Tag Archives: prison

Shit in a Sack

?Cell House Three with 'Dog Cages' on the second floor, left.
From the front page of the Pueblo Star-Journal and Sunday Chieftain?, Dated Sunday November 6, 1977. The banner headline on the front page cried out in large bold lettering: NEWSMEN TOUR PRISON AND VIEW “LIVING HELL” By Bill Gagnon.

Canon City- A three-man reporter-photographer team from The Pueblo Chieftain and Pueblo Star-Journal stepped out of the bright and warm summerlike weather here last week and into a medieval chamber of horror- Cellhouse 3 at the Colorado State Penitentiary.

?Once inside the grim building, they were stunned by the sight of humans caged in filthy cells and living under the most wretched conditions imaginable, denied even the most simple and basic necessities of life – soap, towels, soaks, clean clothing, blankets and sheets. Yes , they even are denied the necessary materials to scrub and clean their steel hovels.

?For 24 hours a day, seven days a week, these unfortunate creatures are kept locked in their filth-covered cages with nothing to do except learn to hate an indifferent and unthinking society that keeps them there.

?Treated and looked upon as subhuman beings, even medical and dental services available to them are mediocre and to the point they are almost nil. And letters sent to them by loved ones outside the high, gray walls sometimes is delayed for weeks at the prison before being delivered to them.

?While these conditions observed first hand by the Pueblo news team in the prison’s so called “punitive segregation” section made a grown man ill, they were compounded by those seen in the narrow and darkened steel barred isolation cells in the solitary confinement wing. There, faceless and silent occupants huddle and cringe in the darkness amid the pungent stench of filth within the close confines of these cesspools like cubicles, almost concealed from those outside.

?Those confined to this living hell in the infamous Cellhouse 3 are stripped of all human dignity and respect. An aura of frustration and despair hands heavy throughout this living example of man’s inhumanity to man.

?Yet, despite such barbaric treatment, some find an inner strength which turns to outrage and they cry out to the world; “You can’t do this to me; I am a man!” But few outside the walls hear, or want to hear them.

?But the voice of one of these tortured men, David Anderson, in the form of a letter sent to the editors of these newspapers describing the deplorable conditions in maximum security, was heard. And it resulted in the assignment of this news team to investigate the shocking allegations.

?Note: the article also contained several photos of the conditions, and covered two full pages of the newspaper.

While I was confined there, Gerald Hayes, one of the prisoners, sat down in his cell, with an old razor blade, cut off his index finger.

With blood dripping from his hand, he scrawled a message on the wall of his cell “God! Help us, Convicts are people too.”

Gather round children, I’m about to tell you a true story. ?It happened nearly 40 years ago in the Colorado State Penitentiary. It happened in cell house three.

?Cell house three was isolated from the rest of the prison, it was built to house death row prisoners and other prisoners deemed problem prisoners.

?If you caused problems in cell house three, they would then send you to a special tier called the “Dog Cages” This was their jail within a jail within a prison. The “Dog Cages” was a 24/7 lock down in your cell. The only exception was when you were let out of your cell for an hour to take a shower. Some men lost their minds under those conditions. It was quite easy for a prisoner to become so confused after months, that he could not distinguish one day of the week from another.?

Many of the prisoners there committed self mutilation or suicide. In my efforts not to end up hanging from a dirty bed sheet as so many others, I chose humor as a means to hold on to my sanity.

?This is the story of one of those efforts.?

Since the beginning of time when we first started locking men in prisons, the prisoners have made knives for self protection. These homemade knives were called a “Shiv” or a “Shank” and over the years the prisoners found ingenious ways of hiding their “Shank” from the prison guards who were continually searching for the “Shank”.?

For many guards, finding a prisoners hidden contraband, made their day. And for some guards, finding a “Shank” was as near a sexual experience as they could get. They became ecstatic.?

With the hidden “Shank” and the prison guards lustful hunger to find it, I began to set up my plan.?

