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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

One Week Amongst 21 Years -- May 3, 2014

On April 28, 1993, I was arrested by numerous gun wielding police. Thereafter, I was taken to a secret location to be unscrupulously interrogated for two days. Charged with murder, I spent two years at the Cook County Jail awaiting trial. My attorney failed to contest the testimony of one of the interrogating officers and I was convicted of my co-defendant's actions, yet he was acquitted of committing any crime. Despite this irony and a judge who concluded I was not present at the crime scene, I was condemned to languish in prison for the rest of my life. The following is the more memorable parts of the week and no way reflective of the trials and tribulations I have endured over the last 21 years, although they weighed heavily on my thoughts:

On Sunday morning I did not have to look into my tray to see what was in it. For years, the same breakfast of biscuits and gravy has been served. I do not mind the biscuits which can go well with peanut butter and jelly, but the gravy was horrendous. It was made of turkey-soy, flour, beef seasoning and grease. The gravy quickly coagulates and looks like what would fall out of a can of Alpo dog food. Other than men in segregation, very few prisoners eat it. After taking the biscuits off the tray and scraping off all the gravy, I made myself a bowl of bran flakes.

Showers were run on my gallery at 7 a.m. and I awakened my cellmate. Anthony always goes to the shower room despite what time of day guards let out prisoners. While I ate breakfast and watched the news, I could hear past my ear buds that someone was playing hip hop music on their radio. Early in the morning, it was one of the last things I wanted to hear and apparently I was not the only person who thought that way. The lieutenant who was in his office below my cell came out and sought out the source of the music. Prisoners are not permitted to play their radios or TVs at excessive levels and can have them confiscated, but he did not apprehend the noise offender.

After exercising and bathing from the sink, I went to the chow hall for lunch. It was a wasted trip because I gave my grease-chicken-soy patty and sherbet to my cellmate. However, I did get to witness an amusing harangue by a loony black prisoner. For no apparent reason, Kojak stood by the table I was sitting at and began to yell and threaten Leprechaun. My neighbor did not even turn to acknowledge his presence and continued eating as if he did not exist. The incident seemed surreal and I had to ask Leprechaun if he was addressing him. I knew he could not be talking to me in that manner. However, who was Kojak then telling to meet him in the shower to fight?

When Kojak left, Leprechaun said he was not going to engage him. He was a nut case and not worth getting in trouble for. My neighbor was rather cowardly and could have at least returned some words. I asked him if he wanted me to handle Kojak in the shower for him. It has been a while since I used my spinning back kick. I could KO him before he even realized what was going on. Leprechaun said I would go to segregation, but I told him the loony convict would not remember what happened when he gained consciousness. Guards would think he just lost his footing in the shower and cracked his head if they even cared to discern a plausible explanation.

Last week, Kojak was released from segregation and moved into a cell a couple of doors down from mine. He was in Seg a month for fighting with a former cellmate of his at the Health Care Unit. From what I was told, it was a rather hilarious display because both men were weak and neither knew how to fight. The incident, apparently, was instigated by Kojak. He was angry the other prisoner had been dropping dimes on him. Ironically, they were both telling on each other to be separated and are known snitches. Kojak reminds me less of the TV show detective he is named after than a black version of Uncle Fester from the Adams Family. Half the time I expect him to put a light bulb in his mouth.

For dinner, I did not bother to leave my cell for soy-spaghetti or any further drama. However, as my cellmate and neighbor left, I yelled to Anthony, "Take care of Mini-Me!" During the time chow lines were run in the cell house, I washed my gym shoes and shorts with bleach that someone had given me only because he was concerned the Orange Crush may still ransack the penitentiary. According to ongoing rumors, an enormous tactical unit made up of SORT from various prisons was making rounds. They were at Galesburg (Hill Correctional Center), and last week when they were expected to storm Stateville they instead traveled to Dixon.

Monday morning an army of orange suited guards with full body armor and carrying batons did not invade the penitentiary. However, this did not dissuade many prisoners from trying to be added onto the personal property list. Only two lines of about 10 men are generally permitted to go to the warehouse. Occasionally, the sergeant will add on a couple of extra inmates to the lines if they have an urgent need. Prisoners who asked to be added to the list sought to move their excess legal paperwork into storage. One of the nuances of the Orange Crush rumor was they were going to throw out any property which was not in their assigned boxes with the exception of a TV, radio, and/or fan.

While I read a Barron's newspaper, I listened to the Rush Limbaugh show. I was expecting the Russian backed unrest in eastern Ukraine to be the topic of conversation but instead I heard about the owner of the LA Clippers. Apparently, there was a public uproar that he told his girlfriend he did not want her coming to games with black people. Why this was national news was beyond my comprehension. As the owner of an NBA team, he could invite who he wanted. Furthermore, I did not see a racial dimension considering his girlfriend was black and Mexican herself. Yet despite this, there were all types of black celebrities, activist groups, and basketball players incensed by the tape recording and demanding Donald Sterling, who has owned the team since 1982, to be removed from the NBA.

