28 March 2016

Search Party

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Strip searches aren’t just for scumbags anymore.  The United States Supreme Court made it official: for purposes of keeping weapons and drugs out of government-run facilities, peace officers can force everyone they take into custody to strip naked, lift their genitals and spread their buttocks.  To make matters even worse, no tipping is allowed.

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They’ll search angels if they get a chance.

Before the Supreme Court decided Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders just months ago [March 2012], only convicted felons and/or persons charged with felonies were subject to suspicionless strip searches.  Now even the straighter arrows in crime’s quiver – deadbeat dads, misdemeanants, infraction-ers – can’t evade the Bend, Squat and Cough routine of bowing at the waist, spreading one’s cheeks and coughing to expel anything hidden inside.  No one escapes becoming a nude gymnast under the new law, proving that equality still thrives in the American justice system.

As the Court readily acknowledged, contraband’s usual means of transport is the ass:  girls in front, boys in back.  You may call it disgusting and incredible, but inmates call it “tucking” and it happens all the time.

For this reason, the nation’s highest tribunal held that such searches don’t violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment prohibition against warrantless searches because the Court (in a 5 to 4 decision) believes that strip searches will ferret out the knives, scissors, glass shards, drug/paraphernalia smuggled into prisons and jails that threaten the safety of people that they don’t want to know anything about.

53b98f3a-dd44-48cd-8794-2ba1bfab3a2eThe Court’s reason for permitting these searches might be legitimate if strip searches actually worked to contain the introduction of dangerous contraband into places like this.  Of course, the staff makes catches sometimes, like when Ramos, one of the property officers, was doing the outbound searches and yelled:

“Someone call a lieutenant…she’s got a torpedo up her crank!”

The inmate was bringing a pencil and paper to write down the male inmates’ contact information when she was in the courthouse lockup.

And staff caught this guy I read about in Francine’s Prison Legal News who entered a Vermont jail in 2010 – with $24.97, a cell phone and the charger nestled in his anus.  I’m glad this was publicized so his friends knew why their calls to him went straight to voicemail when they phoned to tell him to keep the change.

But, for the most part, my surroundings indicate that these searches don’t stop the importation of contraband; another inmate nods out while on the phone because she is high on heroin that was snuck into the prison in a prisoner’s birth canal.  Strip searches don’t catch what they are supposed to, maybe by design.

Strip searches – forcing people to get naked in front of strangers – are about humiliation, which, in turn, makes them about control.  Not the beneficial, well-oiled machine control, but the soul-squelching, right-stomping control.

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You can resist all you want, the search party marches on with or without your cooperation.

Women here at York Correctional so loathe the two strip searches that bookend every trip to court that they accept longer sentences just so they won’t have to travel to court again and be searched in the process.  The strip searches drain inmates of the endurance they need to continue the negotiations between their defense attorneys and prosecutors that would lead to more advantageous dispositions of their cases.  In this way, strip searches control the justice system, not justice itself.

I was lucky enough to be diagnosed early on in my sentence with an unidentifiable rash that made shaving my legs and underarms impossible.  I now sport three-plus years of hair development and I noticed that, as my hair grew longer, the strip searches grew shorter and were sometimes performed minus the strip.  My searches became so cursory that I could move more drug weight in and out of this prison than a small Colombian cartel.  But I’ve never done that; my lips are sealed.

images-110My situation points out another vulnerability of the blanket strip search rule; a strip search policy’s success depends on consistent performance by searchers.  Of course every public profession has a few overly well-intended employees and strip searchers will be no exception.  Several of them are determined to find everything and anything like the guard here who once shouted “More pink!” to me during the spread segment.  I was shocked; she hadn’t offered to buy me a drink or even suggested I was cute. What kind of girl does she think I am? Does she think I’m like the other women in here?

But usually the practice of inspecting dirty genitals and anuses repulses the guards so much that they are glad to give people some slack during the Bend, Squat and Cough, allowing kilos and killing instruments inside.  The Supreme Court’s plans for safety likely won’t come to fruition.

