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Maine State Prison – Kenneth McDonald – MDOC #114427

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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That’s the thing about suicide. Try as you might to remember how a person lived his life, you always end up thinking about how he ended it.”

– Anderson Cooper


Ten years and a month ago, give or take a few days, I graduated, with little fanfare (a poinsettia and a chocolate orange) from Justice Nancy Mills’ Kennebec County Co-Occurring Disorders Court. We called it C.O.D.C. But that’s a prequel which, at the moment, exists only in outline, Bodhisattva.

Ten years and a month ago, give or take a few more days, I got arrested. Oh, yes! But then, isn’t that how most of my best adventures end?

In this case, after graduating this strict alternative-to-sentencing court program, after nearly two years of participation with ever-clean urine tests and breathalyzers, no legal trouble, and without Nancy finding out about my twenty year old live in girl friend, I graduated, and days later, I started drinking. At night, of course. One night, I got into a fight with aforementioned girlfriend and we got a bit loud (she threw me down the stairs, hit me over the head with a guitar, bit my arm when I tried to restrain her.) Our fat, expatriate British neighbor, (was the fucker’s name “Ted?”) banged on the door (after calling the cops) and the girlfriend opens it, ends up scurrying next door to his apartment. And I was, well, drunk, so when the fat fuck told me to “GO TO YOUR APARTMENT!” I did. And the fuzz showed up, during this major snowstorm / shitstorm. Six deep.

Now, I may have been drunk, but I’d been through this before. I wasn’t gonna say shit, although I apparently did agree with one of the cops when he called me “Kristopher.” But then, it was one of my names, just not a legal one.

I never imagined that my girlfriend at the time would throw me under the bus. She did. It was like a twist of an ending.. the person you least expected is the one to bring the hero down. Off I went, at the request of my Rhode scholar probation officer, Mark Fortin, down to Kennebec County Correctional Facility (it was probably the same person who named the jail a correctional facility as the one who named a small, local college the “University” of Augusta. Sorry.)

I sat in holding and I remember thinking, this is it. I’m done. The president of the Holistic Recovery Project, drunk, and I was informed, in jail on a domestic!

That whore!

Ah, I thought. I’m screwed. Windham Prison bound.

But I wasn’t, of course. Soldiers of the nation came in droves; some put money on the phone for me; Don Anton from Krypton generously put money on my books. And after repeatedly threatening suicide, one of my best friends ended up in the holding cell beside me, co-founder of the Project, Arthur Brian Traweek. Truedogg.

 

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~

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.” 
― Nietzsche

~

Truedogg was a street survivor with borderline personality disorder, and he played the court team like a game of “Go Fish,” his favorite card game. He had graduated a year before me and, never wanting to graduate in the first place, he had re-offended. He had a six months sentence for allegedly robbing some watches from a friend. Apparently, he’d been screaming suicide since arriving at the jail.

When they finally put me in a cell block, they put Truedogg with me. Karen, the porcine mental health worker at the jail told me: “We’re gonna put him with you. That way, I know he’ll be okay.” He wasn’t; none of us were. We were put into one of the classrooms which I later found was filthy with sex offenders; it wasn’t your stereotypical cell block. This was more like a barracks – a classroom with one bathroom and shower filled with bunk beds. And skinners and peeps who threatened suicide; it was easier to watch everyone in a barracks style operation, and it’s true – it they are actually watching.

My cousin Glen “Hawkeye” Bartlett ended up there too, and he and Truedogg and I passed the time, of course, playing cards. Or pantsing other convicts. Tired of constantly playing the prison favorite, “spades,” out of boredom and desperation we began to play other card games, games from childhood like “Crazy Eights,” “Concentration,” “Old Maid,” and “Go Fish.” Truedogg’s favorite game, I think I wrote a moment ago, was “Go Fish.”

