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Marc’s Prison Newsletter #2 (Blog #25)

submitted by on February 12, 2011
January 21st – 28th 2011: I just finished reading a 450-page adventure novel, "Pirates of Savannah" written by a fellow Libertarian. It’s a fun read about the early settlers of the area along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, taking place in the years 1720-1740. It’s a story of struggle by ordinary (but heroic & brave) folk (all prisoners from English jails released to go to the “New World”) vs. the King of England and villainous lackeys, referred to as “lobsterbacks”, “Red-coats” and other harsher terms.

In the course of this adventure tale the reader learns much of the history of coastal areas apparently known in Georgia and South Carolina as the “Low Counties”. It’s a self-published work in a handsome binding, released on December 10th. Tarrin Lupo, the author, sent me a copy on the day of its release. Last week I cracked it open and was intrigued enough to enthusiastically finish it in four days. Although the author/publisher clearly used a spell-check, I found over 100 words spelled incorrectly, or words missing, or words present that should have been deleted. In total there were 172 corrections or revisions I found that I, as a professional editor in my former life, needed to be done for this book to be considered print-ready. I realized the phenomenon of the self-published book era is upon us. A month ago, I received from Amazon.com a copy of a book called The United States Jailhouse Lawyers Manual by Esteban Garcia. Although it’s the best little book on describing the application of "Writs of Habeas Corpus", within the first fifty pages I found 164 spelling errors, many egregious mistakes beyond the kind I found in "Pirates of Savannah" by Tarrin Lupo.

In Lupo’s book, spellcheck still did not detect over 100 errors, because words that were spelled correctly in the proper context were the wrong words in the context used. I found “idol” instead of “idle”, “where” instead of “were”, “scared” instead of “scarred”, “scrapes” instead of “scraps” and so on.

In Garcia’s book, $20.00 on Amazon.com, its clear no spell-check was used, as errors found include “doctrime”, “disrrict”, “ptrscribed”, “prtition”, “chage”, “Teaxas”, “dome”, “wrot”, “shouls”, “in”; the latter eight examples all come from one page (pg 13) and ought to appear as “prescribed”, “petition”, “charge”, “Texas”, “done”, “writ”, “should” and “on”.

Both are excellent books whose credibility is undermined by absence of an editor. This is to inform all would-be self-publishers I am available and I am cheap, to edit your book BEFORE you publish it. I have offered up my edited copy of both books to their respective authors at no charge, as I hope they will publish new editions with corrections and improvements made.

In addition to my volunteer editing, I finished Keith Richard’s book “Life”. Not a single spelling error found in over 500 pages. (I know what you may be thinking, “If he doesn’t find any errors, he misses the whole landscape…”). Since I grew up hearing my older brother Steve play “(Hey, Hey, He, He) Get Off My Cloud” several hundred times in early 1965, I’ve been a Rolling Stones fan. This book sure comes across in Keith’s ‘voice’, and the man has ingested drugs-o-plenty and is candid and unapologetic about his previous passion for mind-altering substances. ‘Keef’ survived a decade of serious drug-abuse but the problem I find with these rockers who give up on hard drug abuse or self-destructive use, is though they can perform their music well sober, their creative productivity seems to end. I refer to the Stones, whose last great albums were several from “Let It Bleed” to “Some Girls” 8 years later (1967 – 1975), or Aerosmith, who since they have been sober (starting around 1983) have had all of two hits in nearly 30 years vs. about 15 hits from 173 to 1981 when they were admittedly drug-addicted.

Drug abusers seem to create incredible music, though maybe it’s a combination of drug excess and youth. I’d say the same creative characteristic is true of Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and I’m sure you, my dear correspondent, can think of your own examples. I mean, Keith, Mick, Bowie, Tyler, Perry, Henley, and Walsh can sure PLAY their old songs that they wrote & created completely blotto on some dangerous substance really well, but when was the last time they WROTE a great song? Let add Fleetwood Mac to that list. Next up: “Doom Let Loose”, the history of Black Sabbath. Ozzy hasn’t written a great new song since “Crazy Train” thirty years ago, but he still abuses alcohol. After that, a history of Johnny Cash. Yikes, every great musician worth having an autobiography or biography was a notorious drug abuser. I read “Hammer of the Gods” (Led Zeppelin story), and am planning to read “‘Scuze Me While I Kiss the Sky”, the Jimi Hendrix story.

