. She called the placement officer to see if I could be moved elsewhere, but as I suspected, the person in charge of all cell and job assignments did not care. I would have to deal with it. I have been dealing with it for over 18 years, and wish someday I did not have to anymore.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Casey Anthony: Not Guilty -- July 5, 2011

Like many people, I have been paying attention to the Casey Anthony murder trial. I have seen and read snippets about the case since her daughter was purported to be missing 3 years ago. As the trial commenced, I began to pay more attention to the news coverage. After the Roundhouse went on lockdown on the night of June 30th, I began to watch all of the court proceedings as well as much of the commentary live. My interest in the case was due to my own experiences with the criminal justice system. I wanted to see if her trial was like mine, and if justice prevailed.

When I was arrested in connection to the Palatine Browns Chicken murders, I thought I was the focus of enormous negative media publicity, but it did not compare to that of Casey Anthony. I do not believe any murder case in the history of the U.S. received as much overwhelming and comprehensive coverage. Even serial killers that continue to live in infamy decades later, such as John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, or Jeffrey Dahmer, did not receive the pervasive mass media spotlight as the Casey Anthony trial. I tend to believe the case even surpassed the trial of O.J. Simpson, who was a professional athlete and actor accused of a double homicide. New technology such as social media, live in-court video coverage, and various new television stations that almost continually engage in hyped sensationalistic tabloid journalism have made what years ago would have been a minor locally-read story into one that riveted the attention of most of America.

Fortunately for Casey Anthony, a jury was brought in from outside Orange County Florida. This was the least that could be done in an attempt to find jurors who were not so completely bombarded with biased news media coverage. Also, a jury from outside the area would not be so personally connected to the community, and could be more objective. My trial attorneys argued strongly with the judge for a change of venue outside of the Chicago metropolitan area, but the motion was denied. Jurors from the area were chosen to be on my jury. Some of them, I cannot but believe, were negatively influenced by the heavily prejudicial media onslaught in the area linking me to the Palatine Massacre.

Three years ago when I first heard about Casey Anthony, I did not think too highly of her. As her own defense lawyer would admit, she was a slut and a liar. In high school, she had numerous sexual partners, and to this day, it is uncertain who is the father of her child. I give her credit for not giving her baby up for adoption, or far worse, having an abortion. However, this may be due to the heavy persuasion of her parents, Cindy and George Anthony. They are the ones who helped care for and raise Caley and gave her mother support while she went out regularly partying, even just after her daughter's death. Casey seemed to have no values, and live a carefree and unscrupulous life. The lies she told nearly everyone made me think she was a fake, superficial person, possibly living in a fantasy world.

Weeks ago, when the murder trial just began, someone I spoke to on the telephone told me she believed Casey Anthony was innocent. I responded that simply seeing photos of her acting like a whore, grinding on the dance floor with women and various men, made me want to send her to the gallows. However, I said this as an indictment of her values, or lack thereof, and not of her guilt or innocence. I had only just begun to get into the case and study the evidence. Despite her lies and actions after her daughter's death, I had not made up my mind. Considering I was wrongfully convicted of murder, I did not come to conclusions of another person's guilt without full knowledge of the facts, and great contemplation.

I asked my cellmate, Josh, what he thought of the Casey Anthony murder case. He began to rant loudly that she was guilty and should burn. I was surprised by not only how convinced he was that she killed her daughter, but by how passionate he was about it. I had just casually asked him his opinion, but he went on and on about the matter. After almost a half hour, he began talking to me about his twin daughters, and if the mother of his children would have done what Casey did, he would have killed her himself. When I commented about the dubious direct evidence, he almost yelled at me that I do not have any children and have no perspective. Contrarily, I thought I had a better perspective. I was objective and not swayed by emotion.

Most people seem to believe there is no way a mother could not report the death of her child without being complicit in their murder. Casey Anthony went on for a month lying about the whereabouts of her daughter. She told her mother, and then later the police, various stories including how a nanny had taken the child. These stories were all learned to be lies, and the authorities arrested her even before the body was found. After Caley's dead body was discovered in some woods not far away from the Anthony home, the case seemed like a slam dunk for prosecutors, although the coroner could not determine the cause of death.

