Monday, August 17, 2009

A "new rule" and a hot cell

Josh writes:

Well, in the last four days or so, everything has gone to shit in here. You won't believe what this place did to me. Well, I ordered a TV awhile back and I just got it a couple of weeks ago. Out of nowhere this place came and took it and they are making me send it home. They are saying that there is a "new rule" stating that if you get 2 write-ups within a 180 day period they can take your TV and make you mail it home. Well I guess they didn't feel they needed to let us know about this "new rule." So they let me spend all my money that I have been saving on this TV, and instead of sending it back when it got here and telling me about this "new rule" they just gave it to me, put my name on it, then turned right around and took it back. And since this place put my name on it, I can't send it back and get a refund. So I'm out $190.00 for a couple of days of TV. It doesn't make any damn sense at all! I just can't figure out why this place would allow me to spend the money on the TV when they knew they were just going to take it. Just another example of things this place does to make our lives miserable. Personally, I think this place allowed me to order the TV and then blindsided me the way they did for financial gain. I had to pay this institution 10% of the TV price just to order it. I'm already going through the grievance process here to try to stop this bullshit. I'm not so mad at the face that they are taking my TV privileges, because I'd rather read anyway, but I spent all my damn money on the TV for nothing. And that bothers me a whole bunch. Plus, I'm pissed how they blindsided me with this "new rule."

So that was the biggest blow of the week. But not the only one. Also, this same officer who took my TV says I'm a bad influence on the other white boys and moved me to another cell. It's real ironic how it's one of the only cells without almost no air conditioning. Damn, I breathe harder than the air blows! :-) I will have to say, out of all the hell holes I've been in, this is by far the worst. I tell you without exaggeration there is not a time in the dy or night that I'm not covered in sweat. I do know what this correctional officer is trying to do; he told me that he will break me and that is what he is trying to do. It has been an ongoing battle between me and him for the last 7 months or so. He hates me and the feeling is mutual. He is one of the worst people I've ever met. He wants everyone to bow down to him and be scared of him. he thinks he's so much better than everyone when in reality he's just a coward who likes to take his frustration out on us inmates. We're an easy target because we are in our cells 24 hours a day and can't do anything. (I'm actually looking out at my door at him as I write, and yes, I'm smiling!) The best thing about this is he's so conceited, he doesn't realize he can't break me. The TV and money is all material and this hot ass cell is only physically tiring. You know? So I refuse to allow him in my head and he can't win. He can take the little freedom this place offers, he can take my property, but he can't take my honor, pride, or heart.

Anyway, sorry for all the own and out stuff. Well, today is the Fourth of July, and I was surprised how this place treated us. Or fed us, actually. We had a very good dinner. We got a hamburger, hot link, ice cream bar, and even a slice of watermelon! Best meal I've had in a few years. You would think you would get fed good if you were celebrating something, but I'm not sure if I was celebrating anything. Especially not the Fourth of July. The day of celebrating freedom. I don't think I have any standing to be celebrating freedom! But nonetheless, it was a good dinner.

Waiting in a cage to be transferred

Josh writes:

I can never stress enough about how I feel more like an animal than a human being in here. Not because of personal choice but by how I am treated and how others around me are treated. Today I got a new cellie and I would like to share an experience he just had at the hands of the Department of Corrections.

My cellie went out to court for an appeal on his case and when he was delivered back to State Prison from County Jail he was dropped off in Chino State Prison to wait for a bus to bring him back to this prison. Well, when he got to Chino State Prison, it was so over-crowded he was placed in a 3 foot by 3 foot square cage to wait for housing. Due to the severe over-crowding, he stayed in this 3x3 foot cage for 48 hours straight. For 48 hours he was forced to stand up like this with nowhere to go or no room to lay down. Only allowed to use the bathroom sparingly and at the correctional officers convenience. On his first day of being placed in this cage, not even suitable for animals, he was denied any kind of food for breakfast or lunch. Only to get a small sack lunch at night. And yes, this did occur in Chino State Prison, in Chino, California. Not in some foreign country whose citizens have no human rights. Right in your backyard! And don't think this is an isolated incident. It isn't! This is happening to U.S. citizens constantly and especially in California. At any given time you can walk into Chino State Prison and find 20 or more people packed into tiny cages meant for 10 people, for days at a time.

Why? Why isn't there enough bed space? The reason there is no bed space is because parole officers and judges are constantly sending petty drug addicts to prison instead of offering programs that will help them. I don't know about you, but being packed into a cage is not going to cure any addiction in my eyes. So until these pathetic sentencing laws change, overcrowding will remain an issue and people's human rights will continue to be violated.

So we have already lost our freedom in order to repay our debt to society, but nowhere in my sentence did I agree to give up my human rights!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Josh- a emotional phone call home

Well, today started off good. I woke up happy, with a lot of energy. How nice! :) Then the counselor in my unit had to send over a sergeant to get me out of my cell so I can talk to my mom. Since I had a death in the family, I was able to make a phone call home. Phone calls are strictly prohibited in the lockdown unit I'm in. But like I said, because of the death in the family I was allowed to receive one. Well, they brought me into the counselor's office in handcuffs and called my mom for me. And I was so happy because I haven't talked to her in many many months. But then they said it would have to be on the speaker phone and I was instantly angry. This is about the most personal a phone call could get and a very emotional time for my mother, and I had to allow these strangers to listen to my mother's pain. How useless and f-ing wrong this was. But I went along with their rules and talked on the speaker phone. So much I wanted to say to her! I knew it was going to happen and it did... she started to cry. I wish I could have given her a hug and a kiss. This was probably the worst I have ever felt. How helpless I felt! I could have talked a lot longer and would have loved to, but once she started to cry, I had to end the phone call. These two strangers didn't have the right to hear my beautiful mother cry and I couldn't stomach the thought of them invading such a personal and private moment. So now I'm really bummed out because I miss my mom so much. Wish I was out to make her smile. Yes, even convicts with tattoos are momma boys! :) She told me she was doing good but I don't think that's really true. I could hear the pain in her voice. Man, I feel like shit. I'll probably write her a long letter tonight.

