Bucket O’ Piss
“Don’t say anything too loud and talk like this,” Francine told me with her lips together, unmoving.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because we’re not alone.”
“There’s no one here but you and me, Francine.”
“They’re over there,” she said and cocked her head in the direction of a patch of grass, empty except from a few geese.
“Who’s over there?” I asked her.
“Don’t move your lips!” she sounded through her closed mouth. “They’ll see what you’re saying.”
“Who? The geese?”
“No, the people who rigged up the camera and the recorder on the geese,” she pushed through her closed lips like a ventriloquist.
“Camera and recorder? What the hell are you talking about?”
She relaxed her lips to make a point. “People in my case – and probably people in your case – have put cameras and listening devices around the geeses’ necks to spy on us in here, OK?”
“You mean that black and yellow tracking device? No, that’s to track and study their migration patterns, I’m sure. It’s like the Department of Agriculture or some local nonprofit who wants to see where…” I was explaining.
“It’s not! It’s recording our every move and sound!” she protested.
“OK, E.F. Hutton, I have to go. Is this what you wanted to talk to me about?” I was tiring quickly.
“No. I wanted to warn you to look closely at your legal mail. They dipped mine in a bucket of piss.”
“A bucket of piss?” I asked. She exhausts me but Francine probably tires of our conversations too because I parrot everything she says back to her with a confused look. Geese? Cameras? Recorders? Bucket of piss?
“Yes. They’re literally dipping my legal documents in a bucket of their own piss. It’s harassment.”
“Well, thank God they’re not using our piss instead of their own. But how do you know it’s a bucket of piss? Maybe it’s a plate or even a shallow roasting pan.” I laughed hysterically at my own joke. Francine just stared at me.
“One staff member who I will not name confirmed to me that they have a large bucket of piss that they dip people’s legal mail in.”
Francine was neither lying nor mistaken, I’m certain a guard did tell her about a bucket of piss to soup up more persecutory delusions in her head.
“Confirmation of the bucket of piss, huh? Well, I hope they’re storing it in an appropriate place. Like the Hospitality classroom.” I started screaming laughing again.
“Look, all I’m trying to do is warn you.”
“I don’t even get all of my mail. Do you think it’s still soaking?” Hysterics.
“Forget I said anything,” she huffed and walked away.
Francine gives way too much credit to her persecutors. She accuses prosecutors and judges of accepting bribes to convict her. She claims correction officers are paid to harass her. I’m the only one who tells her the truth: they’ll do it for free.
I know for a fact that no Bucket o’ Piss hides somewhere on this compound, waiting for a C/O to dip writs and letters into it with plastic tongs like an amateur photographer uses a darkroom. If the Bucket o’ Piss did exist, inmates would know because we would be the people to move, wipe, seal and fumigate the Bucket o’ Piss. The guards would never curate their own Bucket o’ Piss. No way. The Bucket o’ Piss theory is beyond the pail.
I’m the only one who puts a hole in the Bucket o’ Piss theory because most undereducated inmates distrust government so much that stories of pee-pee pots seem plausible. Another inmate promises that millions of dollars in cash changed hands to secure her convictions. Others swear that the C/O’s receive a twenty-dollar bonus for each disciplinary report they write. When I hear all of this, I don’t know if I should be flattered or insulted that prosecutors/judges/prison staff continue to screw me for nothing.
These theories are more than just crazy; they’re dangerous because they cloud legitimate, meritorious complaints about misconduct. Inmates think that if they amp up their grievances with these wild theories, then the complaint will be taken more seriously and investigated more thoroughly. Instead, their complaints wash down the chute of dismissal. Nothing gets remedied and buckets of piss tip onto our heads Carrie-movie-pig-blood style.
The Bucket o’ Piss theory pisses me off the most when I see dipsticks running the system who need to be wiped out. Even the people who are supposed to defend us shit all over us. As I waited in court for a lawyer who would never show up, I watched another lawyer accuse his client of stalking and following him. Instead of doing what he was supposed to do – report his suspicions to the police of appropriate jurisdiction and then bring the report number to the court as justification for his withdrawal to a conflict of interest in a criminal investigation – the attorney requested that the judge release him because he feared his client. The asshole judge turned the motion to withdraw hearing into a mini-trial of the stalking charges, crimes for which the client was never arrested. I watched forty-five minutes of questions from the bench. “Were you on Elm Street yesterday, ma’am?/ Were you on Orange Street?/ Where were you going?/ Did you have an appointment with Attorney G?”
