Adobe Mountain (by Guest Blogger Big Jason)
Big Jason was incarcerated as a youth in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Durango jail and the Arizona Department of Corrections Adobe Mountain juvenile facility for assault, attempted burglary, and violation of probation.
Visitation was about to end and by now most of the parents had left for the night, leaving a few scattered groups of incarcerated youth at tables looking bored. With my belly full from Tom's barbecue and my mind in a good place from a satisfying visit, I waved my parents goodbye and sat back down to await the corrections officers’ orders.
A friend of mine who had been sitting close to us was acting kind of weird. He motioned for me to get closer, and told me that his mom had left him some cigarettes, but he didnt know how to get them back to our unit. I told him I couldn't help because I had no way to get them back either.
“Line up for count!” a guard yelled.
We formed a single file down the hallway from the visitation room.
“Strip down, clothes in front. You know the routine, ladies.” We were young men and some boys, but they loved to humiliate us and bust our balls.
By now I was wondering how soon it would be before they found the tobacco contraband and locked us down.
“Bend over and spread your cheeks,” was barked at us by the head CO, a portly man with grizzled hair and an attitude to match.
Reluctantly, we complied and continued the routine under their gazing eyes. Having finished the strip search, the CO's marched us back to our units and went about business as usual, or so I thought.
An hour or so went by and I saw the CO's drive up to the unit, headlights blaring against the dark contrast of the desert.
It’s on now, I thought.
They came in and started asking people who had been at Visitation. They reached my cell, and one said, “Roll up. Let’s go. We know it was you.”
I pleaded that the cigarettes weren’t mine, but it fell on deaf ears. Before I could really mount any verbal defense, I was cuffed and on the back of an electric cart that headed to the isolation unit known as GOLF. This place consisted of a security shack, dungeon-like cells (with more bugs than the Starship Troopers trilogy), mucous and semen covered the walls and ceiling, globs of which had formed geological shapes from hardening halfway through a slow hang. Once again I was asked to “Strip down and spread ’em,” and issued a jumpsuit and flop flops.
The cell they escorted me to was the worst on the line. It was the rear cell that never got cleaned, no light, just filth. You passed the time by trying to stay curled up in a ball to prevent the hordes of translucent bugs and other assortment of crawlies from making a home on your person. If you were lucky, you might get a bible or some old-school “Murf the Surf” story to read once the shift change happened.
Again I tried to explain to the guards that I was not responsible and the cigarettes weren’t mine. I was told by a guard named C.O. Archibald that I was a bad liar as he slammed the cell door in my face.
An hour or so had passed when the second guy in charge of the whole institution under Phil Anderson showed up and began to ask me questions about Visitation, reiterating the fact that none of them believed me and that I was in big trouble. He didn't want to hear any excuses. I was guilty and that was that.
A day and some hours passed without any more questioning or talks. I was released back to my unit. Now with a loss of privileges and level deduction over this incident. I was ready to kick some ass and deal with some punks who sent the guards my way.
It didn't take long before I realized that the so-called friend I had was to blame. He had already transferred to a different unit to avoid the smashing he would have received from me had he been there. No staff or CO's ever mentioned this to me again. Visits resumed as normal, and I never saw that kid again for the remainder of my incarceration.
So many crazy things went on at Adobe Mountain in those days (1989-91) that it became national news and brought forth many changes in the programs and staff at Adobe. But I found out later that the same abuses are still happening as exposed in many Phoenix New Times articles.
I look forward to sharing some of what happened in those times with you. Hope you guys enjoy reading them as I enjoy sharing them.
As this is Big Jason’s first guest post at Jon’s Jail Journal, your comments are appreciated.
Click here for the previous guest blog.