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Monday, May 30, 2011

Law Library Day -- May 20, 2011

For months, I have been trying to get to the law library. Inmates at Stateville must submit a request to get on the list which is made up by a woman who works here. She is supposed to follow certain criteria, and give priority to prisoners who have pending court deadlines and dates. She also is supposed to be fair in allowing people access to the law books. Only 25 inmates are permitted to go to the library at one time, and in the Roundhouse, library is only run once a week. The cell houses in general population have 2 opportunities to go during the week. Although prisoners in Segregation are not allowed to go, due to the number of people in the cell house who are here on court writs, infrequency of lines, and the count limits, getting to the law library is very difficult. Today was the first time I made the list since the summer of last year.

I have been working on filing a successive post conviction appeal for years. I have an attorney, but I suspect she has not been working on my case diligently, or at all. Increasingly, I believe I must do the appeal by myself. Meeting the criteria to simply just be allowed to file a second post conviction appeal is difficult, but is made much worse because of the many limitations on my ability to research law and obtain new exonerating evidence. I need more time in the law library to dig through the books there. Since being released from Seg, I have submitted over 10 requests to go to the library, and was thinking I may have to file a grievance or write the assistant warden about the issue.

This morning, I woke up knowing it was Friday and law library day in F House, but I did not anticipate making the list. I began my day like any other by checking the three roach traps before doing anything else. Two of my potato chip bags had roaches in them, which I emptied into the toilet bowl before making myself a small cup of coffee. We were given pancakes and grits for breakfast. I mixed crushed cookies and peanut butter to spread on the pancakes, and then poured the hot coffee over them. Prisoners are not given syrup, and the cookie crumb-coffee combination is a good substitute.

While I was in the back of the cell brushing my teeth, a guard came by and yelled my cell mate's last name. He rose from his bunk, and the guard told him he was on the library list. The guard then continued down the gallery. My cellmate was happy to make the list, and although I was disappointed to once again be skipped over, at least I thought I will have the cell to myself for a few hours. In F House, a person rarely has any time alone because there is little movement. However, to my surprise, the guard backtracked and told me I was also on the list.

I had somewhat lost faith that I would ever make the law library line until I did some serious complaining. My legal papers were consequently a little out of order. I went through my correspondence box and took out my 9 x 11 legal envelopes to sort through. There were certain things I wanted to put in my extra law library box, and there were other things I wanted to keep in my cell. Then I made myself a list of all the things I wanted to do there. The list became longer and longer. I knew I was not going to be able to do everything, however, I was going to try. Who knows when I will get my next opportunity to go to the library?

While getting my paperwork in order, I noticed the cell house had two competent supervising staff on duty who had strong work ethics. They have been assigned to work in F House, but sometimes the sergeant and lieutenant are not here on the same day. For a long time, I have been trying to get some new clothes from the clothing room. I have turned in several clothing request slips in the last few months, but received nothing. I did not know whether to blame the staff for not submitting my requests, or the clothing room supervisor who has been especially stingy about giving out new clothes. However, I did know that if I turned in a slip today there could only be the clothing room to blame.

I looked through the envelope where I keep miscellaneous forms and discovered I did not have a clothing order form. I knew these were kept in one of the storage rooms, or offices of the Roundhouse, and began looking out my cell to see if I could spot an inmate worker who could get me one. I saw that the lower gallery worker was in front of the new sissy's cell, and thought what a scum pervert he was. However, I also knew the creep would get me a clothing slip.

When people who made the library list were let out, they went to the lower floor. Most of them, including my cellmate, were yelling to people in Segregation. I walked past these men to the front of the cell house near the front offices. A few guards were standing around, so I asked one if he could grab a clothing slip. He went into an office and returned saying he could not find one. The perverted cell house worker came by and I asked him for one. He returned quickly with a few slips from a storage cell. I filled one out, and gave it to the sergeant. I knew "Norman Bates" was good for something.

The walk to the law library was a long one. The library is on the other side of the prison grounds, and we had to walk through the tunnels and then across the south yard. I was very sore from my 5 hour "lift-a-thon" and wind sprints the day before. With every step I took, I could feel the pain in my lower back and the muscles through my entire body, but especially in my hamstrings. In the tunnel going around the chow hall, I was alert for any fights that could erupt. There was a large gang fight a couple of months ago in the tunnel, and I did not want to get caught off-guard. Although I was stiff and sore, I felt confident that I could still defend myself. Later, while in the library, I did not know why I was concerned about safety in the tunnel. The library only had one guard stationed there, and if someone or a number of someones had intentions of violence, it would be more easily done in there.

In the law library, I quickly took chairs off of a table and put my legal papers down to claim the table. I did not want to sit with people I did not know or care for. My cellmate grabbed one of the chairs and sat down at my table to look through his papers, and I moved another chair to a different table so we would not have any unwanted company. I then took out my law library to-do list, and went up to the counter.

I used to talk regularly with one of the inmate law clerks before being placed in the Roundhouse. He was there that day, and seemed happy to see me. We shook hands, and he told me he had repeatedly been submitting my name, but I continued to not make the list. I told him after some brief small talk that I had a number of things I needed done, and I showed him my notes. On the top were three cases dealing with what is called a "void judgment." My natural life sentence without the possibility of parole went beyond the statutory authority of the judge, and I wanted to try voiding my sentence. According to some court opinions I had read or been told about, I could appeal the sentence at any time. However, I also read information that there was a two year deadline to raise the issue, or I still had to be on my regular set of appeals. It has been 16 years since I was sentenced, and all my regular set of appeals were over with long ago.

I began to explain my case to the clerk, and he stopped me in mid-sentence. He said he already knew all about it. His opinion was that it was going to be severely difficult for me to get in front of a judge to hear this issue or any other. He told me I would have to establish "cause," which I already knew. Cause meant, in legal verbiage, why I did not, or could not have, filed the issue earlier. The only cause I had was that my prior attorneys were ineffective and did not do their job. While I was talking to the legal clerk, the guard shouted out my name.

The guard in the library was sitting at a desk at the elbow of the "L" shared room. I had failed to sign in and pick up my prison ID that I had turned in upon entering the building. I was too busy to wait in line to sign my name to the registry when I first came in. I had a lot to do, and knew my time was short. While I signed my name, the guard gave me a hard look and asked me if I was once a high escape risk. I told him no, and quickly left to carry on my work. He seemed to be distrustful, and later when I walked up behind him, he turned around defensively. I had too much to do to concern myself with the easily scared cop.

Back at the counter, the legal clerk had all the books I wanted plus one more. He told me the large black book was all about defense attorneys' rules of professional conduct. My post conviction lawyer had forged my signature and submitted my appeal without notifying me. I was not even aware that he had done this until I received an answer from my original trial judge, Samuel Amirante, denying the appeal because he thought it had no merit, and it did not have mandatory affidavits attached. The law clerk told me that this may be my cause, though, I had to show the court I just learned about how the lawyer's actions were misconduct. I was already thinking of raising his counsel as falling below a reasonable level required by statute.

I asked the clerk if he thought it was better for me to present my post conviction appeal as the first, or as a successive one. He said it was definitely better if I could do the former because there are fewer obstacles. I asked him, however, how do I get around the statute of limitations? A post conviction appeal must be filed within 6 months of the denial of a direct appeal, or 3 years after conviction. Again, I was immensely over the time limits. The clerk was of the opinion I could try convincing the court to take jurisdiction of the case by pleading that counsel sabotaged my appeal through misconduct, and I only recently became aware of the law. I told the clerk I would argue the appeal both as a 1st and 2nd appeal as a safeguard.

While en route to the library, I mentioned to my cellmate that I had not seen Juan Luna, one of the men convicted in the infamous Palatine murders, in some time. I noticed that a cell house worker was in front of us, and asked him what happened to Luna. He told me that Luna no longer worked in the Roundhouse and was sent back to general population. I thought about how that took away my ability to pressure him for his discovery, or stomp on him in my anger for a mass murder he committed, but that was initially blamed on me. I asked the legal clerk to get me the address of the Palatine Police Department. I was going to ask them again under the FOIA for those investigative files. They denied me before because they said it may impede their prosecution of Juan Luna and James Degorski, but now they could no longer give me that excuse. The clerk said he would try to find the address but doubted it was available in the library.

At my table, I began to go through my extra box that was kept in storage at the law library. A man yelled out, "Last call for copies", and I quickly searched through my papers for things I needed copied. I found some notes my attorney had sent me regarding several issues in my case including my sentence, which a paralegal student I had met had asked about. I also wanted to send her my first post conviction appeal, which apparently is not on the Internet, but I could not find it in time. I did not wait on the copies, but quickly returned to my table to go through my box some more.

I placed a couple of 9 x 11 envelopes into my box that I did not need immediate access to, and took out several others. I found my post conviction papers finally, as well as my 5th Clemency Petition. I will be placing this petition online, and have wanted to for a long time. I cannot expect people to sign in support of my petition without allowing them to read it, or see the voluminous number of corroborating exhibits. Although almost a thousand people have signed already based on what information is already online, and some have told me it is unnecessary to see the original petition, I strongly believe it is my obligation. The pending petition will be linked to this blogsite, and I encourage those interested to read it.

From my box, I also took out a few envelopes that were filled with hundreds of personal letters. I had these far too long, and needed to send them home. I trust my parents with their safekeeping.

I began to go over one of the books given to me, but only midway through the "keys" I was interrupted by the law clerk. He had the pencils I had given him to sharpen along with a list of five addresses. He said he could not find the address to the Palatine Police Department, but I could send requests to these agencies. I was skeptical of what he told me, and before I said anything, my cellmate, who was sitting across the table, interrupted and told me I need to send the FOIA form directly to the police station, and not any of these other places. He also told me he had everything I would want to know about the FOIA in the cell.