Truedogg was depressed, or playing depressed and we couldn’t figure out why, I mean, he was doing six months, he’d be out in two, and being the Court favorite, he was going to be allowed back into the court program that he loved, or pretended to love, so much. We had the same lawyer, the mighty N. Seth Levy, and we had the same spiritual leader, also a member of the court team, soberati and zen-master, Peter Wohl. Seth of course visited both of us. Other members of the court team, only visited the Dogg. I wouldn’t’ find out why for years.

Peter later told me that Justice Mills (whom my probation officer Mark Fortin has assured me was quite pissed at me) had ordered the court team not to visit me.

Truedogg’s girlfriend Whitney (who he’d met in a Crisis unit, of course,) was visiting him regularly as well; sometimes we’d both go down and see her at the same time, if Truedogg needed support. Truedogg was in the pokey, I don’t know if I’ve told you, for stealing from a friend of his, a doctor whom he’d met one time in county. The dogg had apparently stolen some watches; there was an article about the crime in the paper, but our lawyer, Seth didn’t want him looking at it. So, of course, Whitney mailed a copy to him anyway. It disturbed him.

In the article, the victim had claimed that, not only did Truedogg steal from him, but he also tried to hang him, something which the dog denied. I didn’t know what to believe, but the Dogg was my friend, and making light of the situation, Whitney and I started calling him, “Hangman.”

Foreshadowing.

Now, soon to rejoin the court program that he loved, the Dogg was required to go before Justice Mills on Mondays again, this time in chains. One Monday, he returned from court more down than usual. Justice Mills had asked him how he was doing, and the Dogg replied that he hated himself. And I forget what the answer was that she gave him, but it wasn’t very nice. As I remember it, he was a bit teared up as we talked about it, over jailhouse decaf coffee. We’d had many talks since coming together in jail about God and Hell and sin and courts and love. I remember him asking me once if I thought that suicides go straight to Hell, and I told him that I didn’t understand God, but I was quite sure that he wasn’t so black and white.

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I told him about my friends who’d successfully faked hangings.

That day, we talked about Court and how bad he felt for disappointing Justice Mills. I remember reassuring him, and praying with him. He said that he was gonna take a shower and I believe I told him that God loved him and so did I. Then, I sat down to watch “Law and Order” which happened every afternoon at 2pm. Truedogg wedged a streamer of toilet paper in the door-jam, something I hadn’t seen him do before, but I assumed that it was just to let people know that he was in there. So people let him be; a guard, Guererra, I believe, checked the bathroom during his hourly checks. He overlooked what I would see.

Not long after, someone screamed. Bobby had gone into the bathroom to use the toilet, and now he was screaming and then another convict went in and then I heard Father Matthew bellow and then I went in and the Dogg was in the shower, fully clothed, hanging from a sheet he’d wrapped around the shower gear.

Hangman.

We took him down, me and this other kid, and pulled him out into the common area while someone else hit the button to alert the turnkeys.

The cops came running quickly (including Guererra, who’d pretended, apparently, to check the bathroom earlier.) The convicts were all ordered to stay on our cots. The cops started chest compressions, but I noticed they weren’t doing rescue breaths. Later, maybe eleven minutes later, the prison doc shows up with a breath bag. No one had given Truedogg a rescue breath because they no one had the 75 cent plastic “seperater” which prevented lips from touching. I guess it was procedure – no separator, no rescue breaths. The sheriff himself came up as they worked on the dog, but, I mean, damn, when I pulled him out of the shower and lay him on the floor he was so cold, and his skin was already so pale.

Why didn’t I start doing rescue breathing on the Dogg?

Why didn’t I offer to? And I don’t know and I’ve thought about that forever.

They moved us all down to the library while they did their thing at the crime scene. I don’t remember much, except that it was cold, and we were left alone, and I remember freaking out on some kid because he’d remarked that all suicides go to Baptist Hell.

A young guard popped in at some point and casually told us that Truedogg was dead. A while later and some quacks connected with Crisis and Counseling and ergo the Court Team came in and tried to council us for ten minutes. Then they left and we were lead back to the classroom.

