29th July 04 Super Maximum Unit

A group of us were moved to a super-maximum unit (SMU2) in Florence, Arizona. The journey from Alhambra to SMU2 took approximately one hour, during which I admired the desert and mountain landscapes. Arizona's most dangerous prisoners are housed at SMU1 and SMU2. These include some of the leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood and the Mexican Mafia. The guards here all wear shank-proof vests and protective glasses. Wearing such garb has earned them the name "ninja turtles". All inmates are strip-searched and handcuffed before leaving their cells.

My first cellmate was a satanic priest called Lucifer who had a pentagram tattooed on his forehead. But within one hour of my arrival he was rolled up back to the county jail to face additional charges. Lucifer generously gave me a 335-page Leonardo da Vinci biography. As I was completely bookless, the gesture was appreciated. His institutional score was the highest, 5-5, and my neighbours explained he was in for murder, part of a cult that was drinking blood and eating human body parts.

After Lucifer departed, David, the suicidal inmate from Alhambra, appeared smiling at my cell door. He is now my cellmate. Because of his depression, he sleeps for approximately 20 hours each day, so our cell is quiet. Unfortunately, the neighbours create all kinds of noise into the small hours, which has made getting to sleep have its difficulties. They heckle, joke and converse about bizarre things. Last night they had a debate about who had the biggest "booty size" out of Catherine-Zeta Jones, J-Lo and Selina.

The only insect houseguests thus far have been a cricket, a beetle (an unusual-looking specimen) and a few tiny white flies that look like specs of dust. The beetle was bulbous and chestnut coloured. It crawled around slowly on six furry legs. I watched with great interest as it patrolled the room.

My request for a vegetarian diet has not yet been approved. I am dizzy with hunger. David is the lucky beneficiary of double meat rations. I’ve ordered twelve ounces of peanut butter from the store list, which I’m hoping to receive next week.

I’ve adjusted my yoga routine to nighttimes so that I’m doing something constructive when my neighbours are causing the most noise. I'm finding that standing on my head has a soothing effect on my brain. I read and write in the daytime. Fortunately, Lonely left behind a blank Library Book Request Form, which I submitted immediately. I received Plato 1 the next day. Plato 1 is a 478-page book from the Oxford Readings in Philosophy series. It is as if by providence that I am supplied an educational book just when I need it the most.


Anonymous said...

It seems that there is a humorous side to prison life which is appreciative of anyone willing to engage in. Variety is the spice of life. It is amazing when you may have prisoners who on first glimpse, you would feel threatened by, but there can be a softer side to them, and one that is also crying out to be educated. Hope you get your meals sorted soon.

Anonymous said...

As an American, former resident of Mesa, AZ, now permanently residing in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, all I can say is...How does it feel to be treated like a REAL criminal? If any Americans saw how British criminals are molly-coddled and given wrist-slaps for even some of the most horrendous offenses, they would be laughing their asses off at your whinging and whining about jail conditions. England could use people like Sheriff Joe to show criminals how they SHOULD be treated!