The lies of Casey Anthony reminded me of those of my co-defendant, Robert Faraci. He and his wife told the police various different accounts about the Palatine Brown's Chicken murders, the Fawcett murder, and some other crimes. There was no Zanny the nanny in their stories, but I and others, were implicated. While Caley was found dead in the woods close to the Anthony home, Fawcett's corpse was discovered within a mile of where my co-defendant once lived with his parents in Barrington, Illinois. Furthermore, like in the Casey Anthony case, the coroner could not determine the cause of death. It was not until months later, after my co-defendant was arrested and questioned, that the police learned the victim was shot. My co-defendant was acquitted, and there was much more evidence against him.

While watching the live coverage of the Casey Anthony murder trial, I paid attention to the way she carried herself and how she dressed. Gone were the short skirts and other revealing party clothes. As I suspected, she dressed conservatively and usually with a colorful, though not flashy, dress shirt. Her long dark brown hair did not flow freely, but was pulled back into a bun to expose her dumbo-like ears. She was extremely emotional throughout most of the proceedings that I watched. Casey also responded in movements, gestures, or simply silently mouthing comments about testimony or arguments of the prosecutor.

Casey Anthony's appearance and demeanor were a great contrast to myself. I sat there throughout the vast majority of my trial stoic, and expressed no emotion. I also wore a cold grey suit the entire time, with only a change of tie every now and then. My attorney bought me a colorful weird-looking tie which I was hesitant to wear, however, now I know why he did this. I should have taken notice of my co-defendant's dress and posture, despite him being warned by the judge to restrain his body language. My co-defendant wore casual, but nice, sweaters that made him look more personable, friendly, and youthful. He continually reacted to testimony, and in court proceedings. Again, I was a stark contrast with my slicked back hair, stiff suit, and emotionless demeanor. I was too exhausted to play the O.J. Simpson role, even if I could ever be an actor. Recently, some wise-guy asked me when I was going to do away with the serial killer face. I said to him what other face would I then wear?

I paid close attention to Casey Anthony's lead trial attorney, Jose Baez. In the media, he was criticized for making claims in opening statements that could never be proven. Many trial critics said he was making a colossal blunder putting forth a case instead of just poking holes in the prosecution's case. I said to my cellmate, "At least he is passionately defending his client." My cellmate responded, "He's an incompetent jackass, and just because he vigorously defended Casey Anthony did not mean he was not an idiot with no experience." He predicted steadfastly that Casey was going to be convicted.

I did not continue the conversation, but thought if I had Jose Baez instead of William Von Hoene, I would not have spent all these years in prison. Both attorneys had very limited experience, but I knew Baez would have thoroughly eviscerated the lying cop who claimed I confessed to lending my car to my co-defendant. I also knew he would have put on all the witnesses who could contradict and discredit the interrogating officer. There would have been no passive defense telling my jury that the state's main witness was telling the truth. Baez would have charged forward on the offense, and not sat back smugly at trial and been cozy with the prosecutor. My attorney had drinks with the prosecutor, and went golfing with the judge.

Casey Anthony did not take the stand in her own defense, and many people thought taking it would be the only way she could prove to the jury that she was innocent. However, this was not necessary. Not only was the state's case weak and circumstantial, but her lawyer spoke to the jury on her behalf. There was little to be gained by putting her on the stand to be attacked by the prosecutor on cross examination. Because she seemed to be a pathological liar, furthermore, whatever she would say the jury would have been skeptical of anyway.

Contrary to Casey Anthony, I was credible and had to take the stand. My attorney never advanced a proactive defense. William Von Hoene never put on any defense at all. Instead, he argued to the jury that the state's case did not make me accountable for the actions of my co-defendant. Furthermore, instead of speaking to the jury on my behalf, he actually told them I knew of my co-defendant's intention to kill the victim, and that I lent him my car anyway! This was the exact opposite of what I wanted to tell the jury, and certainly was not true. While my attorney cross examined the cop who created my supposed confession, he would return to the defense table to look at his notes briefly. I said to him, "What the @#$% are you doing?! Get back up there and cut him down!" I was told to be quiet, and then later, in a legal visiting room, he threatened to withdraw from my case if I insisted on testifying.

