A Christmas Eve poem from an anonymous inmate

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the cells,
The convicts were locked down
Madder than hell.
Except for the lifers
Kicked back on their bunks
With heads filled with visions
Of all of these grumps.
When suddenly from the roof top
There arose such a roar
That the cops thought
It must be a riot for sure.
The goon squad came running
Ready to hit
And the Sergeant yelled out,
“Who started this shit?”.
“It came from the roof,”
Sniveled some low life snitch.
“Must be a break out.
Oh! Son of a bitch!”
They climbed to the rooftop
By way of the stairs
And found a fat freak
In bright red underwear.
“Ho! Ho! Ho!” said the dude,
“I’m here on the scene”.
“Good Lord,” said the Captain
“We’ve captured a Queen!”
They yelled, “Hey you in the sleigh,
Get your hands on the wall.”
Then slapped on the cuffs
And searched him an all.
They booked him, and threw him
In the hole with a kick;
Well, so much for Christmas
They’ve busted St. Nick!

25 Nov 04

Bald Headed Fred

My new cellmate’s crime spree came to an abrupt end in 1995. He had been robbing drug dealers, which he considered his specialty, but his final job went askew.

BHF’s last robbery had commenced as normal. He subdued the occupants of an apartment at gunpoint, and proceeded to torture the drug dealer to get him to cough up the combination to the safe. BHF’s preferred method of torture that day involved knocking the man unconscious by hitting him in the head with a ball-peen hammer, a bloody process that broke the victim’s nose and split his head open. The victim’s hands were then raised above his head and attached to a shower with duct tape. When the victim regained consciousness, BHF played naughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe) on the fellows chest and face with a six-inch blade. After learning the safe’s combination, BHF stuffed his duffel bag with $10,000 in cash and $50,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine He was about to go on his way when some of the victim’s roommates returned home. They saw the bloodstained crime scene, fled and called the police. The police already had the place surrounded because BHF’s getaway driver was an informant, and a sting operation had been set up.

BHF hopped a fence and landed in someone's backyard. A lady holding a poodle opened a French window and BHF heard, “Easy boy, easy boy.” Fearing that the police helicopter would shine its light on him at any minute, BHF snapped into action.
“Freeze, police! In the house now!” he yelled, pointing his .357 Magnum at the lady's face.
He escorted her into the living room where he found a scantily clad and disheveled young couple, who had ventured down stairs to investigate the disturbance.
“Freeze muthafuckas, on the ground!” BHF said.
A large German Shepherd remained docile while BHF locked all of the windows and doors, and turned the lights off.
“Anyone else here?” BHF asked.
“You calm down, go and put some clothes on and come straight back,” he said to the young lady dressed only in her underwear.
“I’ve done killed nine people tonight, let’s not make that twelve.”
It wasn’t long before BHF’s picture was broadcast on the TV and the hostages learned the true nature of his crimes.
“I’m not gonna rob you or hurt you. Just don’t do anythin’ stupid, and when it gets light outside I’m gone,” he told them.
The police knocked on the front door, but after their knocks went unanswered, they shone their torches in the backyard and departed. After a few hours of hovering the helicopter left.

The hostages and BHF bonded whilst drinking beers and smoking marijuana together. Eight hours later Fred decided that it was time to leave.
“I’m gonna take yer truck. Gimme yer keys. Get whatever you want out of it and I’ll call you and let you know where I leave it, so you can quickly get it back.”
The young man obliged and BHF kept his promise.

Two days later, after many news broadcasts had advertised BHF as a wanted man, someone tipped off the authorities that BHF was at a friend’s house. The house was surrounded by a SWAT team, a helicopter, an armoured vehicle, and news crews. BHF barricaded himself in the garage and while the cameras were broadcasting live, a police negotiator threw BHF a black box containing a phone which Fred grabbed with a rake.
“Today’s a good day to die. What do you think?” Fred said.
“I’m here to help you get out. Have you got any hostages?”
“Yeah,” Fred lied, worried that they would storm the garage if they knew he was solo.
“We’re not coming in. Is there anything that you need?”
“I wanna pizza!”
“What else?”
“A helicopter,” Fred said.
“You’ve watched too many movies,” the negotiator said, and laughed.

One of BHF’s female friends, Special K, saw the standoff on her TV and rushed to the scene. She convinced the negotiator that she could talk BHF out of the garage without anyone getting harmed.
“Hi, honey,” Special K greeted BHF.
“Are you gonna give up and come out?”
“I’ve got dope and smokes, I’m OK.”
“You’re big-time surrounded. Look down the street.”
BHF peeped at the armoured vehicle that had positioned itself so that its battering ram could knock down the garage door.
“They’re comin’ in to get yer, honey. They promise that no shots will be fired and I’ll get to talk to you if you come out right now.”

With his hands in the air, BHF surrendered. After being pummeled by the police, he was allowed to talk to Special K.

BHF’s next violent crime occurred at Alhambra, the prison processing facility for
newly-sentenced inmates. BHF had been housed in a fourteen-man cell, and one of the occupants was a convicted child molester. BHF presided over a kangaroo court with his new cellmates and it was decided that the "cho-mo" should be stabbed and tortured.

I read BHF’s police reports which describe what happened next. The sex offender was tied up and battered for “a good five minutes”. “They stuffed strips of cloth in his mouth…prior to the stabbings to see how the muffle worked.” His boxer shorts were pulled down and he was mocked for having “a little one”. The sex offender stated, “At that point was where I got stabbed in the stomach several times”. BHF actually stabbed him eleven times and then held a shank to the eyeball of a witness who stated, “He put it at the corner of my eye like he was gonna shove it in there and he says, ya know, he says you say anything, I’m gonna take this and shove it into your eye and pop your eye out. He said then we’re gunna eat it.”

For stabbing the child molester, BHF received an additional 30 months on top of the fifteen-year sentence for the kidnappings, home invasions and aggravated assaults. He feels that the 30 months was a small price to pay for stabbing and torturing someone convicted of molesting children. He is wondering how you feel about what he did to the sex offender.

