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As an amateur writer and storyteller I often start my writings with a cute, humorous or even dramatic beginning in the hopes it might catch the readers attention. This is commonly referred to as a “hook”. As an inmate at the Maine Correctional Center (MCC) in Windham, I will skip the fucking hook and get right to the point. The point is: that, in this day and age, inmates at MCC are regularly and openly abused! That’s right, I said abused.

On any given day in which the waters pour down from the heavens in buckets, inmates often have to choose between meals, medication, recreation and a host of other things and a “good-old fashion” soaking.

You see, inmates at MCC are not allowed any protective rain gear (not even an altered trash bag). This fact is not likely known by the general public (who wouldn’t give a shit anyway), but it is certainly known by the State of Maine Department of Corrections (DOC). Also not well known is this: the vast majority of inmates (700 or so) have to move from building to building for chow, meds, dental, rec, visits and more. In the case of meds inmates often have to stand in line outside in the driving rain. To make matters worse, inmates are not allowed to run, but must walk. HELLO! IT’S 2010 FOLKS!

It is simply not acceptable that in this day and age that even “low-life” criminals can be abused this way; and though most inmates have less than 600-800 feet between buildings, they can be outside a dozen or more times a day.

All across our nation people are in places like this (prison) for abuse of others, children, adults and the elderly.

Here at MCC, abuse is State Sanctioned and has been for years. No one should have to choose between a meal or getting drenched with no way to dry one’s clothes. No one should have to choose between getting their meds and standing in a  god-damned line in the driving rain or fucking snow storm.

Let me end with this: if this fucking place were a nursing home and the patients were treated like the inmates here are, the place would be shut down by the State in a heart-beat and the operators would be sitting in prison for abuse! It is a good thing for the State that this place is just filled with “low-life” criminals.

– Bob-Wire

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I am doing well.

Finished two college courses. and started four more last January.  I’ve got a paying job with the youth center group.  Things are moving in the right direction.

Praise be to God!

I’d like to hear from any of you as soon as ever.

As I am,

Prince

danny2

Write to Prince via:

Maine State Prison – Daniel Fortune – MDOC #86753

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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

Being that I seem always to be on the market for a future ex-Mrs. Wire, I thought I would share with the world hte contents of a letter. This letter would be the letter I would love to send to the Mrs., show she could fuckin’ understand that I have nothing to worry about because “I have a place to live and three meals a day”! Hello!

Dear Barb –

I must admit I was a bit taken back by that six-page scream fest you called a letter.  I am so fucking sorry that I did not understand the extent of the misery that is your life in the free world.

Upon considerable reflection I was out-of-fucking place to suggest that you have a lot of positive things happening in your life!  I should have known that your high-paying job could not be close to as rewarding as a job here, for sixty cents an hour.  What was I ever thinking when I suggested you had a pretty good car?  You are right; walking in the driving rain or snow without weather gear has to be better than driving.  Stupid me!  Again, I had no fucking clue our nice little apartment is so bad now. Dorm living with smelly old men has to be so much better.

You know, it must be awful to have all that money to blow on drugs, booze & smokes, whenever you want.  I never should have complained about the meds I get even though they don’t come close to touching my pain. It has to be a struggle for you to be able to order out food night after night.  You are right; I should be happy to pay up to 16hrs of my pay to get a decent meal from Commissary.

Well, Babe, I should end it here so I can lock my self down so some ass can count me.  It must be difficult for you to self-impose when you come & go!

– Love, Bob (the Husband you no longer want anything to do with)

– Bob Wire

Maine Correctional Center for men in Windham

I’m currently incarcerated at the Windham Maine Correctional Center, doing 17 months for violating probation on a conviction of OUI which occurred in 2004. I suffer from a mental illness, addiction and residuals from a traumatic brain injury. Here’s my groove on Corrections in the State of Maine:

While Incarcerated at Kennebec County Correctional Facility in January of 2009, I pulled one of my best friends from a shower where he had committed suicide by hanging. Arthur Brian Traweek was a co-founder of the Holistic Recovery Project, and suffered from a mental illness. We were both successful graduates of the Kennebec county Co-Occurring Disorders Court Program.