The chief “Shank” hunter of cell house three was well known; he was Lieutenant D. A. Davis, who was in charge of cell house three on the swing shift. Lt. D. A. Davis loved his job and the power he held over the prisoners lives, he never missed an opportunity to torment the prisoner with late delivery of their mail or medication, the two most important things to a prisoners.?

D. A. had on several occasions during the cold winter months, set the steam heater on the “Dog Cages” at the lowest setting, the control for the heaters were off tier in the control cage, there were many windows on the tier broken and snow would often blow onto the tier. Another little trick that seemed to give D.A. a lot of pleasure; when the food cart came to the cell house from the main dining room, he would let it set until the food was cold. He took joy in making the prisoners suffer, making sure to remind them he was in charge of every aspect of their lives’. ?

D.A. could also be cruel to the other prison guards. He was a Canon City hometown boy, who thought of the prison as their cottage industry, if a guard was from another city or another race ( D.A. was white) D.A. would made them also feel his wrath. guard Rodriquez had two strikes against him; he was Spanish from Pueblo.?D.A. was one of those spit and polish guards, sharp creases in his shirt and trousers, Lieutenant bars sparkling, I think he was afraid to sit down while in uniform for fear of wrinkling his trousers. He was an overweight heavy jowl bully with shifty eyes that seemed always searching as if his deeds would catch up with him.?

While Rodriquez was a complete opposite of D. A. in manner and dress.?

Rodriquez was a small quiet man, his uniform was always a little rumpled, in the several years I knew him, I never once saw Rodriquez mistreat a prisoner. He once confided to me that he thought being locked in a prison cell 24 hours a day was punishment enough and that he was not going to add to it. The empathy for the prisoners in his face was easy to see. He said that he had taken the job as a prison guard as a last resort only to take care of his family, after failing to gain employment in other areas. All the prisoners respected him for the kindness he showed them. Because of the way D.A. treated Rodriquez it could be said that he suffered as much abuse from D.A. as the prisoners did. ?

Rodriquez seemed always to have a slight smile whenever I made D.A. the brunt of one of my schemes, but he never said so with words. I think the enemy of our enemy can become our friend, it was Rodriquez who tossed the newspaper clipping ( Living Hell ) on my bunk one day, the news article was consider contraband and unavailable to the prisoners until I received that copy.

The Plan:
Timing was needed for my plan to be successful; It needed to happen just after D.A came on duty for the 3:00 swing shift, and there would need for one of the prisoners to be out of his cell for a shower. When a prisoner is out of his cell for showering, is the only time he would have access to the exterior windows you see in the photo above.?

I had acquired a small 8 inch by 12 inch plastic bag, in the bottom of this bag I place a 8 inch wooden stick and then took a nice big healthy shit in the bag, adding a smidgen of water so as to make the mixture runny. I rolled up the bag tightly and then wrapped it again in an old newspaper so that the contents were not visible. When you felt this concoction of stick, plastic and paper it felt like there could be a “Shank” hidden within. ?

The Hide:
I tied a short string in the center of this concoction and had the prisoner out for his shower lower it out the exterior window so that it hung between the second floor and the first floor. The time was about 3:15 and D.A. had just came on duty. The guard tower just yards away from the cell house had a clear view of the exterior of the cell house and I was sure what his reaction would be when he spotted it hanging there outside the window.?The prisoner out for his shower waited until the tower guard was on the back side of the tower before he lowered the bag out the window and tied it off on the bars.?

And just as I had planned; The tower guard spotted the bag hanging there a few minutes later, the Tower guard took out his binoculars for a closer inspection of the bag. Ah Ha! what are those convicts up to now? and then the next step, the guard picked up his phone to call the cell house and alert them to the mysterious bag hanging out the window on the “Dog Cage” tier. I heard the cell house phone ring.?
The Jig is up! D.A. the “Shank Hunter” was on the job.?

D.A. hollered out Lock-Up! meaning for the prisoner out for his shower to go to his cell. The cell block door slid open and D.A. came walking in as if he were doing a head count of the prisoners. He walked casually to the end of the tier, not looking at the widow where the bag was tied, on his return trip his demeanor was much different as he excitedly jumped to the window and pulled the bag up, ripping the sting from the bars. Glancing around he darted for the tier door with his prize in hand….of course, I hollered out “D.A. Come Back Here With My Shit!?