Now I offer this advice to everyone, as all of us are potential suspicionless strip search victims now:  follow orders, move quickly but emphatically to show your bareness and barrenness and keep in mind that the guards have always seen worse than you, regardless of whether you missed a waxing appointment or have overzealous bacne that went beyond the border of your belt.  Above all else, though, don’t fall in love with your stripper because if you do, you’ll find out they don’t love you. All this strip search stuff is just a meaningless fling.

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THREE IDEAS IN JUSTICE REFORM FROM MARCH 21 -27, 2016

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Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI), wants redemption to be the centerpiece of our criminal justice system. Why couldn’t he just run for president and clean up this mess?

Harper’s ran an article, “Legalize It All,” by Dan Baum that claims John Ehrlichman, a policy advisor to President Nixon who landed in the joint himself, told him 22 years ago that the War on Drugs was the only way to control black people and activists, that racism and First Amendment violations were the drug policy’s only goals.  The reason why Baum waited 22 years to drop this bomb while the war played out is unclear. The Simple Justice blog explains why the delay is so problematic here.

After years of complaints about the social isolation of solitary confinement, everyone’s up in arms over the Marshall Project’s report on “double celling” – the practice of putting two inmates placed in restrictive housing in the same cell. Charles Pierce wrote a column for Esquire, “Two Prisoners Shouldn’t Be Forced to Defecate Literally Inches Apart,” and left out the fact that prisoners are required to do that anyway, whether they’re in solitary confinement or not. Hell, I had to sit on the toilet with my pant leg touching my cellmate’s as she threw up in the sink (neither one of us could hold it). This hysteria is just another example of people who don’t know correctional realities getting on the outrage train without the ticket of experience. I was double-celled with people for six years and, although I don’t like the practice, I’m not outraged by it.  And P.S. it’s not overcrowding that causes double-celling, it’s a shortage of staff, so complaining about the practice just bolsters the correction officers’ unions.

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21 March 2016

Taste and See

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I see it when they return to the compound for a day from their halfway houses – usually in dilapidated neighborhoods – for medical appointments. They parade past a plate glass window in the small dining hall where food service workers eat their lunch, separated from the rest of general population because we smell of chicken bologna and crushed tomatoes.

I can tell that each day-tripper from the halfway houses know this is her chance to impress the other inmates; any other time she stands among inmates oppressed by ugly uniforms, she wears one, too. But for this medical appointment, she’ll look different.

“She looks different. Don’t she look good?” women squeal when the parade passes as its members wave to us. I never say it out loud, but my answer is always “No.” It’s cinematic ghetto.

yA woman, about 60, mouth puckered from her dentures’ absence, wears a denim miniskirt and thigh-high, grey suede boots. A two hundred and fifty pound woman wears painted-on capri length jeans with a tee shirt that reads “I Got Your Crazy Right Here.” Another sparkles in a sequined dress and Timberland boots and not worn in that stylish and eclectic way, either.  Most others wear low-rise jeans that are so tight that it’s not a muffin top of a fat roll circling the waistband; for these women the muffin batter has spilled all over. If it isn’t substance abuse for them, then it’s style abuse.

Not only do I plead guilty to boring ensembles and understatement, I confess to being a snob and a bitch when it comes to others’ appearances. I know my own insecurities underpin this attitude which makes me a hypocrite in addition to being a viper. The truth is that, if I were to see this parade on the outside, my friends and I (if they were still my friends) would exchange silent, supercilious looks that ask What the fuck is that? I don’t defend myself on this behavior because I can’t.

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Straight outta York CI.

Substandard uniforms and a lack of cosmetics make dressing your way very difficult in prison. When inmates take a stab at it – for a court appearance, a special visit, a graduation from an educational program or even their own weddings in the facility (one real one while I’ve been here and a ton of fake ‘ceremonies’ between ‘wives’ on the tiers) – 80’s-prom-reminiscent jewel toned pastel crayons – chartreuse, royal – detonate on their eyes. Fuchsia tracks their cheeks and a very dark brown concoction of petroleum jelly, instant coffee and sometimes browning syrup used for gravies in the kitchen turns their lips into slips of liver. An ill-advised perm coils some hair so tightly that it makes the woman look like the victim of a violent attack by crimping iron.