At my trial, my defense team only had one witness. They called a handwriting expert to tell the jury that all of the bad checks were written and signed by the victim, and a few by Robert Faraci and his wife, Rose. The state's attorney had argued that Fawcett was killed to prevent him from ever telling authorities about the check writing scheme. This was an absurd hypothesis. Why would the victim tell police about his own check scam? It was Fawcett who opened up the checking account and deposited phony checks into the account to make the bank believe he had plenty of money. I was outraged, however, that my counsel did not put on the witnesses who were waiting outside the courtroom to testify that my car and I were 50 miles away from the crime scene on the day and time Fawcett was killed. Also, the numerous witnesses that were available to contest the interrogating officer's credibility in general were never called to testify.

In the Casey Anthony trial, her defense team put on witness after witness to rebut the state's forensic experts, which was the strongest part of the prosecution's case. The motive presented by the prosecution was elusive, in my opinion. The prosecutor theorized that Casey killed her 2-year-old to live "the beautiful life." Casey, according to the state, felt burdened to be taking care of her baby and wanted to go out and have fun. From what I saw, she was able to do this anyway, with or without her daughter. Her parents seemed more than willing to babysit, if not even adopt the child. The state offered a secondary motive that Caley was getting older and soon would be able to talk and tell her grandparents what a poor or abusive mother Casey was. During the trial, I saw nothing that demonstrated Casey was abusive. In fact, photos and testimony that were presented showed just the opposite.

On Sunday, I watched closing arguments. Jeff Ashton began for the prosecution and after him, the defense lawyer, Jose Baez, spoke to the jury. His arguments were very meticulous and went on for about 6 hours. He used up so much time that Linda Drane Burdick was not able to re-argue for the state until the next day. I was very curious to see how the prosecutor acted. Did he lie about the law or the evidence? Did he use theatrics and emotional appeals? Did he make unlawful comments about the defendant not taking the stand? Did he use anything and everything he could to gain a conviction in this high profile case, as my prosecutor did? No, I did not notice the same misconduct as occurred in my trial. Jeff Ashton relied mostly on trying to reason with the jury. He probably did not think he had to use the unscrupulous tactics used by my prosecutor. Ashton was smug, if not arrogant, with his case. I noticed how he laughed and made gestures during the defense lawyer's passionate arguments. He thought the defense arguments were ludicrous. He was greatly mistaken.

The prosecution is able to make arguments twice--once before the defense, and then once after. This gives them a clear advantage. I thought Jose Baez may have made a mistake taking so long that Linda Drane Burdick could not address the jury immediately after him but would have the spotlight to herself the following day. Having the last word is rather important because it is usually what sticks in the minds of the jurors when they go into deliberations. Burdick ended her argument asking the jury who had to gain by Caley's death, and she posted two photos of Casey Anthony on the wall. One was of her dancing provocatively with another woman. The other was a photo of the tattoo she got not long after her daughter was dead. It read Bella Vita, which means the beautiful life in Italian.

Another great advantage of being able to argue to the jury last is that the defense cannot respond. Television commentators and former prosecutors spoke about how the final argument is tactically employed, and I was fully aware of how underhanded it can be. My prosecutor lied about, and manipulated, the evidence presented and the law of accountability. All my attorney could do was raise objections. The judge told the jury initially that the prosecutor's arguments were not evidence, and they should rely on their own recollections of testimony. Finally, the judge stopped proceedings while my attorney argued for a mistrial , or at least to give curative instructions to the jury about the law of accountability. The judge denied my attorney's request, and on appeal, the appellate court agreed that the prosecutor had lied, but they were unwilling to give me a new trial despite the egregious misconduct.

After closing arguments, the jury went into deliberations. I was watching Headline News: HLN and they had continued coverage. They also had a deliberation clock to add to the suspense. It ticked off not only hours, but minutes and every second. The commentators on HLN mentioned how the jury was dressed better today and this they speculated meant the jury would come back with a quick verdict. Twelve plastic chairs were shown empty where the media sought to grill them as soon as they were done. Almost everyone on the TV program thought a quick verdict meant guilty. The consensus was Casey Anthony would soon be facing the death penalty.

My cellmate and I guessed on how long the jury would be out. He said he was found guilty in 3 hours, and he thought the case against Casey was even more compelling. Unless the jury wants to make it look like they contemplated the case, they would find her guilty that day. I know the belief that the longer a jury is out, the greater the possibility of an acquittal or a hung jury. However, in my dual jury trial, my co-defendant was acquitted in a few hours, and I was convicted after 3 days. I guessed that would be her fate as well.