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Christmas Greetings & Thanks
Thank you to all of the kind people who sent books for my birthday, which I received forwarded from Florence this week. Thank you for all the Christmas cards and books that I am receiving at Buckeye. The books do not always come with receipts, but I have mailed personal thank you's to all those that have. A big thank you to Guy Goo and the fair Surrah for the expensive finance books I am enjoying studying. Some readers have asked if I can receive photocopies and photographs. I can receive unlimited amounts of both and there is no censorship. Thank you all for being so kind and for keeping the blog's momentum going. A special thanks to my parents for their hard work in maintaining the blog. They will be visiting for two weeks at Christmas: we'll have a lot to talk about.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
...... appreciatively, Jon

If you would like to send Jon a Christmas Greeting, his address is below:
Shaun Attwood ADC#187160
ASPC-Lewis,Morey 2-D-2,P.O. Box 3300,Buckeye, AZ 85326, USA
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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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11 Nov 04

The Move
(Part 1)

Near midnight, a female guard approached my cell, and said,“Roll yer property up. Yer leavin’ tomorrow.”
“Can he take his food with him?” Penguin asked.
“No, he cannot take his food!”
Penguin licked his lips.
I was happy and nervous. I was glad to be getting out of lockdown, to be on my way to a prison where I would be allowed new privileges. I prayed for a good cellmate.
I removed all food from my property boxes. All I had was a quarter jar of Circus Brand Creamy Peanut Butter, two boxes of Keefe Kitchens Snackers Snack Crackers, and five packets of Cactus Annie’s Cheddar Cheese Squeeze Snack. The property being moved included books, toiletries, stationery, correspondence and my written work. I ate the peanut butter and gave the rest to Penguin.
“Ay, England, you leavin’ any food behind?” Mad Dog asked.
The rest of the Chicanos followed suit.
“Fuck Penguin! He’s got plenty of store. Fish that shit up here to us indigent inmates," Mad Dog said in a tone a young lad might use to increase his chances of getting sweets from his parents.
“There’s a box of crackers you can have. Penguin said he’ll fish them up tomorrow. Please be quiet,” I said. “People down here are trying to sleep.”
“Alright, England. Good lookin’ out, dawg!"
“If we don’t catch you tomorrow, good luck, England,” Scooby said.
"Take care, England!”
“I hope to see yer soon, England!”
“Stay away from the cheetos, England!”
“Watch yer back out there, England!”
“Hey, England, fuck you, 'cause I’m still fuckin’ here and you’re leavin’,” Diego said.

At about 6am – before chow was served – a guard approached my cell. I was strip searched, handcuffed through the trap, and escorted through SMU2 to a holding cell to await the arrival of the transportation guards. To kill time, I meditated and did yoga. Four hours later I felt an urge.
“I need to pee,” I yelled through a crack at the side of the trap.
“Okay. Just a minute.”
I was handcuffed and escorted to the inmate restroom. After being uncuffed, I relieved myself with the guard stood behind me.
“You’ve been in there all morning. You want a lunch sack?” he asked, as I was returned to the holding cell.
“Yeah! That would be great. I haven’t eaten all day.” As it wasn’t a vegetarian lunch sack, I just ate the crackers and two pieces of brown bread.

Two hours later, I had given up hope of the transportation officers ever arriving. But at 1pm they came. One of them was a skinny, young African American who wore spectacles and spoke in an effeminate voice. His partner was a redneck with a deep voice. After another strip search, I was escorted from the building.

Farewell SMU, Penguin, Frankie, Barbarian, the young Chicanos, the shitslingers, the darters, the death row and the security-threat-group inmates. Another phase of this journey is over, I thought.

“Pick a seat, the bus is all yours,” the redneck said, as I entered the vehicle. I noticed a Glock holstered at his side.

When my eyes had adjusted to the sunshine, I was able to enjoy the desert and mountain scenery surrounding Florence. On either side of the highway, mountains protruded into an azure sky. Saguaros were everywhere; their horizontal branches made them look like a mrdieval army with swords drawn. Lizards and birds of prey put in occasional appearances.

As the locals drove by, all wearing sunglasses, I examined their rustic faces. I wondered what their everyday lives were like and if they were descendants of European families that had migrated eastwards and captured land from the Native Americans.

Approaching Phoenix, shiny new cars zipped past us. Drivers on cell phones became common. Housing developments and malls replaced the rural scenery. When I saw the areas where I used to live and hang out, I felt sad. I longed to turn back the clock and to be free again. The sight of the skyscraper I had worked in as a stockbroker, caused my mind to fill with memories:
long hours in the office, colleagues (mostly fiesty New York Italians), sales meetings, ruthless bosses, exciting times trading the stock market. How did I get from stockbroker to prisoner? I asked myself. A group of young women, smiling and carefree, came into view, and derailed my train of thought. But not for long. Perhaps I was meant to become a prisoner to achieve my full potential, I wondered.

Eventually we arrived at the exit for Buckeye. We headed south towards Yuma and I read a sign that said we were in the Buckeye Hills. Then another sign warned: DO NOT STOP FOR HITCHHICKERS, ARIZONA STATE PRISON. My anxiety went up. I reminded myself to be pleasant, but also to keep myself to myself as much as possible.

The bus pulled up to the prison’s main gate. I braced myself, as if I were getting onto a roller-coaster ride, for the types of things that happen when a fish arrives at a new prison.
...to be continued

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Crime & Punishment

I recently read an article in a newspaper ‘USA Today’, about America’s record prison population. The author, Richard Willing, used a quote in the article that made my blood boil:

‘The reason crime rates have fallen to levels we haven’t seen for 30 years, is due to the nationwide movement to keep habitual criminals behind bars.’
Michael Rushford, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

I am compelled to respond to Mr. Rushford’s deceptive twaddle.

Dear Mr. Rushford,
If you removed your habitual mental bars, you would see that America’s record prison population reflects a disease embedded in your society. Until your leaders eradicate the swamps in which the miasma of crime forms and breeds, lawlessness in America is going to persist and spread like leprosy. The public are becoming increasingly aware that the intimidation and slow-motion torture, which you call punishment, does not work. Your misleading slant on the record crime statistics is an insult to my intelligence. Until your chieftains cleanse the swampy soils of economic poverty, poor education and discrimination, and the enforced medication of young children, tension in American society is going to build and build.

I would like to refer you to a quote from the ‘Declaration of Principles’ adopted in 1870 by the leaders of what became the American Correctional Association:

‘The supreme aim of prison discipline is the reformation of criminals, not infliction of vindictive suffering.’

The cost of America’s senseless mass incarceration policy has sucked resources from the very services that could address the root cause of crime. Teachers, trainers, psychologists and sociologists should be flourishing in an enlightened society, not prison guards. If you and your leaders fail to address the smouldering stresses and strains – mark my words – you will have an erupting volcano on your hands, whose cinders and lava your sham policies helped to produce.
Yours sincerely, Jon
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09 Nov 04

Dear Nuala,

Does casting a man into prison compensate society for the wrongs he has done it?….. Such a man must be set free, if amends are to be made, and if he is freed there is none who would fail to make them, there is not a single man alive who would not prefer doing good to the necessity of living in chains.
Marquis de Sade (Source: Ernestine, A Swedish Tale 1788)

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07 Nov 04

The Rain Room Revisited

Aunty Ann had nightmares after reading the blog that described the showers at the Madison Street jail. ('Wankers' 06 May 04). Perhaps Aunty Ann should't read on.

