You are reading a rare, detailed account of everyday life in Stateville Prison.

Click to read Paul's blog quoted on:
To contact Paul, please email: paulmodrowski@gmail.com
or write him at the address shown in the right column. He will get your message personally.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Segregation -- September 15, 2010

Sunday morning I slept a little later than usual, but in time to catch some of the political news programs. I did not eat a big breakfast because lunch is typically run early, and I knew pizza was on the menu. Pizza has not been served at Stateville in a few years and I did not want to spoil my appetite. For the last week, prisoners have been talking about how pizza was going to be served on Sunday. At first it started as rumors, but kitchen workers confirmed it. All the inmate population was looking forward to it, even myself. I knew the pizza would be rather small and not the best tasting, but in prison, you must be thankful for the little things. Plus, today was the first weekend of regular season pro-football. The day seemed like it was going to be better than usual until someone unexpectedly came to my door.

Chow had been announced on the loudspeaker, and I was already dressed in my state blues waiting to go when a Hispanic woman from Internal Affairs approached my cell. She said, "Paul?" I answered "yes," but she did not say anything. Finally, I asked her if she was here to conduct a cell search. Whenever I.A. is in the building, they are there to do searches. After a moment, she opened the cell door, and my cellmate and I went down to the cell house holding cage. A guard asked me if I was going on a visit, but I told her, "No, I.A. is searching our cell." Apparently the guards did not know I.A. was in the building, or assumed I was going on a visit because when I am in the holding cage, I usually am.

Cell searches have become more regular recently, and my cellmate and I did not think much of it, even though it was being conducted by I.A. My cellmate began talking nonstop with a man who was going on a visit. His speech often reminds me of "Cousin It" on "The Addams Family." I mostly stood there silently, pondering how wrecked up our property boxes would be, and how long it would take me to put everything back in order. It bothers me immensely when the cell and my boxes are not in proper shape.

My cellmate and I were in the holding cage while chow lines were sent out. So much for our pizza, I thought. I asked a cell house worker what they were doing in there. He told me there were two people from I.A. in our cell, and one had asked for a garbage bag. If they wanted a bag, this meant they were going to confiscate some of our property. I did not have any contraband, nor did my cellmate, to my knowledge. All I could think of was all the toilet paper or "white gold"" as my cellmate calls it, along with the commissary he had stashed behind his bunk that he could not fit into his box. Before chow was run, he had sloppily put some commissary back there so it appeared as if we were in compliance before chow.

About 10 minutes later, a man from Internal Affairs came over to the holding cage area and grabbed a cart. If he was taking a cart they were taking more than a bag, and I began to have a sense of deja vu. It was just last January that I.A. had seized all my property and left me in the cell with nothing but my electronics. The man returned and I thought that possibly he had changed his mind, but on the contrary, he just wanted a bigger cart. My cellmate and I looked at each other, and I said to him, "Looks like they are taking all your stuff this time." However, not long afterward, the cart came by with just my property boxes on it. All they took of my cellmate's was the property he had left out of his box. It was in a bag and his toilet paper was on top. I saw my cellmate's unhappy face. I envisioned a Leprechaun who had just had his pot of gold taken, or at least part of it. I know my cellmate had about 20 rolls of toilet paper, but they did not take all of them. My cellmate did not say anything about all the rice, noodles and other goods they took from him.

After Internal Affairs left, a guard opened the holding cage and told my cellmate he could return to his cell. However, I was informed that I was going to Segregation. The reason he did not say, nor do I think he knew. I.A. is secretive about what they do. Before I.A. left, they did not say a word to me. Later, as I was dreading being walked to F House, a different guard approached me and mentioned something about I.A. watching the cameras. He said that after a guard was stabbed all the cameras were repaired, and I.A. has nothing better to do with their time than to watch them all day. I was in my cell all morning, and I was not certain what cameras had to do with me going to Seg. There are no cameras directed into inmates' cells, however, I soon heard another man was also being taken to Seg. He was a cellhouse worker.

I was pretty glum about going to Seg. I had heard terrible things about F House and I had become very accustomed to living in unit Bravo with my cellmate, Jonathan. A couple of cell house guards expressed sympathy. They did not want me sent to Seg, but Internal Affairs had made the call. Although I am quiet, I get along well with the staff in my cellhouse. I was not a trouble maker and did my time without incident. A lieutenant told me he would make sure I got a tray before I left, and a guard quickly returned from the kitchen with a Styrofoam box tray with a piping hot pizza in it. It seemed like he got it straight from the oven. Although the pizza was not as good as it was hyped up to be, and I am sure people outside of Stateville would not be impressed, I sat down on the floor and savored every morsel. This meal was like the last supper before I was sent off to be tortured and crucified.