Yesterday was Independence Day, and in the evening I sat at the steel stool in the back of my cell looking out my window at the fireworks displays. I contemplated about how this country was once a great nation that citizens could be proud of, and when "the land of the free and home of the brave" were not just empty words in the national anthem. I thought about the Declaration of Independence that was signed on that day in 1776. It was a document that condemned the oppression and tyranny of Britain and how America was breaking away in the name of freedom, liberty, and the inalienable rights of man. How did this fit with the Big Brother police state that exists today? How did this fit with the prison industrial complex where about 3 million people languish in captivity, and millions more are on parole, probation, court supervision, work release, or have other liberties restricted? How did this fit with the country's overreaching and broken justice system where many people who should not have been prosecuted or convicted have been?

Casey Anthony was not a person I liked. She was a party whore, a superficial, shallow person, and possibly a pathological liar. However, despite this, I did not think the state proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor presented testimony that the word "chloroform" was searched numerous times on the family's personal computer. A smell of death apparently emanated from the trunk of her car. The body of Caley was found near the home in an area used previously by the Anthony family to discard dead animals. Duct tape and garbage bags apparently from the Anthony home were used to wrap and dump the body. Most of all, the prosecution relied on a mother who suspiciously hid the death of her child. However, the prosecution in its entire case did not answer the crucial questions of "where, when, why", or most importantly, "how." I tended to believe Caley died an accidental death, and Casey wanted to hide her negligence or the death from her mother. However, I do not know. Possibly she did kill Caley intentionally, but there was no evidence that made this case "beyond a reasonable doubt." On Independence Day, I hoped that Casey Anthony would be set free.

Today, I did not turn on my TV until the afternoon to catch the latest news on the murder case. Unlike my cellmate and some media commentators, I did not believe there would be a quick verdict. However, it was not long when it was announced that a decision had been made, and it would be revealed at 2:15. Most everyone seemed to have their belief reinforced that she should be found guilty. Even I thought this was a bad sign, and was sad for Casey. I knew all too well what it was like to wait on a verdict that had the possibility of a death sentence. It was miserable going to court every day waiting alone while my fate rested in the jury's hands. I also knew how it felt to be told there was a decision, and to be sitting behind the defense table for what seemed an eternity for the verdict to be read. I watched Casey intently while she went through that which I did many years ago, but still vividly remember.

The media commentators talked about how all defendants, even the most powerful people, had enormous anxiety and their hearts pounded in apprehension of a verdict. Casey looked depressed, but also very nervous. She bit her nails furiously. I wondered if she thought she was doomed, as I did, when waiting for my verdict to be read. Because my attorney had not put on any defense and I was the focus of an enormous prejudicial and emotionally inflammatory high profile case, I was probably not on edge as most people, but there was always a sliver of hope that I would be acquitted. As the verdicts of "not guilty" began to be read off, I noticed a burden of weight being lifted off Casey. It seemed not to register with her immediately, but finally she was jubilant, smiling as well as crying, and then hugging her defense team. I was happy for her. She would not have to go through the tortuous existence I have endured for many years. The justice system failed me, but it did not fail Casey.

I expected the judge to dramatically tell Casey Anthony that she was free to go. However, the judge set a sentencing date for the four counts of lying to police. I was not aware that lying to the police was even a crime until earlier during the trial when I heard the list of charges against her. Certainly, lying to the cops I thought must be a low category misdemeaner, punishable at most with probation. However, I learned that Florida law permitted judges to give one year in prison, and every count could run consecutively. This judge apparently was going to max her out. However, she had already been in the county jail for over 3 years, and this must be included in her sentence.

After the developments in the courtroom and the media commentators expressed shock with the verdict, defense attorney Cheney Mason spoke to the television news. He told the reporters that he hoped they learned their lesson. For three years the media had been assassinating his client on TV, and now she had been vindicted. He criticized the "massive media bias, prejudice, and incompetent talking heads." He made a subtle inference of suing the media for slander and defamation of character. I thought it would be nice if the media would learn a lesson and be more fairly balanced and substantiate the information more carefully before reporting it. In some other countries, the media is not allowed to give their opinions and commentary on criminal cases. In the arrest of Strauss-Kahn for rape, the French were surprised by the U.S. practice of perp-walks and how the media showed him in handcuffs. None of this is allowed in their country. Despite the scolding by the defense lawyer and how many media pundits were wrong and intentionally biased, I doubt this will ever stop the sensationalistic prejudicial tabloid journalism in America.