I started my serious study of speaking and writing Spanish. I’m using this wonderful book called Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish. I’m writing every lesson in notes, and saying the words aloud and getting feedback on my pronunciation from the 60 Hispanics in my dorm. Today I worked 5 hours on Spanish and that kind of concerted uninterrupted effort is productive. I’m feeling more comfortable attempting some Spanish phrases, but I’ve only just begun to comprehend the basics. But I’m going to try to study Spanish daily. I’m inspired by the approach this book takes. I received this book from my great friend Dana Larsen, who has sent me dozens of books over my 45 weeks in jail so far. Dana is even so considerate as to send books to other inmates who are in need of them. An acquaintance I made in Sea-Tac, who was the only other inmate from there that ended up here with me, named My, a Vietnamese gentleman, needed and English-Vietnamese dictionary, and asked me if the library could order one. Well, that’s never going to happen, and My is only one of two Vietnamese here, and speaks very little English but has decided its time to become bilingual so he is beginning to study English; at 37 years of age, it’s overdue. My is such an excellent fellow and I put it to Dana that he could really help my friend My out, and lo, My thanked me today for his dictionary that arrived yesterday in the mail here. He was elated and very optimistic about learning English.

There are improvements here at D. Ray James, but it’s fitful progress. There are now 10 stationary exercise bicycles in the basketball court areas. The inmates are using them. But they are cheaper home-use models meant, I think, for an hour or two use a day, not the kind of frequent use they are likely to see here. In the basketball court outside, they can only be used 7 hours a day. If we had then in our units, they could be used 18 hours a day (6:00am rise to Midnight bed). Many more inmates could make use of them. With over 1,400 inmates now, to rise to 2,500+ by summer, each pod needs 2 stationary bicycles of a heavy-duty quality; that is about 40 bicycles of better quality we require. The bicycles were put out Monday and 7 of the 10 are out of order already. [Note by Jodie Emery: Marc later spent time learning how to fix the bikes, finding a fault in the parts that has to be repeatedly attended to.]

The mailroom procedures have been made rational, conforming to Bureau of Prison policy and procedure, so my complaint about the mailroom has abruptly ended, as I am able to receive books and magazines without complications. I only hope that letters sent to me will not be returned to sender, as has been the case for about 25 letters sent to me thus far.

<a href="http://freemarc.ca/group/freemarcca/send-mail-and-money-marc-emery-us-federal-prison">Send Marc Mail!</a>

Dr. Davis, head of Education and Library Services, has been cheerful and helpful, though my official position at the library has yet to be printed up and instituted. I remain very busy with paralegal work and distributing books and magazines to my fellow inmates outside of the library aegis, so it is still fine.

Some things haven’t changed. The aggravating false fire-alarm went off six times yesterday, bringing the number of times it has gone off when I’m in the pod to 36. It has gone off over 85 times in Q pod since D. Ray James Correctional Facility (DRJCF) opened October 7th, 2010. Outside in the yard today I heard the fire alarm go off in R pod, so it’s a very annoying and insidious problem here. (Marc Note: Since written on Jan. 19th, on Thurs. Jan. 20th, it went off 4 more times, on Fri. Jan. 21st, 3 more times.)

While Jodie visited me last weekend for a wonderful three days, they had the halls outside the visitation room painted with pungent oil-based paint, giving some visitors and inmates a headache as the smell at times was overpowering. I would have thought that such noxious smells could have been avoided during visitation, especially since visitors have to travel far to get here and are a bit tired and weak from such a long trip – giving them hours of toxic fumes seems like something that could have been avoided. Oh well, DRJCF won’t be improved overnight. That much is certain! The visitation staff were extremely helpful and polite though, being very courteous. However, at the library on Thursday, January 20th evening, they had just painted the hallway and I developed a pounding headache. We are not allowed out, only on the hour, so by the time I got back to my unit at 9:15pm, I was very ill and threw-up and had the pounding headache for 2 hours – Toxic Fumes!

My friend Guy has typed up his adventures in bureaucracy at the end of this letter. It outlines in painful detail how some aspects of life here can be so exasperating. In Guy’s case, it is about his months’ long struggle to obtain a pair of orthopedic tennis shoes. I asked Guy to tell the tale because he recounts it so calm and deadpan.