I don’t remember what I felt; I remember Father Matthew reading to me from Sirach.. thank you, Father. One thing I did do was to write down what had happened, and to have all of the convicts sign it. ( You can find a copy of the letter at:

http://holisticrecoveryproject.org/truedogg.htm)

My cousin had been gone at the time of the self-crime and had a meltdown when he found out what had occurred. I’m trying to encourage him to write something about the Dogg, but hell, man, this guy took over what had been the Dogg’s bunk and freaked out whenever a guard tried to reassign him. I think that one of the mental health workers got fired over some sort of confrontation with Hawk about the Dogg.

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What’s wrong, Bob? Not enough twang in it for you?”

– Truedogg, on a negative comment concerning house music by Bob Fortin

~

Arthur Brian “Truedogg” Traweek and I met while in C.O.D.C. We also both had rooms at the same rooming house, but it took a while for us to warm up to each other. He seemed unfriendly, even kind of shady.

He wasn’t. I’m not sure exactly how or when it happened, but we became close friends at some point. Every evening at around seven, Truedogg would come up to my room to discuss Christianity or the courts or the various programs we were mandated to attend. Truedogg admitted to me quite early that he suffered from borderline personality disorder, and that everything he was he’d learned by watching others. Watching.

Brian had a bad childhood. Bad. Abuse. He ended up in an orphanage, where other kids called him “Gomez.” He was a racketeer though, even then, and sold other orphans contraband which he kept in behind a broken panel in the wall. At some point he became a runner; he chose the name “Wanderer” for himself; we started calling him Truedogg after hearing a song of the same name by Toby Mac. But, he was a wanderer. He got in trouble with the law, ans somehow ended up at a christian halfway house down south, “Love-Action Ministry” run by Miss Polly. Raised a Catholic, it was here that he became a Catholic hating extremist of a Protestant. It was also here that he was introduced to Miss Polly’s “Twelve Steps to Wholeness.” (“Wholeness,” the Dogg explained, “Comes from the word ‘Holiness’.”) a christian twelve step format.

Brian was released at some point from Miss Polly’s, although knowing him, I’m pretty sure that he didn’t want to go. Once back up north, he actually did his best to get arrested. He would go into Hotels (the same ones where he slept, in the boiler rooms) steal a checkbook and then head to the bank to try to get caught cashing it. It took quite a long time, and of course, Brian gave most of the money away. It was while in Cumberland county jail that he would become good friends with his final victim.

Eventually, Truedogg made it up to Kennebec County and C.O.D.C. And he was able to play them like a game of crazy eights, but then, that’s how he was made. He did a classic BPD game of being distant for a bit, then having a great “breakthrough” of opening up to the very person or persons he’d previously been so distant from. Justice Mills bought right into it, as did Zen-master Peter Wohl and the rest of the team. He convinced them (and maybe himself, although he was so good, it was impossible to tell) that he considered them his family, that he loved coming to court and never wanted to leave.

Awww…

By the time we became good friends, Truedogg had secured a job as a peer support specialist at the state mental hospital. He wouldn’t drink any coffee but Starbucks, smoked basic lights, and once explained to me how to scrub your shoes clean. He loved house music and could go on and on about it – Chicago Swing, Boston Beat, Japtronic, etc. He and one of his brothers (a hip-hop DJ) went to a house party in Philly or Boston, and ended up getting chased out by some brothers who’d gotten viscous, the Dogg said, because they were listening to something like, “Jungle House” or something. Whatever it was he claimed that they were quite violent. The Dogg also introduced me to Christian House music, while spinning about in his car, the mini Jamaican flag hanging from the rear view.

Now, don’t think that the dogg was a saint, because he wasn’t, and his troubles usually involved women.

The “Jen” situation, the “Belinda” situation. Holy, Dogg! But despite his quirks, admittedly due to the abuse he’d suffered as a child, ( back when his friends called him “Nipsy,”) he always brought a good message to our nighttime dharma talks. For the sake of brevity I’ll stick to the wisdom he added to the Project.