The clerk asked me if the books were helpful. I said I had not even had time to read them. He told me I had better hurry up because there was only a short time left before the guard would be yelling for prisoners to turn in the books. I said, fine, but before I delve into them, tell me what you know about retroactivity. I told him, "I recently read a number of cases that were remanded back to the circuit court due to their post-conviction appeals being dismissed at the first stage for procedural defaults. I have learned that a new legislative law was made in 2000 after my appeal, restricting the court from throwing out appeals for mistakes. Can I use this intervening change of law as cause to get back into court?" He said, "A person that knows well about this subject is another law clerk named Nick," and he called Nick over to the table.

I have known Nick for a few years, and had in fact not long ago spoken to him about intervening changes of law while we were waiting in a visiting holding cage. He had asked me if I was having any luck getting back into court. I told him, no, that I was going to die in prison. Nick told me not to think that way, and to be continually checking new law to see if it can be applied in my case. As he explained in the law library, he had been given a lot more time than he was eligible for, but a new Illinois Supreme Court decision had allowed him to file a successive post conviction petition, and he should be sentenced to 20 to 40 years. I asked him for a specific ruling, or statute that said inmates can refile if the law is changed. He did not know. He let his attorney take care of all those details.

Nick then asked about my co-defendant, Bob Faraci. He asked if that "rat scum" had ever got out of prison. I told him he has been released for the check fraud scam for a while now. Nick told me that Faraci and his entire family were a bunch of slime. He told the law clerk that Faraci was from their area, and he knew his cousin. Nick began to relate a story he had told me at least five times before about what this woman did at a party (I omit what she did here for obvious reasons). I am skeptical whether Nick really knows Bob, or any of Faraci's family, but he is adamant about his recollection.

Nick continued talking to the other law clerk I know saying that Faraci testified against me. Again, I interrupted to correct him, and said, "He did not." Nick then said, "Well, he told the police that you committed the Brown's Chicken murders and various other crimes." I agreed this was true, and I would never have been arrested if not for his numerous lies to the police. Nick said Faraci was a rat piece of shit, and if he had a single righteous bone in his body, he would retract his lies. Nick would not get any argument from me on that, and I thought about some of the things Faraci recently posted on my blogsite, but I did not mention this to the others. I do not want the inmates at Stateville to know I have a blogsite where I write about my life and the goings-on at the prison.

Not long after Nick left the table, boxes were picked up and there was an order for books to be returned to the counter. I barely got anything done. I looked at the clock and saw that we had only been in the library a little over an hour. An inmate worker wanted my box, but I told him he will have to wait. I still needed to put some things in it. He stood there impatiently until Nick came back around and told him to go get lost. Nick said he would bring my box to the storage area.

On the return to my cell, I was stopped repeatedly by prisoners in their cells. One man insisted that I used to work in the kitchen. I was not going to argue with him, nor did I see the relevance, so I just walked on. Another man wanted me to pass something for him. In front of my cell, my neighbors wanted to talk. The door to my cell could not be opened soon enough.

In my cell, I began to sort through, and put away, all the papers I brought back with me. I stopped when I got to my letters. I had letters from several women that I had written over the years. They had too much meaning for me to ever throw away. I read over a number of them, and looked at their photographs. As I read, I became very sad. I had ended these relationships even though they had wanted to continue writing despite my continued imprisonment and life sentence. It was terrible to read their last letters, or their letters that said things like, "I will love you forever," and had a hundred little hearts drawn on them. I only wish that was true, I thought. After putting the envelopes away, I threw a blanket over myself and went to sleep.

It is now 6 p.m., and the letters still weigh heavily on my thoughts. I am tempted to pull them back out, but I know reading more of them will only make me more unhappy and bitter. I have recently begun writing another woman, although I swore I would never do so again. I must be foolish to continue to climb the same cliff only to throw myself and the woman I lured with me off onto the sharp rocks below. Hopefully, this will not be a continuous cycle.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Physical Therapy -- May 3, 2011

Last week I received a pass to the Health Care Unit (HCU). The pass has a checklist with a number of abbreviations for a nurse to check to let the inmate know what it is for. It is also used by those at the HCU to notify them as well. I looked over my pass and saw there was a check next to "PT". I have never been given a pass with the letters "PT" checked, and had no idea what it was for. I asked my cellmate if he knew, but he did not. I put the pass under my bunk on top of one of my boxes. It was not until later when I was thinking about it again that I figured it out. It was a pass for physical therapy.

For years, the doctors at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago had recommended that I receive physical therapy for my back injury. I have asked the prior medical director numerous times about it, however, I was either ignored or told there was a huge backlog. He also told me that he only let people who had undergone surgery go for physical therapy. Maybe, if I had surgery, he could make room and put me on the list. I was not going to have surgery, and therefore thought I would never receive physical therapy. The medical director usually has the last say about it--he was like the warden of the HCU.

A couple of months ago, the medical director resigned. From what I have heard, he had become overwhelmed with the lack of staff, mainly doctors, and the numerous lawsuits filed against him. As the director, he was often held responsible for the malpractice and medical negligence at the prison, even if it was not directly his fault. He was guilty of deliberate indifference when inmates notified him of their medical problems and nothing was done. At Stateville, numerous prisoners went without adequate medical treatment. I was one of them, although my complaints were not as serious as many of the others.

One of the biggest complaints was not receiving treatment for my lower back injury. At one point, I could not walk for about a month. I was not even able to get any ibuprofen during this time. I saw an idiot of a doctor who told me there was nothing wrong with me, even though I could not stand up, and was barely able to make it down the stairs to see him. Recently, I have been without Prilosec, which is necessary to prevent stomach ulcers for those taking anti-inflammatory drugs for a long time. I had stomach pains and severe heartburn which caused me to greatly reduce my use of the anti-inflammatory drug prescribed.

Although I was glad to finally receive physical therapy, I had hoped the pass was to see a doctor who would renew my prescription for Prilosec, or some other stomach acid inhibitor. For over a month, I had been sending written requests to have the medication refilled. I spoke to a nurse about the matter finally, and she told me I had to put in for sick call and see a doctor because the prescription had expired. I had been taking Prilosec for years, and the doctors all knew I had to take it with the other medication. After a few more weeks passed, I spoke to another nurse who told me that sick call is a month behind, and it may be a long time before I would get the prescription renewed. I said, "If I was not in prison, I could walk into any pharmacy and buy the pills without seeing a doctor. Why do I need to see one now?" She said, "I'll put you in for sick call again."

My pass was for 8 a.m., but I was not let out of my cell until after 9. I knew that I would be late. Count never clears at Stateville before 8 a.m. Whoever made out my pass was either stupid or new. When I was finally let out, three gallery yard was being run. Almost everyone on the gallery came out for yard, and there may have been over a hundred men grouped up around the gun tower and near the front door. It was extremely loud with nearly everyone yelling or talking. I was put into a holding cage until the yard line was sent out, and I had the pleasure of being passed by this obnoxious and loud crowd of prisoners.

At the HCU, I was greeted by another crowd. There were three holding cages in the front of the prison hospital. A large one was to the left, and this was for people in general population. On the right were two cages. The first one was for prisoners in protective custody, and the other for those in segregation. I was put in the large holding cage, although I was in F House overflow. Despite being in the Roundhouse, I am still classified as general population.

Upon entering the holding cage, a person I do not like greeted me. I told him not to talk to me. Then a man from P.C. began yelling to get my attention. I was not too fond of trying to communicate with this man across the hallway over all the noise, but I did say a few words to him before sitting down. While waiting, I saw Wild Bill, or he saw me. Bill was my neighbor in general population, and was a righteous convict, although he was obnoxious, loud, and usually annoying after any length of time. Bill sat next to me, and talked, and talked. I was somewhat glad when he was called to the lab to give blood. Doctors recently told him he was a diabetic. Wild Bill had cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis C, red sores on his scalp, and odd skin rashes of unknown origin. Bill had a lot of problems, and I preferred to talk to him not only for short durations of time, but at two-arm distances.

After spending a couple of hours waiting in the crowded holding cage, my name was finally called. I was greeted by a white man with an unmistakable British accent who was also named Paul. He led me to the physical therapy room. The room had very old and crude equipment, including a large, but empty, bath tub that appeared to have never been used. I sat down on an elevated mat while I answered the therapist's questions about my injury and pain.

The man told me that based on my answers, he was under the impression my problem was a joint problem. I did not know specifically what he meant by this, and he showed me a picture on the wall of the spine, and then pointed to the bones in the back of the vertebrae. I was skeptical. I have two crushed disks in my back that are quite visible on my MRI scans. I did not see anything wrong with the bone structure.

The therapist wanted to start off with putting a heat pad on my back, and asked me to take off my shirt. He commented that I was in great physical shape, and had almost no body fat. I did not look like I needed any physical therapy. I told him, I used to be an athlete and a body builder. He said it looked like I still was. I said, "It may appear that I am in great shape, but I do not feel that way."

The man asked me to lie face down on a bench that looked like one used by a masseuse. He had better not think he is going to oil me down and give me a massage, I thought. I did not want to be touched, particularly by a man. I wondered if the therapist was gay. There are so many homosexuals in prison, and one may want to work at a prison. I made some small talk while the heat pad was on my back. I asked him how long he had been in America, and what made him become a physical therapist. He said he had been here about 15 years, and used to play rugby and football where there were many sports injuries. I said, "You mean soccer, not football." "No," he told me. "We play throw ball, not real football." I said, "I see what you mean, but your countrymen did not know what they were missing. American football is a much better sport." After the conversation, I felt better around him. I did not think a homosexual would play rugby or any other aggressive physical sport. He also did not act, sound, or look like one.