The prisoners all locked in their cells exploded in laughter.

?D.A. was still not sure of his prize as Rodriquez later told me of what happen when D.A. entered the cage. He feverishly began ripping opening the bag and discovered the sack of shit, he threw the bag on the floor and it splattered up on his pants. His face turned beet red with embarrassment as he remarked to Rodriquez he didn’t want to hear any talk of this incident. D.A. began to wretch and struggled to keep from vomiting. Of course we prisoners knew that we would have some new punishments coming from D.A., but hearing the laughter was so therapeutic, there are those moments when suffering and punishment reach a point that we don’t care what happen to us. ?

D.A. took a short leave to go home and change his pants.?

When Rodriquez came on the tier, he walked right up to my cell with the biggest smile I had ever seen on his face, and said I know you did it David and it was beautiful! my reply was “What are you talking about?”

The Moral of the story; When Shit Happens… make sure you’re not the one holding the sack.

A hero does not shoot an unarmed man in the back, then pose for trophy photo.


SORRY, NO. And I’ve seen this composition before. Abu Ghraib. Or any of the trophy shots found on the digital cameras of US soldiers in free fire zones. These officers are holding up for display a critically injured man struggling to breathe. Shortly he’ll be interrogated while still in intensive care, while America pretends this is justice.

Sergeant Jay Cook saw escapee David Sweat running for the dense woods. No, shooting an unarmed man in the back does not fall within rules of engagement, neither for border patrol nor fugitive manhunt. Sergeant Cook was among a posse of thousands, including all variety of aircraft and vehicles. Though Sweat had evaded capture for 21 days, this was the first direct sighting. Cook was too porcine to make chase, but did he think the prisoner could outrun everything else? Shooting Sweat twice in the back was an act of cowardice, like that of snipers or drone pilots. Jay Cook is an American Hero for the Police State.

The Death Penalty

In May of 1960, I was place in the “Hole” for ten days, at that time they would feed you a bowl of spinach once a day. The “Hole” was in cell house three, which also housed death row. When the guard came to my cell, I refused the spinach. He told me that he bet I’d be eating it by the end of ten days. Directly on the tier above me was death row. One of the prisoners on death row (David F. Early) over-heard my conversation with the guard.

At meal time, David would share his meals with me; he had a string made from his mattress and would lower part of his meal down to me.

On Aug. 12th 1961, David was gassed in the gas chamber.

For those who would cry out, that the death penalty is a deterrent, I would say: we’ve had a few hundred years of this “deterrent” and it doesn’t seem to be working.

My opposition to the death penalty does not come from the kindness or compassion that David showed to me, but rather from the fact that I believed we as a society were more cruel to put a person in a small concrete room and then day after day tell them we were going to kill them.

It seemed to me then as it does now that our crime is far greater than theirs.

It was also a lesson for me about kindness and compassion; it’s possible to find even on death row.

Police take poetic license with wanted posters of New York prison fugitives

LOOKIT! New York authorities have issued fresh images of escapees David Sweat and Richard Matt. You might wonder where they got photos more recent than the last mug shots, which was the last time the prison break fugitives were in custody. Plus the news coverage has been unequivocal that authorities haven’t seen the wayward prisoners since.

It turns out the latest images are called “PROGRESSIVE PHOTOS” depicting how the convicted murderers are supposed to look at ten days into their freedom quest. Authorities are assuming they haven’t reached razors, so each has a ten-day shadow; and police artists have Photoshopped t-shirts over the original penitentiary vestments. But the photo manipulation didn’t stop there. The original mugshots were taken in identical environments, but these renditions feature distinct atmosphere changes, both darker.

The younger David Sweat is now lit with harsh florescent lights as one might encounter him in a convenience store or in YOUR GARAGE. Sweat’s pores are exposed like one might observe from inappropriate intimacy. Sweat’s receding hairline now looks more like hair plugs, as if his first stop after Dannemora was to a hair club for men. Sweat’s original friendly demeanor has been replaced with a calculated desperation. I’m guessing police artists have a PS morph tool labeled “John Wayne Gacy”.