After I ate my pizza, the guards let me go back to my cell to make myself a Seg bag. Prisoners being sent to Segregation are sometimes permitted to take a few things with them. The problem was that Internal Affairs had taken all my property except my electronics, a book, my towel, a washcloth, some newspapers, and my dirty laundry bag. Inmates are only permitted to bring with them a couple of undergarments, a bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, towel and a washcloth. My cellmate had already put my towel and washcloth in a bag. He gave me a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste to put in there as well. I grabbed a pair of socks, underwear and a T-shirt out of my dirty laundry bag. After putting this together, a sergeant, who I did not know and did not work in my cellhouse, rushed me to go, and I failed to ask my cellmate for a bar of soap. The sergeant did tell me to bring my bed sheet, and a blanket if I had one. These items are normally not permitted to be put in your Seg bag, but he said Seg had run out of bed linens.

Outside of F House were two small holding cages. I and the other man from my unit were put in there. I asked the cellhouse worker what I.A. had said to him, if anything, and if he knew why we were sent to Seg. He told me a man from I.A. asked him why he kept going to that cell. I asked, "My cell?" He said, "Apparently so." The cellhouse worker often stops by my cell to talk with my cellmate and give him toilet paper or other supplies. The man from I.A. then patted him down and then locked him in his cell. Later he was told he was going to Seg under investigative status. He opined that I was also under investigation.

Guards can send you to Seg if you commit a rule infraction, or even if they just merely suspect you of violating an institutional rule. In the former instance, they will write you a disciplinary ticket, and in the latter they will write you an investigative ticket. A disciplinary ticket will be heard by the Adjustment Committee within 14 days. The Adjustment Committee then finds you guilty or innocent, but almost always guilty -- despite the facts of the matter. The inmate is then punished with a set amount of time in Segregation, along with a loss of privileges. Prisoners written investigative tickets can be held in Seg up to 30 days, during which time a disciplinary ticket can be written if a rule infraction has been substantiated.

Entering F House (the Roundhouse) is a disturbing experience. It is a huge domed building with four floors of cells and a gun tower in the center. Each floor has approximately 60 cells, and the building rises some 100 feet in the center. The cell houses in general population are large, but because of their shapes, you cannot see all of it at one time. F House is circular and you can see every cell upon entering. There are almost 500 prisoners in the Roundhouse and when the steel door is opened, a roar of noise hits you. There is banging, shouting, and even screams. It was like entering hell, and I was very concerned about who would be in the cell assigned to me.

After being strip-searched in a cell that had been converted into a shower, I was led to another cell on the first floor. The doors are not keyed open in the Roundhouse, but opened electronically, and the guard escorting me spoke into his radio, "Open 116." My cellmate was a black man who was about 30 years old with average height and build. We introduced ourselves and made limited conversation. I asked why he was in Seg, and he said he was there for refusing housing. I was skeptical, but did not question him about the matter. I told him how I.A. had sent me to Seg and, as of yet, I did not know why. We exchanged information about how much time we had and how long we had been at Stateville. He told me that a few years ago, he was sentenced to 28 years at 100%, which told me he was convicted of murder. Only people convicted of murder must do all of their time. He told me he had been at Stateville since his sentencing, but I did not recognize him. However, this meant little because,a although I have now been here 5 years, I stay to myself.

The first thing I noticed about my cell was that it was recently painted. The entire cell, including not just the walls, but bunks, ceiling, window bars, and outer perforated steel door was coated in white paint. It was nice to be in a cell that did not have various shades of peeling paint or bare concrete, but it had an insane asylum padded cell look. I also noticed the cell was barren. My cellmate did not have any property except for a towel, wash cloth, soap, and a couple of word puzzles and a Bible. I asked him if he had received his property yet. Prisoners in Seg are only able to take a few items with them, but after several days are given all their papers, books, letters, and a number of hygienic commissary items. He told me he already had been given his Seg property. There was something weird about this man. Although I have autism, I tend to be very observant and have a keen sense of intuition.

My cellmate was oddly quiet. Most people want to talk, especially when they have nothing to occupy themselves with. However, he said little to nothing. He sat on his lower bunk staring off into space, and occasionally he worked on his word search puzzles. I am not a talkative person either, and I thought possibly he could be an ideal cellmate. I hate obnoxious, loud, and disruptive people. I was uncomfortable being trapped in a cage with a man I did not know and have nothing in common with. However, he seemed not only quiet and introverted like myself, but neat and clean as well. Later that evening, medications were passed out. The nurse did not have anything for me, but had a large dose of Thorazine for my cellmate. Thorazine is a strong psychotropic, mostly used for schizophrenia, and he was to get another dose in the morning.

