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Friday, April 4, 2014

The Question of Happiness -- Feb. 15, 2014

I am often confounded by how many prisoners at Stateville can be happy. They live under very austere and oppressive conditions. There is no meaning to their existence and the vast majority have sentences of LWOP or the equivalent. It is a slow, protracted, and miserable death sentence. Yet often I notice these condemned men appear to be content or even joyful. There is even plenty of humor and laughter. How can this be when I am so gloomy and bitter? A psychologist brought this to my attention this week, but it is something I have increasingly pondered for years.

On Monday, half of C House was permitted to shop. My gallery was the first to be sent to the prison store and we left before 8 a.m. Inmates were excited to spend the money family or friends sent to them on various items, but particularly coffee, sweets, and other snacks. How much joy could some honey buns or potato chips give a man? The food served in the penitentiary is distasteful and regularly unhealthy. I also prefer not to go to chow if possible. However, despite this, I was not jubilant to be at the store. I limited myself to meals I could substitute for those served in the chow hall and were not overly priced. Although some men spent a hundred or more dollars, I bought a mere twenty and left the commissary building as soon as possible.

Close to 10 a.m., chow was announced over the cell house loudspeaker. Prisoners once again were very loud and excited. They shouted to one another from their cells and when walking down the stairs. On the menu was burgers, but I did not see any reason to be happy about it. It was not ground round nor were they even made with any beef. They were turkey-soy burgers fried in grease. The huge oven in the kitchen was broken and all food was being boiled or fried this week. The thin burger did not come with cheese, tomato, onion, or any condiments. It was just plain with bread and if I recall correctly there was some lettuce. I brought my processed turkey-soy burger back to the cell to run water over it and attempt to wring out as much grease as possible before eating it.

On days commissary lines are run, the noise in the cell house is much greater. As I read about master limited partnerships in a Barron's  newspaper, I listened to cassette tapes on my Walkman. The headphones I typically use were taken by the counselor this week to be shipped back to the company to be repaired. In their stead, I had to use ear buds which continually slipped out of my ears. Eventually, I crushed some toilet paper to stuff in my ears to not only keep them from falling out, but to muffle the noise in the building. Despite this, I still occasionally heard shouts including from one obnoxious prisoner yelling, "Send me something!" Every commissary day, he will shout to his fellow gang members for charitable contributions. His demands can be amusing if I am not attempting to focus on anything because they remind me of all the free loaders on government aide who expect "something" for nothing. However, on this day he was quite annoying and I turned up the volume on my radio.

At night the clamor in the unit began to fade as men increasingly were preoccupied by television programming. Television can be the greatest source of entertainment for prisoners at maximum security institutions. My cellmate will watch numerous hours of TV every day and even has a subscription to not one but two TV guides, despite how men at Stateville do not get even one fifth of the listings. Guards made him and about ten other prisoners very unhappy when they decided to search some cells during prime time television. While standing in the cell house holding cage for nearly a half hour, I overheard a few men complain they were going to miss the ending of a TV show called "The Following".

Overnight temperatures dropped to -20 and I did not expect yard lines to be run in the morning. It was sunny, but news stations still reported negative temperatures across the Chicago metro area. Because I had turned in my sweat shirt, pants, and thermals to be washed I did not go outside. The thin jacket prisoners are supplied was not nearly adequate for the brutal cold and therefore I exercised as usual in the cell. Later a biker was to ask me why I did not go outside. He was the only white person on the yard and I suspect he was lonely. Bone is very talkative to the point of being annoying. He did not as much want someone to lift weights with but to talk to.

At noon I had a pass to see the psychologist and as usual I waited a long time in the cell house as well as at the Health Care Unit's holding cage. The cage in the H.C.U. was packed and numerous men spoke over each other to be heard. I went to the back where I planned to stare out one of the narrow windows, but was addressed by a prisoner who said he recognized me from 20 years ago at a different penitentiary. I was skeptical at first because of how much older and different I now look, but he remembered details no one could have known. He recalled how my hair was lighter and I was much more muscular. He also spoke about my cellmate at the time in great detail as well as his own. I remembered his cellmate Motorhead and was surprised to learn he was in prison for the brutal beating and rape of an 8-year-old girl. He had told me he had a murder case, but almost all prisoners with child offenses will lie.