~

Step 13: Love was there all along. We realized that we had a spiritual relationship even when we didn’t know it. We’ve always been worthy.” – Recovery through Wholeness

~

When I started C.O.D.C. There was an A.A. Meeting held at Crisis and Counseling, the courts puppet mental health facility. When they moved locations, another member of the program, Jamie, wanted to start an A.A. Meeting in the vacated space. Jamie dropped out, but Truedogg picked up his slack. It was Truedogg who’d first introduced me to duel recovery anonymous, a 12-step program which focuses on both a persons addiction and their mental illness, and I was soon running two D.R.A. Groups a week. At first, we decided to make (coordinating with Mark “the worm-man” Rosenberg) it a D.R.A. Meeting, until one day the Dogg (who didn’t trust the worm-man) suggested: “Why not make it all-recovery?” We received permission to start our own twelve step group from Justice Mills, and thanks to the Dogg it was to become Maine’s first all-recovery program. I wrote most of the material on the floor of my room at the rooming house, working some stuff the Dogg had written into something a little more secular/humanistic. We used Miss Polly’s twelve steps to Wholeness at our first group (Circle) and then, again, came up with our own on the floor of my boarding house room.

All that we knew, really, was A.A., and like N.A. We were coming really close to Bill W’s twelve steps, with a word substituted here or there. I wanted us to be different, to have our own, unique twelve steps. To this end, it was the Dogg who came up with the term “Spiritual Relationship” instead of the hackneyed “higher power,” “reconciliation” instead of “amends,” and “parameters” instead of “traditions.” Our version of the steps went from the banal (Step One: “We realized that things were fucked up.” ) to the sacred: we had a thirteenth step. This too, I’d come up with on the floor of the room, but I got it from a conversation between Truedogg and one of my ex’s. She was talking about a girl in the court program in a very denigrating way and they got into it about “worthiness.” I remember the Dogg saying: “She’s worthy. We are ALL worthy. Because we’re born we’re worthy.” This has become one of the most important tenets of the Project and our step thirteen: “..we have always been worthy.” or as I paraphrase it to peeps: “You’ve always been worthy. And anyone who’s ever told you differently is a liar.” And it’s from the Dogg.

Eventually, the Dogg got into a relationship with a woman, and he was terrified about the possibility of sex, due to his abuse. We talked him through it, but, alas, the woman, after using him for his money, dumped him, and it killed him. Soon after he lost his job, went to stay with his friend from Cumberland County, stole his watches, maybe tried to hang him. I don’t know.

But Truedogg’s dead.

~

Where there is a corpse, the vultures will gather.” – Jesus Christ

~

I was told by various people that Justice Mills was pissed at me. I’d never made a connection with her; it was hard for me, developing a rapport with her so far away and so high up. It was like going to see the king. Furthermore, despite the fact that I was a major success in the program, I knew that Nancy didn’t much care for me, and someone on the team, Peter told me, had been keeping me from graduating the program. I went in front of the bench one day after I’d given the team a letter listing my accomplishments and asking why I hadn’t graduated. Justice Mills told me that I was arrogant and needed to learn some humility. It was then that I realized that, no matter what I did, how I dressed, how far I climbed, Nancy and the rest of the team would never think of me as any more than a common thug.

Really?

I know that Peter presided over a zen funeral for Truedogg. I wasn’t there. The week previous it looked as though I’d be bailed out. We’d gone to court to get bail set and as luck would have it, my ex came and admitted her part in the whole thing. Bail was set a $1500, which my peeps could do. Then, mysteriously, I was told that it wasn’t a lump sum, it was

$1500 per each of my two charges, and my peeps couldn’t afford $3000. Whatever happened, the team successfully kept me away from the funeral.

There was a candle light vigil, but no action. We got to watch this crowd outside drinking real coffee and smoking cigarettes and none of them had come to see the dogg when he was alive. No action was taken against the jail; I believe Guererra was transferred as fast as a child molesting priest back in the 70s.

~

You know me, from back in school, I’m White Rose, I’ma kill you. Razor blades, queen of spades,hangman’s noose from Robin Rage…”

– Robin Raged, “I’ma kill You.”

