The Letters From Hell series written by guest poster Screedler were the most visited and read posts of the old Drupal powered TDA. Unbeknowst to me, the links to this series were broken in my switch to a WordPress platform so to make up for it I will post the whole series again one new one per day.
Welcome to Part 7 of Letters from Hell. This episode brings you more info on gang politics and practices as well as the exit of my best cellmate.
June 6, 2006
Dear Paul and Nan,
Greetings from prisoner # 237458. Today marks one full month in jail. It seems like it has been much longer. No one in jail exclaims – “time flies”. Tomorrow, I have my court date. I look forward to it, yet fear it.
I want to get out of this situation badly.
I got a letter from Mom. It was very short. I will write her but don’t know what to say right now. I can’t imagine that she is very proud of me. I get the sick feeling that Mike (my stepfather) is probably ashamed of me. I’m sure I am not a topic of much conversation. Anyway, I will try to write her something nice and vanilla. Like, I just watch TV, eat, and sleep all day.
The truth is that most of my time is spent watching my back, watching my stuff, and watching my mouth. Things are still getting worse. More members of the gang keep coming in. So much so, that they now fight amongst themselves as well as the general population. Violence is pretty much a daily thing now. TV is rare. Three of the four phones we have access to are broken due to young thugs slamming them after talking with their “bitches”.
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I know just about everybody by name now. There are new characters to write about and some that have left. My best celly, the bank robber, left unexpectantly. He was to appear for sentencing at the Federal Courthouse downtown (Birmingham), but he thought after sentencing he would come back here for 45 days, while they figured out where to send him; then go serve the remainder of his sentence in Prison. He has been in county jail for 16 months and thought he would probably get an additional year of prison time. Something like a 2 split 15. Meaning he had to serve 2 years of a 15 year sentence. But when the guards came in to take him to his court date (at about 4am), they told him to “pack it up” – meaning he wasn’t coming back. He was shocked and didn’t know what was going on. That’s the last I saw of him. He was a pretty good guy even though he had robbed five banks. He never stole from me.
As I told you on the phone, Beetlejuice left and was put in PC (protective custody) after someone (Big’un) took his “store” away from him in front of everyone and walked over to the gang’s headquarters and threw it on the floor. The scattered loot vanished quickly (30 seconds) as the “G-Unit” had not been fed.
Big’un is a new member to our “pod” (Cell Block A – Pod 9). He is white, 26 years old and has about a fourth grade education. He is here on unpaid traffic tickets. He also claims to be a millionaire, having received a settlement from a construction accident. He met his wife while serving a five year prison sentence for running over and killing a man in his truck he thought was his uncle. His uncle was having an affair with his mother. His uncle is still alive and someone who doesn’t even know him is dead (or so he claims). His wife is a prison guard. He took Beetle juice’s store because Beetlejuice tried to bribe a couple of members of the gang to beat him up. The gang members were apparently offended by the offer of three honey buns for the “hit”. They, in turn, told Big’un of the offer; who then exacted his version of jail justice.
New members of Pod 9 include: Felson (Festus), Philpotty (“His head is bigger than his body” – that’s the chant that follows him.) and Duck (his real name is Donald – he has a tattoo of “Duck” on his arm. One new member lasted only 2 days before he got into a fight and sent to Seg. He is the cousin of Detroit, one of my suspected thieves. I have dubbed him, “Little Nicky” (Son of Satan/Adam Sandler ref). He is in on a $150K bond for attempted murder. Three new Mexicans were also incarcerated. One had a million dollar bond and two had $500K bonds. They got caught with 5 kilos of cocaine. There are about 10 Mexicans in Pod 9 and they are all very nice compared to the others. None of them speak fluent English. I imagine jail here in the states may be better than what they were use to in Mexico.
My closest confidant is now Burgette. He is the guy that looks like Ozzy Osbourne and has been here in county now for 21 months. I believe he has been here so long because he has become “institutionalized”. He has no family to speak of, no money, and no lawyer. He almost seems content to be here (even though he complains like everyone else). He really complains now that the environment has become so violent. He sometimes speaks fondly of how quite and peaceful it used to be, and how he had it made in prison. We spend our time making fun of the bad TV we have to watch and playing music/movie trivia.
Out of my twelve cellmates only three are the same that were here when I arrived.
I have learned more helpful jail hints like the gang signs for the Crips and the Bloods. I know how to do a C’s Up, Crip Killer, and Blood Killer signs. I know what “Cracker Bolts” are – the “SS” symbol sported in tattoo form by some members of the facility. I know what “88” means – I will let you guess about that one and tell you later. The same goes for “the smell of blue magic”.
Please save my letters as they may be the basis of a memoir. Possible titles include: “The Last Big Store”, “Lost a Friend, Gained an Underwear”, “The Boy without Breakfast”, and the old favorite “You Want Yo Cornbread”. Until next time –
P.S. I included the “bad letter” as an addendum.
My friend the bank robber was not expecting a heavy sentence, due to the fact that he claims he never used a gun in his robberies, just a note demanding the money and implying he was armed. As I got to know him he shared with me his descent into opiate addiction. His robberies were a direct consequence of his addiction. His habit cost him several hundred dollars a day. Of course it would have been a better idea to just quit. But as he said, he was “dope crazy”.
Most of the people I met in jail had similar stories with varying degrees of how low they had sunk. Many like me were alcoholics, self admitted or not, who had more than one DUI. Some were in for public intoxication, assault, harassment, and domestic violence spurred by various poisons. Some were there for bad checks, theft, and unpaid child support, almost all with the underlying cause of substance abuse.
There were cold blooded murderers and rapists at the facility as well, but not in my Cell Block (at least none that had been convicted). I did meet a couple of people up for attempted murder but they had yet to see there day in court. Little Nicky was in for that among other things like firing a weapon into an occupied residence. He was the most violent inmate I met and was always the center of much trouble while I was there. He was loud, obnoxious, conceited and flat out mean. If I could have enacted the death penalty then and there I would have gladly signed the papers and/or pulled the switch. That’s hard to say and admit but that is what jail/prison does for you.
I can tell you – If you sent someone against the death penalty into prison to live among the truly sociopathic people of our society, they would meet people that simply do not belong on this planet. I didn’t believe it till meeting them myself, but there are some people in this world that truly are evil and exist only to do bad things. It is much worse than some scary movie. This stuff is for real, and it was disheartening and enlightening at the same time. Luckily, there aren’t that many people in the world (I hope), and even in jail it is a negligible percent of the inmate population. But that 20 % is really bad ….. really, really bad.
I guess what I am trying to say is that jail and prison should be restructured somehow and that there should be a better effort to rehabilitate the 80% that are there as a consequence of their addictions. I do believe that if you harm someone by killing them in a car or shooting them while drunk – you have to pay the consequences. But at the same time our jails and prisons are overcrowded with substance abusers that basically once they get into the system have a hard time getting out. I don’t have the answer but surely there is a better way than just locking them up.
Till next week,