My hair was getting longish. I wanted to get a trim, and what I discovered one night two weeks ago is that there is no Mexican/Hispanic phrase for “just a trim”. So I ended up with the shortest haircut I’ve gotten since I was 5 years old and my Dad gave what was in those days called the dreaded “buzz cut”. A whole generation of mine fought for the right to have long rebellious lengths of hair only to see kids and adults since the 1980’s embrace the very same “buzz cut” style I loathed in my youth. I got scalped is what I got, two weeks ago! Less than half an inch of hair was left! Ulp. Looked very strange to me when I looked in the mirror! Plus I have this ganglia on the left side of my neck below the nape of my hairline that looks like a serious tumor, but it isn’t. It’s just a buildup of sebaceous skin, a bump that looks freaky if you haven’t noticed it on my neck before. It’s been there for 25 years or so now, doesn’t hurt and doesn’t impact on my health so I’ve never had it removed. But now its visible and probably 40 or so inmates have said in worried tones, “Marc, there is a big lump on your neck, you should get that looked at.” I look completely different.

While looking on the commissary kiosk in our Q-2 pod, I saw that inmate photo tickets are finally available so I bought three for $1.00 each. That means on the next US holiday, an inmate photographer will be taking photos. I think Presidents’ Day is February 12th, which means that photos in the visitation room will be taken, which is Saturday, and Sunday February 13th is my birthday and Jodie visits me both those days so we’ll get our photo taken together, so that is 23 days away from today so my hair won’t look so starkly short. [Note from Jodie Emery: Photos are now available on every visiting weekend, so we got pictures taken on January 29th and will get them every weekend we visit.]

Last week, my transfer application was FedEx’d to the US Department of Justice. So now it is done and I wait for the verdict from the DOJ: approved or rejected. If approved by the USA, it then goes to the Canadian Minister of Public Safety for his approval or rejection. If approved by Canada, I get moved into the Canadian Corrections system within 3 months of the approval. To send a letter on my behalf to encourage my transfer home, go to www.FreeMarc.ca for the address to write your letter. Mine was the first transfer application done by the staff here at DRJCF, so I am grateful to my Washington, DC lawyer Sylvia Royce, and the supporters who I believe successfully cajoled the process along and raised money to hire Sylvia.

When I return to civilian life in Canada, one thing will be different; I’ve developed a taste for spicy food. To add flavor to the very bland food given to us, I use jalapeno peppers, minced garlic, half a bottle of hot-sauce, generous shakings of Mrs. Dash, mayonnaise, and olive oil. All these are available from the inmate store (commissary). I’ve suggested vegetables to be sold in the commissary, as is done at Taft and Moshannon Valley Prisons – both private prisons, the latter run by GEO Group like D. Ray James here – but there is resistance. I tried to emphasize that selling vegetables is keeping the inmates in good health (less demand on the doctor/medical staff) and would diminish the demand for vegetables on the “Black Market”. Some kitchen workers are known to steal the occasional vegetable and sell them to other inmates. Having these items sold in the Commissary, I put forward to the Warden, would take away the Black Market.

Shockingly, on Friday, January 21st, I enjoyed the best lunch ever served in the dining hall here. The baked beans had fresh tomato and jalapeños, the baked whole breast chicken was excellent, the salad had lots of carrot in it, green beans, a nice fresh bun, even the rice was special! I told the Head of Food Services “Great Job!! Best food here EVER!”

Unfortunately, because fresh fruit and vegetables are otherwise non-existent, I eat meat and fish that I can buy from commissary. I am looking forward to eating vegetarian when I get back to civilian life. Jodie, on her visits here, finds it difficult to get tasty and healthy vegetarian food in this part of the world. They like meat with everything, she finds, so she usually has salads (without the chicken that’s always included), and side orders of vegetables. I’m looking forward to making a spicy lasagna when I get home, with fresh spinach, ricotta cheese, and spicy tomato sauce. Oh, and to have a salad with broccoli, tomatoes, carrots tossed in a proper dressing. What I would give for a mango, a peach! I used to conk open a fresh coconut every week or so when I lived at home. Oh, nostalgia and excitement for the days back with my wife ahead!