So, well, I guess if anyone is interested in what it's like dealing with death in the family then this is perfect. It is plain and simply f---ed!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Excerpt from Josh's letter... possible transfer, and inside all the time!

Well, I went to a hearing again yesterday and they once again put me up for transfer back to Tehachapi Maximum security yard. It's going to be months before I get sent there, though. I can't wait to get out of this hot place and somewhere nicer. For the last couple of weeks the air conditioning has been going off and on every day and when it goes off it's miserable in our cells, which we are in all day. Yesterday I was allowed to go to yard for the first time in over two months. For an hour. It was beautiful to get some sun but sucked because I was the only one out there and it sucks not having anyone to talk to. Here where I am they took away our group yards *which is when you go out with other cells of your own race) and installed cages that we will have to go to yard in. Talk about being caged up like animals! :-) In the unit I'm in we don't get too much interaction with other inmates besides our cellies. We do adjust to this isolation, and we get used to it. I get real irritable sometimes because I love to joke around with people and enjoy myself. So being in a cell 24 hours a day ruins all of the things that make me happy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Josh on Holidays and Birthdays in Prison

A birthday spent in prison has its benefits and its downfalls. Just like on holidays. For some, it's just another day where no mail is passed out. for others, it's a day to get together with the fellas and hang out. You can usually tell which people have been down for a long time and which ones just came to prison by what they do and how they act on holidays and birthdays. The ones who have been around in prison forawhile usually pay no attention to the days which all of the free world celebrates. They go on with their daily activities as any other day. Then you have the new people who dwell on being in here for these days. Not wanting to interact with anyone and totally mierable. I personally try to live holidays and birthdays as I do all other days. To dwell on the things you have no control of onl makes your time go by harder and slower. I do think of my family on these days and I'm not sad because I'm in here. This is the life I have dealth myself and I have to be a man and accept responsibility for what I have done. Even if that means I can't spend these specials days with my family. When we are on a yard that has a normal program that isn't on lockdown, we come out onto the yard and hang out with the only fammily we have here: brothers of our race! We all pay each other respect and wish each other happy birthdays, etc. Some might think this place is full of hard core criminals who are evil, but that is a lie the government puts on us to make us all look like sexual predators, etc. We are a family in here and we treat each other with respect and love. Now there are murderers and people like that in here, but most are here for petty crimes. So on days such as birthdays and holidays we get together and enjoy each other's company. So most of us replace our famly's company on holidays and share each other's company in here. And on birthdays we draw cards and pass them along for everyone to sign and it always makes that person's birthday worth smiling over. So some things such on these days and some things make it better. All in all, it is what it is and we have to make the best of it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Artists in Prison

Many of the men I have met or corresponded with in prison are very talented artists. Here are some recent cards I received.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A letter from a man in prison

Hey you, how you doing? I hope the world is treating you and your daughter well. Sorry I didn't write sooner but there has been a lot of drama going on down in my parts. I wanted to write sooner and tell you thank you for the paper. I received it but was unable to write back because I didn't have any of my writing stuff. Eighteen days ago there was a battle with all the cops (prison guards) so after it was all said and done they put us in empty cells with just boxers on and left us for four days. Their way of payback. No matts, or blankets. But for the last couple of days they have been giving us stuff back. Taking their time because their pride is hurt.

I got a letter from my sister last night. Couldn't believe it, I don't remember the last time she wrote. Should have known better, it was just a half page letter telling me my uncle passed away. So I'm bummed out. I'm kind of glad he is finally gone, he has had a slow painful last five years. Do wish I could have seen him before he went. So today I woke up and worked out for three hours. Until I puked. Yeah, that is gross, but working out is my way of dealing with my pain and anger. Not much to do in a small box. I've sworn to never shed another tear for anyone or anything. I'm tring to learn to control my feelings and thoughts, but in doing so I'm slowly but surely blocking everything else out of my life. Not my plan, but I'm focused on getting my self discipline back and that is all that matters to me right now. I think this place is really sinking its nails into me and I hate it. I try with all my strength to stay the person I am, but I can feel myself changing. I can feel my heart changing. These cops are constantly trying to make me feel like they are so much better. Like they are good. It drives me mad. They cause me to be such a hateful person and I've been allowing them to do it. So I guess that is why I'm so focused on controlling my feelings and thoughts.

Anyway, sorry for the blah, blah, blah. So how have you been? How's your baby? Is she getting big? What did you guys do for Easter? We got to dye eggs here! Ha ha ha! I want to apologize to you for the last months. I so want to be able to sit down and write to you about all kinds of stuff, but it's hard to because I'm stuck in a cell. I want to keep your interest in writing but this place makes that real hard.

I love getting your letters. I'm all smiles! It's nice to hear about your life and what you have been up to and about your daughter getting bigger and all that. But there can't be nothing nice about hearing what's going on with me in prison. I guess some days I sit back and wonder, these are some of the things I think about. You know, I always think about Oklahoma and Nebraska, too. It's so beautiful there. I can't wait until I can go back and visit my family again. I remember as a kid it was so cool how it would be rain and lightning at night and hot and clear during the day. It never made sense but I loved it. Another thing I miss, too, is the people. Such a different environment. Maybe I will go back and visit when I get out?

Well, I'm going to let you go for now. Hope everything is well with you. Give your baby a big kiss and a hug from "Uncle." I hope to hear back from you soon.

Signed, with love and respect.