There was a large tent outside the courthouse that was prepared for the prosecutor and police to give their victory speeches. It was empty for a long time until Lawson Lamar from the state's attorney's office spoke. He said the case was never about Casey, but about seeking justice, and he respects the verdict of the jury. He also went on to say pretrial publicity had caused them to get a jury from another county, and that a lot of taxpayers expense was the medias' fault. I thought what he said was very proper and exactly what the attitude of the state's attorney's office should be. However, I also knew it was all spin and lies.

I know very well that prosecutor Jeff Ashton took his job personally, despite what he may say later. I believe he hated Casey Anthony, just like my prosecutor James McKay hated me. That tent was not there for the state's attorney's office to give a speech on ethics or justice, but for Ashton to gloat after he achieved victory. I also knew the prosecutor probably vehemently argued against a change of venue, and worked hand in glove with the media. Before my trial, the police and prosecutor's office leaked prejudicial information to the press. They continued to tell the media, off the record, that I committed the Palatine Brown's Chicken murders and much, much more. The prosecutor in the Casey Anthony murder trial was an ass, and although he was not nearly as bad as James McKay, I was glad to see that cocky and smug look on his face disappear when the verdict was read. I was not fooled by the speech of the state's attorney's spokesman.

The jury chairs set up by the media were never filled. Not one of the 12 who decided Casey Anthony's fate wanted to talk about their deliberations, the evidence, or their opinions. However, Russel Huckler, an alternative juror who sat through all the trial, did later speak to the media. He said the state did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and he would have also acquitted Casey Anthony of murder. He tended to believe Caley died in a horrible accident, and he saw no motive for her mother to kill her. The person interviewing him grilled him with questions. However, Russel Huckler seemed to be an intelligent man who deeply contemplated the evidence. He was able to articulate his thoughts well, and I agreed with the vast preponderance of them. Despite how many in the media and public could not fathom a not guilty verdict, this was the appropriate decision. If Huckler is representative of the rest of the jurors, I am impressed. They strictly followed the law, and were not swayed by emotions or the media.

As I write this journal entry, I am listening to Nancy Grace on HLN talk about "Tot Mom." How I would like to punch her in her plastic, makeup-caked face. She is one of the most annoying talking heads Cheney Mason spoke about. This woman is never objective or fair in reporting the facts. Contrarily, she is always opinionated, slanted against the defendants. There is not one time I have seen her side with a person accused of a crime. She was once a prosecutor, and she still continues to be one. However, now she is not restrained by the law, and can spew forth whatever innuendo, rumor, slander, or unsupported sensationalism she wants. She is criminal tabloid journalism at its worst.

Since the not guilty verdict, many people have been voicing their opinions. It seems most believe Casey Anthony got away with murder. I wonder if they based their opinions on the actual evidence presented at trial, or on people such as Nancy Grace. I also wonder if their opinion was great enough to pass the standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt". Many times, I may have suspicions, or even think someone is guilty, but that does not mean I would find them guilty in a court of law. There is a much higher standard of proof when a person's life or liberty is to be taken away. Many people may not understand what it is truly like to live in prison and to have their freedoms stripped from them. I know what torments awaited Casey Anthony if she was convicted, and I was not so quick to judge her. There is a reason why they say it is better for 10 guilty men to go free than one innocent person to be convicted. Unfortunately, the mood of the country seems to be contrary. Possibly, when they or a loved one is innocent and behind bars, they may have a different perspective.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lockdown Mystery -- July 2, 2011

On Thursday, the Roundhouse was put on lock down. Prisoners were locked in their cells, and the telephones were taken away. A few hours later, inmate workers were let back out, as were the phones. Two gallery court writs were even let out for evening yard. Everyone thought the cell house was back to normal operations until the court writs were brought back early and all inmates were locked back in their cells. There was no fight on the yard nor any occurrence that was noticed by me or my cellmate. Since Thursday, the Roundhouse has remained on lock down, and I can only speculate from rumors as to why.

