04 Nov 04

Frankie Arrives

Frankie is here. As I write this blog I can hear his loud and distinct cackle. He is causing uproar in a neighbouring run by hitting on young Chicanos, just like he did at the Madison Street jail with Yum-Yum and Cupcake.
“Hey sexy, you wanna be my celly? Don’t be afraid.”
It will take Frankie up to three months to find out which prison he is going to. Maybe he’ll follow in my footsteps and I’ll get to blog his liaisons with the cheetos. Hopefully, he’ll have forgotten about chasing my behind by then.

Email comments to writeinside@hotmail.com
03 Nov 04

Maniac Mack

One of the letters I received today was from Maniac Mack. Maniac Mack is housed at the Madison Street jail in a different area than Frankie and Mark. I met Maniac Mack in 2004 when we were both housed in a pod that had no running water for several days causing the toilets to become stacked up, and inmates were depositing their business in plastic bags (See blog entry 19/02 Deep Shit.) When the water was turned back on, I had to dig through the pile in the toilet with my bare hands to prevent things from overflowing onto our cell floor.
Maniac Mack wrote:
“Tonite in an attempt to oppress our already downtrodden spirits, some administrative blockhead decided we are being 'mollycoddled' and also that living conditions are far too ‘opulent and overly luxurious!' Personally I feel that Sheriff Joe A.K.A. ‘Humpty Dumpty,’ feeling particularly omnipotent and invincible since his election victory in the primaries decided to visit a new and fantastic torture on us…. 3 men to a cell…. A direct violation of the inmate housing federal guidelines set forth in Hart v M.C.S.O. case law” [sic]

I am unsure of this rumour so I have written to Frankie and Mark asking for confirmation.

The latest jail rumour discussed by Diego and Scooby was that the new multi-million-dollar jail is sinking upon its foundations. If anyone can back up these rumours with some facts I would love to hear more.

Read what Maniac Mack has to say in the comments box below:

1 Nov 04

Manny's Swan Song

Some of my neighbours were rolled up in the last week. Barbarian was moved to a pod in SMU where he will probably serve the remainder of his time. I suspect he has been housed with fellow STG (Security Threat Group) inmates. The STG process was initiated to extract the heads of prison gangs from regular yards, and to house them at SMU in the hope that the power of gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood, Mexican Mafia, and Mau Maus would be reduced.

Manny was moved on a night the guards were searching for a pair of missing nail clippers in our pod. They were shining their torches all over the place, when Manny yelled,
“I’m sure gonna enjoy clipping my finger nails on that bus ride from Florence!”
“Who said that?” a sergeant yelled in a voice full of fury.
“I fuckin’ did,” Manny said, perhaps because he knew his personal property was en route to the transportation bus and hence out of harms way of the guards.
The guards stormed upstairs, and clustered in front of Manny’s cell.
“I wuz just clowning,” Manny said in a tone that suggested he found something funny about the whole situation.
There was silence. The sergeant’s jaw dropped and if he could have breathed fire he would have torched Manny alive.
The guards stripped out Manny and Scooby. Manny was dragged down the stairs and locked in the shower cell. Scooby’s property was once again confiscated due to Manny’s mouth. Manny was rolled up a few hours later and he departed our pod with a satisfied grin on his face. He is now serving the remaining four months of his domestic-violence sentence at a different prison.

Odds & Ends

Arizona’s death-row inmates are housed at SMU2. The guards have recently begun telling me that an inmate who looks like me and also has my surname is awaiting execution on death row. Another guard talked about the "shitslingers" and "darters" who are housed in a neighbouring pod in cells protected by Plexiglas screens. The shitslingers are inmates renowned for hurling their feces at prison staff and other inmates. The darters, however, are more dangerous than the shitslingers. Darters like to make blowpipes and shoot excrement-coated darts at their victims. If a dart pierces human skin and faecal matter gets into the target’s bloodstream there can be serious health consequences.

American news broadcasts are pitiful. Every night this week the scarcity of flu shots has been a major headline. Several minutes are devoted to this subject and then viewers are advised to call a toll free number to get their hands on supposedly-unavailable-but-somehow-remaining flu shots. This is a blantant commercial for the pharmaceutical-industrial complex who make billions of dollars each year selling doses to people with healthy immune systems who do not need the shots in the first place. (This comment does not apply to sick infants and elderly people who may benefit from flu shots.)