After lying on the bench with the heat pad, the Englishman showed me three stretches to perform. The first was done by lying on my back and moving my legs from side to side. The second was to pull my legs to my body. The last one was going back on my knees stretching outward. All of these movements I already knew about, and already did in my cell. I was disappointed because I thought he would be able to perform some chiropractic or spinal decompression therapy.

I spent a few hours in the HCU's holding cage before I was able to get back to my cell. It was a very annoying experience, and I was disappointed by the physical therapy session. I thought I may not come back for this again. I can save myself all this grief and do those stretches and many others in my cell. The guard had apparently forgot about getting me an escort back to F House, and I had to remind him. It was close to 3 p.m. when I returned, and I felt that I had wasted my entire day.

This Monday, I received two HCU passes for Tuesday. One was for physical therapy and the other to see the medical director. The passes were separated by 6 hours, and I thought there was no way I am going to spend another full day at the prison hospital. I thought about skipping the PT pass and just going to the 2:00 appointment, which was the most important. I wanted to meet the new director, and go over my medical treatment as well as have my prescription for Prilosec renewed. While I ate breakfast and listened to the television news about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, I debated how much aggravation I wanted to endure for the day.

I thought I needed to give the physical therapist another chance. I had been waiting for this therapy for years, and doctors at the university said it would be beneficial. A guard came to my cell about 8 a.m. and told me he knew I had a pass but he was not going to let me out till 9, after the yard line was run. That was fine with me, and I read a newspaper while waiting. Unfortunately, I could not bring it with me, but I tore out a Sudoku puzzle to take.

My wait at the HCU was not as long as the week before. This time, I was brought into the PT room with another prisoner. He recently had a shoulder surgery and did a number of various shoulder exercises, mostly with large rubber bands.

The physical therapist wanted me to do the same stretches as I did last week, but he added a few more. He also gave me a large plastic exercise ball to put under my legs while I moved them from side to side. After each stretching exercise, he asked me how I felt. I said the stretches took away some of the stiffness in my lower back and made me more limber, but did not really affect my pain. One stretch increased my pain, and he told me not to do them anymore. I thought to myself: I do a number of exercises that cause pain, but I do them anyway.

I did not bother the British bloke with talk about the Navy Seals' assassination of Bin Laden. However, I did ask him if he watched the Royal wedding. He said he did, and asked me what I thought of it. I told him I thought it was over-televised, and mostly only of interest to women. He agreed, although I got the impression from him that the Royal wedding had some significant meaning to him. I tended to like this man more than most of the people I meet at Stateville. He seemed intelligent and competent, unlike most of the medical staff. He was also a great contrast to the people I am forced to live with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I did not think much of the physical therapy session, but it was a respite.

After my PT session, I was able to get back to the cell house quickly. Lunch was mystery meat bologna, and I took the bread off and threw away the rest of my tray. Instead, I heated myself a package of commissary bought jerked pork, and made a quick sandwich with it. Then I did some real stretches, followed by an intense workout that had me sweating profusely. I thought maybe the physical therapist was correct, and I am still in good shape.

After washing up, I went back to the HCU, this time with my cellmate. Josh had an appointment for the dentist at the same time I had my appointment to see the medical director. On the way out, we were stopped by 3 gallery inmates coming back from yard. There was a long procession of prisoners coming through the doors and going upstairs. As the men came in, they were offered lunch trays and chips. Toward the end of the line, they ran out of trays. Prisoners complained until they were told what was on them. The lieutenant told the workers to just give them extra bags of corn chips, and this made everyone happy.

At the Health Care Unit, both my cellmate and I were told our passes were cancelled. A guard informed me that I was not there to see the director but only a doctor to renew my prescription. That had already been done. The physical therapist told me he had taken care of my prescription for Prilosec. I did not believe him, however. I have submitted numerous requests, written letters to doctors, and spoke to several nurses. Nothing was able to get my prescription renewed. Maybe, there were benefits to seeing the physical therapist.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Roach War -- May 14, 2011

Temperatures have risen this week, and so have the roaches in the Roundhouse. Midweek, Stateville had afternoon highs of 90 degrees. The hot weather was humid, precisely the conditions roaches like. My cell had the vile bugs crawling all over the back counter, sink, toilet, floor and walls. I even found them in my bedding and property boxes. No where is safe from the cockroaches, and the Roundhouse has become a roach motel.

Roaches typically come out at night, but they are now crawling about in the daytime. Often when I am using the sink or sitting at the back counter, roaches will come out to greet me. I smash them quickly with my bare hand. The recently hatched bugs are slow and do not know they are in danger. It is easy to kill these, and I use a finger to crush one after another. The larger ones are quick and can sense your presence. These I must splatter with speed before they run into the holes in the steel counter top or into other spaces.

I have been living with the roaches for so long now that it does not bother me to have their guts smeared on my hands. Some prisoners may take toilet paper or use a sandal or rolled up paper to kill them, but I do not bother with this anymore. Often I do not have time to grab an object. After killing them, I just pick up their bodies and toss them into the toilet. Usually they are stuck to my hand, and I must scrape them off. The larger roaches leave a splatter, and I will clean that up later. However, I have forgotten a few times and will notice remnants of the bugs I have killed days later.

My previous cell mate, Iowa, would occasionally call me The Terminator for the way I splattered the bugs with ruthless indifference, and it reminded me of the detainees at Cook County Jail. They also called me the Terminator because of the massive media publicity I received in the Palatine Brown's Chicken Massacre. Iowa would not use his hands to kill the bugs but always tried to find some weapon or tissue. Apparently, he did not want the roach splatter on his hands. Sometimes he tossed disinfectant on them, and this would cause them to slowly die. I told him I would get him a spray bottle so he could shoot them with more efficiency. Then I could call him the gun slinger and he could pretend he was back in the Wild West. My prior cellmate transferred, and I never got him the spray bottle. However, I doubt now even Clint Eastwood could shoot down all the roaches in my cell.

Earlier this week, I was completing one of my last stock charts. The charts take me a long time to create, and they are meticulously filled with various data. A large roach crawled out onto my paper and instinctively I smashed it. The bug splatter ruined my chart, and despite how I tried, I could not clean all the bug guts off my chart. The paper was stained and I had to throw it out and begin over. I still have not completed rewriting all the information. This has been a busy week.

On Tuesday after I returned from a physical therapy session, I wrote out two grievances. The first grievance was about the mail. I have not received any mail in almost a month except for institutional mail and my subscription to the Wall Street Journal. The second grievance I wrote was about the infestation of cockroaches in F House. This was the third grievance I have filed about the roaches since being in this cell house. The replies I have received were dismissive of my complaints. I am not surprised by the responses. Almost nothing is resolved by a grievance. It is a procedure required by law, but only given lip service. The grievance procedure is mainly a facade to make it appear the IDOC is giving us due process rights. I was thinking of stapling a number of fat roaches to my grievance to get the attention of the automatons who read these grievances and care nothing about unresolved problems of inmates, but I decided it would be inappropriate.

Wednesday morning, the day started off hot and humid. As I went to make myself some coffee in the back of the cell, roaches scattered. However, when I returned after making my bed, they had returned. I smashed them with such force on the counter that I woke up my cellmate. I am always respectful of my cellmate while he is sleeping, and try to make as little noise as possible. However, the roaches disgust me, and I feel an irresistible compulsion to kill them. My cellmate looked about to see what happened, but then went back to sleep. This time, he put a rolled up blanket over a side of his head.

I was making myself a large breakfast, and lined up various jars and bowls on my bunk near the wall. I had a jar of peanut butter, a jar of bran cereal, and a jar of mixed nuts. On my bed I placed a couple of small packaged cakes that are given to us as deserts with lunch and dinner meals. Also on my bunk was a zip lock bag of bread I had also saved from earlier meals. After I sat down and began to prepare my breakfast, I was assaulted by roaches from nearly every direction.

Roaches, I have noticed, have a strong sense of smell. They also like peanut butter and will take risk in order to get at it. I only had a little bit of peanut butter left, and no one, let alone these nasty bugs, was going to take it from me. A roach crawled up the wall and I crushed him with a left elbow. Then two more came up the wall. I had poured milk into my cereal and had to be careful not to spill it. I kept an eye on them and slowly positioned myself to slap both of them with my hand. Now I had to wash my hands before eating, and I was hesitant to leave my food out. I closed the containers and fit my peanut butter sandwich into the zip lock bag before going to the sink. When I began to dry my hands, I noticed a roach crawling down my towel that was hanging over a bunk rail. It too, also apparently wanted to get my food. I smashed it between my hands so not to get its guts on my towel, and had to again wash my hands. I sat down to enjoy my meal and watch the TV news.

I could not eat in peace. A roach was creeping across my wool blanket toward my zip lock bag. I had already removed my sandwich, and let it go inside whereupon I sealed him in it. After I finished my meal, I crushed the roach in the bag and put it in one of my milk cartons to be taken away as trash when the prison workers were let out. Cell house workers typically begin their day picking up garbage on their assigned galleries. I left the milk carton and other garbage on the chuckhole ledge of my door.

Later Wednesday morning, I found a cockroach in my property box. I was putting something away when I saw it scrambling for cover. I quickly tried to find the bug, even throwing property out of my box. However, I was not able to find him. It greatly disturbed me to have a roach in my box. I wondered if there were more in there. I kept my box very clean and organized, and there should not be any bugs in it. For an hour or two, I took everything out of my box searching for roaches. All I found was one, and it was smashed. Hopefully, I thought, that was the one I saw earlier and in my attempts to get at it, I had crushed it. Not long after I put my box together, I was informed that I had a visit.

The visit room did not begin loud and crowded, but by noon it was packed. I could barely hear my mother speak, and she often did not hear me. It was an annoying morning, and visit. My mother, although usually a nice person, can be difficult to deal with. She still does not respect my decisions regarding my appeal and attempts to exonerate myself. I reminded her that she had picked all my attorneys who were utter failures, and the reason I am still in prison. I am the one languishing in maximum-security prisons, and I want things done my way for a change. Oddly, I was glad to get out of the visiting room and return to my hot, roach infested cell.