In the psychologist's office, the subject of my own conviction was brought up. Like many people she could not understand how my co-defendant could be acquitted of the murder but I was held accountable for his actions and on top of that given the most severe criminal penalty. I had to explain to her that we had separate juries and my jury was not aware Faraci was let go two days earlier. I also had to explain how at the time the media and state's attorneys office depicted me to the public as the prime suspect of a mass murder at a Brown's Chicken and Pasta Restaurant in Palatine, Illinois.

I assume the psychologist was interested in the subject because this was probably our last meeting. The provider of health care for prisoners at Stateville was hiring a couple of extra mental health care staff and the case loads of the two current psychologists will be shuffled. The new staff will not be technically psychologists but LPNs. These employees have less education and clinical experience, but they are of course cheaper to hire. Wexford is increasingly relying on LPNs to do more work in the IDOC. I did not like the idea of having a psychologist with less capability or authority. Already, the current staff has little to no understanding of autism and they generally are not helpful.

Before I left the psychologist's office, she asked me about the prisoner who committed suicide and how I felt about it. It was an ambiguous question and I asked her to be more specific. I was told just to begin talking about it and she will direct my monologue. I made the mistake of saying that I believed he made a rational decision based on his circumstances. Given a choice between being miserable for an untold number of years and a quick death, the latter was preferable. In fact, I would have killed myself a long time ago if I believed in a hereafter as Garcia did. This was not something you admitted to a prison psychologist because they have the power to put you in the "butt naked room." However, unlike most people, I have little deceptive ability and tend to speak with brutal honesty.

I was not isolated in a barren cell without any clothes, but the psychologist definitely wanted to probe my thoughts. One of the more interesting questions I was asked is why many other incarcerated men at Stateville did not share my view that it was better to be dead than to suffer in prison indefinitely. As a follow-up question, she asked if I had not noticed how most prisoners seemed much less despondent and unhappy as me. I am not the best person to interpret feelings, but I had to admit I saw a disparity. At the time I mentioned that a great deal of this is probably correlated to our backgrounds. Those middle and particularly upper class people who are condemned to prison for the rest of their lives have lost a lot more and thus their grief is greater as well. Most of the population at Stateville came from the ghetto or other poor neighborhoods. However, I had just scratched the surface of the matter and throughout this week I continued to dwell on the matter.

For dinner, prisoners were fed barbecued friend chicken and if readers thought turkey-soy burgers excited the men at Stateville, they would be astonished by the reaction to BBQ bird. As chow lines were about to be run, I mentioned to my cellmate we should be careful not to get in the way of the African-Americans and their fried chicken. It was ridiculous and one may think the kitchen was serving steak and lobster. Even if men were regularly served good meals, I did not see how this could make prisoners not only complacent but happy.

When I was a teenager I read a book on psychology that went over Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs". According to the psychologist, there was a pyramid of needs all people strive for. At the bottom were the basic necessities like food, shelter, and safety. When those were met, people sought out higher needs although not everyone was motivated to reach the pinnacle of their abilities. The majority of convicts at the prison were probably satisfied with having the lowest strata of these needs met whereas others needed to reach higher levels of achievement to be happy. Often I attempt to be productive and to having a meaningful existence in prison. I am highly goal orientated and speculated that because I could never attain "self actualization" in captivity, I would always be incredibly unhappy.

In the chow hall I sat with a full table of prisoners.  The main topic of discussion was "Colonel Bill". Colonel Bill was an old black man whose property was packed up on Monday.  After serving 40 years in prison, he was finally being released.  I asked my cellmate if he knew who he was and he said that he had seen him a few times in the cell house.  He rarely left his cell because he could not walk and was always moved around in a wheel chair.  At one time he was a robust soldier who served in the Vietnam War,  but now he was a cripple in his 70's who had major health problems. He doubted he would live another 3 years to serve out his parole.