On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings we are offered showers. After the breakfast chow is served the officer grunts,“Showers?”
“Two for showers,” is my standard reply. The same officer will then return at some random time between 7.30 and 9.30 am, and wake us up to take us to the showers. The officer opens the trap whilst we put on our flip-flops and orange jumpsuits, and grab our towels and soap. Individually, Penguin and I back up to the cell door and the guard handcuffs us through the trap. The door is unlocked and the officer yells, “Cell 27!” The guard in the control tower presses a button and our door slides open. One of us is instructed to go to the upper shower and the other to the lower one.

Upon arriving at one of the cells containing a shower, I wait outside until the guard in the control tower presses the button that opens the door. When it is open I step inside and the door slides shut. I am then unhandcuffed through the trap and handed a razor. The cell is tiny, dingy and dimly lit. There is no mirror to look at whilst shaving. I undress and hang my clothes upon a steel hanger that is screwed to the wall. I always inspect the floor and walls to see if there are any messes that need to be avoided. The lower shower drains much better than the upper one, so the amount of hair matted with semen is usually lower downstairs. Some semen is usually observable on the floors and walls of both showers.

A button activates the shower. The water runs at a comfortable temperature for around ten minutes. This provides enough time for a thorough soaping and a blind shaving session. It takes a few months to master shaving without being able to observe yourself. I have to feel my face to determine where the stubble is. I don't shave my head because I'm afraid of cutting my ears off. One time Penguin returned with a bleeding ear. On another occasion I sliced my Adam’s apple.

When the water stops we are at the mercy of the guards as to how soon they will return us to our cell. The average wait is 15 minutes, but there have been some occasions when Penguin and I were left in the showers for up to two hours. When left in the shower I often do the hula-hula yoga pose while looking at the black mould on the walls, and the tiny grey flies that seem to hop rather than fly. Some inmates get hysterical after being left inside there. Those that yell and bang on the door usually have their stays extended.

Before releasing us from the showers, the guards examine our razors to ensure that we have not extracted blades to make weapons. After this inspection we are handcuffed through the traps. The doors slide open and as we trudge back to our cell inmates taunt us:
“Did you shave your ass?”
“Did you step on my water babies?”
“We know what kind of yoga you’re doing in there!”
“Did you see my dead kids?”
“Did you find your anal G-spot?”

Upon returning to our cell we are released from our handcuffs through the trap.

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O5 Nov 04

Question Time?

Q. Jay asked if Frankie and I were ever an item?

Frankie did ask me to be his cellmate, but I politely declined. In lockdown it's not physically possible to have sex with anyone other than your cellmate. So becoming cellmates is the first step in that direction. The closest Frankie and I ever got was when we played chess through his cell window. During chess he would frequently put on an aching-for-sex look, whilst licking his lips and grinning. He would say things like, “Mmmm, Englandman, we should be cellies. Mmmm, Englandman, I’d like to turn you out. Let’s pretend that we’re back in the Roman days and I’m your Caesar. Mmmm, Englandman, the things that we could do. I’d get to watch you do naked yoga every night. Oh, Englandman, you turn me on.”
I assumed these remarks were part of his chess strategy until he started to send me love letters written in English and Spanish. I jokingly played along with his fantasies because he was at a safe distance. I didn’t realise that we might end up at the prison together. In his recent letters he has made it clear that he is looking forward to taking my anal virginity.

Q. Aunty Ann asked if I gave a hoot about the election and Bush and Kerry.

I’ll answer this question with a quote from the American historian Howard Zinn:
‘To give people a choice between two different parties and allow them...to choose the slightly more democratic one was an ingenious mode of control.’ *

*(Source: A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present)

Q. Emma asked about my taste in movies.

My favourite is Gladiator. My eyes went wet at the end of the film when the protagonist died to a beautiful trance tune. Another one I enjoyed is Silence of the Lambs - superb acting by Anthony Hopkins. Another is True Romance. It’s my favourite love story. Gary Oldman’s role as a sushi-eating pimp was extraordinary. It’s a brilliant film with an all-star cast.
I also enjoyed Heat, Killing Zowie, Goodfellas, The Godfather, and Casino . Regarding horror movies: any of the old Hammer Horror Films such as Dracula with Christopher Lee. Action movies: Pulp fiction, No U-turn. Mystery: Wild Things. Sci-Fi: Dune. Three movies I watched a lot are The Wall, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Clockwork Orange.

My favourite actors include Dennis Hopper, Harvey Keitel, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Gary Oldman, Al Pacino, Joe Peschi, Christopher Walken, Bruce Lee, Vincent Price. Actresses include the Arquette sisters, Juliette Lewis, and Denise Richards.
I tend to watch movies directed by Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarentino and Guy Ritchie.

Q. The question most asked by readers is whether have or will ever have Internet access during this incarceration.

No. The Arizona Department of Corrections does not permit inmates to have Internet access under any circumstances. I do not see that policy changing during my stay.

Your emails and comments are mailded to me by my parents. My responses are then sent back to my parents who then email them on, hence it takes weeks for me to get back to people. I apologise for the delays, but I have made my best efforts to reply to everyone who provided a return email address. The replies are brief because lots of people have emailed and I must consider my parents’ poor fingertips. Anyone who provides a physical address will get a longer reply, as I am able to write to her or him directly from prison at minimal expense. I deeply appreciate all of the correspondence. Reading your kind words helps keep a smile on my face. I am grateful for your continued interest in my blog. Thank you for all of the birthday cards and books as well!
Post comments to: writeinside@hotmail.com

Jon’s address: Shaun Attwood ADC#187160
ASPC-Lewis, Morey 2-D-22

P.O. Box 3300,Buckeye,
AZ 85326, USA
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.

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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.
15 Oct 04

A solution to prison overcrowding?

Per capita, the US prison population is the largest in the world. Is this because our American cousins are bent on committing more crimes than people in other countries? Hardly!

In America a policy of stiff prison sentences has been adopted, purportedly to reduce crime. Has it worked? No: crime and incarceration statistics do not support the rationale. So what is really going on and why are the illogical policies being continued? Probably, because billions of dollars of taxpayers’ contributions are being transferred to the beneficiaries of the mass-incarceration program.

There is now more money being spent on housing inmates in America than there is being spent on education. It costs taxpayers over $500,000 to house an inmate for 20 years. The attorney gold rush (which I will deal with in a future blog) is systematically vacuuming up increasing portions of the wealth of society. These parasites are not protecting society from hardened criminals: according to the book ‘You Are Being Lied To’, there are more people serving time in US prisons for marijuana charges alone than the entire prison population of Europe. According to Department of Justice figures in the Wall Street Journal, 1 in 75 men – an all time high – are now in prison and the inmate population increased 2.9% to a new record. Not only are the desired effects not being achieved, but the reverse is happening: the prisons are tantamount to schools for unlawfulness, where young men are hardened and criminally come of age.