The cells in F House are smaller than those in general population. They also are configured differently. Because of the round shape of this building, the cells are narrow in the front and wider toward the back. Instead of bars, there is a steel door and wall that is perforated with numerous holes so the guards can see in. The front of the cell also has Plexiglas up against most of it. This is to prevent prisoners from throwing or shooting urine, excrement, or other vile or toxic substances at the guards. I appreciated the Plexiglas immensely because it blocks some of the blaring noise of the cellhouse. The bunks are on the wall as they are in other buildings, but are toward the front of the cells. There is no table, but all cells have a steel shelf along the back wall next to the sink and toilet.

The best part about these cells are the windows. There are no cells in general population with windows in the cells. For a few hours, I simply gazed out the window and felt the breeze across my body. The windows have two sets of bars: a set across the front, and a set a few feet behind them. There is also a steel mesh screen, but despite these obstructions I could see outside. My window faced the west, and I was able to watch the sun set through some razor wire and over a prison building. There was some grass outside my cell, and I was able to watch the birds peck in the lawn and hear them chirp to each other. At night, I was able to see the moon for the first time in many years. It was a crescent moon and it became orange as it reached the horizon. I noticed a bright star near it, and knew it was Venus. Although I was in a very disturbing maximum-security segregation unit, I was almost able to feel free and at peace while looking out this window.

Despite your punishment, bedding is required to be given to every inmate. During the evening of my first night in Seg, a guard came to my door with a mattress that was torn, had urine stains on it, and more filth. I told him that I was fine and didn't want one. In Seg, mattresses are reused by hundreds of prisoners without being washed. The vinyl covers get torn off and the bedding materials often smell or have bugs. The guard asked me if I was sure I did not want it, and I told him yes, but asked if he could get me a blanket. The blankets are used, but at least they are washed. It is very uncomfortable sleeping on a steel bunk covered by merely a blanket. However, I would rather be stiff and in pain than sleep on an infested, piss-stained mattress.

The nurse who passed out medications did not have my sleeping pills, and I knew it was going to be a long night. My cellmate had a Bible on the back counter, and I asked if I could read it. He did not mind, and I began to read the New Testament. I read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the first two days I was here, and on the third day when I became bored, I began with Exodus to read about Moses. I thought this may be interesting, having seen "The Ten Commandments" with Charlton Heston a dozen times. The Bible I read was a Gideon Bible, and I did not like its translation. It was worded differently from those I read as a child, both in style and substance.

The cellhouse noise was maddening, and I needed earplugs. I tossed and turned on my blanket, not being able to relax or become comfortable. The first night, I slept only a few hours, but on the second, I was able to get six hours. Not only is the cellhouse very loud, but it was incredibly difficult for me to adjust to my new surroundings. I have set routines and ways of doing things. Although my cellmate was quiet and did not bother me, I greatly missed my old cellmate, Jon.

On Tuesday, a guard told me to pack up my things. I was being moved to a different cell. I did not want to move; I was just beginning to get accustomed to this cell and I did not think there could be a better cellmate in here. I asked the guard why I was being moved, but all he would say was that another prisoner was coming down here. I put together my meager possessions and said farewell to my blessedly quiet cellmate. I also thanked him for letting me read his Bible. I was brought to a cell in the middle of the Roundhouse on floor two. It was in front of a staircase, and I knew the noise level and commotion would be much greater there. However, what most weighed on my mind was who my next cellmate would be. I dreaded the prospect of having a bad cellmate. Even in population, a cellmate is a large part of my life. In Seg, it was all important.

I noticed on the top of the door of the cell I was moving into a green magnet which read "LEVEL E." This magnet explained why I was being moved. Level E's, or extreme escape risk inmates, had to be moved every few months. Still, I was anxious to see who my new cellmate would be. As the man who was moving out moved out of my way, I saw a tall thin, black man with long dreadlocks. It was "RC," a man I had known for a few years. RC was a social person and would not give me the peace and quiet as my last cellmate, but he was very easy going, friendly, and polite. I was relieved to see him as I stepped inside his cell.

