4 Mar 04

Chicken Wing

Chicken Wing lives in cell 6. At age eleven, a car crash left him with brain damage and partial handicapping of his left side. His left arm was mangled and now sticks up uselessly in the air.
In a holding cell at Medical, he once divulged to me that a convict named Bacon had repeatedly raped him at a federal prison. Chicken Wing is institutionalized and does not have any outside support. Using the Inmate Canteen Order Form, I buy him cookies every Thursday. When he receives his cookies, he barks excitedly. Like a dog anticipating a walk.

On Tuesday morning, Chicken Wing had a seizure.
“Man down! Man down! Man down!” yelled Chicken Wing’s cellmate, Leprechaun.
"Man down! Man Down! Man Down!” boomed a chorus of voices until the guards finally responded.
“He’s not breathing!” screamed a female guard.
Guards swarmed the day room. They stretchered Chicken Wing to Medical.
Later in the evening, Chicken Wing returned looking somewhat better.
"Are you OK?" I asked him during my hour out.
“Am I still good for cookies?” he replied.
I laughed.
“I’m sentenced now. I got probation,” he said in a sad voice.
“That’s good. You’ll be out of here soon.”
“But where will I go? I have nowhere to stay. How will I be able to do probation?”
"You should see if Pastor Walt at Church on the Street has any beds available."

The jail’s psychiatric examiner recently decreed that Chicken Wing has sufficient mental competency to take care of himself, so after his release he will get no help from the State of Arizona. The majority of the inmates here expect him to rejoin us soon. I doubt anyone would have cared if Chicken Wing had died last Tuesday morning.

11 Mar 04

The temperature suddenly rose this week. We are lounging in our cells wearing only the jail's standard-issue pink boxers. Each cell receives a trickle of swamp-cooled air, which does little to alleviate our suffering in the summer months when we feel like we are being baked alive in concrete ovens.
On Sunday, our drinking water turned orange-brown, and had particles of rust in it. The discolouration lasted for three days. I relied on the small carton of milk served with breakfast to quench my thirst.
On Tuesday I was sitting on the toilet, about to wipe, when the door slid open.
"Get on your mattress!" said the armed member of the "goon squad" accompanying the bug-spray man.
“We’d like to refuse being sprayed," I said, waving the roll of toilet paper I was about to use at him.
“Get on your mattress!” he yelled, raising his weapon.
Suppressing the urge to pelt him with the toilet roll, I pulled up my pants and retreated to my mattress.
Our cell is sprayed every month, against our wishes, with us in it. We inevitably ingest some of the spray, and we feel sick and dizzy afterwards. Spraying has zero effect on the cockroach population. Inmates have a right not to live in an environment infested with insects, but spraying enables the jail to flout the law by claiming on paper they are addressing the problem.

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