The purpose of me emphasising this situation is not purely a fault-finding one. It is easy to knock a bad situation, but it is more difficult to come up with workable suggestions, especially for this complex problem. However, with my limited knowledge and experience on the subject, I will endeavour to offer an alternative to mass imprisonment.

Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and only 5% of people convicted of crimes serve time versus 30% in America. The Japanese use a policy called reintegrative shaming. This involves the criminal appearing in court with family members, friends, bosses, and coworkers, etc who condemn the individual’s behaviour. The people forming this community-support structure then accept responsibility for reintegrating the offender back into society. This way, social bonds are rebuilt and further criminal acts are deterred. A voluntary network of over 500,000 local crime prevention associations help the reintegration process and the
criminal-justice system is encouraged to be lenient for this purpose. This policy has worked.

The American public, who are footing the bill for ineffective policies, should consider demanding a shift towards a system that works. The Japanese gave the American auto manufacturers a wakeup call. It seems that they have another successful idea with reintegrative shaming.

The captains of the various industries profiteering from this disguised modern-day slavery ought to be ashamed of themselves: they have reduced the land of the free to a police state. If the public does not take a stand, then soon, every single one of us will have a family member or a friend gobbled up by this system.

“Building more prisons to address crime is like building more graveyards to address a fatal disease."

Quote from:
Robert Gangi, director of the Correctional Association of New York (source: Jill Molowe, ‘Time’ Feb 7th, 1994) article ‘…and throw away the key’.

Note: Unfortunately, we have had to block the comments on the blog for the time being, due to inappropriate material being posted in a comment, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Jon. If you have a comment on the above please send it to Jon's email address, in his favourites at the top of the Home Page and we will post it for you. Sorry for the inconvenience and thanks again for your continued support.
10th Oct 04

Put the gun down son!

There are not many people who have shot their own fathers, but Penguin is one of them. This week Penguin, in his peculiar high-pitched voice, talked about the incident.

Penguin’s dad, Bill, had severely beaten Penguin’s mum, Jen. This abuse had been going on for as long as Penguin could remember. One night in 1988, when Penguin was just fourteen, Bill assaulted both Jen and Penguin, almost beating Penguin to death. His entire body from the groin upwards was black and blue. His chin was pulverised so badly that he required reconstructive surgery for his lower face. He still has a two-inch scar where his lip was split open.

After Bill had used Penguin as a punching bag for thirty minutes, Jen, who was somewhat recovered from her beating, intervened. Penguin managed to raise himself up from the pool of blood that he lay in, and made his way to his bedroom. He loaded nine rounds into the ten-round clip of his Ruger rifle, and returned to the living room.
“Don’t you ever threaten me again!” he yelled at Bill.
“Put the gun down son!” Bill said, approaching Penguin menacingly.

With no time to deliberate, Penguin pulled the trigger one time. The bullet entered Bill’s left armpit, tore through his chest muscle, collapsed his lung, passed by his heart and just missed his spinal column, before exiting through his back. The bullet then hit a metal post and shattered. Bill survived.

Penguin was arrested and charged with third-degree aggravated assault, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace, He was housed in the juvenile detention facility at Durango jail. Neither dad nor mum nor son pressed charges. Jen’s fingers were paralysed for the next thirteen months, caused by blocking so many of Bill’s blows. Penguin was released after spending six-and-a-half days in jail. After 30 days the State concluded that he had acted in self-defence and the charges were dropped. Bill never attacked his son again. He died last year aged 61.
9th Oct 04


In 1999, twelve inmates attacked another inmate in a packed chow hall. The target, a 6’ 6” 265-pound cage fighter, repelled the assailants. The clash became legendary. Whilst listening to inmates tell stories, I had previously heard about the fight and I was recently delighted to find out that the well-respected gladiator is my neighbour Barbarian.

Barbarian rarely talks to anyone. Even the guards are intimidated by him. He has to be double-handcuffed when they allow him out of his cell. On Friday I plucked up the courage to ask him about the attack. Approaching him wasn't easy for me. At first he shot me down, and, discouraged, I shrunk back to my bunk. Moments later he called me back to my cell door and he revealed not only the details of the conflict, but also, background information explaining how he came to be one of the most feared and respected men in Arizona's prison system. It is a sad story. It shows how a promising young man’s life and career were permanently changed by the Fates.

Barbarian’s fighting skills germinated during many years of scrapping with his two older brothers. During high school, he became involved in wrestling. He eventually channelled his physical abilities into American football. He was signed up by Boise State where he set two college records, and a brilliant future as a quarterback looked like a sure thing.

In 1994, in north Phoenix, Barbarian was trying to park his distinctive 1988 Corvette outside of a bank. Barbarian honked his horn at a vehicle that had blocked him in. The driver of the other vehicle refused to move, and suddenly threats were exchanged. Nothing else bad happened that day, but Barbarian started to notice the other vehicle around Phoenix. threats were swapped again during a few more chance meetings, and eventually a showdown happened at a gas station.

Barbarian and his friend Frank were pumping gas, minding their own business, when Barbarian’s enemy, travelling with three fellow gang members, spotted the Corvette. Frank owned a bar and he had just made a large cash deposit and for protection he was carrying a fully loaded sawn-off shotgun. Barbarian noticed his enemy’s vehicle pull into the other side of the gas station and he had a premonition that he was about to be killed. He asked Frank for the shotgun and he hurriedly tucked it into his pants. In an instant the foursome were upon him with weapons drawn. A shootout commenced during which Barbarian was hit twice, but he also managed to discharge the shotgun twice before collapsing. His assailants had used hollow-point bullets that are extremely destructive to human tissue and organs. Barbarian’s lungs were punctured but fortunately the bullets had missed his heart and kidneys - but only just.

Barbarian lost consciousness and underwent a near death experience, which he described as seeing the flames of hell. The discharged buckshot had killed one of the attackers and a second assailant was touch and go but he survived and is now blind.

Barbarian was charged with seven crimes including first-degree murder, attempted murder, misconduct with a weapon and aggravated assault. Barbarian believed that he had acted in self-defence so he refused to sign a plea bargain. The case went to trial, and although he managed to beat the more serious charges, he was still found guilty on the aggravated assault, which is a class three felony, and categorized as a dangerous crime. He was sentenced to seven years. His football career was over.

In the prison system Barbarian was well-respected by most people, but, unfortunately, in 1999, a group of "woods" (white inmates, comes from the word "peckerwood") who were housed with Barbarian became paranoid, fearing that he might turn his fighting skills upon them. A preemptive strike was plotted. The individuals decided that they would attack Barbarian in the chow hall. Due to the large number of woods in the attack posse it was decided that shanks (sharpened instruments used to stab and kill people) would not be needed.