This cell was not nearly as nice as my last. The paint was peeling everywhere, and the window was broken. Only half of the window opened and closed. The other half was fitted with Plexiglas and the old window pane was left inside the sill by some lazy union maintenance worker. Instead of a westward view where I could see birds, grass, and a setting sun and moon, I had a view of the condemned I House, which was an ugly block of concrete. Worst about this new cell, however, was the cockroaches. The cell was infested with roaches and they crawled onto the counter, walls, ceiling and floor, even during the daylight. When I went to eat my lunch tray, I set it on the back counter and roaches began swarming onto it. I was disgusted and smashed them with my fist. No food was safe in this cell, and neither were you while sleeping.

RC was not only a friendly man, but a generous one. Unlike my prior cellmate, RC had property. He had a number of hygienic items, clothes, books, magazines, pens, pencils, paper, and a stack of legal documents. He even had some food that he had been given from men upstairs who had been released from Seg and were waiting to be placed back into general population. They were allowed to buy food from commissary while they waited, and had all their property. RC shared everything he had with me, and I was most appreciative. I began writing request slips, grievances, my attorney, and my parents. Unfortunately, RC did not have any prestamped envelopes that I could use to send out these letters. However, he told me when he gets his commissary he will give me a few. Although he had just been notified that he was found guilty for stealing bleach from the laundry building, commissary restriction would not begin immediately and he could purchase everything except food and electronics. Although I had told some people to contact my parents if possible, I was impatient to contact them and tell them all that had happened to me.

On the evening I was moved, I received an investigative ticket. The ticket was made out by the woman from Internal Affairs who came to my cell the day I was taken to Segregation. The ticket did not explain why I was placed under investigation, just that I was on 9/12/10 at 11:30a.m. After reading the ticket, I filed a request to have all my property returned to me. Prisoners under investigation are put in Seg, but are entitled to all their property. I also filed a grievance about the matter, however I doubt I.A. will comply. I tend to believe they will keep my property for a couple of weeks. I went to bed soon after sending out my mail and watched the roaches crawl on the walls in the dark.

Today is my fourth day in Seg. My back pain was quite intense from having no medications and sleeping on my steel bunk with only a blanket. I.A. took not only virtually all my property, but my pills for my lower back injury. My cellmate says I move around like an old man. Despite my pain and stiffness, I was determined to exercise. While my cellmate was at the back counter, I did a limited exercise routine in the front. It took me a while to become limber, but I did manage to gain a sweat. Unfortunately for my cellmate, I have no deodorant. After working out, I washed my clothes while naked, behind a privacy sheet. I only had two sets of clothes and since I wore my boxer briefs and boxers to work out in, I needed to wash them both. As I washed up, I dried my clothes on a fan, so by the time I was done bathing and cleaning up, I had something to wear.

Commissary was passed out today and my cellmate gave me some envelopes so I could send out my letters. He also gave me some laundry detergent and a deodorant. I received a letter from my family the previous day and spent a couple of hours writing them another letter. Even without a TV or radio, I could easily occupy my time writing and reading. I hope I.A. will eventually release my books, magazines, and papers, but I am not optimistic.

This evening I was surprised that razors were passed out. Segregation has a high population of mildly insane people, and many of them are violent. Earlier, I had watched the nurse go around and around the cellhouse, passing out psychotropic medications. She is a pretty nurse and probably the prettiest woman who works at Stateville. She looks similar to the actress that is in the Bourne Identity movies, Julia Stiles. Such an attractive woman should not work here, I thought, but I do enjoy seeing her. I noticed as she passed out medications, she stopped on average at every third cell. That is a lot of men with mental problems and who now have razor blades.

Not much to my surprise, my cellmate pointed out to me guards running to a cell and pulling two inmates out. What was surprising was which cell this was. It was the cell that I was formerly in. After watching events unfold and listening to cellhouse workers, we learned my former cellmate here used a razor to slice across the face and arms of the man I switched places with. From workers, we heard blood was everywhere in my former cell, and the man cut was quickly taken to the prison health care unit for stitches. We saw him returned to a different cell on our gallery. He had to come up the stairs in front of our cell, and we got a good look at him. He had a large bandage over one side of his face, and over one of his arms. RC told me the injured man was his former cellmate, and was very obnoxious and difficult to get along with. RC also said he used to smoke wicket sticks (marijuana laced with PCP) and was not only hyper, but schizophrenic, taking three types of psychotropic medications. My cellmate speculated that the obnoxious man caused my former cellmate to snap. I thought this was probably what occurred, but then I wondered if that could just as easily have been me that had gotten slashed.

