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Thursday, April 26, 2012

George Zimmerman -- 2nd Degree Murder -- April 12, 2012

For the last month, I have intentionally been trying to avoid the biased news coverage of the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin. It was obvious to me George Zimmerman was the target of a deliberate smear campaign by America's liberal dominated mass media. Almost anytime CNN's Anderson Cooper puts someone or some issue in his cross hairs, you can wager he is doing so for some underlying political purpose. These television tabloid journalists care little about balanced reporting, truth, or justice. They care mostly about ratings, sensationalism, and spin. The likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are only slightly different when they fan the fires of social and political division. Despite how there is little or no evidence, George Zimmerman was not defending himself. I knew the mass rallies by African-Americans would create enormous pressure on the state's attorneys office. Thus, yesterday I was not surprised when the special prosecutor, Angela Grey, announced 2nd degree murder charges.

From the beginning, it was flagrantly apparent news media sought to villainize Zimmerman. Typically, the media waits until a person is arrested to begin their attacks of a suspect, but this was not the typical case. This was a case which involved gun rights and race, two virulently divisive hot button political issues in the U.S. The political left seeks to re-interpret the U.S. Constitution and create a liberal utopia. This utopia does not include 2nd Amendment rights to bare arms, liberty, or the rugged individualism sought by the founding fathers of the Republic. "Progressives" view these values and ideas as outdated. Instead, they seek government dependence and forceful suppression of certain groups and the up lighting of others to create a multicultural egalitarian society. They do not mind if this means oppression and a nation reduced to the lowest common denominator. Little did Zimmerman realize by volunteering to serve his community in a neighborhood watch program, that he would become the arch nemesis of a powerful and pervasive ideology.

One of the most effective tools television news can use to influence public opinion is the use of imagery. I could not help but notice how disparate the photos of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman were. Trayvon was an athletic 17-year-old over 6 feet tall. Yet in initial photographs, he is shown as a child. Not only were they several years old but they always portrayed him as a happy, carefree, and angelic boy despite how he was in fact an older juvenile delinquent with prior arrests. It was not until today that I saw a recent photo of Trayvon more serious, mature and dressed in hip hop or gang attire. Contrast the child photos of Martin with the photo of Zimmerman unshaven in what appears to be an orange jumpsuit a convict may wear in prison. Indeed, the photo looks like a mugshot and makes him appear meaner and much heavier than he actually is. According to newspapers, Zimmerman is actually shorter and weighs less than his alleged victim. Interestingly, just recently some news outlets have begun to use a smiling photo of evil incarnate. Could there finally be some facade of objectivity occurring?

Yesterday, I watched several news programs on CNN and Headline News. Nancy Grace was jubilant when George Zimmerman was brought to Seminole County Jail. She said this was the first step to justice, and ridiculed how the man was covered in a jacket when brought in by police The former prosecutor shows contempt for all defendants despite the evidence or lack thereof. She is an equal opportunity "hater," and I suppose this gives her some consistency but also makes her one of the most asinine legal talking heads on TV. Nancy Grace interrupted her show immediately to show Zimmerman's mugshot and it seemed to give her great satisfaction, although she was disappointed by his rather neutral expression. She asked a purported psychologist what he made of the photo and the "expert" said this was obviously a man who had a little bit of smug authority being humbly brought down and worried justice will be served. I flipped over to Anderson Cooper and he zoomed in on his face to show he had no visible injuries. Outrageous, I thought.

After I was roughly interrogated for two days, the police paraded me in front of a large crowd of camera crews and news reporters on the way to the Cook County Jail. The media depicted me as cold and stoic. A few even compared my demeanor to be similar to the perp walk of Timothy McVay who was later executed for the bombing in Oklahoma City. They also commented on my size and muscularity, although I do not know how this was relevant when the victim was shot. Before I walked out the doors of the Barrington Police Station I was given some silly orange sponge slippers with happy faces on them to wear. Not surprisingly, the film footage of me never showed this despite how it was used a thousand times by various news agencies. I suppose it did not fit with the perception of a cold blooded serial killer they were trying to create. However, the news media did mention how there were no signs of physical abuse by my interrogators.

