18 Nov 04

The Move
(Part 2)

The bus stopped at Buckeye prison's main gate and a guard with a clipboard opened the side door.
“What’s your number?”
Satisfied with my answer, he closed the door, circled the bus, raised the hood and examined the vehicle.
Upon being given the all clear, the main gate was opened and we proceeded to a second checkpoint. The transportation officers exited the bus and a female officer instructed them to walk through a metal detector. The African American officer kept making the machine beep. He spent five minutes removing items of clothing until the woman was satisfied. We then proceeded from the entrance gate to the unit where I was to be housed.
“You can get out now. You’ve been awfully quiet back there,” said the redneck.
“I’m a quiet person.”
“Where’s that accent from?”
“I spent ten years travellin’ the world with the military. I really like England. What the hell are you doin’ out here anyway?”
“It’s a long story. Stockbroker gone wild.” I said.
“Well, you know what they say about Arizona, don’t you?”
“People come on vacation and leave on probation,” he said.
I smiled.
“Well, good luck to you,” he said, as he uncuffed me.
My three property boxes were extracted from the bus. A guard opened the gate and I walked through it carrying the boxes. I was locked in an outdoor cage, and the gate officer unholstered his walkie-talkie: “We got a new one here from SMU2. Can someone take him to his house?”

I was now at the prison where the longest hostage situation in the U.S. had occurred. I recognised the tower from the news. Over the mountains, behind the prison buildings, I saw an unusual smoke cloud in the shape of a funnel rising into the sky. The smoke was coming from the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Station, the largest of it’s kind in the country. The Palo Verde Nuclear Power Station was cited as a terrorist target following the 9/11 attacks.

“Is there somewhere I can pee out here?”
“No, you’ll just have to wait until you get inside.”
Two more officers arrived and I was escorted across the compound.
“It’s about time you made it!” hollered an inmate.
Another yelled, “Where’ve you been for so long?”
“I read about you in the newspaper,” said another.
I was escorted to Building 2, and then towards pods C and D. Down the entrance corridor we veered to the right and into D pod. I was led to a cell that I wrongly assumed was to be mine.
“Look who’s here!” shouted one of the guards into the cell. The son of the ex-Mafia hitman, Sammy the Bull, emerged from the room. With his dad, Junior Bull had a high-profile Ecstasy case and he was aware of my situation. I suspected that the guards had brought me to his cell to see how we would react to one another. As I had already met him at the Towers Jail we were on friendly terms.
“How yer doin’?” Junior Bull asked in a heavy New York Italian accent.
We shook hands.
“Much better now that I’m not going to be locked down all day. How about you?”
“I’m doin’ alright. I read dat shit in da newspaper about you writin’ about Joe Arpaio’s jail.”
“Yeah, I’ve become something of a champion of prisoners' rights.”
“You’ll be alright 'ere. I’ve already told da fellas dat yer a good dude.”
“I appreciate that.”
“Okay, lets show ya to yer cell,” said one of the guards.
I was instructed to go up the stairs to cell D22. The 8 feet by 12 feet room was spick and span. It contained double bunks, a toilet, a sink, shelves and a much larger table than in any of my previous cells. There was a slim window, like one of those windows in a turret that archers used to shoot their arrows from; it provided a view of the pebbles and gravel separating the buildings.
“Your celly is a bit of a joker!” a guard said and departed.
“Great. I like the quiet life,” I yelled after him.

I soon found out I had been housed with one of the most dangerous men in the unit, a man whose numerous violent crimes included torturing and stabbing another inmate whom he had discovered was a child molester. BHF had already served 10 years of a 16-year sentence. His crimes and subsequent arrest were on the news. The cell I had moved into was also BHF's tattoo shop.

D pod has 25 two-man cells. There is a large day room about the size of a ballroom, which I share with the other 49 pod members. There are five private showers arranged like cloakrooms at the end of the runs. There are two white plastic circular tables in the day room, which inmates use to play dominoes, cards, chess and Scrabble. Most of the inmates here seem to be heroin users and the majority of them have hepatitis C. Two charge-per-call phones hang on the wall. Day-room access is from 7am until 8.15pm, however we are required to lockdown for two counts, one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon.

A 50-year-old gay named George has been insisting that I read chapters of Harry Potter to him in my, “fine English accent”. A six-and-a-half-foot transexual called Xena has been putting her arm around me and asking if I, “wanna go party?” While at rec, an inmate took me to one side and told me about an encounter he had had with a transsexual in Texas. I told him I didn't do that kind of stuff.

The inmates donated some extra clothing to me. I was provided the bare essentials by prison staff and the rest I have to purchase-what a racket! Junior Bull gave me a sweatshirt, which cost him $11 at the inmate store.

There’s plenty of things to do here. I challenged the resident chess and Scrabble champions. I'm marched off to the chow hall three times a day for hot meals, and I’ve had no problems getting vegetarian food. There are daily two-hour recreation sessions. Lengthy contact visits are allowed on alternate weekend days, which can last from 7.30am to 3pm; I am allowed one hour per week in the library. With all of this activity, I'm hoping that the rest of my sentence will pass quickly.
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Anonymous said...

This place sounds like a holiday camp compared to the Sheriff's jail. Good luck to you Jon..
Chris, Isle of Man

Anonymous said...

I find it very ironic that you and sammy jr were put in the same tower !!