~

It is insanely difficult to write this.

When I got out, I was crazy with survivors guilt. I was seeing Truedogg in crowds in the light of day, dreaming of the ordeal at night. And the thing about suicide is that no one really wants to talk about it. And no one did. So, neither did I. The death of the dogg did something to me and it was bad to the point where, when I returned to jail en route to prison back in ’09, I was relieved.

I still haven’t’ fully processed the Dogg’s death. The closest I ever got was a song that I wrote for him while at Windham Prison, “the Executioners Song.” Perhaps I’ll play it for you in the next. No, I just carried whatever it caused with me, and sought out distractions from it and the way I felt, ghosts and everything. My last year in the ghetto, I knew more people, personally, who died from opiate addiction then I should even talk about, but, my friend, I haven’t shed a tear for them, or anyone since the dogg.

Yes, of course I’ll see someone abut this. I will. Swear.

I met with his family once, and for a while kept in touch with the Dogg’s brother, Daniel, and I’ve spoken with the Dogg’s son Justin about it. Once.

Okay, I’m just starting to spit out nonsense now, so I’m gonna close.. I just want y’all to remember my brother TrueDogg, okay.

I’ve asked my cousin Hawk to write something, but I’m sure he’s as fucked in the head about the whole thing as I am, we’ll see.

More next time, swear.

I love you all, okay, so, be safe, please.

Love and love and love and love,

Papa Rage

Truedogg, I miss you, man.

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Kenneth McDonald

Write to Kenny via:
Maine State Prison – Kenneth McDonald – MDOC #114427
807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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Write to Kenny via:
Maine State Prison – Kenneth McDonald – MDOC #114427
807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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Write to Kenny via:

Maine State Prison – Kenneth McDonald – MDOC #114427

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

Hey, how’s everyone doing?  Hey, I’m glad I have a roof over my head.  The Kurdish guy in the next cell is cool.  Hopefully, he knows some Kurdish music.

Well, today I’m watching the Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four movies.  Weather has been kind of warm and nice.  I’ve been doing pretty good and staying out of trouble.

So, you’ve been putting my AD&D stuff on the  blog?  That is cool.  Have I got any comments on the stuff yet?  Been looking through the Encyclopedia Britannica, and found two islands that you can post on the blog.  Let’s hope that the extinct volcano on Saba Islet is actually extinct or else Bottom and Windward are in a whole lot of trouble.  I will send more stuff later.

Malibu Owl

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Write to Kenny via:

Maine State Prison – Kenneth McDonald – MDOC #114427

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

AUGUSTA — Tonia Kigas Porter was freed from state custody Friday for the first time in almost 20 years.

The 49-year-old woman had been committed to the commissioner of the Department of Health & Human Services after being found not criminally responsible for murder for starving her 5-year-old daughter to death in 1993 in Bangor.

A judge in Kennebec County Superior Court ordered Porter discharged after the state, her psychiatrist and the State Forensic Service said they all supported it for Porter, who most recently was diagnosed and treated for cancer.

“She has managed those losses and difficulties with great dignity,” said Ann LeBlanc, director of the State Forensic Service.

Porter has been living in Augusta and doing volunteer work there for years and getting support from people in the community.

Justice Donald Marden asked LeBlanc what Porter’s reaction would be to seeing her photo in the newspaper.

“She’s learned one day your picture shows up on the front page and two days later, people forget about it,” LeBlanc said.

Marden said statements by those testifying on Friday convinced him that Porter has worked hard to recover.

“There’s no question Ms. Porter bears a heavy burden,” Marden said.

J. Mitchell Flick, Porter’s attorney, told the judge Porter is particularly conscientious about taking her medication and “extremely likely to succeed.”

Assistant Attorney General Laura Yustak Smith said that once Porter recovered from her severe psychosis, she was distressed and remorseful about what she had done.

“I think it’s a good thing when a person recognizes how serious it was and has the remorse because that’s the beginning of the recovery and can give the public some comfort that the person knows this was a bad thing,” Yustak Smith said.