However much of an asshole I may be, the fact remains that some covers betray the contents of their books. I can tell immediately that the women in the parade grew up in the  impoverished inner-city. Even with no money, I wouldn’t dress like that because I didn’t grow up there. I don’t think this is elitist, racist or otherwise prejudiced. It’s simply the truth.

Sometimes I wonder if makeover’s wouldn’t break poverty’s intergenerational curse. I can’t tell if women really want to present themselves like this because they’re poor or they’re poor because they choose to present themselves like this. Is this how they’re dressing for job interviews? I wonder. If it is, there’s no wonder they’re underemployed. Do they know that those gold, bamboo-looking hoop earrings announce “My boyfriend is a drug-dealer” more loudly than anything else? I can’t say that some women’s taste is better than others but, from what I’ve witnessed up closed in here, conceptions of beauty  – or acceptable appearance – are determined by socioeconomic status.

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More my style.

The aesthetic alone alienates me from the other inmates. I’ll cop a plea to boring and no jury will acquit me of understatement for my look on the outside. Garish is beautiful to the underclass, apparently. In here, though, less can never be more because women come from so much less. They don’t know more because prison is poverty’s dumping ground. They think that if there’s a lot of something, then it can’t be bad.

The taste in here is limited, for sure, not only by the facility’s rules, but by the fact that more conservative, orthodox sensibilities are out of reach for them, not only financially but exposure-wise. Who are the people in your neighborhood? That’s who you’re gonna look like.  The only other inmate here who could peg what I look like on the outside was a woman who was a hairstylist at a salon in New Haven called Panache.

“You’re the beige and bob type,” she said when she assessed me, unsolicited. “You wear Essie “Mademoiselle” [nail polish] on your nails and you never grow your hair out real long.”

“Yeah, do I know you?” I asked.  She had sized me up like I do the other women that came from her neighborhood. She was exposed to my type at the salon and I was exposed to hers in here.

Just from being around the paraders and their nails and hair-did’s, even I’ve started thinking about zesting up my look when I get out. Maybe ombre highlights. Or even a pink streak in my hair. At least 50 inmates came here with fuchsia hair and I’ve decided it’s not always unflattering. Some of the geometric nail art looked okay to me today. But my ombre pinkness and yellow and blue triangles painted on with gel polish (I never had it before I got here so it’s all the rage to me) would stick me out in my regular people circuits and I’d end up changing to blend back in. Taste and personal style are like language; they’re taught by immersion. I’ve been immersed in a foreign land here in Niantic for so long that I’m almost fashion illiterate.

money-dollar-nail-design-mybeautypage-74009-300x224When they come back in from their halfway houses, the rainbow explosions of makeup, the ill-fitting clothes, the curling three-inch acrylic nails decorated with austere, male presidential faces from real dollar bills (bills that should stay put in their wallets or pockets) keep these women insiders to the wrong crowd and outsiders to the people who might be able to bring them out of poverty and rectify their lives.

Whether it’s right or wrong, people make snap judgments about appearance. Would people judge the paraders differently if they dressed more like me on the outside? Yes. It’s an offensive and oppressive thought that life would be easier for disadvantaged people if they looked like people who aren’t but it’s also reality. So much of the truth is distasteful.

 

THREE IDEAS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM FROM MARCH 14 – 20, 2016

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President Obama nominated the Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court, Merrick Garland, to fill the seat on the United States Supreme Court vacated by Antonin Scalia’s death. Garland’s record on Sixth Amendment rights – the right to effective assistance of counsel and all that it entails – isn’t great.  In United States v. Watson, he dissented from a decision to grant a new trial to a defendant whose prosecutor misrepresented the evidence in closing arguments, saying it was “inevitable that trial lawyers [would] suffer from innocent misrecollections.” Until Garland goes to jail for an innocent misrecollection, I don’t like him. Next.

