Nov. 1, 2011

Haunted Memories

by Jeremy Pinson (author's profile)


Second Blog Post

My eyes have seen a lot inside the federal supermax. I arrived here in February and spent four months in the special housing unit known as Z-Unit. I sometimes wonder if Z, the last letter of the English alphabet, was chosen deliberately to signify the end, the final stop.

Z-Unit housed many tragic persons. One who was so desperate for hope was convinced if only he asserted the government had no jurisdiction over him he'd be free. Another who smeared his own feces on the walls of his cell in a cry for help. And yet many others whose wails of despair and screams of rage never ceased day or night.

Sadly, the man who asserted lack of jurisdiction is still here. And the man who smeared his feces did nothing but provide sick laughter to prison guards and administrators who truly couldn't have cared less. The man who cried and screamed I imagine still does so, even now.

I moved to the general population in June. This means I get a small television in my cell and that's about it. I have not forgotten the men of Z-Unit, and I am haunted by my memories of that miserable place.

A few days ago an elderly man died in his cell alone. The inmates near him claim he was never checked on by staff and, as his health failed, they reached out to staff to help him. Nothing was done and he died. In fairness, maybe he would have died no matter what staff did. But what bothers me is this: why did an elderly man need to be housed in a supermax prison? They claim this place is only for the "worst of the worst." Did a feeble old man withered by time fit that category?

The reason it matters is not because he, like I and others here, are viewed more like objects than human beings. My hopes, dreams and needs are irrelevant to staff. To them, I require a food trap three times a day; outdoor recreation in a cage not much larger than a dog kennel two hours a day, two times a week; and a review every six months where all decisions are final long before my hearing begins. My emotions; my needs or wants; my goals or ambitions; my ideas or beliefs; the things that make me human are of no interest to them.

Though some do, I do not hate them. They sadden and disappoint me, but why should they care? If society doesn't care, why would the bureaucrats who serve society? This is not rehabilitation, it is warehousing and indifference. But more importantly, how does punishment without rehabilitation equal justice?


Replies (9) Replies feed

stneotser Posted 12 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 12 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
Hello there. I'm replying to your second blog post. I've read them all in the past hour or two. I believe that fifty years from now America will look at this mass incarceration or punishment without rehabilitation as the great scandal of our day. I don't think the majority of Americans are ready to hear it yet, but as more and more of our loved ones and family members are affected by the "justice system" it will come to be a prime issue.

I encourage you to keep blogging and thank you for all you've written. The corporate run media does not do a good enough job of highlighting the incarceration explosion and we need to hear from people on the inside.

Please take care of yourself.

Nicki Posted 11 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
You've hit the nail on the head with this reply Jeremy. From an outsider looking in, the systems used to run the USA are quite terrifying from a global perspective. For us here in Australia, the specific examples America provides are so often used as 'what not to do', or 'this is what will happen if we travel down this path'. Sadly, as allies of your country we do also ride on your coat tails and assist the 'world's superpower' to defend... what exactly I'm not sure (one of my University lecturers articulates it as defending the world's opium industry) we lost 5 more Australian soldiers this week in Afganistan. The result of such extremist thinking is some of the things you describe in your post, where humanity is left out of the equation altogether. It's heartbreaking. We of course have our own problems here yet our system seems so much more fair (some say lenient) in terms of sentencing and common sense, I believe our social structure is much more affective and I'm glad it is that way. I for one will do all I can to ensure we don't go the way of the USA.

I really enjoy reading your blogs.

SAH Posted 11 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
I'd like to kindly and respectfully say that response made no sense to me. If EVER (hopefully not) you become the victim (by self or relation) you will know that people who commit murder have and visit their crime on the families of those these people need special attention? I'd like to see more resources used for the FAMILIES of murdered persons. That would be justice in my world. Instead of caring what an inmate pays for the "corrupt" canteen goodies - how about we rally around the father/motherless children who were robbed by a murderer? The aged, heart broken elderly parents. The children, brother, sisters, neices, nephews, friends, co-workers who were ALL affected by the INSANE act of a predator who decides to do God's job and end a life?