RC will only be in Seg another couple of weeks before he is sent to kickout. As I close this journal entry, I am concerned again about who I will get for a cellmate when he leaves.

Editor Note: Paul taken to Round House

About a week ago, guards came to Paul's cell and told him he was being taken to "seg." One guard packed up Paul's belongings and took those, too.

Paul had no idea what was going on or why he was being taken. He was not taken to seg, but to the Round House. Paul later learned that an "investigation" is going on and that he is to be held in the Round House for several weeks or until the investigation is over. The video above shows the Round House, although the video is somewhat dated.

Keep in mind that at Stateville, the rules are petty, so being investigated and severely punished does not mean a prisoner has done anything actually "wrong" in the real world. Prisoners are thrown into seg for having a packet of ketchup. It is that absurd a situation.

Paul's mother heard from Paul and passes along this information:

He was sent to the Roundhouse, 1st floor, which is for those being held while investigations are being conducted. (IDOC has been challenged in court, and it was upheld that they can do that.) In the same building are the Seg cells, but they differ in that those cells have solid walls and solid steel doors. The investigation cells actually have windows that open, and bars that face the center of the Roundhouse.
Another difference is that Seg prisoners are kept alone in cells. Due to overcrowding, IDOC now puts 2 men in the investigation cells.  Paul was put in a cell with a thin, young, black man who only spoke in whispers. Paul felt safe. He was given a filthy mattress, which he refused, so he is trying to sleep on a steel bed. Internal Affairs took everything he owns! He was NOT allowed to pack a "seg bag" so he didn't even have soap or toilet paper! This black man gave him some of his, so Paul felt less anxious about him.

In the morning, he enjoyed looking out a window and seeing the sunrise. When a guard came to give them breakfast, Paul recognized the guard and the guard was very surprised to see Paul in there. The guard tried to find out why and what was going on, but all he could learn was that I.A. suspected Paul of something, along with a Mexican worker. I.A. took both of Paul's boxes and even some of cellmate's stuff. No one knows what's going on--I.A. also investigates guards for wrongdoing so there's no friendliness between them.

The roaches are so bad that Paul said one wall looks like its moving! The bugs run over your arms and onto your food! The cell is filthy too, along with peeling paint, etc.

A few hours later, Paul was cuffed and taken up to the 2nd level of cells without explanation. He was very anxious as to who he'd be placed with, and was relieved to see it was a black man with dreadlocks who he knows and gets along with. (Thank you, Lord.) That man was soon going to Seg because he was just given an official disciplinary ticket for having chow hall food. He too was first sent there "under investigation". He told Paul they can hold you for 30 days. If I.A. doesn't find anything to write you a ticket about, you are sent back to general population. This man gave Paul a pencil, paper and even a stamped envelope to write to us. He also gave Paul soap and a towel.  Just then there was screaming and much commotion. Nurses were running. Guards were running. The first man Paul had shared a cell with on the 1st floor had a razor and sliced up the man who replaced Paul. Blood was everywhere. His face was sliced badly, and his arms were slashed too. Apparently, the quiet black man was schizophrenic and just snapped. Paul realizes it could have been him.
The missing blog post was in Paul's property box--and he didn't get a chance to mail it. (That's the one about his trip to the hospital.)

Back to the nice guard who's trying to find out more for Paul, he says to Paul, "I hope you didn't write something stupid on your blog." Paul was surprised, and asked, "Oh, do you read my blog?" and the guard says, "Lots of us read it. It's interesting to us. You write about our place of employment! And you tell it like it is. I hope I.A. isn't reading it."  Paul was really surprised to hear this! (I am too!) 

Paul is OK for now. He has no idea what I.A. is looking for, but his boxes are full of legal stuff, his clemency petition, a blog post, copies of posts that I sent him to edit, etc.

He feels he's stuck for the 30 days. We cannot visit him until October 12. By then, I.A. has to either let him go back to general population, or charge him with something 

Thanks for keeping Paul in prayer--God is protecting him.


UPDATE: Word is that Paul was given 3 prison tickets - one for gambling, one for misuse of government property, and some other one. Gambling? Paul reads the Wall Street Journal and makes detailed stock report charts. We think that might be what they are talking about, although that is an educational activity that has nothing to do with gambling.

Basically, there is someone (or a few people) in the prison who like to harass Paul for writing his blog. They use these tickets as an excuse to take away his pencils, paper, and stamped mailing envelopes -- the tools he needs for his blog-writing.