When I returned to the cell house, I was given a lunch tray. I had eaten some vending machine food on my visit and was not hungry. However, I had to be careful in storing my lunch for later. Fortunately, I had a Tupperware container to put my baked chicken in. Although the container had a lid, I put a zip lock bag over it before putting it in my box. I did not want the roaches smelling it. Baked chicken was a decent meal compared to what we have been fed lately, and I looked forward to eating it later. Dinner was a couple of slices of imitation bologna, and I was wise to save my lunch for later.

For an hour during the afternoon, I exercised. It was a muggy 90 degrees, and I sweat profusely. Periodically I had to wipe off the floor so I did not slip on the concrete. I had a fan blowing on the floor so it would dry quicker, and my cellmate had both of his fans running. While doing some double crunches on the floor, my cellmate asked me if I had seen any of my friends. No, I had not seen any roaches, but it would not bother me if I did. My former cellmate refused to do any exercises on the floor because of the bugs. If I saw a roach, I would just kill it and continue working out. This was not Bally's and I had to deal with my environment, despite what it may be.

Inmates are now allowed an evening yard every other week, and F House Kickout was not excluded from the privilege. After the mystery meat dinner trays were collected, the upper floor was let out for yard. It was nice to be on the big yard, and I did not let obnoxious prisoners annoy me while I lifted weights. I took a welded barbell to the other side of the basketball court where no one else was. The evening began with sun, but by 7 p.m., the sky was black. In the distance, lightning could be seen crossing the sky. Without much warning, gusts of wind whipped across the yard, and rain fell down fiercely. Men ran to the large concrete walls or to the gate, hoping to be let in. I continued to lift weights and was happy to be alone, and in such awesome weather.

My cellmate came toward me wrapped in a jacket, and said I might be hit by lightning. I replied, "I could not get so lucky. If only Thor would bless me with a lightning bolt." After finishing my set of shoulder presses, I continued by saying I would much rather be in Valhalla than Stateville. Josh, who is an Odinist, said I would be led to the great hall of Odin by Valkyries. I told him, "If Valkyrie girls come to escort me, we are taking a long detour." The conversation amused my cellmate, but we both know all that was waiting for us was death.

Back in the cell, my cellmate and I were drenched in water. I let Josh hang up his clothes first while I stood at the door in a puddle of water. A roach crawled under the door seemingly to get a drink, and I stomped on it. When my cellmate finished, I hung up my clothes and then bathed in the back of the cell. Occasionally, I looked out the window at the fast passing storm.

Thursday was another hot and humid day. Once again, I had to battle with the cockroaches in the morning. I hit one so hard on the floor that I hurt my hand, and may have broken some blood vessels. I thought about ways to trap the bugs, but did not have long to dwell on it. Thursday was our regular yard day, and I was going back out to complete my weight lifting regimen. My exercise was interrupted unexpectedly twice. The first time, a guard came to the yard to get me for a legal call. I sat in a shower cell for about an hour before the counselor showed up to make my call. Attorneys can have unmonitored calls with their clients if they make arrangements. The counselor places the call through a separate line that is not listened to or recorded. All calls made by prisoners are recorded and kept for months, if not for eternity. Therefore, if a lawyer wants to have a private conversation, they must have it done with the assistance of the counselor. I was looking forward to talking with my attorney, and I had a lot to discuss with her. However, the counselor, after trying multiple times, was not able to connect me. Disappointed, I returned to the yard where the sun was now directly overhead, and heat reflected off the concrete surface the weights were on.

After an hour passed, I again heard shouts of inmates. They thought I did not hear them, but I did. I just was not going to drop what I was doing to run to the gate only to wait to make another legal call. After finishing a couple more sets, I walked to the gate and was let out by a different guard. When I reached the cell house, I asked him if the counselor was here, or if I would be stuck in the shower another hour. He said he did not know what I was talking about. I had a visit.

Upon hearing that I had a visit, I quickly went up the three flights of stairs and to my cell to get ready. I did not like unexpected calls or visits, but I cleaned up and changed without haste. I had an idea who it was, and did not want our visit cut short. However, despite how quickly I returned back downstairs, I was stuck in a holding cage for a while, waiting for an escort. In the cage next to me were two prisoners just arriving from Pontiac in handcuffs. One of them looked like the actor Mark Wahlberg, and I knew him from the distant past. The other man looked oddly not like a man, but a woman. I said to the Mark Wahlberg look-a-like, "I know you." He said, "Yes, we once lifted weights together years ago." I jokingly asked him who his girlfriend was, and he shook his head. I could not resist, and asked the sissy, "Are you in the wrong place? Shouldn't you be in Dwight, or Dixon Psych?" He responded, "Dwight." Apparently the man thought he was a woman.

My visit was short, as expected, but better than the one I had the day prior. Upon my return, I had to clean up the mess I made in my haste to leave, and wash all my soiled clothes that I had piled up and kicked underneath my bunk. I was half expecting roaches to come out of them, but this did not occur. However, while laboriously washing my clothes by hand, I saw a few in the back of the cell. They were fortunate that I was too tired to go after them.

During the evening, I thought about various ways to trap the roaches. I had heard a method prisoners have utilized to catch them, but I was not sure if it worked. It seemed plausible, though I had never tried it before. When dinner was passed out along with bags of potato chips, I thought it was definitely worth a try. If it did not work, then I did not lose anything, and they were easy to make.

According to rumor, if potato chip bags were taped to the wall upright, the roaches would crawl in, but could not get back out. The smell of the grease lured the bugs into the bags. They ate their fill of potato chip crumbs, and then when they tried to climb upward, the grease and smooth surface inside the bag caused them to slip and fall back to the bottom. I told my cellmate to carefully open the bags of chips, and give them back to me when he was done.

There were a few areas the cockroaches seemed to congregate. It was in those places that I taped my traps to the wall. I felt like Bear Grills in the show "Man vs. Wild" when he set traps in the wilderness to catch prey. Bear Grills used dead fall, snare, and various other traps, but I never saw him use the potato chip bag trap. I wonder if the former British Special Ops and survivalist would be impressed, and I waited in anticipation.

Before I went to sleep, I checked my traps. Initially I did not want to remove them, but found that I was not able to look inside without taking them off the wall. My cellmate watched me as I took down the first bag and looked inside. There were 6 roaches at the bottom, and a couple were trying to get out but they continued to slip. I was greatly pleased as though I had just caught a rodent out in the wild. I took off the other bag, and there were 5 roaches in it. I told my cellmate my findings, and he was impressed that it worked. He said something silly like, "The Bug Meister Modrowski," and I said, "Now it's time to give these terrorists a proper funeral at sea, just like Osama Bin Ladin." I dumped the roaches into the toilet and flushed them away.

This morning I found I had captured more "terrorists." With a few more bags possibly I can win this war against them, I thought amusingly. However, I knew despite how many traps I set, and how many bugs I caught and killed, there would always be more. Even if I snuffed out all the roaches in this cell, they would keep coming from others. If I realized this, I wondered why the U.S. administration did not. Maybe they thought as I did. Some dead roaches were better than doing nothing. Although my potato chip bags did not cost me a dime, nor a single casualty. Despite the conundrum, I looked forward to watching "Dual Survivor" after this writing, and musing over more ways to win the war.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

18 Years of Captivity -- April 30, 2011

On April 28, 1993, I was arrested by numerous gun-wielding Palatine Task Force police and FBI agents. Despite immediately asking for a lawyer, for the next two days I was relentlessly interrogated. My interrogators used intimidation, threats, deceit, and physical abuse in attempts to get me to talk and make an incriminating statement. When none of this worked, John Robertson, who was at the time an investigator for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, simply made one up. I can understand the rough and illegal tactics of my interrogators hoping to solve a mass murder. However, what I will always be enormously bitter about is Robertson's fabrication of evidence. I will never forget April 28, 1993, the day my life effectively ended.

As always, I begin my day eating breakfast and watching the morning news programs. On the news today were reports of the severe weather that covered much of the southern U.S. the night before. About 170 tornadoes were reported, with just as many casualties. A number of homes were destroyed, even entire towns. I looked out my cell window and noticed the dark clouds. I was glad the sky was dark and gloomy. It was appropriate for the day I died 18 years ago.

Also in the news was the continuing coverage of the British Royal wedding. The news has been on TV for weeks, and I was growing annoyed with it. There are so many other important matters the news media should be talking about. I did not understand the fascination in America with the wedding. I thought our country's military efforts in the Middle East, the President's foolish energy policies, the impending breach of the government's debt ceiling at over $14 trillion, and numerous other subjects were more important. What brooded on my mind the most, however, was the ticker tape which continually went across the screen stating it was April 28, 2011.

It was a sunny day when I was driving my Ford Mustang 18 years ago, with my cousin and his friend. My cousin and I were doing some rehab work on a house for some extra money. We had stopped for lunch, and on the way back home met his friend who needed a ride. That was fine, I said, and my cousin opened the door and leaned forward so Scott could get into the back seat. I bet he later regretted asking me for a ride.

The world and national news is occasionally interrupted by local news. Mostly I was interested in the weather as I could determine what to wear for my yard time. In between weather and traffic was a short segment about Governor Quinn wanting to borrow $8 billion to close some of the state's massive debt and fiscal problems. It angered me that the Governor, like many other Democrats including the President, sought to borrow more and more money, and also raise taxes instead of cutting spending. There are a number of places Governor Pat Quinn could cut spending, as the state's comptroller, Judy Barr Topinka, has pointed out, but as an inmate that has done almost two decades for a crime he did not commit, I thought about the prison industrial complex. It is unfortunate that the Governor did not have the courage to tackle this enormous problem. At least he was willing to grant 84 clemency petitions on Good Friday. I wish mine was one of them.