Nicki Posted 11 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
I'm not sure which response you were referring to here SAH but there is no suggestion of murder in this blog post, nor is that the crime Jeremy appears to be serving time for, however, I would like to respond if Jeremy doesn’t mind us ‘chatting’ on his blog responses.

Regardless of the crime, the sensible approach, and the one receiving the least attention in the ‘problem’ of crime, seems to me to be prevention. Or if you prefer, a bottom up rather than the top down approach that is currently used. I’ve taken the time to get to know a number of people who have committed the crime you refer to, within the last few years because I want to know ‘why’ and from there, think about what to do to prevent these crimes from happening where possible. There is often a common thread here. A blog written by Harlan Richards on this site (entitled ‘Life After Murder) articulates this quite well, where he states “those in prison for murder are for the most part normal people who went wrong at some point and ended up in a tragic situation”.

I would rather see the majority of resources re-directed away from imprisoning offenders, and into strengthening communities, families, and our relationships with one another, specifically single parent families. Strengthening & building resources from the ground level whilst offering genuine treatment amongst victims and offenders together; and genuine rehabilitation programs at the other end. It makes sense to me that treating the problem rather than simply locking people away would affect a positive outcome; certainly more positive than the current system. The social security system in the USA is appalling in comparison to here in Australia and as a result of that (I believe) we have a more secure population and a much lower crime rate. We also have other contributing factors such as strict gun laws & a much less competitive society where mateship & supporting one another is a part of who we are. There is no one solution to crime anywhere, but isn’t looking at prevention rather than a cure a good place to start building.

Nicki Posted 11 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
SAH, you also suggested rallying around "the father/motherless children...The children, brother, sisters, neices, nephews, friends...who were ALL affected..."

If you speak to anyone of these people sitting in prison for this crime and others, I would be surprised to find out if they themselves hadn't been affected by this same circle of hatred. So you're right, it is those people which need support, because when it's not forthcoming, the result is often - they become the next intake of offenders. It's this element, across the board, which needs to be addressed to affect real change for all.

SAH Posted 11 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
I see your point of view. I hope I didn't come off as rude or disrespectful because that was NOT my intent. Having been a victim of a horrific crime (personally and one I won't share here) - I get my feathers ruffled rather easily when convicted murderers complain about the cost of Skittles or the price of Raman noodles. My ENTIRE life was erased. I have a difficult time finding sympathy.

SAH Posted 11 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
Here is one more thought I'd like to share. I NEVER considered the penal system or mis-treatment of felons serving time. Just not something I ever considered because myself and my family were never involved in the system. Nobody was ever incarcerated. Then, 2000, the unthinkable and my world shattered. Since then, I've read a lot to try to understand what makes someone play God with lives and still sleep at night. I didn't play God and I need sleeping aids (12 years later). Maybe if these convicted murderers opened up more (instead of posting commisary lists) - people like me could understand. Thank you for the chance to post in a respectful and honest manner.

Nicki Posted 11 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
I am incredibly sorry for the loss you've experienced. I believe that in an attempt to move forward 'why' is the right question to ask here. I'm glad to hear you've read a lot on the subject and have come to this site where, with an open mind, you may learn a lot more. Have you ever considered contacting the perpetrator directly..? it is that person that will hold the answer to, why, in your specific situation. Their collection of individual life experiences hold the answers you need.

You said you never considered prisoners were being mis-treated but it is a common thread on this site isn't it. I would hope you keep an open mind, as difficult as that may be considering you're a victim of crime, and learn all you can from this great resource that, I think, we're all priviliged to have.


Nicki Posted 11 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
I would like to say to Jeremy; I don't understand why you're even there... runaway words... this makes absolutely no sense to me (keeping in mind I'm not an American); when the USA has always touted "Freedom of Speech" to the extreme! Or does this translate to "Freedom of speech as long as we like what you're saying". Were your charges a result of law changes after 9/11 where if the word 'terrorist' was utilised by the powers that be, laws no longer applied and 'lock em up' was the reaction (this is how I personally saw it, as an outsider looking in).

I wonder if these are the same laws my fellow Australian Julian Assange is being dogged by; although in all fairness, he wasn't simply offering information, he was hacking in to databases and sharing it internationally... But I have to ask... Has-the-world-gone-mad!?

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