Hello Everyone! I love that I get to learn something new every day no matter where I am in life or actuality. Today I learned that this topic (Hate Mail) is an ongoing series on the blog. Yea Missy!
Just a reminder, I’m still housed at the county jail facility, back from prison fighting for justice; and I say that to say this, the problems that we prisoners have sending and receiving our mail is endemic throughout not only the prisons, but also the jails. And not in any geographical or jurisdictional sense, this particular issue pervades the entire system at every level; local, state and federal.
How might someone in my position here in a county jail in Florida know this? Here in the Pinellas County Jail is a federal holding facility for the Middle District Federal Court in Tampa, and there are county-leased jails all over the country as it must be less costly for the feds and more profitable for the county jails; not to mention the federal cops will chase you down anywhere for placing a stamp cooked on an envelope. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration… maybe.
Let’s look at the most recent action of errant-ry. If a person is indigent, in this county jail, you are permitted four legal mail envelopes per month through the law library by application as they are guarding those priceless folded and gum-stripped sheets of wood pulp from nefarious and unscrupulous users such as myself. I used one of the said envelopes to communicate my grievance of an appeal that’s best addressed in another article. The envelope, which was addressed to the Colonel of the jail, the highest ranked officer of the facility, was returned to me three days after I mailed it because someone deposited twenty dollars on my account some time between mailing and vetting. Instead of simply forwarding the envelope via in-house mail delivery… across the parking lot, they consumed the hourly wage rate of the law librarian, which certainly surpasses the forty-nine cents it would have cost to process the letter through the U.S. mail, to return the letter to me with instructions to open and return the contents and then destroy the envelope. This begs the question: What?
It’s the spend a dollar to save a dime mentality that connotes the need to make sure that people in custody are feeling the full force of those who must believe it’s their job to mete out punishment by way of mail interrupt-us.
It does get funny at times, though. I mean really funny. I had my best person in the world go onto the Florida DOC website to send me a location finder for Florida prisons; an outline of the state with the prison locations, no roads, no highways, or byways or parkways or even driveways. Alas, it was returned because we are not permitted to receive maps; just in case we get out of the myriad of locked doors and miles of razor wire, they don’t want us to find our way around or through the armies of law enforcement. I informed the mail room this outline had none of the attributes of a map and this is available to DOC prisoners from the DOC themselves. Under my suggestion, my love returned it to me with “This is not a map.” written boldly across the top. Lo and behold, the paper came to me this time and has been the subject of a great many he-haws since.
I don’t know if that is topped by this fact, but it is in the running: Among the crazy list of do-not-sends is newspaper or magazine articles or book passages torn from a publication. I have not been able to get any answer at all why this prohibition is in place, and I have asked, except that it is because it is. However, all you have to do is – put them on a copier, copy them onto a plain white piece of paper and then send it in. It will get to you. And, oddly enough, I have sent others articles ripped from magazines with no issue at all. If anyone can come up with any guess as to what logic may be applied here, I’d be so relieved to know what even your best guess might be since I’ve exhausted more brain cells trying to figure this one out than all others combined.
So many people who become incarcerated have no idea that just because we are behind the fences doesn’t mean that we have no rights. One of the most important rights is that of communication. We can, for all intents and purposes communicate with our lawyers and loved ones, and letters to state agencies and media are also protected rights.
However, the penal system that has no oversight and has a culture attempted through the excuse of penalogical interests and even by power drunk staff can and does read and withhold mail that may incriminate those powers that be by simply rejecting or censoring incoming and outgoing mail. But it goes further when they use your mail against you under the guise of being a threat to the order and security of the institution.
If any of you are familiar with the Uniform Commercial Code and becoming a sovereign citizen of the United States, there are real patriots out there that have legitimate companies helping people with a myriad of complex filing issues. I had written to such an organization out of Georgia. I’m not aware of other state’s decisions on this but the Florida Department of Corruptions, with their statutorily given right to make their own rules, has by rule and threat of punishment, made it an offense to even possess the Uniform Commercial Codes. Not being as knowledgeable, I am curious, so I wrote to this organization. My letter was rejected and sent back under the fallback go to that I was “being a threat to the security of the institution”.
Something about pursuing any legal means necessary to expose them for the cruel culture that has been prevelant for so long buys you special attention. So I was called to the gang Sergeant’s office because I apparently became part of a security threat group seeking out information to help gain my freedom. I am 55 years old and have never been in trouble in my life, but now I am supposedly on an FBI watch list. Normally I would laugh this off but later, I applied to be placed in an honor dorm with mostly age-grouped inmates and was denied as being a gang member.
Is it overkill? Probably so, but beyond that it’s motivated by fear that someone may draw attention to the American plague that is our prisons.
Received via Corrlinks (the email system for BOP [Federal] inmates) today from our friend Mickey:
Gosh, It’s so great to be out of the Hole after 35 days!
It feels super weird to me after being locked in a 12′ x 8′ cell for over a month with the window covered.
Honestly, I can’t believe in 2017 that they are still allowed to do that to people. It has to stop! It’s ridiculous!
I just wanted to say Hi ; – ) and see how you are doing? I heard it’s rough out there in the Free World???
I haven’t heard from many of you in a while but i pray that you are well and hope to hear from you soon.
I am almost down to 100 days until I go to halfway house in Philly December 6th, 2017. These last few months are creeping along but thanks for supporting me with your; letters, pics, prayers, love. I’m very grateful, Thank You : – )
Remember that the BOP changed their policy and now they want you to send letters on white paper in white envelopes with no stickers, not even return address labels. You can still print out letters on your computer. Some people have gone to using a stamp for the return address or typing or hand writing it. I am so sorry for the change.