Anders Brevik, convicted of the mass murder of 77 people in 2011, is in solitary confinement in Halden Prison in Norway with a three-room cell, complete with a computer, a television and a game console. But he’s still suing to get out of solitary, alleging human rights violations. It would be nice to see him win and get mixed into general population – and then see the look on his face when he realizes how good he really had it.

Luck o’ the Inmates: the rate caps that the Federal Communications Commission ordered for prison phone calls last fall went into effect on St. Patrick’s Day because, just one day before, the FCC wiggled out from a stay imposed by a federal appeals court earlier in the month. The phone companies think that prisons will erupt in violence because inmates won’t understand the new rates, which is a stretch even in the fictional Oz prison. Lower rates for calls will mean higher fees elsewhere. Trust me.

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14 March 2016

The Unnerving Presence

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“It’s no one’s business what happens here,” one of the kitchen supervisors told me when it became clear that Prison Diaries was becoming a regular feature in the New Haven Independent.

“No, it’s everyone’s business and in the United States we don’t believe in stifling free expression, remember?” I volleyed back. I’ve always believed that. This is a publicly-funded facility and Connecticut taxpayers should know how their money gets spent at 201 West Main Street. Some stories will horrify them. Some will make them proud. Others will just confound them. Wait, why was the C/O hiding in a garbage dumpster?

imageRegardless of what I report, writing from prison is a bitch. It’s not enough that some personal or institutional intrusion fractures my focus and makes me drift, but my hand hurts because I have to scribble everything. I claw through a 4000-word essay, fingers practically curled. A ridged burl decorates my middle finger where my dime-store pens rest. From writing every day, my tunnel is completely carpal-ed.

For a while, the physical conditions were biggest complaint about prison writing. I sulked when I erased lines of prose to make room for edits. Because I can’t cut-and-paste Microsoft-style, reading one of my drafts is to follow a map and piece together a puzzle. Underlined orders instruct the reader: Insert paragraph A here;” “Go to bottom of page 6;” or “Reverse order of sentences.”

“My writing would be so much better if I could just type directly into a computer,” I lament to anyone who will listen. Instead, I need to mail my handwritten stuff out for transcription.

In many parts of the world, a woman’s expression of thought attracts a range of penalties, ranging from suppression’s slap of the hand to the doom of death. I found an edition of New York Times still intact (because none of the inmates sliced it up for a collage) and one column described how, just to write a Pashtun folk poem, one Afghani woman closes herself off from society, stays inside to write so no one will see what she’s doing. Her father withdrew her from school a year before, after one of her classmates was kidnapped at gunpoint. Writing in secret is her only education now.

In Afghanistan, women must literally ‘phone it in’ when they write; they call a member of Mirman Baheer, Afghanistan’s largest literary society, and whisper their work over the line. Members of the society take dictation of marginalized women’s work and read it for critique at a group meeting or, sometimes, preserve it for posterity when the woman can’t write anymore because she gets caught putting her feelings down on air, the paper of oppression.

imageI haven’t written in secret but an Afghani woman’s plight isn’t that different from mine; we’re both blocked from completing the task of writing and depend on others to get our work done.  Of course, in the Middle East, it’s because she’s under threat of death. Here, it’s because the prison school is subpar and I threaten exposure. Or at least the staff thinks I do.

None of them ever said I couldn’t write or outrightly prohibited me from pitching to editors. Sure, some of the C/O’s make comments, Biff-the Bully-style (from the movie Back to the Future) taunts. One female guard make an overly voluble comment about how no inmate should make any money writing about her at her job.

Another one asked me: “Don’t you think it’s a better idea to stay under the radar?”

“Maybe if you guys allowed me to stay under there, I would have,” I answered.