The same thing was done to Paul less than a year ago. They took away his things and never gave them back. Then, Paul was given a bunch of tickets, and a bogus "hearing" was held with one prison official finding Paul guilty on all charges. The charges then were that he had more items that allowed, such as extra food or envelopes. Keep in mind, he is required to keep all his belongings in one box, so how much extra could he have?


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Summer Heat -- July 29, 2010

We have had a series of 90 degree days at Stateville this week. It has been a humid heat with intermittent rain. A front finally moved through the area last nigh,t taking with it the hot, wet weather. I am glad it has passed, although I know there will be more muggy days to come in August. Torrid temperatures can make living at a maximum security prison more miserable.

This summer, each general population cellhouse was given a fan. These fans are not your typical fans, but enormous industrial fans enclosed in a pivoting metal cylinder. If you look inside it, the blades resemble that of a small airplane propeller. The roar of noise it emits when turned on, however, sounds like a B-17 bomber. On the side of the fan, I noticed a tag that says it has 1200 RPM, and it is so powerful it can sometimes blow out the electric power on the outer perimeter wall.

During the week, prisoners argued and fought over the enormous fan. It was turned on and then off. It was moved from one end of the gallery to the other. It was angled this way and that. Some prisoners brought it in front of their cells and angled it directly into it. The fan is very loud and will drown out any inmates trying to yell to each other from gallery to gallery. It is even difficult to hear your neighbor with this fan on. My cellmate and I like the fan because of this, but some inmates like to continually talk and do not like the fan, especially those upstairs who get no benefit from it. The gallery workers are mostly in control of the fan, and they often are arguing over it. A few days ago, a worker turned off the fan so it would not blow all the garbage and dust he was sweeping. Another worker passing out laundry bags was dripping with sweat and turned it back on. They came close to fighting, but ultimately did not.

I do not get involved in the battles of the fan. There is a blower not far from my cell which in the winter is used to blow hot air downward. In the summer, however, the hot water pipes are turned off and it is used just as a fan. Although the filter around it is becoming clogged with dirt and dust, it still can be felt three or four cells in each direction from it. I also have my own store bought fan. It is only 9" in diameter, but has a lot of power for its size.

I mostly use my fan to dry my clothes. The humidity can keep towels and clothing wet for days if a fan is not used to dry them. Prisoners are not allowed to make lines to hang their wet clothing, and often I put clothes directly on my fan. The waistline of my pants, shorts, and underwear can be fit around the perimeter, and the air blows through them. I also use the two bunk railings near the back wall to hang damp or wet clothing. On the upper levels, prisoners often break the institution rule of no lines to hang their clothes. Administrators are less likely to pass by on these galleries and most guards do not care. The 4th and 5th floors can have temperatures of over 100 on days like this, and not many wardens or lieutenants wish to do rounds up there.

On Monday and Tuesday, I exercised in my cell. Although I began my workout in the morning when temperatures had not reached their highs, I was quickly covered in sweat. It was sometimes difficult getting my grip or footing because the concrete floor was slick with my sweat. I put a fan on the ground in an attempt to dry it while I exercised, but it did not work. In order to do push-ups, I had to lay a T-shirt down to prevent my hands from slipping. I was particularly cautious with my footing when performing other exercises that could land me hard on the concrete or any of the metal objects in my cell. Afterward, all my clothes were soaked and I wrung them out before fitting them on my fan.

Although I sweat a lot while exercising, I do not throughout the day, or not as much as others. While in the chow hall yesterday, I noticed prisoners sweating as they ate their food. One heavy-set man complained about the heat and I told him if he was not so fat he would not be sweating profusely. He denied being obese and continued to stuff his face. On the way back from chow, I noticed many overweight men with wet shirts. Some carried wash rags to wipe the sweat from their bald heads or faces. I am glad to have very little body fat, particularly on days such as this.

When temperatures exceed 90, ice is passed out to all inmates. Prison workers bring large plastic bins filled with ice down the gallery on a cart. They yell out "ICE!" as they go, and inmates reach out their bars with plastic bags or other containers. A worker will give you so many scoops before moving to the next cell. I will get ice to keep any drink cold until I eat my snack at night. The ice melts quickly, especially if you do not cover it with a towel in your sink, and I often ask for a couple of extra scoops.

One day this week, I was washing up in the back of the cell and told my cellmate to get some ice for me. I specifically told him not to let the gallery worker go by with only giving him a few scoops. However, when I dressed and took down a privacy sheet, I noticed he only had a tiny amount of ice. This ice would be melted in a few hours. I asked him why he did not get more ice, and he told me that was all the worker was passing out. I told him he was a coward not to demand more ice and let the worker treat him like a chump. He was offended, but I did not care and I grabbed the bag and went to the bars. When the gallery worker came back around, I told him to give me more ice, and he filled my bag up with so much ice I had problems getting it through my cell bars. I did not want all this ice and only got it to make a point to my cellmate.