Where is the real news? Is the average American more interested in Paris Hiltons's goings on than world events that could affect all of our lives? I no longer watch the news here..

I received a Wake Up Newsletter this week. They are running extracts from my blog. This resource provides a wealth of information for prisoners. Family members of prisoners can access their site at http://www.azceg.org/ . The Arizona Coalition for Effective Government is a non-profit organisation. I have extracted two quotes from the current issue that I will end this entry with.

'America is the land of second chances'
US Attorney General John Ashcroft

'...our resources are misspent, our punishments too severe, our sentences too long.'
US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Send comments to writeinside@hotmail.com
28 Oct 04

Birthday Bonanza!

Thank you for the birthday cards! I appreciate your kindness. The cards range from picturesque to rather amusing. The Asian ones are particularly striking. I've been happy all week, especially during mail delivery. I’ve been heckled nightly by the mail officer due to all the mail he’s having to deliver.

Penguin also received some birthday cards he had been expecting - albeit belatedly - so he's cheered up a tad in the last week. Penguin’s favourite TV show is Fear Factor. He watches it twice a day. He is also fond of the nature channel and today he convinced me to take a break from my studies to join him watching a BBC programme about dangerous ants. Penguin was so delighted with the footage of the ants that he spent the rest of the evening blurting out newly acquired ant facts to our unreceptive neighbours: “Did you know that the Australian bulldog ant can kill a human being within four minutes?” Our neighbours, who don't have a TV, were peeved at him for watching the ants instead of obtaining them the WWF wrestling results. I’m glad we watched the ants.

I’ve been told that I will soon be at a medium-security prison. I expect to be moved in November, probably to Buckeye prison. It was at Buckeye that American’s longest prison hostage situation recently occurred. My mail will be forwarded from Florence to wherever I end up at.

After being locked down for so long it will be exhilarating to exit my cell and to breathe some fresh air. The weather in Arizona is utopian at this time of the year. I’ll be allowed three hours of outdoor recreation each day. Everything in nature that I used to take for granted now appears in a new light.

Cheers for all the cards and good wishes!

Send comments to writeinside@hotmail.com
27 Oct 04


Last night the Chicanos were discussing the death of Christopher Reeve, when suddenly their conversation was interrupted by one of the old-timers downstairs breaking wind.

Mad Dog, a new and disruptive addition to the run, began the conversation with, “I didn’t know that Christopher Reeve wuz dead, ese.”
“Yeah, ese, from bedsores,” Scooby said.
“Nah, he didn’t die from bed sores, homey. You wanna know how he died?” Manny said.
“Yeah. How’d he die, ese?"
“From Kryptonitis!” Manny said.
“You ain’t right! Fuck you, ese!” Mad Dog said.
“Take no notice of my celly," Scooby said in a helpful tone. “Reeve died from a cardiac arrest brought on by an infection from the bedsores."
“Bed sores?" Mad Dog asked.
“She killed him. Know what I mean? She knew what she was doin’. Know what I mean?"
“You're right, ese,” Scooby said. “She studied up on dat shit. She knew what wuz good for him and what wuzn't good for him.”
“That’s gonna be a high-profile case,” Diego said.
“How’d da bitch kill him from bedsores, ese?” Mad Dog said.
“She wuzn't cleanin' him right, ese,” Scooby said.
“Dat fool had a lot of money, ese, You know dat dose Hollywood tramps are all about the cheddar [money], ese,” Diego said.
“Da bitch did it,” Manny said.
“He wuz just a head. His body had shrunk and dey didn’t clean his body, right? Know what I mean? Dem bed sores iz nothin’ nice. Know what I mean?"
“Da bitch wuz sick o’ takin’ care o’ him, ese,” Manny said.
“Fuckin killa! She did it, ese,” Mad Dog said.
A series of loud farts halted the conversation.
“God damn!” Manny yelled.
“I love you,” Scooby whispered.
“Speak to me,” Mad Dog said in a feminine tone.
“Damn! Know what I mean?"
“Fuck his tight ass,” Diego said.
26 Oct 04

Mark Update

Today I received a letter from Mark, my last cellmate at the Madison Street jail. He was recently rolled up, but he managed to land in the same pod as Frankie. Mark wrote “The roach dreams are back 'cause this place has a lot of cracks with nothing sealed.”