I had seen the police following me before my arrest. A white van that was parked curbside began following us soon after picking up Scott, along with another unmarked vehicle. I have followed politics and the news since I was in my early teens, and the arrest of my former room mate for murder did not escape my attention. The majority of this news centered on his connection to the Palatine Brown's Chicken murders. I knew the police would want to talk to me because I was living with him at the time of those murders in January. I did not think, however, that the police would ambush me at a traffic stop with intentions of killing me if the opportunity presented itself. I was not aware that earlier in the week Bob Faraci and his wife had implicated me, not only in the Barrington murder, but the Palatine massacre as well.

I ate a large breakfast this morning. In the Roundhouse, prisoners in Kickout do not get two yard periods, but only one. However, our yard period was 5 hours long. We would not be coming in until 1 p.m., or later. I made myself a few peanut butter sandwiches, as well as a bowl of corn flakes with a handful of dehydrated banana chips, blueberries, raisins, and peanuts. I made a hot mug of tea to go with it. It was a breakfast of champions, and I intended to push my middle aged body to its limit on the yard. Unfortunately, I did not have the robust strength I had when I was 18.

I was put in a concrete cell for interrogation that was smaller than the prison cell I currently occupy. The cell was made of cinder block, painted white. It had one steel door that was kept locked, and a mirror. I knew the mirror could be looked in from the other side. Once it became obvious to my interrogators that I was not going to talk to them without a lawyer present, they began to use unconventional and illegal means. A light blue cloth was placed over the glass so no one could see inside the room. I was not taken to the Palatine Task Force headquarters or to the Palatine Police Department to be questioned, but instead to another place, which I later learned was the Rolling Meadows Police Department. This secret location was chosen to lose the massive media entourage following them, and to prevent my parents from being able to send any attorney to my aid. When my parents called various police agencies, they were told they never heard of me, and because I was held incommunicado, I could be interrogated without interruption.

Not long before prisoners on 4 gallery were let out for yard, a man from the other side of the cell house was yelling for my cellmate. My cellmate was sleeping on his bunk and was not going out. This made it easier for me to get ready for yard, and I did not have to coordinate activities in the small cell. I also did not have to get my cell in compliance, although because I am such an orderly person, it already was. The man continued screaming for the cellmate until finally Josh got up to yell back at him, "No, I'm not going to yard!" The man yelling at him wanted to play poker on the yard and needed a fourth player. After my cellmate jumped back onto his bunk, I continued to think about my experiences 18 years ago. I was dressed and ready to leave. I stood staring out my window at the dark clouds.

The only way I could stop my interrogators from continuing to rough me up and grilling me with questions, was to trick them. They told me they had not located the gun used to kill Fawcett. It was not in Robert Faraci's possessions, and his wife was not very helpful. They wanted to know if I could be of any help. When I had left the Faraci's, I packed a 22 caliber revolver with my other belongings. It was a cheap piece of junk, but it could possibly have been the murder weapon, I thought. I told my interrogators I could possibly be of assistance, but I had to talk to the states attorney first. They did not like this, but eventually Asst. State's Attorney Pat O'Brien came into the room. I told him how I had asked for a lawyer over 50 times, and I told him about the other abuses I had endured. He was not sympathetic, but I he told the police to take down the sheet covering the mirror as he left. Not long after that I was taken to the Barrington Police Department to be held overnight for my arraignment. The interrogation was over, and I was finally allowed to use a phone to call my parents. It was about 11 p.m. on April 29th.

It was incredibly loud when guards let out prisoners on the upper floor to go to yard. I hated the cell house noise and being groped by a guard at the bottom of the stairs. He even made me take off my tight fitting wool skull cap. The frisking was foolish. I could easily fashion a weapon on the yard, or put one in my shoes. On the cell house floor, it seemed like a hundred prisoners were yelling from cells to those going to yard. I tried to avoid the noise and people in general, but a cell house worker approached me. He asked who was the woman I was with in the visiting room the day before, and then commented that she had nice tits. I told the pervert that I am sure he is envious, considering the ugly grandma-type with a sagging body that comes to see him. He told me that is the way he likes it, but I doubt he was sincere, although he is a freak and all types of women, and possibly men, could excite him.

On the yard, men walked around, played basketball, or hung out by the telephones, however, most were clustered around the two weight benches and five pieces of welded iron. I also wanted to use the weights, but I was not going to wait in line, listen to their conversations, or be close to their vicinity. I began my workout at the monkey bars, and did chin-ups. There was no one by them, and I could be alone with my thoughts.

It was a cool 45 degrees with strong breezes. I watched the heavy dark cumulus clouds race across the sky. It was an ominous day, and I thought again that it was appropriate for the anniversary of my death. I also thought about a movie with Val Kilmer I had watched several days ago called "The Traveler." Val Kilmer played an innocent man who was tortured and killed by police during interrogation. He came back as a dead man to seek revenge. During the movie, he often whistled parts to Mozart's Requiem, a composition I knew very well.

The weight bench area was still very crowded so I decided to run sprints across the yard. I ran as fast as I could until I hit the wall on the other side. I then walked back, and repeated my run. It was a little over 100 meters, and I would have liked to have timed myself to see how slow and crippled I had become over the years. During my sprints, I noticed a sissy in the corner near the portable toilet and a couple of concrete tables. The sissy had his hair done like a black woman's, and had some type of lip gloss on. He also intentionally wore a yellow court writ jacket in a specific way to look feminine. Most sissies are in protective custody, but he seemed like he was well liked by a few people on the yard. I reason he was liked by more than a few, but they did not want to be seen with an outspoken homosexual. Truly, I live around a number of low lifes and weirdos.

The people around the small pile of weights thinned out, and after I did my 10 sprints, I joined them. For the next four hours, I did an assortment of exercises. It began to drizzle during my workout, and I continued without stop. I was glad to see most of the other prisoners depart and leave me alone. With the rain slapping me in the face, I had a man come by and say, "You do not ever stop?" No, the elements were not going to prevent me from working out. I had exercised in far worse weather over the years. I had endured a lot in my 18 years, and some cold rain was the least of my miseries.

When I returned from yard, my cellmate jumped on his bunk. He knew I would want to wash up and do other things. After I ate my little soy-turkey burger and brushed my teeth, I began the arduous process of washing my clothes. I send most of my clothes out to be washed, however, I only had one set of sweatpants and shorts, and these I washed in the cell. They were wet and muddy, as were my shoes. I figured I would also wash my thermals as well, although I did not wear them to yard. Washing clothes and shoes by hand was difficult, but even more so was rinsing them in my toilet which has a 10 minute timer. I spent 5 hours working out, and 3 hours washing clothes. When I finished, I could barely walk because my lower back hurt so much and I was incredibly tired. After bathing, I fell asleep and did not wake up until after 7 p.m.

I felt like I was beaten up, and most of my body was sore. I do not remember ever feeling that way when I was younger. I worked out even harder, but my recuperation time was immensely quicker. As I made my cellmate and myself a meal, I thought about the sports I had played and workouts I did before my arrest. I remember being able to out lift my friend's uncle's friend, who was a professional wrestler. He had been on TV and had wrestled with the likes of Hulk Hogan. Even though the man was stacking steroids and I was only 17, I could often beat him while working out in his garage that had been converted into a full gym.

At 8 p.m., the DVD movie "Conviction" came on over the prison's cable channel. I had been looking forward to watching this movie ever since I read about the film's description and release in the theaters. The movie starred Hillary Swank as the sister of a man wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. The woman gave up her life to go to law school and represent her brother on appeal. The movie was based on a true life story in Massachusetts, and like most realistic portrayals of injustice, it was a frustrating, grim, and miserable story that does not have a wonderful ending. While I watched the movie, I was reminded of many of my own experiences, those of others, and my family's.

The evidence against Kenneth Waters was not very strong. From the presentation in the movie, it consisted largely of the testimony of two women, one who was his former girlfriend. They testified that Kenny had admitted to the murder. The other piece of evidence was blood left by the killer who happened to have the same blood type. The movie does not dwell much on the trial and his conviction, but the ordeals he and particularly his sister, Betty Anne Waters, go through afterwards.

Kenny, not surprisingly, lost all his regular set of appeals. It is incredibly difficult for a prisoner who is not on death row to gain a new trial, despite how weak and precarious the evidence against him or her may be. After a number of years passed and it became increasingly clear that Kenny Waters would never be exonerated, he attempted to kill himself. His sister came to the prison to visit him afterwards. He told her it would be better for him, her, and all of his family if he was dead. This I have thought myself, and still do. If I had more courage, I would have committed suicide long ago rather than make my family suffer all this time with me.

It often seems that my continued imprisonment only torments my parents and other family members. If I were dead, they would come to terms with it and it would be over, but because I continue to live a harrowing existence, it is a protracted anguish for those around me. I recall a statement by the victim's mother to the news media about my sentence. She said, "At least his mother will be able to visit him." She was mistaken to believe my family's ability to see me in prison is better than had I been executed. I would much rather have had the quick death suffered by Dean Fawcett than the slow torturesome death that me and my family endure.

Betty Anne Waters made her brother promise not to kill himself if she went to law school to become a lawyer and get him out of prison. It was very difficult for her to go through law school and continue to be a mother to her children, or even be there for her husband. Ultimately, her husband divorced her and took custody of their kids. Seeing her brother rot away in prison, however, kept her motivated, and eventually she graduated and passes the bar exam. She was then able to legally represent her brother in the courts.