The leaders of the woods were the first to strike Barbarian. With lightening speed the big man’s combat instincts kicked in. He quickly disabled the first three attackers: in a second, one of them was gouged in the eyeball; another’s testicles were crushed; another's feet were hooked, causing him to trip and smash his head. The others, upon witnessing their leaders get beat up, lost their enthusiasm, and after throwing some token blows, they retreated, leaving Barbarian victorious in front of an amazed audience.

Upon completing his sentence Barbarian entered professional cagefighting matches, with prize money ranging for $5,000 to $15,000. He won 31 out of 34 fights. He pocketed a considerable amount of loot, but he suffered eleven concussions, a broken hand, a fractured eye socket, a broken nose and knee damage. He won the Rawhide Toughman Contest and took home $15,000. He obtained one victory in 47 seconds by fracturing his opponent’s jawbone, but he broke his own hand in the process.

Whilst employed as a bouncer, Barbarian was instructed to forcefully eject an unruly customer who refused to wear a formal shirt. The sloshed fellow was a fullback from the ASU football team. Barbarian decided to use minimal force because a drunk did not usually pose a serious threat to him. What occurred next was a comical wrestling match in the men’s restroom that resulted in a urinal being ripped off the wall, a lavatory tank being cracked, and the toilet divides toppling down as the combatants fell against them. The fullback was finally subdued in the corner of the demolished restroom and held until the police arrived to arrest him.

Barbarian is now a born-again Christian and he hopes that his past actions have not put him in a bad light. He has good family values and he wants to join a religious ministry when he gets out of prison. He longs to go to Colorado where he can “take care o’ Mom 'n' Pops.”
3rd Oct 04

Odds & Ends

I am enjoying the vegetarian chow. I’ve been receiving rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, onions, and apples. My gauntness is disappearing.

Manny met his nemesis in the form of a young guard.
“Fuck you, toots [derogatory or pet name used for a woman]," Manny yelled at Officer Schill.
“You think yer fuckin’ crazy! Well, I’m fuckin’ crazy as well! Only difference is I’m wearing this fuckin’ uniform!”
“I love you, toots,” Manny said.
“You wanna fuck with me do ya? Oh, you’ll see.”
And Manny did see. Manny and his cellmate, Scooby, were stripped-searched - including a foreskin search for Manny - and their property was confiscated for three days, much to the delight of my neighbours who enjoyed the spectacle.

Timmy the Wood was released on probation and Daniel was moved to a part of SMU that houses higher-classification inmates.

After much goading, my neighbour, Barbarian, revealed the details of a legendary fight that he was in against multiple assailants in a prison chow hall. The battle will be detailed in an upcoming blog.

The recent thunderstorms caused a variety of insects to take refuge in our cell this week, including tiny metallic-coloured wasp-looking things, black moths, black and brown earwigs, a winged ant, a cricket and several unidentifiable others. Penguin pinched the ant to demonstrate that it wouldn’t sting him. He was right. The ant promptly bit him instead causing a
centimetre-wide blister. The cricket was on its back and looking deathly, so I placed it next to a slice of orange. I watched its mouth go to work on the orange and it came back to life. It then proceeded to straighten out its bent and twisted antennae for the next four hours, until they were as good as new. Finally, it did something I can't do, it freed itself from this cell, jumping and chirping happily as it made its exit.

I am awaiting a letter from Frankie, to find out if his trial proceeded as scheduled and what the outcome was.
2nd Oct 04

Jon’s Interests/Favourites/Aspirations


Reading nonfiction, especially ancient history, biographies, corporate shenanigans, economics, geopolitics, Greek classics and most of all political philosophy

Studying forensic accountancy, financial economics, political philosophy and the stock market

Yoga & Vegetarianism my daily routine consists of asanas (postures), meditation and pranayana (breathing exercises)

Music electronica especially British trance and German techno

All time favourite DJs Sven Vath, Commander Tom, Pete Tong. In the USA Moby, Frankie Bones, the beautiful Sandra Collins, Mike Hotwheels, and Keoki

Favourite CDs the Gatecrasher series

Roller-skating I miss zooming along Venice Beach on my old-school roller boots.

Keeping fit and eating healthy

Languages studying Spanish and Mandarin


Books 1984 G. Orwell, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire E. Gibbon, A Study of History A. Toynbee, Republic Plato, The Story of O Pauline Reage

Fashion Shows Victoria's Secret annual fashion show, the most watched program by inmates at the jail

Food Indian and Thai cuisine

Movies Pulp Fiction, The Gladiator, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Silence of the Lambs, Casino, Heat

Movie Stars Brad Pitt in Snatch, Denise Richards in Wild Things Divine in his early movies, Riff-Raff (Richard O’Brien)and Franken Furter (Tim Curry) in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Christopher Lee in Dracula

Night Out a romantic dinner for two with some German white wine and then lots of cuddling.

Philosophers Marcus Aurelius, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, Socrates


  • To be happily married to a golden-hearted woman and to have a large family.
    To spend time with my family and friends (without whose support none of this would be possible).
  • To ease global suffering
  • To support prison reform in any way possible.
  • To eventually earn a Ph.D. The more I study, the more I realise how much there is to learn and how little I know.
  • To visit remote parts of the world and to experience other cultures.
  • To be an author.
  • To resume trading the financial markets.
1st Oct 04


How do inmates trade goods at SMU when they are never allowed out of their cells? The answer is by "fishing".

A fishing line consists of a long piece of string with a weight attached to one end. The string is usually obtained from bed sheets or prison attire. Weights can be made from combs, soap, plastic bags containing toothpaste, or the flat end of a toothpaste tube snapped off from the rest of the tube, the latter option being the most popular due to its efficiency. Using these items an adept fisherman can assemble a fishing line in excess of twenty-feet long.

To exchange goods with someone housed on the same floor, two inmates will first ascertain whether each of them have sufficient lengths of fishing line to meet each other. Every cell door has a two-centimeter gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. The possessor of the longest fishing line will slide his weight under his door in the direction of the room that he wishes to trade with. Depending upon his fishing skills, it may take several attempts to get the weight into the desired area. Following a failed attempt, the fisherman simply yanks the line back into his cell and tries again. When the weight is in a good spot, the second fisherman will slide his weight out, aiming to catch his weight on his trading partners line. Upon snagging the line, the second fisherman will then reel in both lines. The lines are then securely tied and store items can be transferred to and fro by attaching a large Manila envelope to the joint line, and filling it with the desired goods.

Passing flat items such as stamps, envelopes, newspapers, pen refills, and paper is easy. Larger items such as chips (crisps) or candy bars have to be squashed flat or crushed into fine particles. Coffee and stamps are the two most heavily-traded items.