I never use the ice to put directly in my drink. The workers often sweat onto the ice as they reach into the bucket. I can also still remember disgruntled workers pissing in the ice before passing it out years ago. The ice is made in another building, and I am not sure how clean the ice makers are kept or what happens to the ice on its voyage to the cellhouse. Large coolers are sometimes brought out onto the yard. These coolers are meant for prisoners to drink from, but I noticed some people opening the top to grab ice out with their hands. The people who live at Stateville are very inconsiderate and unsanitary.

A kitchen worker came to my cell bars to talk after taking his detail shower. Guards do not always immediately lock up workers returning from assignments, or the shower room. They cannot get into their cells and often wander about on the gallery talking to people they know. I was busy at the table reading and taking notes, but I did not mind talking to the kitchen worker for awhile. Recently, I have been advising him on filing a successive post conviction appeal before going to the federal courts. Today, however, he wanted to talk about how hot it is in the kitchen. He said it is often 110 degrees or more where he works. The numerous cauldrons, stoves and fryers raise temperatures in the kitchen to unbearable conditions in the summer. He said they have some fans back there, but it does nothing but blow the hot air around. Yesterday, he said, while standing over a large kettle of boiling food, he felt like he was about to pass out. During his shift he repeatedly had to wring out his T-shirt and he snuck into the cold storage area a few times. I told him he better not be sweating into my food. He says he is careful not to, but I know the kitchen workers often do. Fortunately, kitchen workers must be tested for TB, hepatitis, and other communicable diseases. I also hope that our food is cooked to such high temperatures that it kills most germs.

During the summers at maximum security prisons, there are many more arguments, fights, and assaults. Usually, Stateville is on lockdown most, if not all, of the summer due to acts of violence. There have been several fights just in my cell house in the last few weeks, that I am aware of. In fact, we were on lockdown from the 23rd to the 28th for a cell house fight where a guard gave no warning shot and grazed one of the men in the ass with some pellets. There were probably a number more that I have not heard about. The current administration is not locking down the prison as often as previous ones for these incidents. It is not that the warden is less concerned about safety or security. I believe he simply realizes that fights are unpreventable and a part of life here. Locking down the entire prison for these incidents does not serve any purpose.

Hot weather not only seems to cause more fights, but increases the obnoxious and rude behavior of inmates. I have been sleeping well now that my medication has been changed. However, I continue to attempt to have less contact with the people incarcerated here. I have skipped a number of meals this month, and although I went to yard and chow yesterday, I intend to be my reclusive self, particularly on the hot days of summer. I am quite content to stay in my cage and make myself commissary meals that often taste better than what is being served.

Wednesday yard was at mid-afternoon while the sun was directly overhead. Sometimes inmates will move weights to the shade provided by the gun tower. However, between noon and 2 p.m., there is no shade. I wore two T-shirts out to yard and a navy blue baseball cap. Once on the yard, I took off one of my shirts and placed it under my cap so it fell down blocking the sun from the sides of my face and neck. It also absorbed my sweat so it did not run down into my eyes. A number of prisoners ceased lifting weights early in the 95 degree heat, and I was glad to be rid of their company.

The South Yard has no drinking fountain, but it does have a shower of sorts. A water pipe is connected to a length of PVC tubing that has had holes drilled into it. Inmates will fill their water bottles from the water that sprinkles out of it. On hot days such as this, they will undress to their boxers and get under the water. Some will bring a bar of soap with them. I have never showered in the water, but on occasion, I have put my head under the cold water to cool down before continuing to work-out.

While under the sun yesterday, I thought I should have worn a thin thermal shirt and some gloves to compliment my cap and turban/T-shirt. I could feel my arms baking in the sun and when I picked up a steel barbell, it singed my hands. Commissary does not sell sunblock. It also does not sell long sleeved shirts. I have a thermal top, however, with long sleeves. It has been wash a hundred times and is no longer very thick. Possibly I will pack it for the next blazing summer afternoon yard.

This week, I began to use my little earphones rather than my heavyset headphones that have thick padding around the ears. An envious neighbor of mine asked me why I was using the cheap earphones instead of my Koss stereo headphones which are no longer sold in I.D.O.C. I told him they were too hot to wear on days like this. He told me if I ever wanted to sell them, he will give me a great price. He added that he will pay me in whatever store I want. I will never sell my Koss headphones, however. Even if they wear out, I will send them back to the manufacturer to be replaced. They have a lifetime warranty and I have a life sentence. The guards can bury me with these headphones on when I die.