The release of Colonel Bill spread like wild fire in the penitentiary. The following day when I went on a visit, I met various other men, staff and inmates included, from other cell houses who knew about it. While I thought being released in my 70's as a cripple was horrific, this brought great hope to many prisoners. I came to the realization that what made a lot of inmates more optimistic and cheerful was their belief that eventually one day they also would be released. They still had appeals yet to be filed or decided upon and even those that did not have any legal avenue dreamed of changes in the sentencing statutes which would be applied retroactively to them. The vast majority of these hopes were fanciful, however, they clung onto them. Contrarily, I am a realist. Despite my innocence, I know very well that most likely I will die in prison.

It was a state holiday limiting visits to one hour and my mother was still sick but she came to see me anyway. She wanted to tell me that hundreds of people were writing about my case on a website called "Reddit". Furthermore, my attorney recently sent her a message that she will soon be sending me a copy of the appeal she has been working on. I was very impressed by the number of people who were moved enough to discuss my prosecution at length on that website and I told my mother to send me a copy. I was told it would take almost a hundred pages to print the thousands of comments and because my mail is so slow I would not receive it until March. She was very happy about these developments, however, I was skeptical. I hope that many people sent letters to Governor Quinn in support of my request for executive clemency, but I knew it would be a very risky decision for him unless he waited until after the election and lost to a Republican opponent. As for my attorney, she has repeatedly told me "the check is in the mail". I have little faith in her and for the most part I think of myself as being without counsel. Even if she was not crying wolf yet again, a post conviction petition takes 5 years or longer to be adjudicated in Cook County. I may even be near my 50th birthday before I am released if my case must go through all the legal proceedings and continuances.

My cellmate was sleeping when I returned and this was just as well. I was in a sour mood and may have ranted about my conviction for an hour or longer. In retrospect, another reason that I am so angry and bitter is because I am innocent. When you have not committed any crime and yet are convicted anyway, you have an enormous amount of hate built up. The longer I languish in prison and grow older, the more this hatred grows. Many prisoners have been over sentenced, however, there are only a few who are innocent. Guilty prisoners do not feel the injustice and their time is generally easier to bear.

My cellmate eventually awakened to go out for dinner. When he inquired if I was going as well, I curtly told him no, and then made fun of him for waking up out of a sound sleep to get a meal. He regularly did this and I told him a fat dough boy like himself could afford to miss a chow line. He claimed that he was emotionally hurt by my mean spirited words, although I could tell he was playing. He then went on to say maybe I was not so unhappy because of being unable to fulfill Maslow's hierarchy of needs but because I was just simply an unhappy, grumpy person. I contemplated this and that may be true to some extent. Even before my arrest, I tend to believe most people probably thought I was serious and melancholic. Other teenagers seemed very immature to me. They seemed goofy, unfocused, and generally took life casually. Even men in their mid-20's could strike me as having the same attributes.

The following morning I was enjoying the relative peace and quiet before prisoners were stirred. It was abruptly ended when a man began yelling for a med tech. When guards did not respond about twenty other prisoners began shouting. This went on for about 10 minutes and I said to my cellmate, "Just let the man die." I could not understand why anyone at this prison would want to be resuscitated. I went on to tell Anthony that if I ever fallout from low blood sugar, a heart attack, or just accidentally splitting my skull when exercising because my back gives out, not to say anything until he knew I was dead. He said, "Like how you left Little Bobby?"  Bobby was my former cellmate who died in his sleep from a heart attack. I was not aware he was dead and may have been on the yard at the time. Regardless, my cellmate had jokes.

Humor is often a way people deal with a grim reality. Joking in prison can be akin to comic relief. Sometimes, I will engage in the same morbid or satirical humor myself, although people may not always recognize it. My jokes are often said or expressed flatly. I recall once a prisoner saying a minute after I made a joke that he finally got it and began chuckling before he went on to joke about how uncommon or imperceptible my humor was. Occasionally, my jokes are just for my own amusement and I care less if others recognize it. My prison psychologist may sometimes misinterpret the laughter and jokes of prisoners as demonstrating they are happy. However, this as well as how most people wear masks to conceal their true feelings, I suspect distorts perceptions. Not many people are as transparent and truthful as me.