My beloved hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks, are having their greatest season ever, and I haven’t seen a complete game this season (I saw three periods of one game at Sea-Tac only to have it go into overtime and then it was Lockdown). The Canucks are first place in the NHL, both conferences, if they can hold that premier position, it will be the first time the Canucks have won the President’s Trophy (first place over-all). Go, Canucks, Go! And save some glory for when I get back to (no longer GM Place) Rogers Arena, a few blocks from my home in downtown Vancouver!

Jumping topics, I wanted to say that Jodie’s visit Sunday, Jan. 16th, was notable because the Warden, Mr. Booker, came in the visitation room and introduced himself to Jodie and sat down with us exclusively, in a kind of gesture of recognition and interest. This is a courtesy on his part because he is well informed of my criticisms and complaints that find their way into the public discourse (internet & newspapers), as well as I rarely hesitate to tell him my complaints and concerns when I see him at chow hall.

One of the good things about the structure of D. Ray James is that most management staff can be found outside of the dining hall for 1 hour between 11:00 am and Noon, or Noon to 1:00 pm. On these occasions, Monday to Friday, any inmate can voice a concern or make an inquiry to the person responsible. Often I and other inmates are cynically inclined to believe nothing changes if you do voice your concerns, but I’m a believer in the adage the “squeaky wheel gets the grease”. A concern I am bringing up frequently is that Canadians cannot easily put money in a Canadian inmate’s commissary account here, not by Western Union or money orders, and not with a Canadian credit card, all of which are available if the Canadian is in the BOP system (like I was at SEA-TAC FDC). Only an American Visa or MasterCard is acceptable, which Canadians can only get by driving the USA and buying a pre-paid Visa or MasterCard at Wal-Mart. Angelo’s wife had to do this, drive from Bolton, Ontario to Niagara Falls, New York to buy $500.00 worth of pre-paid credit cards. The Canadian, Harris, had his wife go to Plattsburg, New York for the same reason.

The person responsible here for inmate money matters insists that by the end of this month, people will be able to send money to Canadians here via Western Union, but I have heard this since I arrived here 65 days ago. Same with the imminent release of Mp3 players; I heard that announced when I arrived here, but still no Mp3 players for sale (songs will cost $1.50 each to download). I also agitate for Corrlinks (inmate email) which all American inmates in the Federal Prison system have unlimited access to. No commitment to Corrlinks either.

One device that I’m hoping to convince the Warden to permit is the Kindle electronic book reading device. This would greatly save space for an inmate, allow us to read in the dark, poses no threat to the security of the prison and would further the education of any inmate. Since electronic devices like Sony portable radios and Secure System Mp3 players are now permitted at D. Ray James, I cannot see why Kindle book readers would not be allowed. I will let you know how that conversation goes. DRJ could even sell Kindles in the Keefe Commissary.

There is tension brewing in the units. Each unit houses up to 64 to 80 men. The 80 are in 40 2-man cells. Part of D. Ray James has 2-man cells now being used, just not the part I’m in. So each unit has only two televisions for all these men. In each range/unit, there are 55-60 Hispanics, and 3-20 English speakers. The Spanish speakers have one TV dedicated to them, and one TV is dedicated to English speakers. What is happening in numerous units is the Hispanics, greatly out-numbering the English speakers, are attempting to wrest control of the English TV. Today it reached violence in R-5 Pod, where an English speaker was intimidated, harassed, then confronted over his resistance to the Hispanics taking control of the TV. The answer is simple, but D. Ray James management resists the obvious: add another TV to each range, or put all the English speakers, number no more than two units (say, 120 – 140) in their own units, which is what all the inmates, including myself, would prefer. I would definitely rather be with all Canadians, Caribbeans, and others who speak English. Then we could converse, have 2 televisions in English, have all our notices on boards in English (instead of wading through Spanish Language notices), and our interaction in English.

Many Hispanics belong to gangs. None of the English speakers belong to gangs. The Hispanics tend to be nosier and less respectful of the idea of “quiet-time”, and if the Hispanics were all together, it would double the number of televisions in Spanish, which they would certainly welcome. I explained this to the Bureau of Prisons monitor here and she agreed it was a good idea, but she said “How would we look if African Americans were segregated from Caucasians, and the Hispanics, etc.” I pointed out that the difference is this is a situation created by D. Ray James, either add more TVs, or put people with their own language groups. The English speakers would be a mix of blacks, whites, and Hispanics whose native language is English. Other prisons have 3 to 4 televisions; it is only D. Ray James that limits a unit to two TVs. In Canada, at North Fraser, each cell has a TV, a cheap flat-screen that costs $150.00 each, paid for by the inmates from the inmates’ trust funds. The inmate trust funds here could easily cover the cost of additional microwaves, televisions, exercise equipment; all things that urgently needed! I should note that I never watch TV, so I pay no attention to what is on, and I have no objection to the TVs both being Spanish, but there is tension being created unnecessarily because of it. These situations that occur here, where the obvious answer seems unlikely to be implemented, is what makes life here unnecessary and miserable.