After listening to Rush Limbaugh, I went to sleep. I commonly become tired in the early afternoon and need to re-energize myself. It was chilly and damp in the quarter unit and I put on thermals underneath my sweats. In addition, I threw a wool blanket over myself. To block out all the yelling prisoners, I put in thick earplugs. I save an extra pair for napping during the day which men who work with jack hammers use. They are painful to keep in all night but for an hour or two are not a problem. Occasionally, I wonder if I would rather hear overlapping rap, hip hop, mariachi, or other music I greatly dislike or the cacophonous noise of various prisoners yelling to each other.

As normal, I dreamed of a life outside of prison and was unhappy when I awoke. Refreshed from sleep, but unmotivated to do anything, I made myself a cup of coffee to go along with some peanut butter and pretzel rolls which were donated to the penitentiary. As I ate, I watched Wolf Blitzer on CNN and one of the top stories was about Amanda Knox. The Italian appellate court just released their reason for reinstating her murder conviction. Despite how it was abundantly clear that Rudy Guede, an African migrant, killed her housemate Meredith Kercher all on his own, the court stated in their opinion the murder had to have been the work of more than one person. The ridiculous assessment and legal tribulations Knox has endured reminded me of the date. Twenty-one years ago, I was arrested by the Palatine Task Force.

The Palatine massacre was solved long ago, but I continue to remain in prison based on my trial attorney's decision not to contest the testimony of a detective who worked for the Illinois States Attorney's office. He claimed I admitted my roommate told me he was going to kill the victim and I lent him my vehicle. Evidence that Faraci murdered Fawcett was overwhelming yet he was acquitted and I was convicted by a different jury under a theory of accountability. Since the trial, the prosecution has been aware of witnesses placing my car 50 miles from the crime scene. However, they were not called by my defense lawyer who preferred to simply argue that regardless I was not accountable for my co-defendant's actions. I have given State's Attorney Anita Alvarez additional evidence proving Faraci committed the murder alone and I did not lend him my car, but this has been ignored.

After writing a letter to Nadine Lenarczak at an address provided to me by an anonymous reader of my blog, I watched a PBS documentary on the John F. Kennedy assassination. The show went over various forensic evidence to demonstrate there was no conspiracy and Lee Harvard Oswald alone killed the president. Belief that a 4th shot was taken was discredited when acoustics showed sound could bounce off buildings to make it seem like another shot was taken and possibly from a different direction. Also, because the bullet traveled at a speed faster than that of sound, there would be a sonic boom. Most persuasive, however, was the autopsy which showed fracturing of the skull and damage to the brain from a bullet coming from the direction of Oswald and not any second party on the "grassy knoll". When I mentioned all the science that made conspiracy theorists look foolish to my cellmate, his only response was, "So Jimmy Files was lying about killing the president?" Anthony was joking about a prisoner formerly at Stateville who claims to have given John F. Kennedy the final and fatal shot.

Tuesday morning I went to the South Yard to lift weights and run. It was cold and cloudy and not as many prisoners came out as I had anticipated. My neighbor Hooch only had Fat Jimmy to play handball with and the latter lost energy after less than a half hour. Hooch's cowardly cellmate hung on the fence nearby looking longingly at the laundry building where he once worked. Possibly, this was another reason he ignored Kojak because he was waiting to be rehired later in the year. After doing most of my exercises with the weights, I told my cellmate I was going to run. Being a smart ass, he asked me why I was telling him. Did I seek his permission? Want his watch to time my laps? No, I told him. I did not want any of the above. I just wanted to let him know I was leaving him all alone amongst black inmates and they may want to take out their anger on the only Caucasian person in their vicinity since they could not get to 80-year-old Donald Sterling.

I was joking with my cellmate, of course. No one at the prison cared about the privately recorded conversation between Sterling and V. Stiviano. The previous night I overheard black convicts talking openly about the subject from their cells. "So what?" I heard one man say. "Everyone is racist including many of the NBA players. They pretend like they will refuse to play, but for $20 million, who is going to turn that down?" Another prisoner chimed in that you cannot control people's thoughts. These sentiments and others were expressed on the Rick Savage radio talk show, however, it did not change the decision of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. He pronounced that the Clippers owner was banned for life like a judge handing down a natural life sentence in prison.

I did not want to go to the chow hall, but the yard line was run into it after the rec period was over. "Slick meat" was being served and I just left it and the other distasteful food on my tray. Interestingly, when guards yelled for us to leave, Kojak came from across the chow hall to take my tray and discard its contents in the garbage can for me. I am not certain if he overheard me talking to Leprechaun a couple of days prior or if he just wanted to make sure I would not get involved in his dispute with a person I regularly ate meals with. While his action was amusing to me and others at the table, it would not change my opinion of him.