I noticed how the visitation was portrayed in the movie, and in many ways it reminded me of visits I have had in prison. There often are arguments, frustration, and pain with the failure of the justice system. Visiting with family is not always happy moments, and more often than not, visitation has made me angry, upset, and sad. It is this way I imagine for the loved ones who have come to see me. Visitation is often made worse by the petty rules of the prisons. At one point, Betty Anne reached out to hold her brother's hand, only for a guard to snap at her, "No touching!" Sometimes, Kenneth would stand during his visit and he would be shouted at to sit down. One time when he was told about a problem with his appeal, he refused to sit back down. After having words with a guard, he was tackled and handcuffed, all the while screaming at his sister in frustration. Many people, guards, and prisoners alike, will ask me if I had a good visit. Often I tell them, "No, I did not."

After a convict goes through his regular set of appeals, it is enormously difficult to meet the strict criteria to be heard in front of a court again. Usually the only way a prisoner can petition the court is with an actual innocence claim. The petition must prove to the court with new evidence that a confined person is innocent. Betty Anne learned about DNA evidence being used to prove people are innocent. At the time of her brother's conviction, DNA science was not available, but if the blood evidence was preserved, she could petition the court to compare the killer's DNA to Kenny's.

She tried to locate the evidence to see if it was still available. Many years had passed and she was told all evidence was destroyed after ten years. However, she was unwilling to accept that the only way to save her brother was a dead end. She went to the courthouse, and pled with a woman there to search through the thousands of boxes. After much waiting, she found it. The blood evidence of the killer was still there.

After about a year of waiting, the state lab finally confirmed that Kenneth Waters' DNA did not match the killer's. Betty Anne was jubilant and ran over to the prison to tell her brother that he will be freed. However, later she has to tell him the prosecutor refused to drop the charges, and said they can still prosecute him as an accessory to the murder. He would be retried under the theory of accountability, and it would be many years before Kenny was released. He may even be re-convicted on the testimony of the two women.

Kenneth Waters was at the same place as I am when his sister began to look for ways to file a successive post conviction appeal. Like Kenny, I have blood evidence found in Bob Faraci's car that may prove I did not lend him my car to him on the day he killed Fawcett. However, I have no way of knowing if that evidence is still available today. Furthermore, even if the blood matches the victim's, the prosecutor will most likely make an argument that it still does not prove I am innocent. The next step for Betty Anne was realizing she needed to gain recantations from trial witnesses, as I am currently trying to do.

Betty Anne went to see one of the women who testified her brother confessed to her. She admitted that she made up the story when pressured by a police officer. However, when she was asked to give a notarized affidavit, she refused. She was concerned about people knowing she framed an innocent man, and being charged with perjury. In Illinois, the statute of limitations on perjury is only 3 years, and I doubt it could be much more in Massachusetts. I was puzzled by why the woman was not notified that she would face no criminal penalty.

Betty Anne then tried a different tactic with her brother's former girlfriend. She went through the daughter they had together, and was now an adult. She initially rebuffed Betty Anne's attempts to talk to her. She had no memory of her father except her mother telling her he was a no good man, and a murderer. Like a number of men in prison with children, they have had no contact with their kids since they were arrested. Many ex-wives and girlfriends turn their children against them. Eventually, Betty Anne was able to tell her about her father being innocent, and how he wrote her every week from prison only for his letters to be destroyed by her mother.

Through Kenneth Water's daughter, Betty Anne was able to confront his brother's ex-girlfriend. She told her that her new boyfriend got an idea to make some money by making up a story on Kenny. When the police went to talk to her, they threatened her with an accessory to murder charge, along with the seizure of her child. This is what motivated her to lie to the jury. Police and prosecutors often coerce people into testifying falsely in murder trials, or at grand jury proceedings. They did it in my case, and I have been told by many others it happened in their cases as well. Cops and prosecutors often think they are above the law, or that they are the law. Sometimes, I imagine they are able to justify in their minds that it is right to twist and fabricate evidence.

Armed with the signed affidavit of the state's main witness recanting her previous testimony, Betty Anne contacted the prosecutor. Prosecutors do not ever want to admit fault, but when Barry Scheck of New York's Innocence Project became involved and told the prosecutor of all the media interested in the case, the prosecutor relented. There would be no new trial for Kenny Waters. The charges were dropped, and he was released from prison.

Is this a happy ending? No, Kenny is now an old man with gray hair. He was not able to be a father to his daughter. He was not able to have a life of any sort except that behind bars. Coincidentally, I learned Kenny had spent 18 years in captivity before being freed. He was a prisoner for as long as I have been now. I thought about how my successive post conviction has yet to be filed, and how it is becoming difficult to find new evidence. I have plenty of old evidence that proves my innocence, but this was not used at trial and cannot be used in an actual innocence claim. Unlike Kenny, I also do not have a sister who is willing to devote her life to my exoneration, and my attorney has done little the last two years. I have recently met a paralegal student, however, who seems particularly enthusiastic about my case. Possibly, she can be my Betty Anne Waters. I can only hope that I am freed before my life is over and I am an old man.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I.A. in the Cellhouse -- April 20, 2011

When I returned from a visit yesterday, two members of Internal Affairs (I.A.) came in the cell house door. I was waiting for the female guard at the door to log in my name and did not even notice the people from I.A. initially. However, when I went to take a lunch tray they were standing not too far from me. I recognized both, and one was a man who last September helped search my cell and wheeled my two property boxes away. He did not write the investigative ticket that sent me to Segregation, nor the falsified disciplinary ticket I later received that resulted in my 3 months of confinement, but I still felt an animosity toward him. There is a lot of animosity toward I.A. amongst prisoners, and when the two men walked out from the entrance into the dome, prisoners yelled out "I.A. in the cell house!"

The Internal Affairs Unit is supposed to investigate the goings on of the prison for the institution's safety and security. They are also an independent group that is supposed to police the police, but are sometimes just as corrupt. They often overstep their authority, and exaggerate or fabricate claims. The only person to check their authority is the warden, but he often lets them do as they please. It is no surprise when I.A. enters any of the cell houses, their presence is announced. The people from I.A. regularly harass inmates and bother the guards as well.

Visits are almost always a drain on me, emotionally and physically. Fortunately, my visitor came early when the visiting room is not so loud and crowded. I cannot escape the loud, obnoxious, and crowded conditions in prison. There is no privacy and no time to get away from it all, especially in the Roundhouse. I said a few words to my cellmate before I put on my headphones and began to eat part of my tray of cold soy spaghetti. Later that day, I expected my commissary to be brought and that I would save my hunger until then. I had little food left in my box, but I opened up a package of tuna to add to the spaghetti.

I often dial through my radio searching for music or news. On a news radio program I heard that it was the anniversary of the Waco Massacre and Oklahoma City Bombing. I remember the ATF's assault on the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco readily because it was such an outrageous use of governmental force. I also remember it because not long after the flames were put out and bodies removed, my former roommate was arrested for a murder in his hometown of Barrington. Mostly, the media was riveted by sources that said Bob Faraci claimed to have information on the still unsolved Palatine Massacre, where 7 people were brutally killed at a Brown's Chicken and Pasta Restaurant. I did not want to dwell on the past and had a lot of things I wanted to do.

My cellmate pointed out to me a number of cell house workers had been brought downstairs. He and I speculated they were going to be brought to the offices of I.A. to be questioned. Periodically, cell house workers are questioned by I.A. about various matters, or whenever I.A. is on a fishing expedition. Some of those workers are snitches, and that is why they have the jobs. Others can easily be squeezed by I.A. for information. It is odd to me that men with enormous amounts of time could be coerced. I am going to die in prison, and there is very little you can do to me. However, other prisoners love their pathetic jobs or are comfortable in their pathetic lives. Some seek special favors for telling on other inmates or guards.

First quarter corporate reports were just beginning to come out and I was greatly interested in those. For several years I have been following the economy and investment opportunities. It has been an enormous pastime for me, and in anticipation of the new earning and forecasts, I was making new charts listing over 500 companies. Many of these stocks I had records of going back to 2007. On Monday, Alcoa, and aluminum company, reported a revenue increase of 22%, close to $6 billion. They expected aluminum demand to increase about 12% this year, mostly coming from China. I did not care much about Alcoa, and it is not one of the stocks I follow, but I had to be prepared for other companies' reports. I only follow those with the best fundamentals, which are important from a shareholder's perspective.

A lot of men follow sports, TV programs, play cards, chess, or dominoes. Many will talk for hours and hours with their cellmates, or yell to each other in the cell house. Some at Stateville will read, and the publications will mostly be hip-hop, porn, or sports magazines. I would rather spend my time studying economics and investments and making intricate charts. I then give my advice to family and friends. Stateville is a place of meaningless existence, and I would rather use my time productively than lay around and watch TV or do other things popular in prison.

While I was making one of my new charts, I noticed across the cell house that Internal Affairs was going in a couple of the cell house workers' cells. When they went into the cell of the gambling addict I know, I said to my cellmate, "Look, they are in Dinosaur Head's cell." We have come to nickname the large black man with a big skull "Dinosaur Head" because he was big like a dinosaur, but we suspected he had a little nut of a brain inside that large misshaped cranium. He was not very intelligent, but had a voracious appetite for gambling, or trying to make money. Ever since football season ended, I ceased giving him advice. However, he has continued to bet on basketball and even baseball at times. I played about 7 seasons of baseball before my arrest, however, I do not follow it on TV and have no idea on a given day what team will defeat another.

One of the men from I.A. was known to be a very meticulous robocop. He had formerly worked in the visiting strip search room and would actually tell men to peel back the foreskin on their penises. Some people began to think he was gay for this, but he may just be overzealous in his work. My cellmate and I wondered if Dinosaur Head was dumb enough to leave paper transactions of his wagers behind. If he had been, the man from I.A. would be certain to find it. Although he had the gun tower guard close the door so their search could not be so easily seen by those in the cell house, I could imagine him going through every envelope, book, magazine, and piece of paper.