Early this week I went on a visit, and when I returned I was informed that Internal Affairs had been in the building. I.A. were in the cell house questioning a number of people in segregation on 1 gallery. Instead of questioning them outside the cell house, as is normal, they were talked to from their cells behind a door. I was told the only exception to this was a sissy. The homosexual that acted and almost looks like a woman was gone for a few hours before he returned. While I.A. was in the building, one person was taken to Seg, and he happened to be a cell house worker.

I overheard a prison rumor that seemed to answer the events of Monday afternoon. According to the rumor, the cell house worker threatened another worker who always is at the sissy's cell door. This man, who I think is a creep and homosexual, spends hours talking to the sissy. I often remark to my cellmate that he is like superglued to the sissy's door. I could understand if the gallery worker who went to Seg said something to him, and this caused an exchange of words ultimately ending with a threat of violence. I could also imagine the sissy telling Internal Affairs about the incident to possibly protect his "boyfriend."

I took the rumor as most likely the truth, and did not bother asking anyone else about the matter. I have a lot more things to do with my time than confirm prison gossip. I keep very busy in the cell exercising, writing letters, reading, and on occasion, watching a movie or TV program. I was not too concerned about the events on Monday. It did not cause a lockdown or any change in my routine. I could still go to yet another visit on Wednesday, and Thursday I went to the yard in the morning.

Thursday was a hot and humid day to be out under the sun working out for 5 hours. I brought with me 2 bottles of water, but even this was insufficient. Toward the end of the yard period, I had developed an enormous thirst and drank the last drops out of my bottles. A couple of barrels of ice water is brought out to the yard on hot days, but I have never drunk from them. I know convicts are not considerate, and they will dip their hands or jugs into the coolers. They will also touch their containers to the nozzle contaminating the nozzles. Despite this, because I thought I was going to faint, I went to one of the barrels to get some water. There was nothing it it but some ice on the bottom. I dumped some of the remaining ice into my T-shirt and set it on my head. Seeing me sitting against the fence rubbing ice over my head and the back of my neck, the tattooed man came to talk to me.

Tattoo jokingly asked if I needed a medtech. I said no, and he asked, "Want a drink of water?" I was tempted to take a drink from his bottle, but then, looking at the carnival freak, thought better of it. While he was there, I began to talk about all his tattoos, and he mentioned that the cell house worker had just recently been put in Seg for suspicion of getting a tattoo. Earlier when I was lifting weights, I overheard men talking about this as well. I told him I had thought he threatened the sissy's boyfriend. He said, "No. That was an entirely different matter." He began to explain.

From what he told me, a black man coming back from a pass told a guard that he was in #113, the cell the sissy was in. The guard did not know any different, and had the tower guard open up the cell door. The prisoner then went on to rape the sissy until later that day when a guard realized they had made a mistake. The sissy was supposed to be in a one-man cell, and the man who raped him was assigned a cell several doors down. The Monday after, while I was on a visit, the sissy was sent to the Health Care Unit and then later questioned. The men who lived in the cells around #113 were also questioned as to what they may have seen or heard.

My cellmate did not go out to yard, but later when the cell house was placed on lockdown, I told him what I had heard. Possibly, the lockdown had something to do with the incident, but it was odd the cell house continued normal operations for four days. When the Roundhouse was let off lockdown during the evening for a few hours, my cellmate brought to my attention that magazines were being passed between the sissy and the person who allegedly raped him.

Prison rape was once common in the Illinois prison system. However, I have noticed that most of the time, sex has been consensual. There are so many homosexuals in prison now and they are more than willing to engage in perversion. Recently, there was a gay pride parade in Chicago that drew thousands of people, including the new mayor. New York state just joined several others in allowing gay marriage. Queers are coming out of the woodwork en mass and the news media almost seems to be not only condoning, but encouraging it. Although most men in maximum-security will hide their homosexuality, it is becoming more accepted. If it were not for increased security, monitoring, and less free movement, homosexuals would be expressing more than just their gay pride.