Zimmerman sustained injuries from Trayvon Martin 45 days before his arrest. Over a month's time, a fractured nose or any bruising to the face is going to heal. Furthermore, gashes to the back of his head are not going to be seen in a mugshot. He is also not going to have on the same jacket with grass stains, or possibly blood. Television reporters, however, dismissed this and replayed a very poor overhead video of Zimmerman entering the police station not long after the shooting. Anderson Cooper and Piers Morgan commented how he looked fine and was walking well. I have seen men pulverized or knocked unconscious in prison, jail, UFC fights, and elsewhere who eventually get up and walk without difficulty. As for myself, I never claimed to be beaten pervasively. I was mostly intimidated and threatened. On a few occasions I was slapped or punched in the face when I refused to talk or made snide remarks about the violation of my Miranda rights.

It is amazing how one-sided the news coverage of the shooting of Trayvon Martin has been. All the evidence of Zimmerman's injuries and claims of self defense has been brushed aside. The media instead largely spoke in unison that an innocent black child carrying only Skittles and ice tea walking back to his home was stalked and gunned down by a racist. Full coverage was given to people such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who made the shooting comparable to a Klan lynching, galvanizing the black community to protest in mass. The Black Panthers were reported to put a bounty on Zimmerman and movie director Spike Lee even gave out the address of Zimmerman's family to purportedly just harass them. Fortunately, he published the wrong address but caused another family to flee from their home. When George Zimmerman's brother appeared on the Piers Morgan Show and others, he was treated with hostility as was neighbor and friend Frank Taafee who I must respect. Despite the angry mobs of black people and media's ridicule, he continued to steadfastly defend his friend. While Zimmerman's friends and family were treated poorly, criticized and words edited or not even heard, there was overwhelming coverage, support, and sympathy for Trayvon's parents and numerous lawyers. I never heard of a purported victim's family having attorneys let alone the number of them they had. There was Daryl Parks, Benjamin Crump, Jasmine Rand, and still others I cannot remember.

Today I watched an interview of the parents of Trayvon Martin by Nancy Grace. Sabrina Fulton, Martin's mother, had earlier said how she believed the incident to be an accident, however, on the Nancy Grace Show she retracted this statement and said she had misspoken, but this was readily accepted by the former prosecutor as it was by all the news media. If it had been anyone else, I wonder how this retraction would be taken. Just imagine if George Zimmerman claimed he misspoke. The media, but especially Nancy Grace, could have pounced and eviscerated the man. Watching Nancy Grace I noticed how she intentionally sought to pull out emotion from the parents. It was almost sick how the tabloid television journalist tried to provoke pain and grief. When the parents did not express enough emotion, Grace incredibly began to break down herself. I thought she was even going to cry just for television ratings.

The cases between Zimmerman and I are greatly different, but how we were treated in the news media was very similar. The media went to extraordinary lengths to villainize if not demonize me after my arrest. The press, but especially the television news, was blatantly one-sided, inflammatory, and slanderous. I do understand the Palatine Massacre was one of the most brutal and infamous mass murders in Chicagoland history, but this does not excuse the media from having some integrity in their reporting. The story was not only hyped and sensationalized but maliciously slanted. I was tried and convicted in the media before ever having my day in court. This is what is also occurring to Zimmerman which makes me so incredibly mad. Because of the stand your ground law in Florida, he should have never even been charged.

The special prosecutor during her public address at 5 p.m. Wednesday said her decision to charge Zimmerman was not due to public pressure. This is absolutely absurd and the fact there is even a special prosecutor in itself shows this. For well over a month no authorities chose to arrest Zimmerman. It was only after Anderson Cooper, Nancy Grace, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and mobs of black people began demonstrating in the streets demanding justice that the state's attorneys office charged Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder. As I fully am aware, facts become irrelevant when emotion and politics become involved.