Porter was committed to state custody in 1995.

Yustak Smith said she contacted family members of the victim prior to the hearing to discuss Porter’s potential discharge, and learned one was deceased and the other did not want to attend the hearing.

Porter hugged treatment providers and others from Riverview Psychiatric Center and from the hospital’s Assertive Community Treatment Team.

She is expected to continue with community-based treatment.

During a separate hearing in the same court Friday, Kirk T. Lambert also was discharged from the custody of the commissioner.

Lambert, 33, had been committed to state custody in 2000, following a verdict of not criminally responsible for robbery in an incident in which his lawyer said he wheeled a TV out of Walmart.

LeBlanc testified that Lambert was admitted to Riverview “and he stabilized quite quickly on medications.” She also said he has been dealing with an ongoing substance abuse issue.

Lambert has moved several times between the state hospital and the community, and several witnesses said he appeared overly dependent on Riverview and it was time for him to move on now that his mental illness is being treated and there has been no evidence of psychosis.

Instead of readmitting him recently, LeBlanc said, the hospital offered him a list of homeless shelters.

LeBlanc described Lambert, whose head is shaved, as “a good hair cutter,” and a person who is creative and makes beautiful quilts.

She said it appeared unlikely he would injure himself or others and that he plans to move to northern Maine where his father is a registered Maine Guide.

“He has been clean and sober for six months and quite committed to staying clean and sober,” she said.

LeBlanc said Lambert “was compassionate to other people with major mental illness who couldn’t help themselves.”

In March 2013, Lambert was a patient at Riverview when he was credited with rescuing a mental health worker there who was under attack by another patient.

The state, through Assistant District Attorney David Spencer, raised no objection to Lambert’s release.

“You are entitled to be discharged and have worked hard to bring yourself to this position,” Marden told Lambert. “You have some issues that you’re really going to have to stay on top of if you’re going to stay out of trouble.”

Marden warned him that people who don’t address substance issues “become very involved in the criminal justice system. In the final analysis, what happens is entirely up to you.”

University of New England students have created a program for jail staff and correction officers to help them deal with stress and other wellness issues
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PORTLAND, Maine — Students at the University of New England are spending time at the Cumberland County Jail this week.

The students have created a program for jail staff and correction officers to help them deal with several issues. The biggest one…stress.

They’re doing it not only for class credit, but because they say it’s the right the thing to do.

All week UNE students, studying to be nurses, occupational therapists and trainers, will help the staff with nutrition, exercise and stress management.

In the stress management session there were all kind of sensory activities like making slime and stress balls, by stuffing flour into a balloon.

It’s a  tool that will come in handy for corrections officer Chelsea Moore.

“There’s a lot of stress looking over your shoulder. There’s a lot of not knowing what’s going to happen at any given second. That’s probably the most tiring part of it” Moore says.

This is not the first time UNE students have been in the jail. They were there last year working with inmates, helping them with all kinds of wellness issues.

While there, they noticed the jail staff and correction officers could use some of the same services.

Kelly Pitre, who is studying occupational therapy at UNE, and will graduate next month, is spearheading this program, which is all volunteer.

“I feel like it’s our turn to take care of them” Pitre says. “I’m passionate about it, it’s a great way to put my skills to the test and help implement stress, well being, health and wellness.”

Libby Alvin, who is set to graduate from UNE’s nursing program next month says while she is busy with her school work, she looks forward to getting out in the community.

“It brings you back to why you’re doing school and why you’re working your butt off everyday in the library, to work with people and help make things better.”

A kind gesture that’s greatly appreciated.

“It’s nice to know somebody thought of us. There’s all this work, put into a whole week of them coming in and spending time with all shifts” says Moore.

Last year Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce awarded UNE students a Volunteer Appreciation Award for their work with inmates.

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Political Prisoners

Welcome to the blog from inmates of Maine's jails and prisons.

In collaboration with the Holistic Recovery Project, the Political Prisoners Blog provides a prisoner's view into what's happening at Maine's correctional facilities.

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