After one oped came out in the local paper, a real slow-pitch softball on mental illness, hardly a scorcher for the facility, one of them asked me “Bozelko, what did you do?” like it was a huge, irreversible error, an invitation to unintended consequences beyond my imagination.

In this country, the First Amendment is supposed to resolve any dust-ups writers anticipate with the establishment. But freedom of speech will never protect a prison writer like it does a free woman. So far, I’ve used it like I’m character in a movie who’s being pursued by a murderer. I pushed the protection like it was a dresser or a wardrobe against the door to block the would-be perp from following me into a room. But the audience knows that the blockade will slow the pursuit, but it won’t stop it. Eventually, the villain breaks through because it’s a necessary part of the narrative. I knew my story wouldn’t end until I went head to head with a state-imposed media blackout.

image“You know about this, huh?” I asked the same supervisor the day after my name was shouted during mail call and I was handed not a letter to the editor, but a letter from the editor, of the New Haven Independent, where only a handful of columns had run. When he remained expressionless, I knew. If it wasn’t him, then it was one of his friends.

The editor cancelled Prison Diaries. Reason? My essays aren’t hard news and his non-profit mission statement states he can publish only hard news that is about New Haven. Since I’m not from New Haven he can’t justify it anymore. These were facts he knew before I risked writing but somehow they mattered now, not then. I don’t know if they called him or…who? The IRS? About the Independent’s 501(c)3 mission statement? It almost seemed too smart a plan for any of them to muster.  No one could ever call it what it was: subtle, masterful censorship.

“I guess it’s nobody’s business again, then?” I asked with a little too much sass in my voice. I was courting a ticket. All he could do was shrug at me as my anxiety built while I devised ways to keep writing.  From now on, it needs to be secret.

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Three Ideas in Justice Reform from March 7 – 13, 2016

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A riot broke out at William C. Holman Correctional Facility in southern Alabama over the weekend. The warden and an officer were stabbed and inmates expressed their complaints about conditions by setting fires and trashing the place. That’s not the best evidence that something’s really wrong at Holman, though. The best evidence that something is wrong is the fact that the public could witness parts of the riot because an inmate had a cell phone and taped the events. Considering that no one at all is supposed to have smartphone near inmates, the corruption and problems at Holman can be traced to whomever smuggled the phone to the inmate.

On Wednesday, the United States Sentencing Commission released study results showing the recidivism rate for federal prisoners released in 2005 to terms of probation is about 50% within 8 years. That’s not good, but it’s old data.

Science Magazine published an article that detailed the ways in which scientific evidence – striations on bullets and casings, fingerprint matches – is not as reliable as we think it is and might even need to be tossed entirely.  Add in the fact that eyewitness testimony has been proven to be inherently unreliable, I don’t know how prosecutors can prove a case to highly educated jurors, the types who read Science, who know evidence’s limitations. I predict dumber and dumber juries, with thinking people weeded out by questioning them in voir dire about what they read.

 

 

 

 

 

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7 March 2016

Into the Lives of Others

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“What’s it to you?” the captain asked Trina after she pleaded with him to help get her friend out of seg. Guards had boxed her pal during Chicken Sunday’s lunch for alleged flagrant disobedience – she refused to switch tables when ordered to do so. Trina had already appealed to the lieutenant who steered the entire procession to seg who told her:

“Look, I was nice. I let her finish her chicken before they took her.”

Now Trina was getting no further with the captain because her friend’s problem, as the captain plainly pointed out, was just that: the friend’s problem. Not hers. And Trina needed to focus on her own problems.

I agreed with the captain. I’d been devising a plan to pass five envelopes to Patty who forgot to buy them to send out the Christmas cards she made illegally on the library computer. Patty’s problem was hardly a calamity and it was hardly my problem yet I still felt some need to help Patty solve hers.

The only thing separating compassion from codependence in a prison is blurred lines. But I’m a good girl so I can’t see the lines at all. When the other inmates looking for envelopes or shampoo or some other boost find me, I let them bug me until I give in.

