28 June 05
Red & Bones
Soft-spoken Red, a new addition to our pod who I enjoy playing chess with, is one of the most likable people I have ever met. His nickname stems from his long wispy orange hair and beard. Bespectacled Red limps due to degenerative bone disease in his right knee, a condition requiring him to wear a leg brace, to use a quad cane and to take 1800 milligrams of Ibuprofin every day.
This evening, after a game of chess with Red, he revealed the injustice that got him a 36 year sentence in September 1987. He then divulged an incident that occurred in October of 2000 whereby he and his codefendant Bones saved two prison employees from being raped and possibly murdered by three inmates trying to escape — two murderers and an armed robber —who had planned to go on a violent crime spree. After listening to Red and reviewing his legal paperwork I am convinced that neither he nor Bones should be in prison.
At age 23 Red quit truckdriving and moved from Springdale, Arkansas to Tucson, Arizona to study electronics. Red was a pot smoker and partier, and one evening he rented his Tucson home to a drug dealer. After being paid with an ounce of weed, Red went partying all night.
Meanwhile, at his house, a man who had robbed a drug dealer was beaten with a billy club, taken out into the desert and shot in the back of the head with a shotgun.
The victim survived, the crime was traced to Red’s house and Red and Bones were arrested. Although Red protested his innocence and the victim was unable to identify him, the authorities pursued the case. A plea bargain for 10.5 years was offered, which Red, who was confident about winning a jury trial rejected. An inept public defender was assigned to the case and despite having alibi witnesses and the prosecutor blatantly coaching the victim to identify Red during the trial, Red was found guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault. The judge doled out the maximum sentence for each charge. One of the aggravating factors being that Red, by maintaining his innocence, must have been remorseless.
Red became a model inmate. Excelling in mathematics and computer studies, he earned 77 college credits, an associates degree and a paralegal certificate. Then in October 2000, Red and Bones risked their lives to save two of their captors.
At ASPC Tucson, three dangerous lifers (one of whom had shot a female cop during a routine traffic stop) attempted to escape. A shank was held to a female guard’s throat as she was handcuffed to a chair and tied up with duct tape. The same was happening to a female contractor in the sign shop where Red worked. When he heard the contractor cry out for help and one of the lifers say, “ I just wanna tie her up and have some fun,” Red and Bones sprang into action. They disarmed the lifers and freed the women. Their actions allowed backup to be called and the escape attempt was ended.
The two female hostages received medals of valour and were credited by the local press for thwarting the escape. Red and Bones were locked down, fired from the sign shop and transferred to a different prison. Red, armed with a thank-you letter from the husband of one of the captives, requested a sentence reduction but was denied.
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Copyright © 2004-2005 Shaun P. Attwood