Brian was only serving a 6 month sentence, but he’d been threatening suicide since his incarceration in November. While hanging from a sheet in the shower, an officer, Herreva went through our block for a check and actuallyopened the door to the shower room & seemed to look inside. (Apparently not.) After we pulled Brian out of the shower and alerted the guards, it was perhaps 8 minutes before they began performing mouth to mouth resuscitation on Brian. Why? No one could find a “separator:” a 25 cent plastic piece which rests between a victims lips and a rescuers (to prevent infection?) When they arrived, they said that he’d had a pulse. 8 minutes. Now he’s dead.

Brian had tried to commit suicide before, but with his particular illness most successful suicides are actual accidental. Brian counted on the jail to protect him. (To read the full deposition on Brian’s wrongful death, written only hours after the tragedy – click here).

What happened? There was an official police investigation. Nothing came of it. Maine State Civil Liberties Union promised to look into it, but never did.

Carol Caruthers of NAMI did stage a vigil, a candlelight vigil for Brian, right outside our window at the jail. It was attended by people who’d never visited Brian while he was alive. Neither would any of the crowd be visiting any of us who survived. We were treated to a crowd of candle-holding strangers, drinking coffee (which we couldn’t) and smoking cigarettes (which we couldn’t.)

As a fellow inmate said: “Who are these people? Brian never got any visitors when he was alive! Coffee and cigarettes? Why don’t they strippers out there too & call it good?!”

This was while we all faced showering in the same shower my friend had just hung himself in.

I have to throw in a special shout out to Carol Caruthers, who organized the worthless vigil – oh, made the paper, though, didn’t it, Carol? Carol, the executive Director of NAMI, Maine – National Association of Mentally Ill? NAMI did nothing. NAMI didn’t give a fuck. We even asked Carol over & over again to help re-open the investigation! “Please, Carol, Please!! Help us!! Read NAMI’s own reports on those of us with mental illness & addiction, killing ourselves in jail! Help us Carol!”

Carol & NAMI do not care. But they did have that nifty candlelight vigil!

Fuck you, Carol. Fuck you, NAMI.

Brian’s dead.

How many more of us will die, Carol?

Just keep cashing your checks, love.

In the System’s defense – did they ask to become, as Sheriff Randal Liberty so aptly put it recently, “the number one provider of mental health services in Maine?” No, they did not. Jails are for what? Punishment. As Bo Lozoff says, jail is “intended to punish them, pure & simple – to punish, hurt, confuse, emasculate, and eventually break their contrary spirits.” Or, as a friend of mine from Texas said to me before my most recent arrest, “Y’all got only a little over a million people in your whole one-syllable state –  how can your prisons be over-crowded?”

Jails were never designed to treat those of us with serious mental illness or addiction, any more than they were meant to treat cancer or leprosy.

What can we do to change things?

What can you do? Please – get involved. Nothing happens from within, and I guarantee you – all of the powers that be know the truth about Brian’s death, but no one will do anything to change the status quo unless we the people demand it. Call your legislator, your governor – call Carol – at NAMI, Maine. Ask her what time it is. Join the Holistic Recovery Project at http://holistix.atspace.com/wholeness.htm – we have a mailing list there too.

They incarcerate the mentally ill & the addicted, then they release them – untreated – back into your neighborhood.

If the powers that be lived in your neighborhood, perhaps more of us would be sent to rehabs & psychiatric hospitals. Perhaps there’d be money for those programs.

Only you can make it happen.

Please do. Because I guarantee – right now – some twenty-something is sitting in a cell & he’s coming off of opiates & his mental illness is causing him to believe that there’s only one way out.

– Rage

Interesting Collect Calls I've Made From Prison by Rage

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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.

Only your vigilance on the outside can guarrentee that justice goes on on the inside.

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