Analyzing how much or whether I should do favors or lend assistance to the other inmates takes up too much of my time. I never know how much assistance will set off  alarms that sound “ENABLING!” and how little assistance makes me heartless. I thought – and was taught – that if you’re able to do something to help another, then you should do it because even a minor contribution can make a major difference.

My thinking descended from from a very identifiable, tangible source: a lithograph that my parents and my aunt Nancy had commissioned around the time my youngest sister was born. Brown and orange, the print had a very primitive feeling with large eyes and angular faces in contrast to the Greco-Roman inspired décor in my parents’s salt-box colonial home. Inscribed within was verse from Edwin Markham:

There is a destiny that makes us brothers

None goes his way alone

All that we send into the lives of others

Comes back into our own

After reading Markham’s words every day for decades I developed a personal viewpoint that everyone should be helped at all times. In hindsight, I admit that it was probably the return on sending out, that prospect of inclusion, a destiny of connectedness that shaped my thinking more than the duty to send out.

But my sending out got lopsided. Sending out put me in. In trouble, in prison, in toxic relationships. It put me in the Disciplinary Office here for helping someone try to reduce her sentence. It has, at times, cost me my health, money, time, friends, respect, self-esteem and lists of opportunities. Trying to help someone, taking on their problems, is an addiction to me. I depend – pathologically – on the idea that if I don’t do what’s necessary to aid someone when presented with the opportunity, then my failure to help will cause irreparable damage.  In my mind, I can prevent the wreckage pending in someone else’s life with just slight effort – five envelopes, only five – and make all the difference in their lives. This But-If-I-Don’t delusion’s traced my thoughts so many times that it’s practically left grooves in my brain.

I don’t remember my first fix but the shackles were fixed on my mental slavery after my parents’ accident in Ireland, while they were vacationing.  Broken neck for mom, crushed pelvis for dad. When we finally delivered them back to the states (Ireland is third-world, medically speaking) neither one wanted to remain in the hospital even though they both needed surgery and more time to convalesce. So they signed themselves out against medical advice to heal at home. With me to care for them, of course. With his broken pelvis, my father slept on the couch each night, falling off to the white blare of CNN.

Because he had to twist his body to sleep comfortably, he usually fell asleep with one arm extended from the couch, clutching the remote control. And when he finally nodded off, he would drop the remote and the silver and black plastic would clatter and make a noise bigger than the fall. Sometimes the plastic tinkle of the battery cover’s landing would follow the crack. I could hear it from upstairs.

Each of the twenty-five times it would fall each night – for months – I would wake in my childhood bed and go downstairs to check on him. I convinced myself that the one time I heard the channel changer fall to the floor but didn’t pad down the stairs would be the one time that the remote fell, not because my father’s grip grew slack, but because he suffered a life-threatening heart attack, stroke or other CNN-induced cardiac event and, if I didn’t do my groggy stumble downstairs, whatever ailment struck him would kill my father because I wouldn’t be there to snatch him from death’s clutches.

So I trudged down, collected the parts and put them together before I handed the remote right back to him after I confirmed that I wouldn’t have to answer the dispatch operator’s question: What’s your emergency?

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I had to make that call years later, when he actually did have a stroke. And then, too, my father discharged early from the hospital against his doctor’s advice. To accommodate him, my mother remodeled the house for handicapped access and rented a hospital bed for my father’s home office, the one whose beige fabric-covered walls still held the Edwin Markham lithograph that screwed up my head so much that I saw nothing wrong with slavish service, even to people who weren’t making sensible choices. My father would remain in the hospital bed until midnight when he had to move – had to, had to move – to the couch to watch CNN and drop the remote as he fell asleep.

I was even more frightened that if I failed to respond to every splintering plastic sound every twenty minutes, my father really would die because he had suffered the stroke I subconsciously expected of him for years.

As I helped him dress to go out to lunch with a friend one morning – he had a social life, not me – he asked me not to come downstairs so much during the night. It was disrupting his sleep.