Still no progress on the fellow I mentioned in Newsletter #1 in getting dentures GEO lost 7 months ago replaced. Still no progress for the Laotian guy who has been trying for months to get married here and has done everything required by D. Ray James’ own procedure statements. (Update by Marc: word is the Laotian man has been given the ‘green light’ to get married at DRJCF! We’ll see if it happens, as rumours abound here.) I am still waiting for my property from Sea-Tac FDC to arrive, which is supposed to follow an inmate within 30 days. 65 days later and it has not arrived. I have written Sea-Tac advising them I am here. My radio, headphones, booklight, books, food (no doubt gone bad after this length of storage), correspondence, my political writings, my autobiography, my 2011 Canadian election guide, are all in this property which I believe is sitting at Taft Correctional in California, where I was designated to until last-minute I was directed to this remote ‘facility’. Most importantly, all my photographs of Jodie (including her sexy photos!) are in my photo albums in my two property boxes. [Note from Jodie: Marc’s property from Sea-Tac was indeed sent to the Taft prison in California, where Marc was supposed to be imprisoned, and has supposedly been shipped out after our lawyer contacted them asking for it to be forwarded to Georgia.]

Jumping topics again; I just received two books I’m about to read. One is called “Jailhouse Lawyers” by Mumia Abu Jamal, a man who has been on death row for decades, and work of fiction called “Cutting For Stone” by Abraham Verghese, a Booker Prize nominee for best work of fiction. Mumia’s book is about the jailhouse lawyers over the past 20 years whose efforts gave prisoners the few rights they actually have inside jail. “Cutting For Stone” is about conjoined twins who are separated and what epiphanies and tragedies befall them and the world around them. These books were sent courtesy of two supporters.

As of January 20th, I’ve put in 312 days on this 1,825 -day (5-year) sentence. With 235 days good time credit (provided I don’t lose all or part of that with disciplinary reprimands), that is 547 days off 1,825 – leaving 1,278 days to go if I serve every day of it in the US Federal Prison system. If I get transferred to Canada, I qualify for parole 6 months after I return to the Canadian Correctional system. The earliest I could be transferred back to Canada is this summer, if all goes well, so January or February 2012 is (optimistically) my hoped-for parole release date. The remainder of my time up to early 2015 would be on parole. If I serve the time in a US Federal prison, my release date (with good time) is July 7th, 2014.

You can write me or send books or magazines to me at:

Marc Scott Emery #40252-086 Unit Q Pod 2
D Ray James Correctional Institution
PO Box 2000
Folkston, GA
31537
USA

If you want to put money on my Commissary account, you can do this using an American credit card, at www.accesscorrections.com – register at the website, look me up at D. Ray James Correctional Facility using my name and prisoner # 40252-086, and that helps me pay for the photocopies for these newsletters that I send out in the mail. It also helps cover the large cost of postage I go through mailing them out.

Thank you for your continued support and activism to help end this drug war. I am only one of countless individuals locked up for being involved with the amazing cannabis plant, and I hope that by bringing attention to what a seed seller from Canada endures will motivate people to do everything possible to stop the continuation of this insane and unjust campaign of persecution. Don’t just wait for change to happen, make it happen yourself!

<i>"It’s possible that one person can undo the evil of several thousand people. You should never underestimate your power." – Marc Emery</i>

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<u>“It’s Just a Damn Pair of Tennis Shoes!”</u>

By Guy Atkins, D. Ray James Correctional

I started this painful story with my unfortunate arrival at D. Ray James on October 13th, 2010. After going through the initial arrival process (ouch) I was finally put in a unit with 62 inmates, ALL but one spoke no English. (As you’ve heard, this concentration camp is designed “mainly for the Devil’s rejects”; that’s how it was put to me by an un-named officer.) Well, after approximately a month of being here, D. Ray James decided that inmates can have their own tennis shoes IF you had them when you got here.