Ultimately, the judge kept the attorney on the case but issued a re-arrest warrant on the client for failing to show up for her last scheduled court appearance even though she was right in front of him at the moment. Apparently she wasn’t following the attorney too closely otherwise she would have stalked him right into court that day. Because she had been remanded back to York for the failure to appear, not the alleged stalking, she rode in the bus with me back to the prison so I told her what I thought.
“What he did to you was improper. He should not have handled it that way.” I advised.
“But I can’t do nothin’ about it.”
“Yes you can. File a grievance. Fuck him. He totally put you in a bad light. You think you’re going to get a fair deal from that judge now?”
“You can help me?” she asked.
“Oh, can I.”
And I drafted the grievance for her. She filed it. Weeks later, she flapped the response letter in my face.
“Explain this to me!”
I scanned and read the attorney’s written defense “I am not a homosexual and even if I was…” “this is when she said I threatened to shoot her…”
“Gina, where did you get this? Who sent you this?” I asked her.
“What’s all this about shooting and being called gay?” I was totally confounded.
“Oh yeah, I added that part myself.”
Oh yeah, right into the complaint I wrote, Gina inserted sentences that the lawyer threatened to shoot her and that the attorney was gay because she saw him talk once to a bail bondsman who was gay, two allegations that sucked up all focus and attention of the inquiry. Again, piss-poor thinking eclipsed the real misconduct. Being gay is not misconduct and threatening to shoot her… well, … threatening to shoot her became understandable as I got to know Gina. But her lawyer still screwed her and got away with it because a Bucket o’ Piss-type allegation spilled onto the legitimate report of his throwing his client under and into the prison bus.
As one would expect, Francine did equal damage to a legit complaint about a federal judge. She was pursing some type of medical claim against UCONN Medical Center when an article appeared in the Connecticut Law Tribune about how the judge assigned to her case in the local district court had enrolled in an experimental drug trial at UCONN to treat his recently-diagnosed Lou Gehrig’s disease. He received treatment from the same legal entity as the defendant before him in Francine’s case. Do I need to say that he continually ruled in UCONN’s favor?
And Francine did as I advised. When she came up to me flapping the judge’s response to the shot taken at him, I sniffed it for urine and read something about bribery evidence… lack of…
“Did you accuse him of taking bribes? Didn’t we talk about this? That you shouldn’t say that anymore?”
“I never said anything about bribes. I just said he went into UCONN Medical to receive treatment and illegal cash payments,” Francine said in her defense.
I have no idea if Francine’s medical claims have merit and no one else will either because the judge with the clear conflict of interest threw them out. I am so tired of watching other prisoners piss into the wind when they complain about the mistreatment and misconduct that tracks through the system. With fanciful allegations woven into every genuine gripe, we will remain at the bottom of the barrel. Or bucket.
“What? Just tell me what I should write in reply,” Francine pleaded with me but what could I say? You blew it? You’re bonkers? No one needs to spend one dollar in illegal cash payments to get you because they’re already won?
“I don’t want to say, Francine. You know… they’re listening.” I pointed to the ceiling and she nodded, knowingly.
Over 41,000 readers in almost six months and none of them will rock the Prison Diaries Reader Poll vote.
From the New York Times: Three Attica Guards Resign in Deal to Avoid Jail
Three guards from Attica beat a black inmate, gang-style, breaking his leg and his eye socket. They pleaded guilty to misdemeanors in order to receive probation as their sentences. The prosecution was the first time in the history of the State of New York that a guard was arrested for a non-sexual assault of an inmate.
What would their sentences be if three white inmates assaulted a black guard gang style?
- 25 years consecutive because it's inmate-on-guard crime. (50%, 3 Votes)
- 5 years concurrent which is bullshit because anyone who assaults gang-on-person style should be sent away for a long time no matter who they are, what their race is or what they do for a living. (50%, 3 Votes)
- 10 years concurrent because it's white-on-black crime. Should be more. (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 6