Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them. - Laurence J. Peter

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A prison story from reddit

grey666 reports:
5 and half months federal time for my ex-gf using my cell phone to make a drug deal. Key West was bad - real bad. Bunch of black dudes sitting around talking about how many people they had raped and killed.

Miami was the best, great food and chicks standing outside every night showing us their tits. The councilor never came... so no phone calls for me. Bank robbers and drug dealers in Miami - and every single one of them would give you the shirt off their back.

Atlanta was the worst... no matress, no pillow, no cup... four guys in a cell, sleeping on the cold concrete and 12 TB tests. A small box of cereal and a milk for breakfast, crackers for lunch, and I couldn't figure out what dinner was. I didn't eat it. Guys yelling and screaming all night... nobody goes to the infirmary at night in Atlanta, no matter what the problem is.

Then I had a 16 hour diesel shuffle flight from Atlanta to Oklahoma City by way of New York. No food, no drink, feet and hands shackled to the chair the entire time. No restroom breaks, if you had to piss they made you piss in your pants and then sit in it for 12 hours. The guy beside me wasn't happy about that. The Marshals would hit people on the collar bone with a flashlight for talking. One guy started yelling and screaming - they took him off in New Jersey and drug him across the run-way by his ankle shackles.

Oklahoma City - had to trade my breakfast for a cigarette every day. Food was good, otherwise and we had a basketball court for 30 minutes every day.

Denver sucked bad. Real bad. Some crazy dude walking around naked every day with soars and puss all over his body. 60% of the inmates only spoke spanish. Crips and bloods... those cats fight hard. Three guys with positive TB tests were walking around for three weeks before they took em out. Had to trade food for everything - a toothbrush costs you your chicken, shampoo costs three chicken pieces. Shower shoes cost breakfast for a week.

If you don't give the laundry guys your chicken, they die your towel, underwear and jumpsuit pink which is a flag for everyone to beat the shit out of you.

When they have something like ribs... half the guys go through the line three times and take the food to their cells, so 2/3 of the inmates don't get to eat. The minimum security guys take the dessert half of the time, and they are too lazy to ever bring soup or anything like that.

There is no protective custody anymore - they put you in a small cell with two or three other guys - I hear they are the crazy ones.

I was in there with several cold-blooded murderers. If you rat on someone they send notes through the legal library to the other areas and you get jacked. Some of the guys in there are doing life, and they just don't give a fuck.

The law library was especially nice... all the pages are gone for all the major crimes. You have to pay for everything.

They give you 12 cents per hour for working, and you can only work four hours a day.

If your attorney's number is not registered, you can only call him or her through the councilor, who comes in once or twice a week for two hours. The line is long, and unless your in the first ten, you don't get phone calls.

You can't call anyone who is not on your phone list, and you can't leave messages on answering machines.

If you write a letter and the envelope isn't just perfect, they hold it for a month before giving it back to you.

It took 45 days for them to put money on my account for commissary. Then another two weeks to actually get commissary.

I didn't get a phone call or commissary for three and a half months.

Out of 60,000 pages in my discovery, they gave me 13 pages. I had to trade my chicken to other guys who were also on my case so that I could read their discovery.

I didn't find out what the exact charges were against me until my bond hearing four months into it. They called my brother from the court room to ask if I could stay with him and he said "yea, for awhile...", so they denied my PR bond and took me back for another month and a half.

I had to file a motion with the court to get my discovery from my public defender. All the guys in there bitch about their court appointed attorneys non-stop. They just don't give a crap anymore. They only file motions because they get paid for every motion they file. Most of them won't even know what the charges are against you half of the time. They lie constantly. They don't do anything you ask them to do, they just ignore you. They get $1500 for every court appearance, so you get to sit through 20 wiretap hearings so all the attorneys can line their pockets - nothing gets done in the wiretap hearings. It's just a bunch of lawyers sitting around collecting their government handouts.

I lost everything... my home, all my personal stuff, my photo albums, my software, my computers.

They auctioned my car after 30 days, with my notebook and my DVD's in the car. I never got any of it back.

If you use your cell phone memory all the time, you won't remember anyone's phone number - and they have no phone books, you can't call information. You have to trade your food to get someone else to call their people to have them get the number for you - which is against BOP policy, if you get caught, it's 30 days lockup.

If you can't remember someone's address... or phone number, your completely cut-off from the outside world - except for your lame assed attorney, who doesn't give a shit about anything but the money.

I fired my public defender, filed motions to withdraw all his motions, learned the criminal justice system, withdrew my plea of guilty, withdrew my plea bargain, and set the case for trial - at which point the federal prosecutor filed a motion giving me time served w/ three years probation, which was a lot better than the 3.5 years in prison that my public defender had negotiated. It took me three and a half years.

Six years of probation, and now days if you get busted for drugs - you can't drink alcohol either. It's a condition of your bond... so that when you piss dirty for alcohol they can send you back to prison anytime they want to.

Out of 60,000 pages of discovery... thirty pages actually applied to my aspect of the case - most of which were criminal reports on my ex-gf and the two guys she had met one time to do a drug deal. She got off scott free for her testimony about the dude she delivered drugs for. She spent six days in jail total for delivering 1 kilo of cocaine exactly 1 mile down the street.

The evidence against me was pen registers of my old cell phone calling one of the guys, and my ex-gf's statement that I arranged the deal. That was it... no wiretaps, no witnesses, no nothing.

They had blanket wiretap authority from the attorney general. They traced every single phone call to the main drug guys. Anyone that called them was indicted regardless of the circumstances. Some guys were in there over a year because their girlfriends used their cell phones to call their girlfriends - who were using the cell phones of the main dudes. The main dudes had ten cell phones each.

Prison is bad... you don't want to go to prison these days. The government is all jacked up - they just don't care, none of them give a crap. They will throw your drivers license in the garbage can and laugh in your face... when you get out, you'll be walking to the half-way house in your shower shoes, a t-shirt, and a pair of canvas cut-off shorts. They don't care if it's snowing, and you only have four hours to get to the half-way house or you go back to prison.

Then you have two weeks to get a job, or you go back to prison - but now you have no ID. They count every two hours - all night long with flashlights in your face. Wherever you go, you have to call the half-way house when you get there, and when you leave.

The Feds will march through the office where you work two and three at a time. They'll question your co-workers, the managers and the owner of the company. You have to give them copies of every paycheck and you have to log your time for the probation department - plus two or three piss tests every week - across town. Your setup to fail in every possible way imaginable - so you can go back to prison.

  • That's horrible.
  • Prosecuting the war on drugs seems to do a lot of harm. (Though obviously this guy might not be telling the truth about his innocence or his experience.)
  • It's weird to find myself on the other side of a free market debate for once! It's easy to imagine some unfortunate incentives with private prison systems in various ways; for example, rehabilitation. Most businesses like to keep customers coming back for more. (I don't regard this observation as good enough to actually propose a policy. First let's look at whether private systems have higher recidivism rates than public prisons.)
  • A related problem is that the mechanism to create regulation which keeps externalities under control in normal markets probably doesn't work very well in prisons. Of course the mechanism never works well, but it could be particularly bad in prisons. Felons can't vote; voters don't care about felons; prisoners have almost no voice and of course they have no exit.
  • While we're talking about prison and voter apathy regarding felons, it's worth mentioning that tolerance of prison rape is outrageous.


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