Thursday, while in line at the chow hall, I could not help but make fun of all the drawings posted on the wall in support of Black history month, regardless of who was listening. To one prison worker I inquired if any of them were his masterpieces of art. Most of the drawings were ridiculous in their message or poorly drawn. I assume they were made during one of the volunteer programs they have at Stateville. Last week when I heard "black skills" announced over the loudspeaker, I had to ask my cellmate what that was. We came to the agreement it must be how to teach black people how to make crack, conduct stick-ups, and braid hair. Apparently, though, they also draw things as well.

Above the rudimentary needs at the base of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is social interaction and relationships. I was a nonsocial person and could do without any friendships. In fact, while many prisoners would be greatly disturbed to be in solitary confinement, I would enjoy it. I could go years without speaking to anyone and not be bothered. What bothers me is being in a cell house with over 300 people stacked on top of each other. However, it seems many prisoners like this. African-Americans make up over 3/4's the population at Stateville. Because many know each other from neighborhoods in Chicago and have the same cultural background, it helps them form friendships and makes life much more comfortable for them. This may in part explain why they can be so happy or more content than a Caucasian who is a tiny minority and has little appreciation for socialization.

This week I finally read the book "The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum" by Temple Grandin. Most of what she wrote I already knew or suspected. However, it once again reminded me of the problems many people with autism have and how these are made incredibly worse in prison. Most men will agree life in a maximum security penitentiary is miserable, but for those with ASD it can be torturous at times. I do not just dislike prison, I hate it. Physical pain is nothing compared to the mental anguish I experience due to having autism.

Like most Thursday nights, I will watch an episode of the TV show "House". Despite being reruns, I still greatly enjoy the program. In this episode a patient was found to be using cough syrup to dull his intelligence. The man was extremely brilliant, but apparently it made him depressed. Ironically, he would rather be dumb than a genius. Sometimes I wonder if instead of having autism I could simply be an idiot. If I were retarded, I could just be oblivious to how wretched my existence was and drool on myself with a smile. Retards do not dwell on all their hopes and dreams being crushed or their inability to attain self actualization. They are not even aware of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Ignorance is bliss and (ending removed by editor).

63 comments:

  1. Rasho was at Tamms.

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    1. Ashoor Rasho is a prisoner who sued the IDOC over a violation of his 8th Amendment rights. The case developed into a class action suit on behalf of all prisoners with serious mental illness (Rasho v. Walker #07-1298). His attorney Harold C. Hirshman is seeking changes in Illinois' prison system to address their care and treatment. I mentioned the lawsuit in my first writing of this post, however, have deleted it for the sake of brevity.

