10 January 2006
Although I have not received another letter from you, I thought I’d start to write, as I have a lot to say. I am scheduled to be released on the 20th, so if you have not yet written me here, please send your next letter to my home address. In case you have forgotten my contact information, it’s as follows:
Please do not e-mail me just yet, as it will take me some time to reestablish my internet access and my e-mail addresses. Most likely all my accounts have been deleted, and I will have to start from scratch.
I have spoken to a Mexican-American inmate who works as a programs clerk to ask about how the Mexican and Chicano inmates are organized. He said he had never heard of the Mexican Mafia or the New Mexican Mafia, so apparently they do not have much of a presence here. He said there is no formal organization among the Mexican inmates. They just naturally stick together and help each other out.
My mother has asked me whether I intend to be politically active upon my release and whether that will be allowed. I told her that I did intend to remain politically active and that as long as I obey the law and the conditions of my probation, I have as much right to express my opinions as any other citizen. Of course that doesn’t mean there won’t be problems or that the government will not further attempt to suppress my freedom of speech.
I have lost my right to vote. After my probation has ended, I will be able to petition my trial judge Gregory Martin or his successor to restore that right. That is five years down the road, however as my probation is for five years.
The loss of my right bear arms is permanent. Although I could petition the judge to restore that right after probation ends, there is a permanent disability under federal law, because I was declared mentally ill and dangerous to myself and others. Obviously, I will no longer be able to provide informal security at political demonstrations with my prior effectiveness.
During my probation, I will not have the right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure. I must submit to search of my home, my car, and my person upon demand of my probation officer for any reason or for no reason. For this reason I should not carry or keep any item or document that could compromise the security of the anti-war movement or other progressive causes.
I will be required to report any contact I have with law enforcement to the Adult Probation Department. I am not required to talk to the police or any other government agents, and I intend to continue to assert that right.
I am forbidden during my probation to associate with criminals or people with criminal records. It would therefore be prudent of me to sharply curtail direct communication with Laro Nicol. I am sure I can still communicate ideas with him through third parties.
I am required during my probation to find and retain employment. I hope my unstable work history will not continue and result in my going back to prison.
I am required during my probation to submit to mandatory psychiatric treatment. This means I will likely have to take psychiatric medications. I also have to see a psychiatrist from time to time, probably through Value Options. If this psychiatrist thinks it warranted, he could have me civilly committed to a mental hospital again, so even though I am “free” I could still be locked up again. I fear that the power the psychiatrist will have over me will be used as a leverage to keep me out of politics. If so I will resist, even if it means going back to prison.
I was 37 years old when I was arrested (21 June 2004), and I will be 39 years old tomorrow. This ordeal has already taken a sizable chunk out of my life. I wish it had never happened, but I can also say I have learned about prison life, jail life and life in a mental hospital. I have also learned some things about the justice system.
Much of this information I have already shared with you and others. There are a few things I would like to address.
There is a common belief that sexual assaults and homosexual activity in general are common in prison. Since I have been here, I have never heard of a single case of either. If it is going on people must be keeping quiet about it. One person I asked about it told me that sexual activity among inmates is much more common on sex offender yards than here on general population yards where it is quite rare.
Another common conception of prison is that there is a lot of extortion. To that I say there is and there isn’t. The extortion of one individual to another individual requiring an inmate to buy commissary for another or get his family to put money in another inmates books seems to be rare. I have never heard of this being done here. There is a form of extortion carried out collectively by the Aryan Brotherhood. They require each white inmate to give them one postage stamp per month. If an inmate is conducting some kind of money making or stamp making enterprise, such as conducting a lottery or selling goods or services, they require a share of the profit. In September the Aryan Brotherhood conducted a lottery that they pressured each white inmate to enter. When I stubbornly refused, there was some verbal unpleasantness, involving an inmate named Riot, but ultimately there was no violence directed against me.
There is a common conception that there is a lot of bullying and unpleasantness in prison. I have not found this to be the case. Generally if you mind your own business and are polite and respectful towards others, other people will not mess with you. Of all the inmates I have know here, only two have been at all unpleasant to me. One is Riot, of whom I have already written. The other is my cellmate Tom Murrey.
Tom often yelled at me and made a fuss if I had to use the bathroom before he wanted to get up in the morning. I put up with this for most of my sentence, but I could not have it on my conscience that he would do this to his next cellmate without my trying to do something about it. I do not like going to the Aryan Brotherhood to solve my problems, but it seemed the only answer. I told them of his harassment of me, and they rebuked him.
Tom bitterly accused me of snitching because of this, but only two days earlier he had occasion to report my conduct to the Aryan Brotherhood. We were on the recreation field, and we had run out of drinking water. A black inmate picked up the empty water jug and carried it to the gate. I told the guard to let us out so we could refill the jug. He said he didn’t have the gate key and that we would have to wait for a guard who did. Tom then said to me, “Don’t help the opposite race.”
I replied, “All races need that water.”,
He said, “You can’t help a nigger carry the water jug.”
I said “That’s bull shit!” He said “If you want to get your ass beat for this, don’t involve me.”
I said, “You’re not involved.”
He said, “I’m your celly.”
I said, “So what?”
He then walked away and spoke with an Aryan Brotherhood inmate. A few minutes later he came back and told me it was OK for me to help carry the water jug. Other people to whom I spoke confirmed that the Aryan Brotherhood was not so racist that its members would object to a white inmate helping to carry a water jug with a black inmate. It was evidently just my cellmate's own racist fantasy.
Another thing I dislike about Tom is that he is willfully ignorant and does not know how to disagree without being disagreeable. When he says something I dispute, I remain calm but stick to my position, while he loses his temper, calls me names and even proposes solving the matter with physical violence. Here are some of the positions he has put forward that I have disputed, provoking his temper:
He would at times accuse me of calling him a liar or of calling his information source a liar. Apparently he has difficulty with the concept that there is a difference between telling a deliberate lie and being honestly misinformed about something. If there is one person here I will not miss it is Tom!
I would like to thank the people who have stood behind me during this ordeal, including you who tirelessly ensured that I was kept informed during my confinement. I would like to thank the people in the anti-war movement who were thinking of me and carrying on the fight against this unjust war. I would particularly like to thank my mother, who visited me as often as she could and wrote to me daily. She has suffered terribly because of this and I would like to try to make it up to her.
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