Sweat’s brother-art-thou, alleged lothario Richard Matt, is now bathed in the incandescent light of YOUR BEDROOM.

I’m sure wanted posters have always afforded sheriffs the discretion to paint fugitives as menacing as needed. Photo manipulation is another animal altogether. It’s not poetic license, it’s character assassination. And it’s extrajudicial. Sweat and Matt are guilty of a nonviolent jailbreak. Until we can offer them justice — run boys run.

New York prison victims need your help

AT THE VERY LEAST people living near New York State’s now infamous prison break could be getting fresh air in defiance of their governor’s ludicrous warnings to hide from the dangerous felons. Neighbors can exercise their property rights to spectate as they please and take strolls where they can to muck it up for the K9s hounding fugitives David Sweat and Richard Matt. Fellow freedom-loving itinerants could also converge upstate to force multiply the sightings of vagabond pairs crisscrossing the woods around the Clinton Correctional Facility, known in the industry as “Little Siberia”. But most certainly, lawyers of any conscience should assail the Clinton County DA’s office in defense of poor Joyce Mitchell, the prison sweatshop supervisor who may have helped the escapees, whom authorities were waiting to charge until after she’d cooperated with interrogators. Lawyers should be livid that neither authorities nor reporters bat an eyelash at Ms. Mitchell’s lack of proper counsel. Media coverage while constant is marred by omission.

Are fugitives Matt and Sweat dangerous? The media doesn’t want to detail their criminal histories other than to repeat they are murderers. David Sweat and an accomplice plead guilty to first degree murder of a sheriff’s deputy when Sweat was 22. (Who pleads guilty to first degree murder?) The deputy had interrupted a burglary, other accomplices were not charged. When Sweat was 17 he served time for attempted burglary.

While in his twenties Richard Matt killed his boss. Why and what was their line of work? The media won’t say. Matt’s previous record was as a juvenile.

Both appear to be examples of the failure of the correctional industry in handling juveniles. This prison break was the only hope either men had for escaping its clutches. The escape was nonviolent and fears that either men mean harm to others are not grounded in anything but hyperbole about how “evil” they are.

Our collective lockdown mentality, lest a siren call lure us to freedom

LOCKDOWN. The term has become ubiquitous, though lifted easily out of context, being self-explanatory. Its predecessor “batten down the hatches” used to be too. Before the advent of recreational sailing it came from a work environment synonymous with incarceration, in the days of debtors prison for penury, before which were slave galleys. As an idiom, batten the hatches still means to fasten things down, brace for difficult weather. “Lockdown” was used this week to describe the city of Boston, as its neighborhood of Watertown was swarmed by militarized police, the residents commanded to “shelter in place”, officers barking at them to stay in your houses, under penalty of being shot, by accident we like to suppose, for their own safety is the implication, or be arrested for obstructing justice. We’ve come to know what lock-down means. It’s a prison term for everyone stuck in their cell, until further notice, sometimes indefinitely. Colorado’s Supermax prison operates in a permanent state of lock-down. Of course in this age of school shootings –another self-defining expression, like “going postal”– lock-downs have become an educational tradition, and isn’t likening schools to prisons forcing an interesting slip into Freudian reality?

Students have always inferred they were inmates. Without looking it up, I’m now certain the expression “matriculation” was abandoned for its unfortunate implication of being compulsory. Before the middle class, vocational training was worse than mandatory, it was an inevitability. If of course a luxury –how far we’ve come. But our labor saving inventions weren’t meant to save our labor, that profit went to the hoarders of what we produced: produce, became grain, now money. With the means of production owned by the land owner, the rest of us are laborers once again. Underemployed, idled, in the lull of post industrialism, we’re put into lockdown.

And we accept it. Now we’re speaking of building walls to control immigration which means a macro lockdown. We’re prisoners of nation states and we’re breeding children in captivity who can never live Born Free outside zoos.