How do inmates housed upstairs trade with inmates housed below them? This requires lengthy fishing lines and considerable talent. The upstairs inmate slides his weight directly out from under his cell door and over the balcony in the direction of the inmatel downstairs who he wishes to trade with. It may take several attempts to get the weight positioned in a good spot downstairs. The downstairs inmate then slides his weight out and when the two are connected he reels them both in. Items can be passed up and down, between the two floors, via the two joined lines using envelopes or plastic bags.

Sometimes, mishaps occur, lines may snap and loads may get stuck on the run. Fishing rods made out of newspaper can be used to retrieve lost items or lines when such accidents happen.

Fishing is banned and opportunistic guards will snatch fishing lines. Getting caught fishing after receiving a warning can result in a fisherman getter stripped out. Being stripped out consists of an invasive strip search followed by a rigorous cell search. Master fishermen will generally fish after the hourly guard walks, to minimise their chances of losing their lines.

When fishing traffic is in full flow, the run takes on a life of its own. Envelopes are rapidly sliding across the floor and plastic bags can be seen floating upwards as if they were balloons. Fishing lines are barely visible, so to an observer it looks as if ghosts are moving objects around. It is an amazing sight to first lay eyes on, and a credit to inmate ingenuity.
30th Sept 04

Frankie & Mark

In Frankie’s latest letter he wrote that his double-murder trial is coming up: “Ding! Ding! Let’s get ready to rumble...I’m going for a knockout punch hopefully before the bell rings.”

As usual, Frankie ended his letter on a romantic note: “Tu sabes que eres mi esposa. Yo soy el camote grande.” Which means, I know that I am his wife and that he is a great lover. He has drawn a winking face with its tongue hanging out next to the sexy comment.

Mark reported that the guards at the county jail have not distributed toilet rolls for an entire week: “…their excuse was they forgot to order some. Ha! Ha!” Mark’s hopes for probation were squashed. A new judge was assigned to his homicide conspiracy case; so, he is back at square one. Having one's hopes raised and dashed seems to be part of the psychological warfare tactics employed by prosecutors designed to break one's spirit before one is finally bludgeoned into signing a plea bargain. Mark also revealed that his mum has joined M.A.A. (Mothers Against Arpaio, see link in Jon’s Favourite Links).

I received a letter from a lady named Linda who is one of the founding members of M.A.A.. Linda’s brother James spent four years in the Madison Street jail. He was charged with plotting to bomb Sheriff Joe.

James courageously took the case to trial and not only did the jury find him innocent but they also announced that the sheriff had used young James as a pawn in a sick publicity stunt. Apparently, Joe Arpaio was trying to justify certain lavish expenditures, including his own $80,000 armoured car. James is now 23. He lost four years of his life imprisoned in that hellhole for something he did not do.

Good luck with the civil suit James!
28th Sept 04

The Biblio Files

Some of you have asked what I am reading.

From the library I received a book by Seumas MacManus titled The Story of the Irish Race.
I also read Stan Goff's Full Spectrum Disorder, a hard-hitting polemic about war and geopolitics. He fused his Special Ops experiences into a powerful read. I strongly recommend it. I purchased it from http://www.akpress.org/, an outfit that stocks books you will not find in your average bookstore. The staff at the Madison Street jail mail officer would not allow their books inside the jail. Fortunately, the state prisons do not censure reading material. I’ve been scouring the akpress catalogue, which contains such unwholesome titles as A Hand in the Bush: The Fine Art of Vaginal Fisting, definitely not a book to be read around Frankie!

My brain seems to work better in the mornings, so I’ve been commencing each day with little assaults on Joseph Schumpeter’s History of Economic Analysis (thanks Surrah). This
1200-page book details the progression of economics since the Greeks. It was a good choice for my study needs.

After being worn down by Schumpeter, I usually study some of Yong Ho’s Intermediate Chinese (thanks Dad). I am slowly trying to learn the most spoken language in the world, with almost one billion Mandarin Chinese users according to Mr. Ho.

As the day progresses, I switch to lighter reading. I have just completed Thomas Malthus’s An Essay on the Principle of Population. I recently received Sigmund Freud by Richard Wollheim and Extreme Yoga by Jessie Chapman (thanks Mum). I have also recently ordered some books by Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Jacques Rouseau, and the Marquis de Sade. After digesting those, Jeremy Bentham and Edmund Burke are next on my list.

Whilst reading Malthus’s book, I came across a quote that reminded me of a question I was recently asked: has incarceration broke you? Here's the quote:

That the difficulties of life contribute to generate talents; every day’s experience must convince us. The exertions that men find it necessary to make…frequently awaken faculties that might otherwise have lain forever dormant, and it has been commonly remarked that new and extraordinary situations generally create minds adequate to grapple with the difficulties in which they
are involved.
26th Sept 04

Jon’s replies to the most common readership questions:

Q. What do you think about Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

A. I have never met Joe Arpaio. I feel that I cannot express an accurate opinion about him. I have been judged negatively by a small number of people that I’ve never met, and I realize how hurtful that can be, so my preference is not to do that to another person. However, the conditions at the jail do reflect badly on him. He should consider how he would feel if he lost a loved one there.

Q. What changes would you like to see made at the jail?

A. I would like the jail administration to obey the laws that establish minimum conditions for presentence detainees. Inmates have the right not to live in an insect-infested environment. Inmates have the right to eat food fit for human consumption. Inmates have the right to receive adequate cooling and ventilation. Inmates have the right to be periodically taken to a recreation area to receive some fresh air and sunshine. None of these laws is being observed at the Madison Street Jail.

Q. Is the warehousing of inmates in thugocractic fiefdoms reducing crime?

A. Absolutely not. I overhead a renowned prosecutor boasting that 2% of the population of Maricopa County have now been indicted, an all time high. The taxpayers have paid the bill for the construction of a much larger jail, which is due to be opened anytime. The grim conditions in the existing jails have not proven to be a deterrent.

The jail environment encourages more crime. It is a meeting place where inmates can share war stories and tactics whilst engaging in rampant intravenous drug use. Dozens of men are sharing single needles. Most people who have been subject to jail conditions (especially the violence and the diseases) tend not to emerge from captivity with good intentions.

I am most alarmed at the deadly disease epidemic. It seems as though it is being allowed to happen. Surely some inexpensive preventative measures would be cheaper than footing the medical bills for the infected inmates for the rest of their lives? It is so blatant that I sometimes wonder if the inmates are being used as guinea pigs by the medical-industrial complex.