In the cell, Anthony bathed out of the sink and I sat at the table near the bars eating a substitute meal. Bob stopped by to say goodbye as he was finally being transferred to the high-medium security prison in Galesburg. There was nothing greatly exciting about being sent to a level 2 facility and in fact it could be in ways more oppressive and violent than Stateville. Stateville has a lot of older convicts particularly in our quarter unit and thus they are less likely to jump into fights. I warned Bob to keep a low profile for awhile and be a fly on the wall rather than always trying to be friendly with everyone. Convicts can take that as a sign of weakness and target him as a "mark". "And wipe off that constant smile!" I told him. "You have nothing to be happy about anyway." Bob was in prison for having sex with a 17-year-old girl and hit with nearly a 40 year sentence of which he has to serve 85%. I do not care if he was a Hinsdale High School teacher. 40 years was excessive even for the pedophile who was moved in the cell next to mine despite how much I loathe him.

John raped a retarded child under the age of 13 and I have not hidden my animosity for him. Last week when he was moved next door, I thought it had to be more than coincidence. Someone had a sense of humor or wanted me to kick his ass. However, I have since learned his previous cellmate has for months been trying to get him moved. A bunk next to my cell opened up when its occupant was transferred and it just so happened his cellmate and John had shared a cell before. Apparently, they got along well and he was one of the few prisoners in the unit that did. Rumor has it they are both homosexuals and I am reluctant to speculate. I still do not know with certainty the sex of John's rape victim.

I rarely see Malinowski despite how he lives next door. He goes to chow, but because he attends medical lines, he often leaves or returns to the cell at a different time. Prisoners who receive insulin shots or narcotic pain medication are taken to the H.C.U. in the evening at or about the same time as dinner. Apparently, he has a host of possible medical or psychiatric problems. My cellmate said he saw him in the shower and much of his body was covered in open sores. I have noticed him also receiving numerous types of medications. Plus at night, the nurse stops by his cell to give him a psychotropic or at least that is what I believe it to be.

I have heard a few prisoners express that the pedophile should get the same punishment as Clayton Lockett. Lockett was convicted of raping and killing a 10-month-old baby in Oklahoma and sentenced to death. This week he was executed, but something apparently went wrong. According to CNN, he was declared unconscious yet when lethal drugs were administered, he began to writhe and clench his teeth in immense pain. The curtains in the death chamber were closed to prevent people from witnessing his suffering and although the proceedings were halted, he died not long thereafter from a heart attack. I tend to think the execution was botched intentionally and was not just an accident. Liberals may believe that this is just another reason to abolish the death penalty, however, contrarily, I believe it should be used much more often and the brutality of it not minimized or hidden from the public. If society knew what death looked like, there may be more emphasis on correcting the justice system to make sure it works properly. Giving people lethal injections, natural life without parole or similar sentences sweeps under the rug cases such as my own.

On Thursday, my cellmate went to the gymnasium. I asked him why he was bothering since nearly all the machine weights were broken. He exclaimed that he wanted to show the black prisoners who owns the court in reference to apparently something Donald Sterling said or insinuated. Fortunately, when I tuned in to the Rush Limbaugh show after my cell workout and sink bath, the discussion had moved on to more important news. A memo was discovered further demonstrating how the White House was attempting to cover-up the cause of the attack on a U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Even more disturbing to me is not the political deception, but negligence and incompetence the Obama administration has repeatedly shown in regards to handling foreign crises. It is not just Libya, but situations in North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Ukraine which extol weakness and ineptitude to the world.

Yesterday, I sat with Leprechaun and made fun of his cowardice since few prisoners would understand or care about the nuances of foreign affairs. I asked the midget how he ever survived when the IDOC was wild. Did he get protection from the bikers? "No," he said, "They got protection from me," which caused Hooch to roll his eyes. Then I asked if he did the North Siders laundry. Eventually, he told me he was not sent to the penitentiary until 1998 and was at Joliet C.C. which was less violent than the other maximum security prisons. By the time it was closed in 2001, the IDOC had changed significantly.

Leaving the chow hall, Kojak was meandering at the gate almost as if he was delirious. He went back and forth and then left to right, blocking my path. I was behind him and he did not see me. The nut case in fact seemed oblivious to the world. The lieutenant saw my frustration and told me to just push him out of the way. This I would have done already except a member of Internal Affairs was standing nearby. Other guards would not have cared if I threw him to the ground, but I did not know how I.A. would react. The low-life's I must deal with in prison I thought as I bumped Kojak to the side and left the center feeding circle. However, was not my life just as low and pathetic?

Earlier this morning, I was apparently staring blankly and my cellmate kicked my shoes. He asked if I was still alive. I answered, "The living dead." I have spent 21 years incarcerated and almost everything of meaning or value to me has faded away. I carry on mostly through a sheer force of will and determination to see justice. This week also commemorates 5 years that I have been writing this blog and I have seriously considered making this post my last. I hate my life and writing about it continuously. It is a Never Ending Story and not one that I foresee having a happy ending. Furthermore, I have covered virtually every topic imaginable and have trouble thinking of names to title them. This was just one week amongst 21 years I have been incarcerated.