In the Palatine Massacre there were no large groups of people marching with a lynch mob mentality, however, there was tremendous pressure on the Palatine Task Force and state's attorney's office to make an arrest. The police were coming under increasing criticism for not solving the mass murder and possibly bungling the case. Thus, when my co-defendant was arrested for a murder in his home town of Barrington coincidentally close to the still unsolved restaurant murders in Palatine, and tried to frame me for the crimes, police were quick to seize the opportunity. Robert Faraci had no credibility but his straws of hay were spun into gold by the prosecutor's office. Like Zimmerman, Modrowski would be offered to the public as a scapegoat.

Politics reign over the judicial system despite the common illusion it is blind, fair, and independent. This is shown not only in how Florida officials bent to the will of the liberal media and a vocal minority group, but in how Barack Obama's administration became involved. When state authorities were not willing to indict Zimmerman, the attorney general of the U.S. sought to investigate whether the civil liberties of Trayvon Martin were violated. That the U.S. even has special laws for special classes of people is in itself unjust. However, it was clear the White House was playing politics to cater to the Democratic black constituents. President Obama has been in full campaign mode for almost a year and nearly everything he does or says now is done to win reelection. The President even chimed in the local Florida matter to say Trayvon Martin could have been his son. Does this mean if the person killed had been Caucasian, or Hispanic, he would be indifferent? This was supposed to be a President who transcended race and political division. All Americans of any race should be deeply disappointed in Obama for sinking to such lows and political opportunism.

I noticed in the Zimmerman case, the prosecutor did not want to submit testimony before a grand jury to gain an indictment. Instead, the prosecutor submitted a very thin "probable cause affidavit." Allen Dershowitz, a criminal defense attorney, appeared as a guest on the Piers Morgan Show and ridiculed the document. He said the affidavit was morally reprehensible because it lacked any substance and did not mention any information which was favorable to the defense. I thought the evasion of a grand jury took away some of Zimmerman's due process rights, although in Illinois and many other states a grand jury is a mere formality. For example, in my case, the prosecutor was able to call witnesses but they could not be cross examined. They also could testify to hearsay, which is very incredible and is not allowed at trials. Some people stated on television news programs that the prosecutor did this as a matter of strategy to not show their hand. However, I tend to doubt this and believe if anything it was done so the state's attorney could pretend to have a full house while in all actuality they are bluffing and have nothing or a pair of deuces.

A defendant has the Constitutional right to know exactly what he or she is being accused of and full discovery. The defendant also has the right not to be detained without just cause, and I believe the U.S. Supreme Court should mandate detailed indictments and open grand juries when a person's liberty is at stake, especially in a case like Zimmerman's where he faces life in prison. Many of the supporters of Trayvon Martin publicly demonstrating demanded justice. To most, this meant Zimmerman's execution, but a few said they just sought his arrest and prosecution to determine if he is guilty of a crime. However, citizens should not be arrested or prosecuted without compelling evidence indicating guilt. The sentiment of protesters is a shame, and already Americans liberty can be taken away easily. Constitutional rights basic to our values of freedom should not be further eroded despite the heated passions of the mob.

This morning, I woke up at 5 to attend the law library. To give prisoners extra time to research their cases, the warden is permitting a third library line to be run, but it goes out before the crack of dawn. While at the library, it was very quiet and I could even hear black inmates talk hostilely against George Zimmerman. Earlier in the week though I listened to Caucasian and Hispanic inmates who believed he was innocent. I tend to believe liberals encourage this racial divide despite their twisted support of multiculturalism and equality. For those on the extreme left of the political spectrum, race, class and gender warfare is a means to an end for them. Recently, Obama accused Republicans of subscribing to a doctrine of social Darwinism. Instead of defending themselves, they should have embraced this difference in ideology. Conservatives believe in freedom, empowerment and equality of the individual, but not select groups. Given a choice between the oppression of communism and liberty of social Darwinism, I tend to believe the vast majority of people would gladly take the latter. I know I would.