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  2. Good post Paul, very insightful and intelligent. I am no psychologist or psychiatrist, but if I had to venture a guess from an outsider point of view, I would say you hit on many of the reasons for your perhaps excessive unhappiness right here in this post.For starters, your autism (at whatever degree of the spectrum you are actually on) makes an already horrible experience probably even worse and can also make you appear cold and unfeeling, too blunt, etc etc. Then also you're obviously an intelligent and deeply-thinking & probably relatively higher-IQ'ed type of person. This works against you in prison. Many of the men who can be "happy" or just dull and calmly resigned to prison life are frankly not the sharpest knives in the drawer, from birth or childhood on. They come from a long family background of the very same, in most cases, more than likely. Plus they have brains that were probably mildly damaged as well over years of drug and alcohol abuse, which deadens or decreases some of the sharpness of pure unadulterated untampered with human brain function (memories, awareness, speed & agility of thought, consequence realization, and so on). They're not "retarded", but they're stupid men, with various types of mental problems and personality disorders, likely low IQ's, shallow not very 'abstract' thinkers who only react to their immediate stimuli probably in many cases, to be frank; a cut or two above a zoo animal, essentially, in the worst cases. That is, "for the most part at least" (not to say there are NO other smart men in there). Also there could be an element of actual mild to clinical depression in your case (which may or may not be able to be helped by a psychotropic medication). Some of that could be genetic, as you noted. Depression runs in families, true. Further, I respect your personal views on religions and hereafters and such, and in a certain sense I suppose your LACK of belief in any hereafter has thus far helped 'save' you, so you said. But a case can be made that those with some sort of religious belief or spirituality undergo hardships better or are more psychologically resilient. You can't force yourself to believe anything you don't, naturally. But, just saying, at times with atheism and such one does run a risk -- particularly in a situation like your own I would think -- of verging into more like black nihilism, which in turn naturally helps feed into the already depressed mindframe. My own .02 cents worth would be: either, A) actively seek out or be willing to try an actual medication which may ease some of your mental pain, or B) if you have already tried that and/or are unwilling to, which is also understandable, then direct yourself like 100% into your casework and appeal work for example, just as though you were slated for parole in 10 or 15 yrs. With the setting aside, in your mind, of the LWOP sentence, and the expectation (even if unrealistic or odds-defying) that you will one day see release. People with literal death sentences from doctors (6 or 8 months to live) have long-outlived that through the power of positive thought and action. Take up something else that gives you more of an outlet as well, perhaps. A foreign language. A prison job? Have you ever worked one or would you be willing to? That kind of thing, a prison "career" of sorts, has helped some of these guys survive, literally. It's worth a shot. You're not "that" old (38, 39?). In the outside world some guys are still single or just starting off at that point nowadays, as far as a wife and a kid or what have you. You have no "biological clock", as a male, and there is always a chance. You just do not know what the tide may bring in the following day or week. You must remain steadfast and focus your substantial mental energy in a more positive direction, or you run the risk of the sea around your overtaking you.

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    1. I continue to appreciate your commentary. It is regularly worth more than 2 cents! However, a menial prison job would never give me any satisfaction. If there was any employment within these prison walls which could be fulfilling in some way, it would be as an administrator. With 21 years of experience I may be able to run Stateville or the entire DOC with better skill. 39 years old is over the hill and any man who is just starting to get his act together at this point in life has serious development issues. Keep in contact with me "xx" and do not forget I have an email as well as prison address.

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    2. Baloney. 39 isn't over the hill.

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  3. Isn't there anything that makes you happy?

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    1. There is very little that makes me happy in prison. Oftentimes, I will reminisce about the time before my arrest before all my dreams, hopes, and everything was taken from me.

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    2. What can we do to increase your happiness

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    3. My husband was 39 when we had our first child!

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  4. I have contacted Chicago Sun-Times columnist and news reporter Neil Steinberg on your behalf. I have been in e-mail discussions for days, and will continue.

    I can find no evidence or reason to keep a man in prison for life based on writing a bad check. Your words have impact, Paul. You are not forgotten by the decent people who pay for the unjust system that has imprisoned you. Many of us, perfect strangers, are working to free you. And will continue to do so.

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    1. "Based on writing a bad check"??? Where is that written? Paul was sentenced to life in prison for lending his car (and supposedly knowing what his friend was going to do). The actual murderer and his victim were heavily involved in writing bad checks off the victim's bank account.
      Do you think this Neil Steinberg will be helpful in some way? Nice of you to try though.

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    2. I know what Paul was accused of. I also know that people dredge up any garbage to secure a conviction. Maybe Steinberg can't help, but it is going to take public pressure in this election year to free Paul. Step 1 is to get Paul out of prison. I have no doubt Paul will set the record straight once free. Who in the media have you contacted? I thought so. If we don't raise some heck, we will spend years writing on a blog. I think Paul is suffering to a point where he is hurting. So pick up a phone, Paul has given the print media a lot to work with.

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    3. If Steinberg writes about the case, the bigger mob of public opinion may rise up. That could counter the mob of prosecutors Paul faced in 1994.

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    4. Thank you for contacting Neil Steinberg on my behalf. I have not read a Chicago Sun Times in many years and thus do not know of the columnist. However, the more publicity my case generates, the better chances I will have in the courts or with the governor.

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    5. Anonymous of 4/7/14: I assume the person who commented that he was in contact with Steinberg simply made a mistake. No evidence was presented at my trial that I wrote a bad check or forged Fawcett's signature. In fact, a handwriting expert analyzed all of the checks and testified they were all written by the victim, Robert Faraci, or his wife, Rose. I think it is a good idea for readers who would like to help to contact the media about my story. Even brief emails to news reporters could be productive.