Boston accepted its lockdown. The media is reporting Bostonians are now catching their breath as if the restriction was some collective girdle. How long would the lockdown have seemed justified? I was rather hoping if the lockdown had extended, that Occupy Boston would have rallied to march on Watertown, to reject the premise that a manhunt for a solitary teen of dubious menace would justify unqualified home invasions without search warrants. I’m rather confident, had Watertown been a submunicipality of Denver, that the infamous cop-baiters of Occupy Denver would have flown their colors in the officers’ faces.

The police were hunting a fugitive teen accused of planting a crude bomb at the Boston Marathon. He’d fled a firefight with police after a car chase said to have involved pipe bombs and grenades, but whose? The suspect was armed and dangerous, but was he? The police also warned that he’d be booby-trapping the neighborhood. They searched houses not just to locate the fugitive, but to check that he hadn’t rigged unsuspecting houses. When he was finally caught there was no mention of his being armed. Perhaps that’s why they couldn’t immolate him like the usual felon, because his hiding place was fiberglass and the imaging devices gave away the fact that he was absolutely defenseless. What may have saved Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was perhaps less the virtual Cop Watch of oversight on police scanners broadcast over the internet, but that the young man sought refuge in a boat.

You might quarrel with my nautical analogy, there are perhaps less archaic idioms than “batten down the hatches”, but specifically it means to seal the hull, batten in this case being a verb referring to a tool for reefing the sail, and see, none of this translates anymore. As we lose the middle class, we lose our sailing terms, just as the working class has lost its fisheries. Hatch is still relevant to aircraft and spaceships, which the common urchin might still know virtually, but for how long prison ship Spaceship Earth?

Odysseus had his men lash (See?) him to the mast so he could resist the Sirens’ call that lured sailors to their doom. Literally battening him in lockdown, because beyond here lie dragons, sea monster mermaids who would waylay the course of Western Civilization, which now seems the better idea.

Why people shoot Cops, just in time for “Police Memorial Day”

You know, if the cops want to convict you of something quick and dirty, without having to prove anything, they have a few tools. Like “disorderly conduct” or “public intoxication”. If you object, they can and often do have three PIGS hold you down while a fourth stomps on your head. Then charge you with resisting arrest.
Like the Euless Police Department did three weeks ago to Albert Nicolas, age 36.
When his family came to arrange his bail, noticed how badly injured he was, (a Major Concussion, which is a bruise on the brain, and a couple of minor ones) and requested that the PIGS should take him to the Emergency Room, the PIGS not very politely sneered that they didn’t have to, their Jail Nurse had “determined his injuries weren’t life threatening” (they were).

If Albert had not gotten bailed out and rushed to the E.R. by his bondsman, he would have DIED from the injuries. The PIGS, who get sexually aroused from any form of exercising power over Other People, probably would have tasered him as he was dying in convulsions, saying he was “acting out”. The Jail Nurse and the Coroner, both of them sworn deputized PIGS who do anything their fellow PIGS say to do, including Lie Under Oath, would have sworn that he had banged his head himself.

The Moronic “Back The Badge” PIG-Loving political COWARDS (here’s looking at you, Patch!) would believe everything the PIGS said and that would be the end of it.
Until somebody who actually cared cornered one of the PIG motherfuckers (and yeah, I’ll be called a “potty mouth” for that) and put a .45 slug between his piggy little eyes and out the back of his piggy little skull.
Then the PIG’s Sow and Piglets would be interviewed on TV boo-hooing and promoting the fiction that the PIG was actually an honorable and courageous man, kind to everybody (except to bound or handcuffed prisoners he stomped to death) and How Could Somebody Do That To Daddy? Well, Piglets, your daddy was a Power Tripping PERVERT who masturbated to the pain and suffering of Real Men. Truth hurts, yes? Tough. Your daddy got exactly what he and his PIG organization dish out. Get over it.
Call me a potty mouth for putting it like that, but hey, my nephew almost lost his life due to PIG arrogance.

Happy Pig Memorial Day, punks.