Instead of being goaded by inflammatory and divisive news reporting, I have sought to look past the spin and learn the law as well as true evidence against Zimmerman. In Florida and elsewhere, stand your ground laws allow registered gun owners to shoot an attacker if they believe they are under threat of felony, serious harm, or loss of life. The law forbids prosecution if a gun is used in self defense, and Zimmerman will soon have an immunity hearing. Disregarding various innuendo by tabloid journalists, the affidavit against Zimmerman states simply that he shot an unarmed 17-year-old and disregarded a dispatcher's comment he need not follow the suspect, Trayvon. Because he did not apparently listen, he is accused of being the aggressor. Zimmerman is also accused of profiling the teenager and the affidavit claims the mother can identify her son as the person yelling for help. I do not believe failure to abide by the dispatcher makes the defendant guilty, even if true. The age of the victim is irrelevant as is his not being armed, according to the law. I question if the voice heard is actually Trayvon's and if it was not spoken after being shot. Second degree murder is defined as having malice or "depravity of mind" which I believe cannot be determined. I am not the only one to be suspect of the state's case. Several legal experts predict the charges will be dropped down to lesser offenses. Having said this though, others believe the states attorney will pull a rabbit out of the hat. This is unreasonable and an empty hat is likely to stay empty. Angela Gray charged Zimmerman to appease the public and believes she will win politically regardless of the outcome.

Many find it hard to believe Trayvon Martin attacked an older man, despite his injuries. However, from my own personal experience, I do not. When I was the exact same age as Trayvon, I sped through the subdivision in my Mustang to park on the driveway of my home. Not only was it after midnight and no one was around, but the subdivision was surrounded by cornfields. A car followed me and stopped at the curb. I have had dealings with very violent people in the past. Some of my associates regrettably, those they associated with, and various enemies were brutal men often connected to the mafia. The man who waited in the car I could not see because it was very dark. I did not know if I was in danger and stayed in my car pondering what to do. I had to make a decision to flee or fight, and I was not the type of person to run away. With a pair of leather gloves on my fists, I abruptly got out of my car and approached the other vehicle. The man stalking me also got out and I noticed then that he was an older, well dressed man. As we closed distance, he began to explain to me he lived in the subdivision and was concerned about my "reckless" driving because he had children. With adrenaline coursing through my body, I began to shout at the man. My mother heard the commotion and came out in her bath robe. If it was not for her, I may have very well pummeled that kooky "self appointed neighborhood watchman."

I speculate the circumstances which occurred to me 20 years ago are similar to what happened on the night of February 26th between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. However, this is more conjecture, and unlike so many others, I will not let it affect me. I will also not let emotion, politics, or the slant of television news reporting prejudice my thinking.

At one time, the public believed strongly that I was the person who killed 7 people at a Brown's Chicken restaurant in Palatine, Illinois. Others believed I was somehow, some way, accountable for the Barrington murder committed by my former roommate, and they still may, despite what proof I show to the contrary. There are some cases which can never be figured out with absolute certitude and thus why the law demands that crimes must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Trayvon Martin's death was a tragedy but George Zimmerman's prosecution is not justice. Unlike others, I will not presume to know what happened on the night of February 26th in Sanford, Florida. I have been convicted of a crime I did not commit and do not judge others precipitously.

Home Improvement -- March 29, 2012

Recently I have been preoccupying myself with a litany of different projects to improve my living conditions and this cell. It seemed like an appropriate time to do some remodeling. Although weather conditions have went from unseasonable summer-like temperatures to mornings with frost, this was the first full week of spring. Life in maximum-security prisons, especially a debilitated and austere penitentiary like Stateville, is very uncomfortable and inconvenient. Life here is spent mostly within the confines of a cell many would not cage animals in, let alone humans. I have been denied transfer to more hospitable prisons and thus try to make the best of what I have by making regular adjustments and repairs. Prisoners comment I am a perfectionist and I am probably overly concerned about achieving perfection in a most unideal place. However, because I have a life sentence without the possibility of parole, I do not have the perspective that this is a temporary residence of captivity. This is my home.

One of the first projects I took on this week was designing new hooks for a privacy sheet. Nearly all prisoners at Stateville use a bed sheet to block the back corner of the cell when they use the toilet or bathe. Unlike medium or minimum-security prisons, the front of the cell is made of bars and there is no ability for a cellmate to leave into a dayroom. The hooks made before I moved into this cell were on one wall and underneath the bunk. Most inmates will only require one wall hook because the other side of the sheet is placed underneath the top mattress. However my cellmate has a narrow ragged old mattress he has pressed against the wall to create several inches of space on his bunk to act as a shelf. In this area he has a variety of things including a pen, some Q-tips, a roll of toilet paper, some hard candy, a rolled newspaper, and a tube of hemorrhoid cream. The hook underneath the bunk is inconvenient for me to use.