On the yard Thursday, I noticed a new sissy, and he had his following. He is a mixed race man and had white and black suitors about him at the far corner. They were only talking and whispering in each others' ears, but I am sure they would have liked to do more. I had to pass the group every time I ran a lap around the yard, and if I was not so thirsty and pushing myself to the limit, I would have been disgusted.

One of the black men in the entourage around the sissy is a man I particularly do not like. On a yard months ago, he tried making conversation with me. During the course of our talk, but what was mostly a monologue on his part, I mentioned that I was 18 when I first came to prison. I had misspoke, for I was 20 by the time I was convicted. In any event, after I mentioned that I was a teenager in the penitentiary, he said, "I sure wish I had known you then," with connotations that I did not appreciate. I replied, "I highly doubt you would have." He probably was thinking I was a scared, gullible, young man that might have been open to his sexual advances. He could not be more mistaken.

This black man continues to go to and from protective custody preying on vulnerables and sissies. On an evening yard a month ago, he was on the small protective custody yard next to X House and not far away from the yard that F House prisoners, including myself, were on. My cellmate overheard him yelling to another black man, and talking about me. The man he was talking to goes by the name Horse, and is mildly insane, and I also suspect a homosexual. Later, Horse came to the area where I was lifting weights. He tried talking to me, but I ignored him. He began to talk to himself, which is not uncommon here. When my cellmate came by, I told him jokingly that I needed protection from the bug. Although I was kidding, I kept my eye on the weirdo.

I noticed the white sissy, who was allegedly raped, had been keeping his cell dark the days before he had some company. I reasoned he was doing this so the prisoner who goes by the name L.P. could trick a guard to let him in the cell and they would have some privacy. Cells that have a perforated front and plexiglass instead of rectangular windows like my cell, are difficult to see into. When the cell is dark, it is almost impossible to see in, unless you have a flash light. My take on what occurred is there was no rape, but possibly, the sissy said this to avoid getting into trouble.

Because the cell house did not go immediately on lockdown after the two homosexuals were found in the cell together, my cellmate and I thought of more recent incidents. The only thing we remembered was that on Thursday night, two men who were cellmates were brought downstairs to Segregation. First, a man who went by the name Manchild was removed from his cell. Manchild is named so because that fits his persona. He has the mind of a child, but has a thugish adult body. He is commonly in fights, however, we did not witness any. Possibly, he was fighting with his cellmate, but neither one appeared to be injured in any way.

Recently, I spoke with the man who manages the use of the telephone. I asked him if he was aware why we did not have access to the phone. The guards are saying we are not on lockdown, but "restricted movement." If F House simply has restricted movement, why can't we talk to our family and friends? There is more to this situation in F House than two homosexuals being together and a man possibly getting a tattoo. Restricted movement is a euphemism for a full lockdown. There is no movement in the Roundhouse but for visitation. Guards continue to do all the work without assistance from prisoners, and there is no access to the telephone.

A few weeks earlier, a different cell house worker was sent to Seg. According to word-of-mouth, he was given a disciplinary ticket for making telephone calls for other prisoners. Every prisoner has an access code they must enter before making a call. This is so Internal Affairs is able to better identify callers and also so prisoners can be punished with phone restrictions. Apparently, prisoners are not supposed to make calls for others, although I have never heard of someone being put in Seg for it. I doubt the denial of F House phone privileges is because of this cell house worker going to Seg. It probably has to do with the administration trying to keep a tight lid on whatever they are investigating. There is an unusual amount of silence about why the building is on lockdown.

Usually inmates are able to determine why they are on lockdown, especially if whatever the cause is, is in their own cell house. Information travels quickly amongst prisoners, and even guards will talk about the matter. However, no inmate or guard apparently knows what is going on. I asked one guard today who was passing out trays if he knew. He said he had not the slightest idea. He went on to add that he wished the lockdown or "restricted movement" would be over soon so he would not have to carry all the trays up flights of stairs. The guard was sweating a lot, and I offered him some napkins, but he pulled out a rag to wipe his brow.

Under this administration, it is unusual for cell house workers not to be out during a lockdown. Commonly, a few are let out to help with feeding the cell house and picking up trash or other work that is required, and guards do not like to do this. There is speculation that cell house help in F House is under investigation. Two workers have gone to Seg in the last two weeks, and there could be more. The reasons are unclear to me. The reasons for this lockdown remain a mystery.