After making a chart of energy related stocks, I began to read the Wall Street Journal to see if I could glean any more important information relevant to my evaluations. The W.S.J. is one of the best papers I have read that combines economics and politics. The articles are very well written, and contain a wealth of information. I often find myself reading the paper almost from cover to cover. The only thing I didn't like in this issue were several articles written in appreciation of modern art in the Personal Section. There was nothing to appreciate about modern art, and I did not consider Picasso an artist. His Bulls Head sculpture of a bicycle seat and handle bars was not art, but garbage, like the rest of his works. I think the crazy man who likes to play and smother himself in excrement could create just as good pieces of "art." Possibly his cell that is full of garbage, roaches, and shit smeared on the walls could even be considered a work of art by modern art enthusiasts, I thought.

The men from I.A., after searching the cell house worker's cell, stood on the 4th floor watching the ongoings of the Roundhouse, and talking amongst themselves. There are two high tech cameras located on the gun tower I.A. can use to watch the cell house from the comfort of their headquarters, and it was curious they stood there. I assumed their business was not finished, and possibly they were waiting for the cell house workers to return. However, this apparently was not their purpose, and they left before Dinosaur Head and the others returned. However, not until they talked to staff in F House.

I was not paying much attention to the ongoings outside my cell, but my cellmate brought to my attention that guards were locking all the chuck holes. The chuck holes in Seg are already locked, and the guards were closing those rectangular holes in the doors on 3 and 4 galleries. This usually signifies the prison was being placed on lockdown, however, cell house workers returned, and operations continued as normal.

It was now taking the prison commissary several days to fill the orders of a single cell house. F House began receiving bags on Monday, but I did not get my two bags of store until yesterday. Instead of bringing the bags to each person's cell, guards were having cell doors in Kickout opened, and prisoners had to go downstairs to sign and pick up their commissary. I missed the room service, and thought workers and guards were being lazy. When I went downstairs, I asked one of the workers what happened at the I.A. offices. He mentioned only that they were given drug tests, and said he would talk about it later. I seemed to think there was more to the rounding up of a number of workers and dropping them. They were gone for a long time, and the guards did not lock the chuck holes unless there was a lockdown.

This morning I began my day like most others, watching TV news and eating breakfast. While yesterday was the Waco and Oklahoma City Bombing anniversary, today was the anniversary of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The news dwelled on the oil spill, although I find the spill to not have been nearly as destructive to the environment as initially thought by many. What I found more catastrophic was President Obama's moratorium and continued delay of drilling contracts in the Gulf. Many of the U.S. offshore oil and natural gas reserves remain untapped, or even evaluated. Many of the country's onshore energy sources remain blocked by the White House administration as well. The refining capacity has also been constricted by government. With oil prices at over $110 a barrel, the President's energy policy is ridiculous. The media spoke much about $4 a gallon gasoline, but spoke little of the reasons why. There was hardly a mention of Obama's obstructionist energy policy, despite its destructive effects being far greater than the oil spill a year ago.

My sister came to visit me today, and it was nice to see her, although our visit was far from pleasant. Initially, the visiting room was not too bad, but eventually it was packed. When I left the visiting room, I was put in a holding cage until a guard could be found to escort me back to the cell house. Not many guards were going in the direction of F House, and I had to wait in the holding cage with numerous other inmates who were waiting to go on their visits.

A man in a yellow jumpsuit from NRC (IDOC's Northern Receiving Unit) asked me if there were any free tables downstairs in the visit room. I told him there were none that I noticed. One of the reasons Stateville's visiting room was so crowded was due to the fact the 2,000 prisoners at the NRC Unit were brought over here to have visitation. I asked the men from NRC why they did not use their own visiting room. He said it was empty Monday through Friday, but used by the Minimum Security Unit or MSU on the weekends. I again asked why they could not share the same visiting room instead of Stateville's. He said there was a problem of mixing prisoners being transferred to various prisons across the state with the minimum-security prisoners. This still did not make much sense to me because they were currently being mixed with maximum- security prisoners when that may not be their status. Furthermore, during the week the NRC prisoners did not have to share visitation with MSU.

When I finally was able to return to my cell, my cellmate told me I missed a lot while I was gone. First, he told me a major went around with the lieutenant, going cell to cell, checking if men were in cell compliance. For several months, prisoners in general population have been annoyed with cell compliance checks. A guard will demand a prisoner and his cellmate put all their property in their two boxes, except for their TV, radio, fan, and a few other things. Anything that cannot fit is confiscated. Many inmates cannot fit everything in their boxes, especially after shopping. Because commissary has become a rare event, men stock up with goods when they are able. Plus, many people do not like to live with all their properly tightly fit inside their boxes because it is an inconvenient way to live. Cell compliance checks are often a big aggravation for prisoners, and many in F house were glad not to be harassed with the rule. Most people in F House do not even have boxes because they are in Seg. Also, I tend to think guards have more to worry about in the Roundhouse than if all a prisoner's property fits in a box. However, apparently, the major wanted to act as the box police today.

The major, from what I was told, did not order my cellmate to put everything in his box. She simply told him to open his box to see if he had room to fit what was left out. This seems like a much more practical method to see if a prisoner had excess property. My cellmate had all the property out of his small box to use it to do his laundry. However, the major did not make him pore out his clothes and soapy water to see if his books would fit in the box. She did tell him though to take down a clothes line.

The other bit of news my cellmate had for me was that I.A. had returned to F House and went searching through a number of Seg cells. I.A. took many bags of commissary food and almost a dozen TV sets. The men in Seg are not allowed to buy commissary food, nor are they allowed to have televisions. Those in Seg who had food had been given the food by those upstairs who could shop. The TVs must have also been given to those in Seg by those upstairs. Some men will sell their televisions and buy new ones, although this is forbidden. A few people who are released will also give away their TVs. Not many people want to take their TV home with them.

Internal Affairs knew that the televisions and bags of food had to be transported by cell house workers. They also knew the guards must be compliant because there is no way to get a TV or so much food without a cell door or chuck hole being opened by a guard. Apparently, yesterday I.A. told guards to keep the chuck holes locked, and the new staff took that to mean all the chuck holes, including those not in Seg.

While I was in Segregation, I lost at least 20 pounds and looked almost skeletal with almost no body fat. I was always hungry, but not being in a gang, there was no one looking out for me. It was not until I began giving a cell house worker some gambling tips that I obtained some food. I was very appreciative, and because I know how difficult living in Seg is without anything but 3 meager, and usually distasteful, state meals, I had sent one man I know down there a bag of potato chips, noodles, packs of chili, and other foods he likes. Fortunately, I sent the bag a long time ago, and it was not taken by I.A.

Another cell house worker came to my cell a little before I began writing this journal entry. He owes me money, and asked me what I could use. I told him that commissary did not give me the peanut butter I ordered, nor did anyone in the cellhouse that I know receive any. Apparently, they ran out of it. If he could find me some, that would be fine. He told me what I asked for will be no problem.

Before he left, my cellmate and I were curious about the meddling of I.A. He told us that neither he nor any of the other workers could take commissary downstairs, at least until things blew over. The cell house worker had been warned that if they were caught taking anything to Seg prisoners, they were going to be put in Seg themselves. Apparently, I.A. had threatened the staff in F House, and the guards then told all the workers they can no longer move goods to Seg. Internal Affairs supposedly will be watching on the cameras to make sure everyone abided their commands. As soon as he left our cell, I heard someone ask him to move some food downstairs. The worker cut him off and said, "Hell no, it's not happening." Apparently there is going to be a lot of hungry and unhappy people in Seg.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Iowa Transfers -- April 16, 2011

My cellmate, Iowa, only has six more years of prison time to do. He should be in a medium-security prison, but due to a disciplinary transfer, he was sent to Stateville. Inmates that have been out of Seg for 6 months may submit a request to be moved to another penitentiary. In February, my cellmate made such a request, and has been anxiously waiting for its approval. Finally, earlier this month, he was told by the counselor that his transfer was approved. My cellmate was jubilant, but I was not all that happy.

The people incarcerated here at Stateville are of the most loathsome sort, and they have committed some of the worst crimes. There are a number of convicts here that I believe deserve corporal punishment, and at times I think I should administer it. However, the sheer volume of people with crimes I find so vile would cause me to be infinitely incarcerated in Seg. The people here not only often have crimes I find revolting, but also personalities and characters. I have little to nothing in common with most of them, and to demonstrate this point I can hear some deaf psychotic black man from the ghetto screaming like a crazy retard over the music of my headphones as I write. Iowa was a pretty good cellmate considering where I am at. I was not looking forward to him leaving, and playing Russian roulette with a new cellmate.

In F House, we live in 5' x 10' cages. The cages slightly widen toward the back due to the circular configuration of the building. There is very little movement in the Roundhouse and because of recurrent lockdowns, prisoners often spend all their time with their cellmates. Our 6' x 2-1/2' bunks take up almost half the space in our cells, and another quarter of the space is occupied by a counter, stool, toilet, and sink. It is difficult living in a confined area even with a person you like and get along with, let alone someone you do not like.

To be fair, I am not the easiest person to live with. I am a nonsocial person, and can feel claustrophobic in a small confined area with other people. I do not like my space being infringed upon. Many inmates like to talk, play games, and share time together. I am introverted, and have a number of pastimes that are not interactive. I despise clutter, and things not being in their proper places. I know it bothers some people when I move their possessions, or especially when I throw out what I consider to be junk. I also have a number of routines and systems of order that are difficult for me to alter, and those can bother others on occasion. My cellmate in general population sometimes called me the "cell dictator," and although this was an exaggeration, I do like the cell to be ordered in a specific way.