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    6. You want a subscription to the Sun-Times?

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    7. Thanks for the offer, however, I do not have much interest or respect for Chicago newspapers.

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  5. This entire case is ridiculous. Quinn needs to pardon Paul or at least commute his sentence to time served. Maybe Paul can do what Damien Echols did and agree to an Alford Plea.

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    1. I would never agree to an Alford Plea even if this was an option. I am innocent and deserve to have my conviction overturned.

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    2. You're saying you'd rather stay in prison than agree to an Alford plea?

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    3. You might reconsider if you desire your freedom. Your mom and dad would want you to come home.

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    4. I don't think Illinois offers Alfred pleas.

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  6. Innocent and not guilty are not always the same in the legal realm. You are definitely not guilty due to lack of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.( In my opinion from what I read from your trial proceedings online.) Glad to hear the Innocence Project has decided to look into your case. At worst, You should have had a 25-life sentence with parole due to your age at sentencing if found guilty at that time. But in the meantime, file the necessary paperwork (motion) to get your own cell due to a diagnosed disability where noise and sharing a cell aggravate your disability? Cruel and unusual punishment for an autistic person? It is refreshing to hear you have not accepted your environment of crappy food and illiterate uneducated people. Maybe that is why you get depressed as well? You are a lone fish swimming against the tide. Yes it will take time but do not give up hope. I am a breast cancer survivor and could have given up hope many times and given in to the cancer. Being weak from surgery and endless, debilitating, Neanderthal treatments that left me scared, burned from cancer treatment and my blood forever and constantly having abnormal levels. Being on tons of medications and major surgery where I will never fully recover. As well as seeing countless patients wither away from disease. Including children stricken with cancer. Relentless blood tests and high dose treatments that left me with scared lungs and little dignity. I lost count of the nurses, students and doctors and staff that viewed me. The reason why I tell you this is because I could have given up. But I chose to fight against cancer and I told myself let's see how the story ends when it ends for me. If you choose to let depression get the best of you, you will never know how your story will end when it is supposed to end. Maybe you will walk through those gates a free man someday, forcing a smile on your autistic face and wearing a nice breast cancer pink tee shirt. I will watch your big release day on t.v., maybe from the waiting room of one of my scan appointments to see if my unfair cancer has returned for the third time.Because I will most definitely be that little fish still swimming against the tide of cancer. You never know, maybe that's how the story ends.

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    1. Gosh, you are an amazing woman! And I hope Paul "gets it" from what you have shared here. You've even encouraged me to continue on! No, I've never had cancer but my spine is crumbling and I have 7 herniated disks due to a near death car accident 25 years ago. The pain is often unbearable, even with lots of pain pills. There isn't much doctors can do, and I pray a lot, but often think of just not waking up one day. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope Paul gains something from it as I did.

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    2. I'm so sorry to hear about your pain as well, anonymous. I read Paul's blog often and I just want to let him know that many people have difficult lives and pain. I just feel let life play itself out. We never know what awaits us down the road. If we let depression take hold of us, it wins. It is our pain, suffering and life experiences that make life real and make us unique. Wouldn't the world be a boring place if we were all the same and were all "normal" ? Many doctors have told me, "At least you can hide your cancer scars under your shirt."I was diagnosed with cancer very young at age 35. At first I felt I should hide my cancer scars but now I know my cancer scars make me very unique. Of course I'm not happy with cancer scars or having to battle cancer but who said life is fair or even happy ? As for Paul, his mental scars of being imprisoned make him unique. I even read your blog Paul, in the waiting room of the cancer center for my follow up appointments. Thanks for writing it. Take care and just remember, depression is a reminder that we are alive and are unique.

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    3. Anonymous on April 18, 2014: I am unique without 21 years of imprisonment. I do not need these scars to make me distinguished and would be better without them as would you too.

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    4. We'd all be better without scars, Paul. But the reality is that some of us have scars. (Mine are the scars of an abusive childhood as well as two major surgeries.) We - you, me, and the brave cancer survivor who posted above - all have to make the best of the cards we are dealt.