There's nothing worse than being moved from a roach-proofed cell to a cell where gaping cracks abound. At the whimsy of the jail, months of hard work sealing the cracks with toothpaste can be rendered redundant.

Sorry to add to your woes, Mark, but I recently read that the American cockroach carries 22 species of pathogenic human bacteria, virus, fungi and protozoa’s, as well as five species of helminthic worms.

Mark is be sentenced soon. He hopes that everyone will say a prayer for him, so that he receives probation. His plight will be in my thoughts after tonight’s meditation session. Mark’s neighbour Sal wasn’t so lucky with the legal vampires. His attorney promised him he'd only get seven years if he signed a plea bargain. He signed and got 23 years.

Thank you for all of the birthday cards!
25 Oct 04

Viva Mexico!

Frankie’s strategy worked. By forcing his case to trial Frankie called the prosecutor's bluff. He had refused to sign plea bargains, against his attorney’s advice, and just before the trial, the prosecutor dropped all of his more serious charges and offered him a better plea bargain. The prosecutor had never expected Frankie to take things so far. Frankie described her face as, "looking like she ate a sour lemon." He has pleaded guilty to a Class 3 felony: conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. He should be arriving at SMU2 this winter.

There was a jailhouse shuffle and Frankie was rolled up to a new pod and separated from the object of his lust: Cupcake. Frankie’s new cellmate had refused to tell the police his name, so on his ID his name is printed as John Doe. Whether John Doe has succumbed to Frankie’s charms, is, as yet, a mystery.

Frankie and his neighbours were disturbed by the arrival of a paisano who yelled, "Viva Mexico!" at all hours of the day and night. During the paisano's first hour out he spat on guards and kicked cell doors whilst yelling, "Viva Mexico!" After two days of this he was restrained, cuffed and permanently removed from Frankie’s pod. Frankie wrote that he left yelling "Viva Mexico!"

Due to all of your questions about Frankie, I have written to him asking if he has a pic that he wouldn’t mind being posted to the blog. My fingers are crossed.
24 Oct 04

Abuse of Juveniles at Arpaio's Jail

Today I received an eyewitness account from a reliable source that described some violence that occurred last month at the Madison Street jail. Sadly, the victims were juveniles.

The juveniles are housed upstairs in the jail where they suffer the same conditions as the adults. On the day in question, the juveniles had been raising hell - their activity included several fights, gallivanting around the pod naked with pink towels wrapped around their heads, and, one of them had tried to hang himself. Failed suicide attempts always invite harsh reprisals.

A dozen restraint chairs were brought to the juveniles' pod. These contraptions look like they've been lifted from a medieval torture chamber. Inmates limbs are strapped into these chairs. They are low to the ground and have tilted backs. To prevent spitting, nets are sometimes placed over the inmate's face.

The violence began with the guards tasing most of the juveniles, who collapsed on the floor.
One of the untased juveniles spat on a guard’s face. This juvenile was held down and pummelled by two officers twice his age, size and weight. The pod was searched, property was confiscated and the juveniles were left to suffer wearing only their pink boxers. Some of them got to spend a few days confined to their cells completely naked.

Surely committing violence on juveniles is only going to traumatise them and add to their future unlawfulness.
22 Oct 04

Orange Alert

Due to the response to the BBC online news story, I am asking everyone who has corresponded to wait a bit for a reply because I'm only allowed so much stationary each week. People who have provided physical addresses will receive letters in due time. I am overjoyed to be setting the incoming-mail record at Florence prison. Please keep the emails, letters and comments coming, as reading them is the highlight of my day. Your kind words will all be read and appreciated.
Cheers! Jon

Dear Chris Summers,

Thank you for the well-written news story that you put together for the BBC. The public takes notice of the plight of prisoners when a respectable news organisation highlights what is really occurring. Our combined efforts have helped disclose the illegal and immoral treatment of the presentence detainees at the Madison Street jail. My hope is that the jail administration will mend their ways, stop flouting the law and start observing human rights.

Your article contained Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s standard response, "Don’t violate the law and you won’t come back." I find this odd, because the jails predominantly house inmates awaiting trial, who have not yet been convicted of the crimes they have been charged with. Supposedly, there is a presumption of innocence until guilt is proven.

