27 Dec 04
On the 8th of December, Maniac Mack was charged with Offence 009 – Attempted Escape from the Madison Street Jail. I obtained a copy of his Disciplinary Action Report, which contains the following Formal Statement of Charge(s):
While conducting a perimeter walk on 12.8.04 at approximately 0050 hours with Officer ------------, we noticed a Stream of Debris leading from-------[Maniac Mack’s cell]. Upon further investigation we located a hole leading through the wall to the outside. The hole appeared to have been on the exterior of the jail, apparently to facilitate an escape. Refer to IR #04-217500. These inmates were placed on the loaf program*** for the destruction of County property. [Sic]
Maniac Mack is housed on the fifth floor, and each floor consists of two stories, so his cell is ten stories above the surrounding streets. How was he going to escape from so high up? Perhaps the author of the Disciplinary Action Report had recently watched the Spiderman movie or maybe Maniac Mack had studied up on aeronautical engineering and had constructed a jet pack from his scant belongings. And let’s not dismiss the beanstalk theory: at visitation Mack met Jack and keystered beanstalk seeds.
Mack suspects that his outspoken nature – particularly his recent comments about the jail’s conditions – caused the queer charge. Mack wrote, “The gathering dark-side of this place rallied and attacked yours truly enmasse. Now I’ve got an additional and notorious charge: Attempted Escape, for which I could face up to 7 years if convicted!” The stresses and strains seem to be getting to Mack who ended his letter with, “Man is born to die. To wait around, in lines, for transportation to arrive, in welfare and unemployment offices, for toilet paper and chow, waiting, waiting for the mouse to sing….”
It is clear what they want you to do Mack: hand over the beanstalk seeds and the jet pack, confess your sins, yell your guilt from the roof tops, sign a double-digit plea bargain, and join Jon in the land of the throwaway people.
My former cellmate Mark signed a plea bargain and was put on house arrest. He now wears a device on his ankles that emits radio signals. He is allowed to travel to work and back, and to attend church on Sundays. He is due to be sentenced early in 2005 and he hopes to get probation. I hope he does. But in Arizona's legal system anything could happen between now and then.
*** The loaf program
Inmates on the loaf program are housed in two-man cells, which remain locked for twenty-three hours a day. They are served the loaf twice daily.
One morning, a young Chicano who had not been fed was offered the loaf.
“I’ll take it,” he said.
This occurred during my hour out. Sensing an opportunity to taste the loaf, I said to the Chicano, “Break bread, dawg. Gimme a little piece of the loaf.”
And he did.
The loaf's outer surface resembled burnt bread. It smelled like shoe polish. I snapped the hard crust and observed a mush with what looked like carrots and bean skins protruding from it.
“It’s yesterdays left-over food mixed into bread,” shouted one of the chow servers. It looked foul, but I was compelled to taste it so that I could describe the experience. The taste was bad, like eating burnt food. The taste overwhelmed my mouth, as if I had eaten a poisonous chemical. I swallowed a small amount and spat the remainder out.
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