Typically, I like to fuse plastic to surfaces by melting them together. However, when I attempted to melt an old toothbrush to the upper lip of the edge of the bunk, it fell off. Obviously the light casting of gray paint on the steel bunk was not enough to fuse the plastic to it. Thus, I used some glue I received from another prisoner. Cutting out two rectangular pieces of cardboard that came with the writing paper I am currently using, I glued them together with a paper clip wound inside and out to act as a hook. I then glued the cardboard to the bunk. Because the bunk has a 3" lip on the outer edge to keep a mattress in place, I was not only able to make it more convenient to use but raise the sheet. Although a low privacy sheet is not important to a midget using the sink like my cellmate, for someone over 6' tall, it was an improvement.

After attaching the first hook, I decided to add another to the end of the bunk by the back wall. Therefore when I use the privacy sheet it makes a square enclosure around the sink and toilet. To make the cardboard less noticeable and nicer looking, I painted it gray to match the color of the bunk. I also sharpened the tips of the paperclips so the sheet would easily be pinned. I was fairly happy with the improvement but my cellmate expressed concern he may poke or scratch himself despite how I pointed the paperclips horizontally. I asked Little Bobby sarcastically if he was scared, and he said, "Damned right I am." I took my nail clippers and cut off the tips to alleviate his concerns.

After making the new sheet hooks, I secured some pencils in the wall. The walls of this cell have holes in them which were once where bolts or screws used to be before the cell was gutted of all shelves and accessories. I assume these were removed on the orders of a previous administration long ago which believed they were a danger. Prisoners could break or disassemble the steel to make knives. Furthermore, the shelving units were just another place inmates could keep property and it was much easier for guards if they only had to search two plastic boxes. In any event, the holes are useful to hammer in nails, pens, or pencils to hang various things on. For example, although I had folded up my jacket and put it under my mattress, I had to bring it out again this week for the chilly weather. The pencil pegs I made are also convenient for my cellmate to tie a line between to hang and dry his bed sheets which he hand washes in the sink.

The main reason why I secured the glue, however, was to fix my radio and my fan. My radio was cracked by ransacking Orange Crush guards and my fan by a former cellmate who dropped it onto the concrete floor. Radios are no longer sold in the IDOC, only Walkmans. However, I could buy a new 9" plastic fan for $30 at the prison store. This I will not do unless I must because the product has been cheapened and I have become increasingly frugal as prices at the commissary have been inflated to make prisoners help pay for the costs of their own incarceration. Already the State of Illinois spends approximately $2 billion to confine 50,000 prisoners, and this amount is only to increase in the years to come.

Initially, I was not certain if the adhesive I had would work to fix the cracks in my radio and fan. The adhesive was not super glue and I am not certain exactly what it is used for. However, after some time I was able to reconnect all the major breaks. I was impressed by how well the epoxy worked and almost glued my fingers together. It may not be super glue, but it was very strong. This made me think how I could glue my cellmate to the toilet seat and other malicious although amusing purposes.

Unfortunately, my fan was not yet completely repaired. Because I move my fan around the cell regularly for various purposes and yank its cord out of the electrical socket, the wire has developed a short. To fix it, I had to disassemble my fan and take out the old wire and replace it with a new one. I used an extension cord and cut the end off to do so. My cellmate, seeing how easily I was able to repair my fan, asked me to attempt to fix his. He bought his fan last year and since he purchased it the fan will only spin slowly. Numerous other prisoners had returned their defective fans, but for some reason Bobby kept his. After bypassing the switch box and the fuse, I determined the fan's motor had been improperly made and there was nothing I could do to repair it. After telling my cellmate his fan was unrepairable, I thought he would discard it. But to my dismay, he kept the useless fan that makes a breeze as light as a folded up piece of paper being moved back and forth.