So I excitedly ran (yes, I did run) to R&D to retrieve my tennis shoes. I was met by a horrid woman, who first looked at me weird because I was talking English, not just any English, but the Queen’s English (I am British). She actually asked me to repeat myself more than once – which I did. Anyway, after checking my tame tag… twice… and checking the spelling… also twice (‘Guy Atkins’ what a difficult name…?) she disappeared to the property room and returned with a brown paper bag containing my tennis shoes. My tennis shoes are made by LaCoste. They are all white with exception of a red stripe no bigger than inch by two. She said told me that I cannot have them because they are red. I asked her to repeat herself, and sure enough, this “White Tennis Shoe” was being called “RED”. No shoes or items of clothing here can be any color. Only white, grey and black are allowed. So because it was being called “RED”, it is a gang color, which makes it contraband for me to have it. I tried to reason with her that the entire shoe is white NOT red, but I soon realized that I was talking to myself, so humble as I am, I walked away.

The following day I went to see the doctor. This couldn’t happen, because unless you are dying or dead, GEO Group policy will not allow  you to see at doctor. You have to first put in a request to see the doctor, and a few days later you’re met in the medical department by a nurse “with a smile”. So I told the nurse that due my car accident 6 years ago I usually wear orthopedic shoes. I told her I needed my shoes, as otherwise I will start getting back pains, etc. She said she understood, but still insisted on taking my temperature, blood pressure, and pulse (yes, I still had one). She told me she’d go through my records and get approval from the doctor that I should have my shoes.

As a week went by, I caught up with a staff member in medical by the name of Mr. Friday, who in front of me confirmed with the doctor that I am allowed my tennis shoes. He got on the phone and advised Major Gallindo to take care of my issue as per doctor’s instructions. Mr. Gallindo gave his “word” over the phone that it will be dealt with on that same day.

Another week went by and I approached Mr. Gallindo and asked him “Sir, I’m Atkins, Guy; have you had a chance to take care of my tennis shoe issue yet?”. I thought there was a plane crash behind me as I could swear he was looking right past me. Anyway, he replied “No”, and that he’d get around to it the following day. This told me his “word” is obviously no good to his fellow colleagues, so him telling me, an inmate, I couldn’t really believe it on face value.

The following day I returned to the doctor, this time due to a terrible flu which turned out to be pneumonia. The doctor actually remembered me and asked if I had gotten my shoes. I explained what happened and he made a call to Mr. Friday again, Mr. Friday then told him “he’s on it”, (I’m not quite sure what he was actually “on”). Later that day I saw Mr. Friday in the dinner hall. He asked me if I had gotten my shoes. I just had to smile. “No, Sir. I obviously haven’t.” He again called Major Gallindo and asked “what’s going on?” The message I got back was it will be dealt with today. Yet another week went past and nothing.

Finally I caught up with someone from “security” who told me that because of the slight “red” on my shoe, it’s considered a “gang color”. I tried to reason with this gentleman saying I understand that in certain places the color “red” symbolizes “Bloods” and “blue” for “Crips”, yet all our prison-issued jackets and platform shoes are “blue” so technically aren’t we all “Crips”? Needless to say he had no answer for me. I took it upon myself to return to R&D and ask an officer if I’m allowed to have the same tennis shoe sent in for me in all white. “Yes” he replied, as long as it’s ordered direct from the retailer and is sent directly here. So I ran (yes, I’m still running everywhere, as I’m scared if I walk and take my time the rule may change be the time I reach my destination). Ok, so I call one my girlfriends and ask her to go online and send me some all white tennis shoes, by LaCoste of course. So after a few days go by she confirms that she actually sent me two pairs (she must love me!) and that they should be at the facility in 3 days.

Four days later I turned up at R&D with a big smile on my face ready to collect my shoes which, according to the tracking number, had been delivered. I saw two boxes sitting on the table from LaCoste (Yay!). They were opened up in front of me and first shoe has a little green on the alligator logo. The logo is no more than an inch. “Sorry Atkins. They’re GREEN. You can’t have them.” “GREEN?” I replied. “The whole entire shoe is pure white.” I could tell I wasn’t going to win this argument, so I let it go.