There have been a series of fights and assaults among cellmates lately in F House. F House probably houses the prison's most aggressive, unruly, and hostile men. This is mainly because most people here are in Segregation for some disciplinary action, and those in Kickout are mostly prisoners that have just been released from Seg. Fights are very common in the general population quarter units, but I tend to believe there are more in here. This week, there were a couple of cell fights that were broken up eventually by guards. Last week there were even more incidents. Hostilities between cellmates are a regular occurrence ever since Seg cells have been doubled and inmates can no longer choose their cellmates. The increased confinement in cells and decreased movement probably also has contributed to the violence in cells.

Although Iowa was told on the 2nd that he had been approved for transfer, he did not know where he was going, nor when. He could be waiting months or just a few days. I had overheard many people had been denied transfers to medium-security prisons recently due to a lack of bed space. The IDOC is far past its maximum capacity, and to transfer one inmate to a prison usually requires an inmate from that facility to be transferred out. Despite the uncertainty of when his transfer would occur, Iowa was preparing for the trip and being particularly anxious and difficult to live with.

Guards have been telling inmates to take down any blankets covering the cell windows. I always place a blanket up to block out the light coming in to provide privacy in the cell. When the cells are dark, it is difficult for the hundreds of prisoners in the Roundhouse to see into your cell. Many F House prisoners just sit or stand by the front of their cells watching others in their cells, or the movement in the cell house. Apparently they have nothing to do with their lives except watch others that do. Sometimes they just stare at each other. Regardless, I despise not having any privacy, and when I exercise, bathe in the sink, or use the toilet, I place a blanket up. Sometimes, I do this if I take a nap during the day to keep the light out.

After learning he was approved to transfer, Iowa was ever more afraid of catching a disciplinary ticket. He refused to leave the cell, and any tiny rule infraction I would engage in would upset him. I would tell him, "You may be going home in 6 years, but I will spend the rest of my life here. I am not going to eat uncooked oatmeal or other cold commissary meals. I am also not going to let all the homosexuals and perverts in this building see my silhouette through my bed sheet while I wash up in the back of the cell." When I continued to place a blanket up to cover the light from the window, he would become mad and tell me to take it down. Initially, I told him that no petty ticket was going to prevent his transfer, and in any event, I would take the blame for it. After this, I just ignored him. I tended to ignore Iowa for the most part. He was going to be gone soon, and I did not care to even waste my breath talking to him. His talk of medium-security prison, a life beyond prison, and fear of getting in trouble annoyed me.

Iowa put in for a transfer to a level 3 medium-security prison called Illinois River. There are approximately 40 prisons in Illinois, and they are numbered according to security from one to seven. A level one prison was maximum-security, and these include Stateville, Menard and Pontiac, although most of Pontiac is Segregation. Level two's were high medium-security prisons of which there are four. At the bottom, were the level 6 and 7's which were low minimum-security prisons that have very little restrictions or security. At these prisons, an inmate could literally walk away from, but to do so would be stupid. An inmate that did this would eventually be arrested again, given possibly 7 years for escape, and be made to do this time in a higher security prison. There once were stories that East Moline and Vienna guards were more concerned with people entering the prison from the town to get free meals than people trying to leave. With the food we are served now, however, I doubt anyone wants to come to prison to eat, not even the homeless.

It is normal policy for inmates to have to transfer to the next lower security prison. Despite how little time a prisoner may have, he or she had to gradually go down the tier system of penitentiaries and could not skip numbers. Only special exceptions to this rule were permitted. Iowa knew this but still wanted to try to skip the four level two penitentiaries. There is a large distinction in freedom, programs, and living conditions between a one and a three, but not so much between a one and a two. I have heard some inmates at Stateville say they would rather remain at Stateville than go to a level two. One man who was sent to a level two requested to return, but this is rare. Transfer requests can only be made one year after arriving, and Iowa did not want to spend a year in a level two if he did not have to.

On Monday the prison was brought down to a level 4 lockdown, and all cell house workers were let out. The Roundhouse has been on lockdown since the beginning of the month when a guard and an inmate fought each other on one of the galleries circling the cell house. A couple of inmate workers were let out briefly last Saturday and Sunday, but Monday was the first day all F House workers were on the job. One of these workers stopped at our cell to talk, and Iowa told him how anxious he was to get out of Stateville. The worker who has a lot of time, apparently to dampen his spirits, told him just because he was approved to transfer did not mean he was going anywhere fast. He may be in Stateville for months, or even a year. After he left, Iowa asked me if that could be true. I also wanted to suppress his hopes because his anxiety was annoying me, but I told him he should be on the bus some time this month, if not this week.

Monday night another cell house worker stopped by our cell and handed my cellmate a property transfer list. Iowa was to complete a form listing all his property for transfer on Wednesday. Iowa was very happy but he did not know where he was going. He asked me, "What prison is H one L?" I told him to give me the paperwork. The moron in his excitement could not figure out the "1" was an "i". He was going to Hill C.C. in Galesburg. Galesburg was not where he preferred going, and was a level two. However, that prison was closest to his family in Iowa, and he believed it had a diesel mechanic school and a repair shop. My cellmate said if he could get in that program, or gain a job in their industries, he may stay at that prison. Galesburg processes all the milk in the IDOC, and jobs there pay over $100 a month.

The following day, Iowa called his mother and notified her that he will be transferring to Hill C.C. I was not trying to overhear his conversation, but I could tell he was excited to tell his mother the news. Now he will be able to receive visitation from her and his daughter. Possibly, the woman who had his child would come as well. While at Stateville, Iowa had no visits not only due to the distance but because he was aware that Stateville has the worst visitation in all of the Illinois Department of Corrections. He did not want his family to have to deal with these conditions, shortness of visits, or the long waiting times. At the end of his call, I heard him say a prayer, and thank God for his transfer. I could not help wonder how much religion will be a part of his life when he is released. Possibly, he will return to a life of drugs and crime.

My cellmate packed up his two property boxes after his phone call. He did not have a problem fitting everything in them due to F House not being able to shop in about a month. He expressed how he wished he could have made store before he left so he would have more supplies at Galesburg. The money in an inmate's trust fund takes a long time to be transferred to a new prison when an inmate arrives. Not surprisingly, Stateville is very slow at transferring funds. I told him he could have money quickly sent to him through Western Union. However, he said he did not want to bother his mother to do that. I could readily understand this, and I rarely ever ask family to send me money. I would rather earn money in the prison and live frugally off the $10 stipend given to me by the state.

The day before Iowa left, he told me if I ever get out to look him up. He will be living in the same small town in southeastern Iowa. He said he could probably find me employment working with heavy machinery, or at the corn mill. Considering I had hardly spoken to him the last few weeks, and at times he called me "Satan" due to my questioning of his dogmatic Catholic theology, I wondered if he was sincere. I also wondered if that was just a person's way of being polite and saying goodbye. No, I did not care to see Iowa again if I ever was released. Furthermore, if I had freedom, I would not squander it in a shanty town, working in a corn mill. I did not mention my thoughts to Iowa, but I did say to him that he fails to realize that I am going to die in prison. I have told Iowa about my case, and he replied that he believes I will be freed someday. Many people have told me this over the years, but yet, I am still here. Again, I just think this is a way for people to be nice, or it shows their ignorance of the criminal justice system.

In the morning, Iowa was gone, and it was good to have the cell entirely to myself. I have not been alone for months, and I enjoyed my solitude while I ate my breakfast. The cell house was also surprisingly quiet, I discovered after turning off my fan. Iowa told me he could not sleep without the drone of a fan, and I lent him my fan the night before which he apparently left on for my benefit. Cell house workers had taken all his property, and all he had left behind was a toothbrush, a roll of toilet paper, and some bed sheets.

A cell house worker told me there were currently a number of cells with only one occupant in Kickout, and possibly I would go a number of days or even a week without a cellmate. This initially sounded very appealing. My time is so much easier and comfortable in a cage by myself. I recalled how nice it was to do time in Seg alone, but then I thought that during the week I would be mostly dreading who my next cellmate would be. As I did my exercise routine, I practiced a number of strikes, moves, and take downs, which hopefully would quickly take out any violent convict I was forced to live with. I considered weapons as well, but was confident enough in my fighting skills not to need them. Earlier in the week, I wrote my family and told them not to be surprised if they do not hear from me in awhile, because I was in Segregation.

Fortunately, I did not have much time to dwell on the unknown. In the early afternoon the day Iowa left, my cell door opened and a tall, thin, white man with a buzz cut rushed into my cell with his mattress. I thought the door was opening because I had a visit, and I was caught off guard by the man in my cell. He did not introduce himself, but I seemed to recognize him. Sometime in the past I thought I knew him. He quickly left to get the rest of his property, which was in a cell on two gallery. He apparently was just released from Segregation.

My new cellmate's name is Josh. He had lived in the same cell house I did before being sent to the Roundhouse. I had spoken to him a few times in the law library about post conviction appeals. Josh was in his 30's, and like myself, had a natural life sentence. He has done 10 years on this conviction, but has been in and out of penitentiaries since a juvenile. In fact, he had been in a juvenile facility with my former cellmate, Cracker, in the early 1990's. Although a gang member in the past, he was no longer.

It is always difficult adjusting to a new cellmate, but since we have been in the cell together we have gotten along well. Josh is more laid back than my former cellmate who was always full of nervous energy, and popping his knuckles, even his toes. Although Josh has a tone of speech almost like the cartoon character Bullwinkle, that gives the impression that he is stupid, he is not. He reads regularly and has taken a liking to the Wall Street Journal that I have a subscription to. Josh has his own TV, and fortunately, he has a digital TV because this cell has no cable. My new cellmate is more considerate of my space, and does not crowd me. He also does not think or call me the devil, like Iowa did, although I have yet to have much conversation about religion or other subjects with him. I am not a big talker, and have been busy with first quarter corporate and government reports, letter writing, two yard periods, and yesterday, a visit. Tonight, I will watch the movie Dr. Zhivago, and try to relax from a busy and difficult week. I feel fortunate to seemingly have a better cellmate than I did before.