Kudos to the BBC for providing a first-class service in an industry permeated by commercial disinformation. Prisoners listen to the BBC even here. My neighbour, Diego, is an avid listener to the BBC World Service. My cellmate, Penguin, swears up and down that a recent BBC. documentary about ants, shown on the nature channel, was the best programme he has ever seen.
Keep up the good work, Chris!
Appreciatively yours, Jon

To Messrs. Alan West (Daily Post) and Simon Drury,
Thank you for the "Barbaric Conditions" articles. You have helped bring attention to the blog and you have increased the public’s awareness of the plight of the presentence detainees at the Madison Street jail. My hope is that sufficient pressure will come about to halt the practices occurring in that place.
I appreciate your contributions to a worthy cause.

Respectfully yours, Jon

Dear Pauline Crowe, Prisoners Abroad, http://www.prisonersabroad.org.uk/

Thank you for bringing to my attention the fact that the staff at the British Consulate in Washington DC are now aware of the abuses occurring at the Madison Street jail. If it is your intention - in light of the Guardian article - that no citizens of the UK will ever be housed at Maricopa County jailhouses again, then I feel as if our collective efforts have scored a victory. Your email contained great news.

Appreciatively yours, Jon
21 Oct 04

Free Yoga Services For U.S. Inmates

The Prison Dharma Network sends donated books free of charge to prisoners. I have written to both of the addresses below and I received my first two lessons from the SYDA foundation this week. Per Lesson 2, I have now incorporated a new mantra into my nightly meditation sessions: Om Namah Shivaya, literally, Om I bow to Shiva. Shiva denotes divine consciousness.

Whilst studying the lessons and the Sanskrit terms it became evident that the ancient Indic civilization compartmentalised the mind thousands of years before Freud et al did. For example, ahamkara means the ego, and samskara is a subtle impression of a past experience or thought that shapes our present experiences or thoughts. The westernization of yoga seems to have overemphasised the physical side, the asanas, at the expense of the metaphysical side. I suspect there is a wealth of information within eastern philosophy that could help us better understand humankind and ourselves. I urge inmates to give yoga and meditation a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the immediate benefits. I’ll finish with a quote.

I shut my eyes in order to see
Paul Gaugin

Inmates may contact the following 2 organisations:

SYDA Foundation Prison Project
P.O. Box 99140
Emeryville CA. 94662

The Siddah Yoga Correspondence Course provides two lessons sent each month, for up to 12 years. The emphasis is on meditation and reading.

Prison Dharma Network
P.O. Box 4623
Boulder CO. 80306http://www.prisondharmanetwork.org/
20 Oct 04

Convict Cannon Fodder

Dear George W. Bush,

I have pondered conscription, and I have an idea that may help.

Perhaps you should consider the millions of men in America's prisons and jails. If you do so you may find cunning men, plenty with prior weapons experience, and some who relish the prospect of killing.

I hope that the following conversation between some of my neighbours helps demonstrate my point.

With great respect,
Your dawg,

Diego, Manny, Scooby, and a new arrival, a young Chicano with an affinity for the expression "Know what I mean?" kept me up late last night with this conversation.

“They’z gonna reintroduce da draft, ese,” Scooby said.
“I’d go, ese,” Diego said.
“I’d fuckin’ go as well, ese,” Manny said.
“I’d love to go. I’d be free. Know what I mean?"
“Fuck da draft. I’m an anarchist! 'Specially after readin’ deese philosophy books, ese,” Scooby said.
“I wanna drive a tank, ese,” Diego said.
“I’d go just so I can shoot my own people and escape, ese,” Manny said.
“I ain’t riskin’ gettin’ killed so these politician vatos can make money for their homies runnin’ the military and oil companies,” Scooby said.
“But we’d be freed. Know what I mean? Maybe they wouldn’t send us to the Middle East, ese. Know what I mean? Maybe we’d get to kill those Korean vatos before dey nuke us. Know what I mean?"
“Yeah, lets bomb dose bastards!” Manny said.
“Nah, day aint got nukes, ese. Day did a few shitty missile tests and day even fucked dem up, homey. Dose Korean vatos are still using weapons manufactured in the seventies. Days broke-arse muthafuckas, dats wot day is,” Diego said in a slow emphatic tone.
“It be sayin’ dat dey wanna nuke us on mi radio, ese.”
“Yup, day be sayin’ dat on mi radio as well. Day are sayin’ dat because our government and the military vatos want to keep military bases in dat area so they can spy on the Chinese and Russian vatos, ese,” Diego said.
“He’s been listening to Coast to Coast. He thinks dat he’s George fuckin’ Noory,” Scooby said.
“I do. I listen to Coast to Coast every night on mi radio, ese,” Diego said.
“You know a lot o' shit though, ese,” Scooby said.
“That’s because I wuz studyin’ this shit on the streets, ese, unlike you who wuz robbin’ Circle Ks,” Diego said.
“Fuck you, ese! I wuz studyin’ too, homey,” Scooby said.
“I listen to all kinds o' shit on mi radio, ese. Know what I mean?"
“Yeah, on mi radio, when he said that, ‘We attacked Iraq because they attacked us,' and that gobacho Kerry den said, ‘Nah, Osama bin Laden attacked us,’ Bush got pissed off, ese,” Scooby said.
“Yeah, Kerry got the better of Bush in dat debate, ese,” Diego said.
“I think dat Kerry’s gonna win, ese. Know what I mean?"
“It don’t matter who wins, ese. According to my Plato book, the strong homies are always gonna shit on the weak homies, ese,” Scooby said.
“Yeah, Kerry’s a military vato all the way,” Diego said.
“Nothin’s gunna change, ese. People just think that it is. It’s all a big chess game to those fools, ese. Anyway, I’m gunna get back to readin’ my Machiavelli book, ese. Orale!” Scooby said.
Orale!” they jointly replied.

