Greetings from the Abyss by Jack (Part 18)

Last month, while I was writing the beginning of this letter, an officer was assaulted in one of the other buildings on our yard. The immediate knee-jerk response of the prison was to rush in their Tactical Support Unit (TSU). These guys consider themselves above all of the rules, regulations and laws. When they show up on a unit, their decisions overrule those of all of the officers assigned to that yard, up to and including the deputy warden. They are notorious for their cruelty and disregard for basic human rights.

The first thing they did was rush the buildings, screaming and shouting at everyone, dressed in black fatigues, helmets, arm and shin guards, doing their best to intimidate everyone into complying with their orders. If you don’t comply, you get cuffed up and physically assaulted. Think of every film you ever saw about the Gestapo and you’ll get the idea.

They rushed our pod with their usual tactics and rounded us up. They stripped us out – which in most cases isn’t so much a search for contraband as an opportunity they seize upon to intimidate and embarrass us – and herded us outside onto the recreation field.

My problems started because I didn’t have both of my hands on the top of my head on my way outside. Didn’t matter that my hand wasn’t on my head because I have to use a cane to walk, so I got shoved into a wall. I hit the wall hard enough that it caused sharp intense pain where my chemo port is placed in my chest.

My second mistake was involuntarily raising my hand to my port. The TSU officer who shoved me slammed his hand over mine which slammed into my port. The pain was so intense that I dropped to my knees, which brought two more TSU officers over to help their buddy “control the unruly inmate.”

Luckily for me, one of the officers who came over normally works for prison transportation and had taken me to the oncologist and to my chemo treatments several times. He recognized me and interceded on my behalf. I was able to stand back up and he escorted me to the rec field.

My building sat out for most of the night on the rec field in our underwear. No moving. No talking. No bathroom breaks. It was cold and damp. I was nauseas from the pain and in quite a bit of discomfort from sitting on the hard ground all that time.     

TSU finally let us back into the building after they had trashed all of our belongings. As usual they didn’t take anything, just destroyed what they could reasonably assert was necessary in their search for contraband.
I was tired, in pain and not feeling very good, so I just pushed everything together near the head of my bed and went to sleep.

I don’t remember much about the next nine days. My fever went up and down like a rollercoaster and I don’t remember eating much. A couple of guys on the run took care of me because they couldn’t get me seen by Medical.

Once the fever finally broke, it took me a few days to regain my strength. I haven’t done very much since then and just went back to work today.

I don’t feel that bad now so I thought I should write you and apologize for taking so long to respond to your letter.

Jack is serving life without parole, and has terminal cancer. Throughout my incarceration, Jack was a positive influence. He encouraged me to keep writing, to enter short-story competitions, and we proofread each other’s chapters. Jack is seeking pen pals, so anyone interested please email me at for his details.

 Shaun Attwood  


Anonymous said...

That's disgusting. From first hand experience if your port-a-cath gets knocked let alone hit, it is incredibly painful.
Poor guy - disgusting behaviour by the jail system.

Tyler White

Anonymous said...

Those lames will never change because they have a mask on . If they walked the yard everyday they would not be treating people like this . I have not seen jack since manzanita when I worked commissary . Well stay strong


Anonymous said...

Great read, scandalous behaviour from TSU, hope he finds peace soon.


Anonymous said...

They r just dogs


Unknown said...

Disgusting behaviour from those in authority, would like to say it wouldn't happen here in England but you can never be too sure of these things; I didn't think it would happen in the US either! Stay strong Jack!

Anonymous said...

I applaud Jacks fellow inmates for looking out for him during his illness. I also commend the individual guard who actually did the right thing and intervened in Jacks behalf. The TSU/guards seem to have taken it upon themselves to dispense their own personal sentences upon the inmates whenever they deem it appropriate. The system is broken. Rather than attempt to rehabilitate inmates they teach them (by example) to use violence/physical force in response to any situation which arises. For those who are later released, it is instilled in them and generally leads to subsequent arrests with the level of violence involved escalating after each stay. The staff are daily examples of the outside world and for some inmates the only link they have to that world. If they are using violence as a first response rather than a last resort, they are teaching the inmates to do the same. "Lead by example, not by force" - Sun Tzu, The Art of War. Keep up the good work Shaun. -Jennifer