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download (4).jpgIt’s Thursday night, 4-22-10, at York County Jail; sorry I’m late. I always have so, so much to say, so much spinning about inside my black box, and of course I think that it’s all so important that of course you’ll wanna hear it / read it too! So, I wasn’t sure what to let spill out first – me, or the Revolution. Let’s start with the Revolution & then maybe I’ll let some Rage spill out.

Y’all know I love quotes & here’s one that’s quite apprypos. It’s the first line of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” (something we should all read, at least once), a poem touching upon the themes of both addiction and mental illenss.

This first line reminds me of all of us, those of us still here, & those of us long, long gone:

“I saw the best minds of my generation
destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix.”

We have always been the lowest of the low, the last chosen, the last considered. We are truly seen as “children of a lesser God,” for whatever other situation might be seen as limiting a person, be that race or religion, sexual preference or physical deformity, add mental illness or addiction to that person’s “limiting situation,” and they become beyond the limit, the underclass of an underclass.

Long before Adolph Hitler began murdering Jews, he was ordering the mass executions of the mentally ill – an even easier target than the ever-persecuted Jews. The attempted extermination of our spiritual ancentors with mental illness receives little attention by historians. In a footnote, they may call it “unfortunate,” but not “tragic” in the way it was for the Jews, Gypsies, the J-Witnesses or the Queers – after all, they were mentally ill. Anyway, but the Holocaust of our people began long before the third Reich, & has not ended. We don’t have a descriptive word such as “Holocaust” to describe the age-old socially sanctioned degradation, neglect, rape & murder of our people, although in the bible, our people were seen as demon-possessed. Even in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, founder Bill Wilson in “Bill’s Story” speaks of one of us: “a poor chap committed suicide in our home. He could not or would not accept our way of life.”

Today, They know what we’ve always known – that “poor chap” was one of us, mentally ill. With no alcohol & no proper medication to take its place, his symptons returned with a ferocity he could not live with.

Dual Recovery Anonymous states that we have “two no-fault illnesses,” meaning that we did nothing to intentionally cause our illness, or our addiction, or the situations which follow, from poverty to criminal recividism. Since the advent of the Betty Ford Clinic, & the public recovery of the rich & famous, & then the Big Sur “feel good” recovery surge of the 80s & 90s, addiction has become more understood and, if recovered from successfully, even tolerated. Mental illness, though, from the strictly psychological to the outright behavioral, is still considered by Them, even the most liberal, to be an excuse, a personal weakness and a line on the sand between the worthy humans, & the flawed subhumans.

What follows is the tale of my own big “moment of clarity,” as a person living with both mental illness and addiction, trying to work my way to respectability.

From April of 1997 to December of 1998, I was a participant in the Kennebec County Co-Occurring Disorders Court Program. CODC, of course, is a wonderful alternative to jail time for those of us in the system with the co-occurring disorders of mental illness and chemical addiction. If the money spent on housing our people in the states correctional facilities (the latest I’d heard was $39,000 a year per inmate) was instead channelled into appropriate programs such as CODC, our state would indeed be a healthier (both socially & fiscally) safer place to live.

The standard time int he program, the baseline, so to speak, was one year. I had been in the program for around a year and 1/2. During that time, I had passed every urine screen, every breath test. I had complied with all of the strict conditions of release normally imposed upon CODC clients, and more. I ran two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. I had taken over Dual Recovery Anonymous in the area & was so successful that we now had more DRA meetings than any other part of the state. I had co-founded a new recovery practice, the Holistic Recovery Project (http://holistix.atspace.com), Recovery-Through-Wholeness, which had grown to such an extent that we were holding board meetings & working on the paperwork to become a non-profit corporation. Thanks to the rigid structure of the COPC Program, my accomplishments seem to have no end.

We were required to appear before the judge every Monday, although I had been in the program long enough that I was only required to appear every two weeks. I had just written two letters to the Judge & to the CODC team – one (which I’d been invited to submit) my ideas on improve the court program (many which, since my graduation, were in fact implemented). The other letter presented my case for graduating. I went before the Judge one Monday, supremely confident. I felt that I had absolutely exceeded the expectations of the program – I’d certainly exceeded my own. I asked Justice Mills when I would be graduating, and she told me:

“You need to learn some humility.”

Humility? Was that a requirement for graduating from the Program? I was later told by the CODC case manager that the team found me “arrogant.”