Sleeping can be difficult for some prisoners during the not, humid days of summer. My cellmate has been sleeping with both his fans blowing directly on him. He comments when I do not use mine, and I think he may want to use mine as well. It is unusual for me to sleep with my fan on, but on very hot, muggy nights, I will use it. I have also devised a way to pin my bed sheet on one of the bunk crossbars so that the air from my fan is trapped under it and flows over my body as I sleep.

A most obnoxious and ugly female guard woke me up out of a deep sleep a couple of weeks ago. She was yelling at me to take my pillow and towel down. I sleep without a pillow, but I prop it up at the end of my bunk to keep the gallery lights from shining in my face. I also do so to provide myself a barrier when my cellmate wakes up in the middle of the night to gorge himself with an enormous breakfast. He sits at the table that is next to the end of my bunk. I do not appreciate his proximity when I am asleep or even when I am awake. I have hooks for my towel and washrag on the back wall of the cell. However, on humid nights I hang my towel across the rail on the far side of my bunk so it will dry. On the hook, if wet, it will quickly collect mildew. My gut reaction to being rudely awakened by the bulldyke, referred to by many guards and inmates alike as "the Beast," is to say "Get the #%@& off my bars!" However, I knew The Beast would not move on, but continue to argue with me indefinitely. She is a most stubborn, petty, and disagreeable person. Instead, I yanked my towel down and put my pillow over my head. Hopefully, she will go away and let me get back to my dreams away from this miserable place. In the distance, I heard her waking other inmates for other ridiculous matters.

One of the counselors for B House was reassigned to the placement office. It was unfortunate to lose her because she was one of the better counselors here and she had a strong work ethic, unlike many who work here. I often saw her busy at work in the cellhouse and throughout the institution trying to help inmates in a variety of ways. She was not only energetic and motivated in her work, but was also a very nice person. I still recall when I first moved to this gallery, she made a point to come to my cell and introduce herself. Never in my 17 years incarcerated has a counselor been so professional and friendly.

This week, I finally saw the new counselor who took the place of the former. She is a thin black woman in her 30s. She walked quickly by the cells saying "counselor" in a soft voice. It seemed like she was hoping she could make her rounds without anyone stopping her. I had a matter, though, that I wanted to speak to her about. Months ago, I had given my former counselor some envelopes to be stamped with international postage so my letters to Canada did not take a month or two to go out. The mail room continued to delay adding the extra postage. I wanted the new counselor to pick them up, and thus, as she went by my cell I said, "Miss," and then again, "Miss," but she continued to walk by. On her return, I tried to get her attention, but she ignored me again.

My cellmate was reading on his top bunk with both his fans blowing on him. He asked me what was all that about? I do not know, I said. Possibly she did not care to talk to me. Possibly she did not hear my low voice. I didn't want to shout at her. My cellmate often says he cannot hear me, but said I must have gotten her attention the second time. Maybe she is prudish or shy and did not want to talk to me because I had my T-shirt off. On hot days, I do not wear a shirt in the cell. I said to my cellmate, "If she is unwilling to talk to me because I am not wearing a shirt, she will not be talking to too many prisoners." Prisoners often sit around in their cells during the summer in just their boxers or shorts. "I wonder how she will handle the nudist, Jackie," I said. Jackie is a weird black man who does not wear any clothes in his cell. He wears no clothes in the winter as well.

After coming in from yard yesterday, and washing up in my sink, I turned on my TV to hear how the court ruled in Arizona's illegal immigrant law. I was outraged to learn the court will not allow the state to defend itself from being invaded. For the last few weeks, I have been paying close attention to the media attention surrounding the issue. I had seen Sheriff Joe's expanded tent city and heard the liberals' criticism of the law and the sheriff. I do not agree with the mistreatment of U.S. citizens that have yet to be adjudicated by the courts. However, I have no sympathy for illegal aliens. Austere living conditions in the desert heat is very appropriate in my opinion. In fact, I think the vilified sheriff is being too nice.

Today I noticed the high temperature in Phoenix was expected to be 113 degrees. I would not want to be in a maximum security prison like Stateville in that heat, even if they say it is a "dry heat." I am not a person who likes hot weather, and I am looking forward to autumn. Hopefully there is no Indian or illegal alien summer in the Midwest and temperatures break sooner rather than later.