I can file that under “Your Sleep?” or “Ungrateful Son of a Bitch” but where it belongs is under “Boomerang” – the excessive concern and codependence you send into the lives of others can bounce right back at you and fail to help anyone and even harm yourself.

After I loaded him into the car I stormed back inside, grabbed the remote and over grass made tensile from frost, treaded to the edge of my parents’ yard and hurled the remote so hard into our neighbors’ yard that I almost lost my balance. I put some good spin on it because the battery end was weighted; it twirled through the air, into an among branches, logs and chicken wire. I don’t know what the remote landed on because, as far as I can tell, that was the only time that fucking thing ever landed silently.

I sent it out of my life when what I really should have tossed was my neurotic obligation to do every little thing that might, in some imagined scenario, make a life-or-death difference. That obsession was the only thing that the prison let me keep when I got here.

In here, I run and slide into obligations and then I bristle when the job chafes too much. I should say no to inmates who want help with paperwork, like a woman here who tried to kill her husband three times. Sentenced to fifteen years – five years for each attempt on his life – she wants to reduce her sentence and she wants me to help her do it. I should say no upfront, that her sentence is fair and she has no chance of modifying it. Just like it’s not my duty to help her, it’s also not my job to educate her on her reality, nor is it my place to steal her hope. That hope might be all that propels her from one day to the next. It may be insane, but it’s not illegal, infectious or impolite so it can harm only her and no one else. I have no role to play in it.

But I’ll do what I always do which is send into her life a nice written motion that I convince myself is just a running start for her handling (accepting?) her own problems. But it will only create another need for help. And I’lll help again because I’ll figure that, if I’m in for a penny, I’m in for a pound even if it will make me broke and broken, tossing remote controls over property lines. I find myself in this position repeatedly because I think this motion, that envelope or that bounced television accessory will make some type of crucial difference in someone else’s life. It’s a really arrogant thought when you understand it because the only person who can send help into someone’s life is herself. Once people realize that, they usually can handle things themselves, like my father did.

s-l10001“Chan, have you seen the clicker?”

“No.” It wasn’t a lie. I hadn’t seen it since I lobbed it outside.

“I just had it here last night,” he said as he peered around the sofa.

“Dunno. I didn’t see it.”

He called the cable company and some little shit in a Cablevision van delivered him a new one to let fall every night. I didn’t get up for every drop, but I did get up for many even though I know my father is still alive and he doesn’t need me to continue to be. Addictions are hard to tame.

I doubt that it’s entirely fair for me to say that no one can make a difference. People have sent things into my life that have helped me and a majority of those people work in this prison. Sending something good into others’ lives is creating the conditions under which others can make a difference to and for themselves. If I’m concentrating on someone else’s problem when that remote sails back into my life, I won’t know when to duck.

THREE IDEAS IN JUSTICE REFORM FROM FEBRUARY 29 – MARCH 6, 2016

Rodney-King

Thursday, March 3rd marked the 25th anniversary of the beating of Rodney King, the event that sparked the Los Angeles riots and sent anti-police sentiment into the lives of jurors who eventually acquitted O.J. Simpson of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman approximately four years later.  The next day, March 4th, it was revealed that a knife that had been excavated from Simpson’s property and given to an off-duty L.A.P.D. cop who took the knife home with him for the next 15+ years. With a police department this clueless, is it any wonder that O.J. walked?

The CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) conference was held this past weekend in National Harbor, Maryland, despite the fact that Trump refused to attend. One attendee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke says justice reform is based on three lies. Watch the video and note the part at 1:45 where he shoos away any countervailing evidence with the “lies, damned lies and statistics” line. And then wrongly attributes it to Benjamin Franklin when Mark Twain said it. Apparently, there are lies, damned lies, statistics… and stuff that comes out of this guy’s mouth.

A report from the Pew Center for the States issued on March 1st details the where’s and why’s of correctional officer shortages. The reason for the shortages? Prison populations are growing and aren’t expected to stop, contrary to reports that we’re decarcerating.

 

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