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    5. Paul were you offered a plea bargain?

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    6. Prosecutors do not offer plea bargains to anyone they have inferred to the public is a mass murderer. Regardless, I would have never accepted one.

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  7. I agree that the entire case is ridiculous. I was reading the newspaper articles from 20 years ago, and I think that maybe the judge had a massive brain fart.

    Paul, thank you for writing this blog.

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  8. I'm interested to hear what your life goals were before you entered IDOC. What were your plans? Where did you hope to be at this point, had you not been falsely accused?

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    1. In my early to mid-teens, my priority was total independence. I wanted to be self-sufficient, financially and otherwise. Thereafter, I also sought to make the most of my abilities and life. I was very ambitious and would have quickly had a college degree, profession, wife, children, and more. At this point in time, I hoped to have accomplished the vast majority if not all my dreams and could die early feeling satisfied. I had no desire to live a long protracted existence, but a life of purpose, meaning, and intensity.

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    2. You wanted to die early even when you were free?

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    3. What profession would you have chosen? How many children would you have hoped for? I gather from some of your other posts that you would not want a wife who worked but rather you would have insisted on being the breadwinner?

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    4. What qualities would you have wanted your wife to have ?

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    5. With all due respect, you don't know for certain that you would have had a wife or children, no matter how ambitious. Sometimes people unfortunately don't find a spouse.

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    6. I envision Paul as an accountant.

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    7. It is difficult looking back over 2 decades what specific profession I would have chosen. Given my aptitude in science and design, I may have become an engineer. Even as a teenager, I thought 5 children would be ideal for a family and was looking for a girl to bring with me to a university. Naturally, I would fully support her and not expect her to contribute financially in any way.

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    8. 5?!?!?
      Kids are LOUD Paul. Especially that many!

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  9. another AnonymousApril 21, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    I'd be interested in hearing about that too: what Paul envisioned his life to be.

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  10. relative of former IDOC inmateMay 7, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    Are the Jaycees still active at stateville?

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    1. I hope so---Jayccees are a good club

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    2. Jaycees ceased to exist over a decade ago. Many prisoners in the IDOC do not even know what they were. The prison system has changed radically from the 1990s.

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    3. Bummer. Jaycees were a good thing.

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    4. That's too bad. Jaycees used to deliver pizzas to the inmates in their cells as well as other food, I think.

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  11. Intêrësting bløg. Keep up the gõöd work. Blêssîngs to yöú ánd your cêllmātê

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  12. I don't understand why they can't give you your own cell?

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  13. Paul, do you get the magazine "Mental Floss" by any chance? What about Reader's Digest?

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  14. just followed a linkMay 18, 2014 at 8:09 PM

    I hear ya; I'd want to be alone too, in your situation. It's hard enough to share a room with a sibling.

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  15. Are you jealous of their happiness ?

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  16. Ya know, some of the other convicts accept their fate and decide to find happiness. I'm not saying that you need to do this,Paul, but please don't make fun of those that do. That doesn't mean they are retarded.

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    1. Good point.

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    2. Yeah. Retarded is a rude word

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  17. Replies
    1. I was informed doctors would be replaced by LPNs and it does seem that Stateville is relying much more on them recently, but not for mental health care.

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    2. I wonder if you mean NPs ? (Nurse practitioners)

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    3. I was told the acronym (LPN) stands for licensed practicing nurse. Prisoners refer to licensed medical practitioners as LMPs.

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    4. It does. It appears the DOC really is trying to skimp on medical care. :-(
      No offense meant to LPNs. However, they have less training than RNs and therefore get paid less.

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  18. happyhappyjoyjoy

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  19. I think some folks can choose to be happy despite their circumstances. It doesn't mean they're retarded or unrealistic.
    I'm not good at finding joy. In the same situation, I'd tend toward the same attitude as Paul's.

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    Replies
    1. There are many deluded prisoners at Stateville with sub-average intelligence. These factors do play a role in their demeanor, however, of course it is not everything.

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  20. Temple Grandin. Excellent author.

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