Improvements don't appear to be too difficult to implement; have the inmates spend some of their time in educational and training programmes, remove the drugs and the corrupt officers** who are selling the drugs. Upon my own volition, I taught an English class in a cell for a group of paisanos (Mexican nationals), they were enthusiastic and they proved to be quick and keen learners. The majority of the inmates would like to acquire better job skills, but no opportunities are provided in the jails.

‘O slaughterers, jailers, and imbeciles of all regimes and governments, when will you come to prefer the science of understanding man to that of imprisoning and killing him?’
Marquis de Sade’

Among de Sade's numerous incarcerations, he once served eleven years, first at Vincennes and then in the Bastille, during which time he became a brilliant writer.

**(Corrupt officers are a minority, but it only takes a few people to flood a single institution with drugs. Most of the officers that I met were well-meaning men and women working long hours in hazardous environments, for little pay. About one third of the officers were friendly and would joke with the inmates. Respect is a two-way street, most guards only take exception when an inmate provokes them first. But there are some who provoke trouble.)

Q. Did your timeworn wheelchair-bound grandmother really assist in laundering your hidden millions through airport security in the frame of her wheelchair?

Poppycock! My octogenarian nan has recently achieved cult status (thanks to the New Times article). Unfortunately, I must put the kibosh on this bunkum. My nan lives in Widnes, Cheshire, England. She is partially sighted, but she still manages to walk to church each morning. As the people of Widnes know, Nan has never had a wheelchair, nor has she ever required one. Until recently, she baked endless apple pies for our family in England. Nan has been my lifelong Scrabble partner. As far as I know, she has never been anybody’s partner in crime.

Q. What do you write with? Do you have access to a computer?

A. No, I do not have access to a computer (I wish). At the jail I wrote with a four-inch golf pencil, which I would sharpen by rubbing it against a rough section of the cell wall. As I used the pencil and it shortened, my fingers became more uncomfortable. (My mum fears I may develop arthritis or something.)

The same pencils are available here at the prison, but I have opted to write with pen refills. Pen refills cost 30 cents each. They bend and are almost as awkward to write with as golf pencils. My right index finger and thumb are permanently callused. The refills are no good for lengthy writing, but the redrafting of my book is coming along slowly. It’s only mild suffering though.

Q. What type of yoga do you do?

A. I do not practice a particular style of yoga. I have formulated a routine, which consists of asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises) and dhyana (meditation).

I warm up with a vinyasa-style sequence of flowing postures. Then I perform some pranayama, followed by a lengthy asana routine. Some of the more challenging asanas, which I have recently incorporated into my program include the crane, peacock, archer, upward bow and one-legged bridge. After each workout I meditate before I go to sleep. I started practising yoga when my sister, Karen, sent me a beginner’s book shortly after I was arrested. I have become committed to yoga for life and I would love to hear from more yoga practitioners out there, especially anyone who can perform scorpion pose or lotus tail feather peacock. How many years of practice does it take for a healthy person to achieve such positions?

I thoroughly enjoy reading your emails and letters. If you keep the questions coming I will do my best to provide answers. I greatly appreciate your interest in my plight. Thanks, Jon.
25th Sept 04

Penguin the sausage-dog snatcher

Last week, David was notified that he was about to be moved to a regular prison. As this is his first imprisonment, he was nervous. Perhaps it was the added stress that caused his usual peculiar behaviour to become more bizarre. He would approach the toilet (about five feet from my bunk), drop his boxer shorts so that his behind was facing me, clench his cheeks so he could manipulate his behind crack as if it were a mouth, and say over and over again in a woman's voice, “I love you.”

His wind became so loud it would wake me up in the middle of the night. Even the residents of the upstairs run complained about it. On Tuesday, after a little verbal resistance, the guards extracted a terrified David from our cell.

It seems David was suffering from PTSD due to all of the deaths in his family. Before his departure from SMU he revealed more details of how his father, Jeff, had been murdered. Jeff had been a member of the Hells Angels. In the 80s the Hells Angels had became involved in a dispute with a rival biker gang called the Dirty Dozen. Jeff, in his truck, had driven over a number of Harley Davidsons that were parked outside of a Dirty Dozen bar in Sunnyslope ( in north-central Phoenix). Unfortunately, his truck got caught on one of the bikes, and as Jeff was trying to free his vehicle, a large number of Dirty Dozen members surrounded him and shot him to death. There were no murder convictions because the defence successfully argued that Jeff’s truck had been used as a deadly weapon. The incident was on the national news.

The inmates are calling my new cellmate Penguin, because he resembles the Batman comic-book character. Penguin is 32-years old and he has a pentagram tattooed on his forehead. In the last two months, I have been housed with two inmates both with pentagrams tattooed on their foreheads. At least Penguin is not a blood drinker, like Loney, my first pentagrammed cellmate.

Penguin is mentally and physically handicapped. His ailments include acid reflux, diabetes and high blood pressure. He has suffered seven head traumas and his IQ is 72. He was sentenced to two years for burglarizing a sausage dog. Some young lads goaded Penguin into rescuing a supposedly abused dog. Penguin inspected the thin canine in a neighbour’s yard and determined it was a worthy cause. Unbeknownst to Penguin however, the dog was naturally decrepit from old age. The youths had played a prank on Penguin. Penguin rescued the dog. He was then charged with burglary in the third degree, and held on a $1530 bond.

I was told that I will be moved to a medium-security prison in two to three months time. I am reading, writing and studying as much as possible while I am still locked down. The vegetarian diet is the best chow I have tasted since being arrested. I rank it just below Denny's food. I am slowly but surely gaining back my weight. I’ve had a smile on my face since the Guardian article, due to the continued letters of support I am receiving from all over the world. Your letters have eased my woes. Thank you all, ever so much!
23rd Sept 04


Hoping my neighbours would increase their knowledge, I encouraged the young Chicanos to order some nonfiction books from the prison library. Diego received Twentieth Century – The History of the World and Scooby received Plato’s Republic. Last night, in the midst of their early morning mumbo jumbo, they began to discuss politics. Scooby’s cellmate, Manny, who only reads the Bible, tried to scupper the discussion. The following is a sample from last night’s dialogue:

“I’m telling ya homey, what Plato wrote about is exactly what’s happenin’ today,” Scooby said.
“Izzat right, ese? Diego said.
“The politicians give yer all kinds of bullshit to get elected,” Scooby said, “an’ then they just take care of their homies, you know, special interests.”
Homey here’s sounding all political 'cause he read that goddam Pluto [Plato] book!” Manny said.
“I ain’t political, ese!” Scooby said.
“Take no notice of Manny, ese!” Diego said. “He ain’t nuttin’ but a cheeto anyway.”
Orale, homey!” Scooby said.
“Arnold’s tryin’ to run for president, but they won’t let him because he wasn’t born in the US and his dad was a Nazi,” Diego said.
“Was Arnold ever in the military, ese?” Scooby asked.
“In da movies he fuckin’ was!” Manny said.
“Sssshhhhhh!” came a voice from the bottom run.
“Who said sssshhhhhh?” Manny said in a threatening way.
“Dunno, ese” Diego said.
“To whoever said sssshhhhh,” Manny yelled, “fuck all you old-timers down stairs!”
“Nah, he wasn’t in the military, ese, but he married a Kennedy,” Diego said.
“I thought dat ruca was a Shriver,” Scooby said.
“She is, but she’s also a Kennedy, homey, some Kennedy niece or some shit like dat. She’s nuttin nice, homey, she’s wearing the pants in that relationship,” Diego said.
“Izzat right, ese?” Scooby said.
“Scooby, why don’t you run for governor?” Manny said.
“It’s not in my future, ese,” Scooby said.
“”What about president of Mexico then?” Manny said.
“Fuck you, ese!” Scooby said.
“I think dat Bush is gunna get fucked at the election 'cause of the medical prescription bill,” Diego said. “Vatos can go to Mexico and buy the same pills so much cheaper, ese.
“I dunno,” Scooby said. “His dad is real powerful.”
“Yeah, cause he’s a CIA vato, homey,” Diego said.
“I’m surprised dat no ones tried to smoke Bush’s ass,” Scooby said.
Orale!” Diego said.
“Don’t presidents get shot all of the time, ese?" Scooby said.
“Those gabachos, Lincoln and Kennedy, got shot in the head, ese,” Diego said , “and two women tried to smoke Ford’s ass.”
“Wuzn’t it 'cause of Vietnam that they took Kennedy out?” Scooby asked.
“Yeah, those CIA vatos took him out, and they told the military vatos, ‘You can have your war now!’ Then they smoked Kennedy’s bro as well," Diego said.
“This country is no joke, ese!” Scooby said.
Orale, homey!” Diego said.

For Chicano prison slang translations see the blog two entries ago "Chicano Chat".

I am deeply moved by the avalanche of emails and comments that my parents have received from all over the world since the Guardian article. Thank you for taking the time to write. Your kind words have alleviated my suffering. Once upon a time, my dad could comfortably print out all of my emails and snail-mail them here to me in the States. I do not have access to a computer. I would then snail mail my responses back to my dad and he would email them to the original senders. Because of the recent huge response the system is presently kaput, so I am going to start addressing the questions you have put to me in emails via the blog. I would still like you to email writeinside@hotmail.com as my parents like to post your comments into the blog.

Jon’ is obviously a pseudonym, which needs to be used in the blog for continuity.

Thank you once again for the continued offers of gifts. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to receive gifts at the prison. I can receive letters, photographs and photocopies. I can receive magazine subscriptions directly from the magazine publishers and soft backed books directly from the publishers. Scott, your kind offer would be greatly appreciated. I am more interested in building relationships with people rather than receiving material items. The mail delivery is the highlight of the day for us inmates. I’m looking forward to hearing from more good people.
Appreciatively yours,
16th Sept 04

Frankie & Mark - updates from the Madison Street Jail.

This week, I received two letters from the Madison Street jail. One was from my former cellmate, Mark, the other was from Frankie. Mark reported that las cucarachas are, “stronger, faster and more aggressive than ever.” He is disappointed that his "chess muscle" is shrinking in my absence. Mark is seeing his judge this month and he is hoping to be released on probation.

Frankie wrote that his yo-yoing prosecutor had pulled his plea bargain and that he is, “back to facing two life sentences,” for his murder charges. He related that a new female guard, “some dumb bitch D.O. [Detention Officer] who looks like Olive Oyl,” dropped her handcuff keys, and an inmate found them and promptly keystered them.

As a result, all the cells were "shook down" and the inmates were forced to sit in a metal chair that “beeps if you have something in your ass!” The keys were eventually found in the culprit’s cell and the pod was locked down for an entire week. The responsible individual received additional charges for the theft, and a UA test, which showed he was on drugs. Frankie ended by stating that he is missing my, “sexy hairy booty.” I am certainly not missing Joe Arpaio’s hospitality!
12th Sept 04

Chicano Chat

A minority of my neighbours, around four out of twenty, talk until two or three in the morning. From behind the safety of their locked doors theses cell warriors keep the rest of us awake. Listening to their nonsense for hours on end is tantamount to Chinese water torture. Here is a small dose from last night’s session.

Some prison slang translations:

ESE/HOMEY/HOMES/HOMEBOY: a buddy/pal, especially a fellow gang member
GABACHO: pejorative term for a white man, equivalent to gringo
ORALE: okay, it’s all good, hell yeah, right on eg) orale, homes. Pass the J, ese
PINCHE: fucking eg) pinche gabacho
VATO: male individual, man, dude eg) yo soy un vato loco
RUCA: woman, girlfriend, true love

“Any vato can have a fully-automatic weapon, homey,” Diego said extra loudly, so that his voice would carry to Manny’s cell, situated further down the run.
“Listen, homes, those pinche vatos – the ATF – will kick yer fuckin’ door down if they find out,” said Manny equally loudly.
“You listen, ese, if you have a Class 2 weapons licence, you can have one,” Diego said.
“That’s bullshit, dawg!” Manny said.
“Those fuckin’ militia groups have 'em,” Diego said.
“What’s a fuckin’ militia group, ese?”
“Those left wing vatos, homes. Like that gabacho, David Koresh.”
“Izzat right, ese?”
“If yer not NATO certified you can’t have a fully-automatic weapon!” interjected Tommy - a gabacho – in a booming New York accent.
“What about those militia vatos?” Diego asked.
“Dey fuckin’ steal 'em,” Tommy said with an air of authority.
“Homeboy here is sayin’ that no one can get 'em,” Diego said.
“Dey gotta be NATO certified,” Tommy said.
“It’s legal, dawg, if you go through the right bullshit,” Diego said.
“It’s not legal under the Brady Bill,” Tommy said.
“Is that the bill that they are introducing this November to stop fully-automatic-weapon sales?” Manny asked.
“No, ese. The Brady Bill is from when the president – Reagan – and his homeboy got shot by some crazy fool, and then they stopped fully-automatic-weapon sales unless you have the Class 2 licence,” Diego said triumphantly.
“Nah, listen up,” Tommy said, “Reagan and Brady got shot and then they changed the law so that you have to fill out an application and wait for ten days to get yer gun.”
“I don’t give a fuck, dawg,” Diego said, his voice becoming louder and more insistent. “I learnt all of my gun shit from a comic book called The Punisher."
“Izzat right, ese? Orale!” Manny said.
“Orale!” Diego said.

On and on the conversation went, dying out and coming back to life again, like a fire on the wane that some wind hits every ten minutes rekindling the flames.