Note from Jon’s parents: We heard on Thursday 4th November, via an email from Jon’s Aunt that he has been moved from SMU2 to Buckeye prison. The address is below. Mail sent to his previous address will be forwarded.
Thanks again, we know your correspondence keeps him going.
He can now have hard back books.

Shaun Attwood ADC 187160
Morey Unit 2-D-22
P.O. Box 3300, Buckeye, AZ 85326, USA
18 Oct 04

The Butterfly Effect

I received some kind words this week in the form of an email from http://www.prisonersabroad.org.uk/. Apparently, it is the intention of Prisoners Abroad that no other Brits will ever be housed in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jail system. This decision was made, the email said, after the staff at Prisoners Abroad read the Guardian article. So more thanks are due to the Guardian.

I would also like to thank Bob Ayala, the candidate for Sheriff of Maricopa Country who is running against Joe Arpaio, for linking my blog to his website. It is the people of Maricopa County who I'm hoping are becoming more aware of the conditions at Arpaio's jail system. If enough local voices are raised then maybe changes will be made.

Good Luck, Mr. Ayala!
17 Oct 04

Odds & Ends

It was Penguin’s birthday on Saturday and he celebrated by drinking what he called "a Cadillac." He mixed enough coffee for 16 cups along with enough chocolate for four cups into a twenty-ounce pop bottle. He explained it was a recipe he had learned during a previous prison sentence. After drinking eight cups of tea, Penguin downed the Caddy.
“I haven’t speeded off coffee like this for 5 years!” Penguin said, his moon face flushing wildly.
A few hours later he projectile vomited the Cadillac into our toilet. Poor Penguin.

It didn’t take Manny long to clash with another guard.
Manny was asleep when a young graveyard-shift officer shone a torch on his face.
“Get dat fuckin’ light out o’ my face, toots!” Manny yelled.
“For bein’ so rude, I’m gonna shine it on yer face every walk tonight.”
“I’m tryin’ to fuckin’ sleep, toots!”
“Tough shit!”
“That’s alright, 'cause I was dreamin’ of yer wife anyway!”
“For sayin’ that, I’m gonna rip up you’re store slip!”
The guard hurriedly left the run, returned with Manny’s store form, ripped it up, and cackled like a mad-man, before departing the run.
Manny’s weekly store order never came, but he seemed unphased.

I had a special visit approved by a sergeant. My Aunty Ann came, accompanied by two of my cousins from England. I got to sit in a little cell and to speak to them through a glass window. Our voices travelled through the window frames. It was Silence of the Lambs style. I hadn’t laughed so hard in a while. At one point my visitors stood up, held hands, danced and sang English folk songs. The visitation staff initially looked askance at them, but they ended up laughing hysterically at the bizarre display. Good lookin' out Aunty Ann and cousins Pat and Frances!

I’ve received more letters from organisations seeking to publish blog extracts and I’ve also received requests for newspaper interviews. I suspect that more articles will be out soon. I’d like to say a big thank you to you, my readers, for the stream of emails and letters offering support.