Saturday, December 6, 2014

Scapular Part 3: As the Tyrants Roll

On the day before I am to receive the sanction for my dustier dust, I receive legal mail via regular mail call. It had already been opened (not in my presence which is against BOP rules regarding legal mail) and more importantly the contents except for a cover letter were missing. That's right... at this very critical time when my appeal was being submitted were people stealing my sensitive legal documents and strategies? So I go to the correction officer in charge and ask for help in locating, or at least logging-in the incident book that my legal mail is missing. He spins me to the case manager who spins me to nowhere with no results and no record of my missing legal mail. The case manager does this by saying she will be right back and just disappears to never return that night.

So the next morning I go to a counselor. Not my counselor because she is not in (she is never in except for a few days a week when she feels the urge to abuse a few select inmates). But I was probably better off without her. The counselor I go to knows the job and does not shirk his responsibilities. I give him the empty envelope and cover letter and explain that the rest of the contents were missing when I received the sliced open but reclosed with staples legal mail. He calls the mail room for answers. He states that he envelope is clearly marked Legal Mail in three spots. Then when the mail room disputes that fact I move him past that argument and on to the more important missing contents. He tells me that they said the envelope arrived empty and hangs up the phone. At that point I show him the paid postmark for $5.84 and explain that it does not cost that amount to send an empty envelope with a cover letter. With that he shrugs his shoulders in bewilderment and bids me to see the assistant warden. So I pursue my quest for my legal documents.

Upon my approach to the assistant warden I run into my unit manager who until that point I had known to be a fair man with a fair amount of power. In appearance I can only describe him as such: if the United States had given Idi Amin amnesty and refuge for his crimes against humanity (as they did so many Nazis) this unit manager could have been one of his sons. Now I don't mean to imply that he was in any way a ruthless dictator as Idi Amin had been. He just happens to look like him and he just happens to have a mean streak. So anyway back to the story... I again explain my entire story of missing legal mail to Idi. After examining the envelope and declaring it legal mail he then says that he can give my lawyers permission to fax over the documents. I respectfully decline his offer and continued to look for the assistant warden.

When I approach the assistant warden and yet again relay the story of my missing legal mail he beckons the captain to join in on the problem. The captain declines so the assistant warden then calls for Idi to join in after Idi states that it is clearly labeled as legal mail. I explain that my main priority is the missing legal papers and whether it is legal mail or not is secondary. The assistant warden states that maybe the papers were never sent by my lawyer and I again refer to the postal amount that was on the envelope $5.84.

At that point the assistant warden states that they should involve of all people Alpha Bitch (Remember her? The one who demanded I remove my scapular?) who I then learn was in the not too distant past in charge of the mail room! Aw shit! Now look at how the world revolved at Butner! I had to ask help of the Alpha Bitch? I couldn't bring myself to look at her let alone again put myself at her mercy so I retreated a step or two into the background and listened from a distance all the while my wheels were spinning: What would they do? What would she say? Would they ever find my missing legal work? Could Alpha bitch be behind all of my trouble with the mail room? The late return of my personal property, my mail at other units, and my missing legal mail? Was she still mad that I would not cave in to her illegal order to remove my scapular? I just didn't know. So after a few minutes of discussion with the Alpha Bitch stating that the envelope was in fact marked legal mail, Idi came over to where I was standing and asked if he could hold the envelope while he further checked into my missing legal mail. I said yes and left. Then I walked up the hill to my unit as it was almost time to receive my sentence for the dust and I saw the crowd of my administrators joined by the Warden.

I washed up and got ready to argue my dust case one more time. As I took my place in line I noticed that myself and the four other Italians, the white guy, and the mixed guy were all there but the two Latinos were gone. Now I for one felt that no one should have gotten a shot for such nonsense so when the two Latinos turned up missing from our line I was happy that they would not get an unjust punishment. I mean I'm sure the decision to excuse them was fair and impartial based on some strong facts like Italian olive oil vs Spanish olive oil, or blood oranges vs mangoes. It certainly can't be based on our ancestral origins. Right? I know that our counselor would be equal and fair and not bias in any way. Well I would hope so. Yeah right!

So the time has come and I enter the inner office and I am greeted by my case manger and Idi my unit manager. Before I sit down Idi asks if I am the same person that just gave him the empty legal mail. I state that I am and think to myself: this guy is my unit manager for six months, we have had a fair amount of interaction, not a half hour ago I spent twenty minutes with him going over a serious problem and he still wasn't sure if it was me. So I further think to myself that it must be true like my counselor told me on many occasions, "All Eyetalians (Italians) look alike." But then I decide that I do not look like Bobby DeNiro (his loss) and I was correct to consider her comment a slur.

So I explain my story about the dust and I am excused for a brief moment. When I am brought back into the room I am told that I was not going to like the punishment and that because the warden had been riding the counselor about the unit's cleanliness he was going to make an example of me and the rest. She screwed up and we are going to be the example. Nice, real nice. So he gave me and all of us six months of no telephone privileges. That's right. During Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year we would not be able to talk to our families. More religious bias? Never in almost seven years of being in prison have I seen such severe punishment for such a weak offense.

Inmates who make phone threats or are caught using other inmates' phone accounts to get more minutes rarely got their phone privileges suspended for more than three months. Here we got an entire six months for unidentifiable dust. Crazy, right? Well naturally I appealed the phone punishment. At my last team meeting with my counselor and my case manager they baited me by stating that they wanted me to stay in touch with my family. I bit my lip and left. Now everyone of us has an important reason to reach their loved ones: young children, old parents, sickness, lonely sweethearts. In my case it is all one of the above coupled with the fact that my elderly mother is nearly blind so she can't read or write a letter, or read an email if she was computer savvy and when I hear she wonders why I haven't called it's troubling to say the least.

In the meantime a friend of mine from New York comes to visit and they do not let him in because he can't make it through the metal detector. He made it through the metal detectors in two airports but not the one at Butner. Please! Just more petty bullshit from the Alpha Bitch and her cronies here at BOP Butner.

Now back to the missing legal mail. After the long weekend with my legal envelope Idi puts me in touch with the new boss at the R&D (The Mail Room) who after another few days gives me no answers and has none. I ask if I can have their version of what happened in writing and I am told absolutely not.

So stay tuned for the updates. There are so many questions: Will I find my legal mail or will the Post Master General get involved in finding my United States Legal Mail? Should the American Civil Liberties Union sue the BOP for Religious persecution of its inmates? Will I win my dust appeal and be able to talk to my family for what is left of the holidays? Are these independent acts or is Alpha Bitch joined with the mail room, Wicked and Idi to make my life hell? Will the Alpha Bitch continue to retaliate against me for what I don't know? Will Wicked and Idi continue to harass me? Will the BOP retaliate for me blowing up their spot by sending me further from my home region, or by sending me for diesel therapy on a bus that no one can find for a few months so that I have no contact with the outside world, no family, no friends, press or lawyers?

They took my religious freedom, my legal safeguards, and now will they try to take my right to free speech? Will the BOP fix their own problems and protect the constitutional and religious rights of their inmates or will they wait for an outside agency to set things straight? All of these questions remain unanswered for now but will be resolved soon. So stay tuned to As the Tyrants Roll and you'll know the answers when I do. As the Tyrants Roll is Sponsored by the American Constitution.

Stronger today than Yesterday.


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