In the evening Monday, I surfed the stations on my television trying to find something interesting to watch. As I did so, I noticed the stick I use to switch stations was in need of replacement. The stick is made up of wound pages from a magazine that I taped together and stuck a pen down the center at the end. The bottom of the pen tube fits perfectly around the buttons on my TV. Remote controls have never been allowed in Illinois' prisons for reasons I am unaware of. While I waited for the 8 p.m. DVD to be played, I made myself a new stick. I have a tradition of always naming my new TV button staff. This one I called "Apache," after the oil and natural gas exploration company, Apache Energy, whose corporate report I used to make it.

On Tuesday, I spent a chilly morning lifting weights and running on the large South yard. When I returned, stuffed in the cell bars were the laundry bags and sheets I had sent out to be washed the night before. I noticed one of my large mesh laundry bags was frayed and torn in spots. I have sewn it repeatedly but it was now time to dispose of it. Later, after I bathed out of the sink and folded my clothes, I began to make myself a new bag. On occasion the prison clothing room will supply inmates with new bags. However, they are half the size of my old one. If an inmate wants a nice big one, he must buy it from commissary for $5. Increasingly, Stateville is cutting back on the clothes issued to prisoners and forcing them to buy them. As a ward of the state, I believe it must provide me with all basic necessities: adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care. Thus, instead of buying a new bag, I cut two state issued small bags and sewed them together into one large bag. This process took me a few hours but it was worth my time rather than providing the State of Illinois with more money to continue my wrongful incarceration.

On Saturday, I watched Fareed Zakaria on CNN. He had a segment about the ironic priorities of the U.S. spending more money on the prison industrial complex than on educating students. He focused on the State of California which has a $10 billion dollar budget for their Department of Corrections. This caused the state to spend about $50,000 per inmate while only spending $8,000 per student. In the last decade, California has built 11 new prisons, but only one school, and despite this because of draconian sentencing laws, they still do not have the room or money for their increasing prison population. Interestingly, the only state to have a worse credit rating than California is Illinois. Governor Quinn has spoken about budget cuts, however, I doubt if he is committed to them or to restructuring the criminal and sentencing statutes in Illinois to curb the absurd spending.

After making my new laundry bag, I needed a black marker to mark it. The laundry bags return mixed together and cell house workers need to know where the clothing came from in order to deliver it. Mertz happened to stop by my cell after his visit and I asked him if he had one I could borrow. He told me he did and he would have it sent down to me after he was locked in his cell. I told him it may be useless after I am done with it because I plan on not only marking my laundry bag but every article of clothing I own. Even my underwear was going to have my name and number on it, just like Steve's. Mertz knew I was making fun of the Danny DeVito look alike downstairs. Both of us thought it was very odd the man put his name on all his clothes.

I have noticed Steve had his name on all his outerwear but I did not realize he did it also to his underclothes. While in the shower holding area, I saw that he had his name printed in bold black magic marker across the waist. This was ludicrous and I asked him if he thought someone was going to steal his boxers. He told me when the guards ransack his cell he oftentimes cannot determine his clothes from his cell mate's because they are all mixed together. To avoid the confusion, he has his name on nearly every piece of clothing. I asked him, "Is there really another man with size 5XL boxers?" Then I made fun of how the issue was not serious and if he was unable to discern whose clothes were whose he should just divide them appropriately. My solution was not adequate for him, however.

Although I did not mark all my clothes, I did mark an assortment of my property while I had the marker. I marked the lids of all my peanut butter jars, boxes of instant oatmeal, and 9 x 11 envelopes. The purpose of this was to discern easily what was inside them. For example, I have 20 jars that all are identical, and I do not know what I have stored inside until I pull them out of my box. I also have about 20 envelopes in my legal-correspondence box on their side, similar to a filing cabinet. They are already labeled in pen but the black marker makes them easier to identify.

Wednesday, I spent my morning exercising while my cellmate was at the law library. With him not in the cell, I was able to use the entire floor to workout. When I finished, I was surprised my name was called over the loudspeaker for a visit. Typically, any visitors spend hours waiting and I am not called until noon or later. However, the warden has ordered the empty visiting room at Stateville to be used for NRC inmates. Inmates from the Northern Receiving Center are housed outside the walls a half mile away and must be taken by vans into the prison. They are the major reason for overcrowding in the visiting room, and long waiting times. I am glad two visiting rooms are now being used, but do not know why NRC inmates cannot use the vacant visiting room in their own building.