I realized at that moment, standing before Justice Mills that neither she, nor the establishment she representative would ever see me, no matter how far I progressed, as anything more than a drunk, an “iller” and a criminal. If it were the old South, she would have called me an “uppity nigger.” I was told later that certain members of teh Court thought that the program was “too easy” for me, that I would have been easier to take if I’d actually had a relapse or two.

So – the establishment found the shuffling, needy “Uncle Toms” of Co-Occurring Disorders easier to stomach than an empowered, “arrogant,” enlightened one.

The problem was, I “didn’t know my place.” I wasn’t acting helpless enough, troubled enough.

Uppity.

Now again – it was the Court Program that allowed me to grow to that level of potential, that re-parented me to success. As I said when I started, there should be more such courts, hospitals, out-patient programs, and community supports.

But – to be really offensive, let’s again use the analogy of the Old South & its treatment of African Americans. Right now in Maine, there’s a movement by the Powers that Be – the white coats (doctors, mental health workers, &c), the black coats (judgese, lawers, politicians, also referring to but not in this particular case undertakers), & the red coats (bleeding hearts) to empower our people. We were released from the tortures of the state hospitals some years back, but that never really worked out, of course due to the money They didn’t want to spend. Now, they want to teach us a pseudo-empowerment, to help us set up a sort of mirror-culture which satires their own. There are lots of consumer councils no one listens to, and the social clubs are peer centers – it’s all a sort of separate but equal.

Of course, you get the connection, true believers, to the Old South. Pseudo-empowered – but not in their neighborhoods, right? Some of us “field hands,” are actually selected to work in the “big house,” so to speak. They give us jobs on these councils or put us in front of TV cameras to show how well They take care of Their illers, &c. In my own case, I was always the kind of holistic soldier / iller-swiller-criminal easier for Them to stomach. I was well educated, well spoken, charming – much akin to the light-skinned black of the Old South. I allowed members of the establishment to be able to say, “Oh, I know one of THEM, he’s not like what you usually think of when you think of THEM. He’s quite enjoyable, actually.”

And when you work in the big house and become a gray-coat (which is the Uncle Tom or Flava Flav of the dually disordered), you can easily convince yourself, as I once did, that they accept you as one of them. That you’ve moved across special borders to become a real Citizen! Yee hee!

Don’t be fooled.

Begging for scraps at the master’s table will only get you scraps. That’s not what They eat.

We deserve more, but they’re not going to give it to us – the poor, the iller, the piller, the swiller.

I am more than just a drunk, the cutter.

More than just an iller, more than

just a criminal.

I AM a patriot, and I am a soldier.

I am worthy, & so are you.

And I could keep going, but Hell – I already have.

Let me leave you with one more thing to Grok on. At Windham – throughout corrections, none of us with mental illness are on our normal regimen of medications. But – most of us have jobs – in the kitchens, cutting lumber, doing upholstery, fixing computers – for just $0.75 an hour – if we’re lucky.

On the outside, we get lots of meds, and we’re told that we can’t work too much or we’ll lose our benefits. We’re taught to be happy getting a check for $700 a month, another $200 in food stamps, and a piece of shit one-bedroom apartment in the shittiest part of town. Thank god we have cable!

Does that make sense?

Okay, my next entry will be more personal – I’ll try to lighten up. I’ll focus on weight-lifting, and sodomy, and trying to bum teabags off of the wealthier inmates.

“Dear ones – it’s here now or it never comes. It’s here now.”
– Bo Lozoff

– Rage

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Kenneth McDonald

Write to Kenny via:

Maine State Prison – Kenneth McDonald – MDOC #114427

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

It’s almost the end of April, and I’m seeing flowers and green grass. A lot of seagulls are flying around as well. I’m doing pretty good in here, and no one’s giving me any problems. Tell old Hawkeye that I said hello and that I’m doing a lot better than I was doing in 2009 and 2010. Was wondering if you could send me any information on a frog species that I read about in the Kennebec Journal. It’s called the “fanged frog” and they have been finding them in Asia. I read about it and would love to find out more about them. They sound kind of cool. Well, I have to go and God bless you.

Who, Who, Who.

Kenneth McDonald, Aka: Owl, Malibu
MDOC #114427, MSP, Warren 

Write to Kenny via:

Maine State Prison – Kenneth McDonald – MDOC #114427

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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Kenneth McDonald
Write to Kenny via:

Maine State Prison – Kenneth McDonald – MDOC #11427

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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Write to Kenny via:  Bolduc Correctional Facility – Kenneth McDonald, MDOC #114427 – 516 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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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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