Well, have a great week, my friends. Be well and take care of yourself.
This is a little ironic, considering BOP uses to and from labels (stickers) on the envelopes that the prisoners use. But there you go – if we do it, it’s now considered contraband and the mail is rejected. Any excuse to limit outside contact for prisoners. Disgusting.
Go ahead and take it from me
In the middle of the night
I’m sleeping here can’t you see
Shake down it’s not alriiiiiight…
Although this sounds like a parody from weird Al Yankovic of a famous Tom Petty song, it really is, by definition, criminal behavior perpetuated by prison and jail guards worldwide.
I’ve used the comparison of seeing your child, while playing with another, strike their playmate — and then as punishment, you spank or strike the offending tyke. I think that most rational people would view this as a negative feeding a negative. You cannot draw something positive from a negative. The message to your little one is not that it’s okay to hit in certain situations, it is more apt to be black and white. It’s okay for someone bigger to hit someone smaller.
It applies not just to small humans because — even though our thinking process matures as we grow — there are basic universal laws which cannot be adjusted according to the whims of humankind. That being said, there is only one logical outcome of producing an environment that is not only negative in context, but petty in execution.
Let me define the term shakedown for those who aren’t familiar. It is a search of property for contraband. Now, picture if you can a structure more impervious than an ancient castle, combined with Fort Knox and The White House. The — we’ll call them residents — do not have physical contact with anybody except those who conduct the shakedowns. It ain’t rocket science to figure out how contraband gets into jails and prisons. But that’s not the focus of this essay. The law enforcement mentality places an assumption of guilt on the inmates, and a superiority complex on the administration. It appears that the main objective is to punish those who are in their custody and control. At every turn, most officials do whatever they can to dehumanize the prisoners. Shakedowns are a primary vehicle for that, and are routinely performed by 20 or more officers charging into the dorm in the wee hours of the morning, turning the area into a stadium of bright lights, screaming at the top of their lungs to agitate the prisoners, just in case they were able to fall asleep on the slab of metal called a bunk.
You would think that with all this effort the haul would be everything from weapons of mass destruction to sophisticated communications devices. I’m not saying that it never happens that a cell phone or a plastic bag with homemade wine is found, but it is the exception. The big score this last siege produced was some fingernail clippers that had apparently found their way into my legal work upon transferring from prison to county jail for some hearings. Had it not been for the incompetence of the officers performing the intake, the nail clippers that inadvertently ended up at the bottom of a very full file would have not made it to the dorm in the first place.
It goes to a whole new level of petty when generally all that is harvested from these maneuvers of dehumanization is some extra sheets and a plastic bag being used to keep a t-shirt clean so when you appear in court you can present yourself as somewhat human. But the level of psychological warfare is evidenced by the seizure of items as benign as a rubber band holding some notes in an address book, or a paper clip keeping things organized – which is most difficult considering all the confusing rules for adhering to legal procedures in the first place.
But there’s more. If you happen to be fortunate enough to be able to purchase a bowl and lid from commissary and it is found with food in it, they will dump the food and have sometimes been known to break the bowl itself. God forbid you save some bread from your tray for the peanut butter and jelly you purchased from commissary. It’s another tactic to dehumanize and punish. This is in a county jail where most are pre-trial detainees who have not even been convicted of a crime.
I have personally seen guards slinging property and legal documents everywhere and squirting toothpaste onto it as it lies in the sink/toilet, smashing purchased food, leaving what semblance of order you may have had in shambles. A pile of trash. The purpose of this of course is to remind you who has all the power. Who cares if it perpetuates and reinforces the negative energy that brings people to prison? This is the oxymoron of the department of corrections. The staff, being undereducated, falls prey to the big brother mentality while continuing less than ethical or professional behavior by retaliation through shake downs. Prisoners have very little, and there is comfort in having a few personal effects around them. It helps to maintain some sanity. Until bang! Everybody up, we need to see if you have any of the contraband that our fellow officers are smuggling in! If it weren’t so annoying, it would be laughable. So every night, you go to sleep wondering if this will be your night. Until you make up your mind to detach from it. That’s a measure of success.
I read that in the 1930s, law enforcement were running amok and instead of arresting those involved in criminal activity, they would just shake them down, taking whatever they wanted, and many across the country were arrested and imprisoned. This resulted in prisoners employing the same behavior with each other on the inside. You don’t shine the light on these shakedowns and risk being called a snitch. I believe not only is there a duty to shine the light but also point the proverbial finger. These doubly negative actions will not change until we change them. That begins with personal accountability and understanding the importance of change.
Prisons may have come a long way since the 1930s but God knows there is much room for improvement. Conducting searches with some semblance of care to find contraband supplied by those who are considered the ‘good guys’ is a start to treating humans humanely – one shake down at a time.
by Frank E. Page Sr.
The first officer that any male who goes to prison in the state of Alabama will meet is known as “Michael Jordan.” This is not his real name, but the nickname given him many years ago as he looks like a shrunken version of the more famous basketball player. if he had had a stroke. Inmates in Alabama county jails know and warn first-timers about this officer. I have had personal encounters with him and I would like everyone to be aware of this 30-year “decorated” officer.
Kilby Correctional Facility has a no smoking policy in the chapel for any type of religious service, or when going to see the captain (whose office is located in the chapel). Each dorm would execute church call a little differently, but all inmates had to go through a checkpoint office to get to the chapel. Kilby keeps different types of inmates separated, so there are fences inside of fences, with checkpoints along the way.