After returning from my visit, I began to sew a few socks and my gym shoes. The stitches in the sides of my shoes have started to come undone. Although these are brand name gym shoes, I have come to expect cheap craftsmanship from goods made in China. The shoes are narrow and although this is ideal because I have narrow feet, I use two sets of insoles when I exercise to provide extra cushion. I typically work out on the concrete floor of my cell and this takes a toll on my joints, particularly my lower back where I have two crushed disks. It was difficult pushing the needle through the leather but it was worth the time and effort. I care little to buy a new pair of shoes and put more money in the coffers of the IDOC or the Chinese economy.

Lately, the news media has been focused on the shooting of Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old in Florida. The liberal media has been hyping up the incident due to the racial dimension, despite how the shooter was a mestizo and because of their opposition to gun rights. The publicity is annoying to me because the political spin is so obvious and so is the attempt to villainize George Zimmerman and make an angel out of the victim who was a juvenile delinquent. When I was arrested, I also was the target of an intentional smear campaign. This case should not be tried in the media but go through a fair and unbiased police investigation. If the "stand your ground" gun law of Florida needs to be reviewed, it also should be done without the inaccurate reporting and pressure of left wing tabloid news media.

While stitching my shoes, I listened to conservative talk radio but even they could not avoid the story. Although they were much more balanced in their reporting, I did not care to listen to any more news about the shooting and turned to a music station. Unfortunately, even on the 2nd floor, radio reception is poor and I was only able to tune in several FM stations. Therefore, after completing work on my shoes, I went to work on an antenna for my Walkman. I used the cord I had taken out of my fan that had a short in it to make a long wire. This wire I wrapped around the jack of my headphones, through my cell bars and up and over a pipe on the ceiling of the gallery. Still, I was unsatisfied with the radio reception and I extended the wire outside the second set of bars at the edge of the gallery. These bars were added in addition to the railing to prevent people from being thrown off, which once did occur regularly. Finally, I was able to get a full spectrum of radio stations.

For several days, Mertz has been scraping the rust off the countertop in his cell. He has been using a broken nail clipper and I gave him credit for his determination. By Wednesday, he had removed most of it and made a smooth surface. I sent him a cup of gray paint I had made by mixing the white paint I had with some black I received from another prisoner. When I came out for a meal of soy spaghetti, I stopped at his cell to see how his newly painted shelf looked. The color was not a perfect match to the walls, but it looked much better than it once did. I told him to let it dry a day and then add some wax so the paint never bleeds. I returned to my cell to watch the newly released DVD movie "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." I was glad to be able to watch the interesting film without disruption from my cellmate or gallery disturbances as were so common downstairs.

I am currently sitting at my new table as I write this post. The cells of Stateville were originally designed with bunks and tables supported by chains. Those were taken out long ago but many cells still have the brackets. I used them to tie shoelaces around my box lid and it hovers perfectly perpendicular to the wall. For a stool, I am sitting on my small box. I tend to like being here rather than on the edge of my bunk because it provides me with greater distance between myself and my cellmate who may be at the sink, toilet, or rummaging in his box. I regularly feel cramped living in a cage with another man, even if he is only a little over 5' tall.

It is almost time for mail to be picked up but I am leery of sending this letter out. My mail is increasingly being intercepted by Internal Affairs and delayed or destroyed. The prison's security unit cannot legally infringe on my 1st Amendment rights to correspond with the outside world. However, they can, and have, thrown out my letters and continue to deny doing so. Possibly, soon a couple of goons will throw me in Seg on trumped up charges as they have in the past. Possibly, they will cite this table as a misuse of property. I think they realize though that in Seg I will only have even more time to write and more to write about. If I.A. was wise, they would allow me to transfer to a nice medium-security prison where the administration would not be so ashamed of the living conditions and ongoings. However, I doubt they want to reward me with such a great home improvement.