We opened the second box and this was ALL WHITE, no logo of any color, just pure white. “Err, sorry Atkins, you can’t have these either.” I almost died (ok, slight exaggeration) but I was dumbfounded. “You can’t have them because they are over $100.00 as per the receipt here,” showing me the cost (it was $139.00). My smile again was taken away from me, what I have so far learned is that there is no point in arguing with the system. Just be smarter and find another way.

Now I had to go back to the unit, call my girlfriend and tell her what happened. Before I could say anything I further learned that she had just purchased some “all white” Louis Vuittons for me that I’d love. (Err, slow down honey!) I told her the story of what had unfolded. She agreed that it is a dumb silly rule, long(er) story short, she AGAIN purchased some ALL WHITE tennis shoes from LaCoste (of course), and under $100.00. Another 3 days later I went to the mailroom to check if my shoes had arrived yet. (Mailroom gets them first, then they give them to R&D.) “No Atkins they’re not here, and the rule NOW is you need to get a specific form that allows you to order shoes from outside.” It’s actually called a BP331 “Authorization to Receive Property.” I explained that I never required one last week. “That was last week. This is the new rule.”

Okay, so I went running (in case you haven’t noticed I am running a lot) to the unit in search of a BP331. The first 3 officers I asked looked at me like I was an alien asking for their mother’s date of birth. I finally came across Mr. Gray (a nice gentleman) who said he has one in his office. So I got the form, it’s pretty basic, I needed to put the name and address of the actual company shipping the shoes, the amount, and it has to be signed by an “Authorizing Officer,” so I managed to bump into case manager Mr. Maynor (another nice gentleman – very helpful) and he was kind enough to sign it, so I went back to the mailroom but it was closed. I left it there for them to attend to the following morning.

The following day it was confirmed that they received my package, but now it was questioned “who authorized” my paperwork? “Mr. Maynor” I replied. Well now I was being told that it HAS to be the Warden who can authorize it. So I pulled my copy of the signed BP331 and asked where does it say “to be signed by the Warden”. Nowhere exactly. It says “authorizing officer.” I could see where this was going, so I calmly walked out and went to medical yet again. I could not see the doctor until I put in a request, it just so happened that coincidentally I was on a callout the following to day to see the doctor about my “follow up” from my pneumonia. I saw the same doctor, who asked me if I got my shoes yet. “No sir” I replied. I gave him the latest events, he shook his head and signed a request form clearly stating “Give this inmate his Shoes”. That has been forwarded to the relevant parties. Today, January 20th, 2011, I approached a member of staff and asked if I can collect my shoes. I was told that she thinks I need the “other” doctor to sign my authorization too.

With this latest “smash on my face” I had to take a walk and, come on, have a bitchfit with this vintage 1960’s typewriter I’m typing on. I’m going to give this to my good friend Marc, who I’m sure will add it to his excellent newsletters! With me luck people. After all, it is just a pair of damn tennis shoes!

After I had my bitchfit moment and let myself calm down, I went to R&D today at 1pm. Upon my arrival a nice officer, Mr. Luggers, asked me to wait in one of the holding cells as it wasn’t quite 1:00pm yet. They only deal with R&D and mailroom issues between 1:00pm and 2:00pm sharp. Upon it being 1:00pm, I was asked to approach the desk. “Can I help you?” is what the officer said. “Yes sir, I’m here to collect my tennis shoes.”

He asked me to wait and went to the property room, retrieved my box and brought it out and started doing the paperwork to give me the shoes. I couldn’t believe it. I was finally going to get my shoes! Just then, a woman staffer started making comments saying that I shouldn’t be allowed to get them as “they are not orthopedic tennis shoes.” “And how would you know this Maam?” I asked in my broken voice. “Because I went online and looked it up, and they are not orthopedic.” I was speechless. No, really, just speechless. In fact, my mouth was probably left open but I found no words in my voice to push forward. “Maam, are you saying that you took the time to go online especially to check on my ever-so-fly-looking kicks, to check if they are orthopedic or not?” Wow, as she went on she was told (yes, told) by Mr. Luggers that as per the “procedure statement” that he just read and went over, I did actually follow all the procedures and that I should be given my shoes. I could feel the heat steaming from her head. Before it got any further I picked up my kicks, signed my paperwork and headed out. So, yes, I finally got my shoes.

Just so that you know, this stated on approximately November 15th, 2010. Today is January 20th, 2011. Yes, it took awhile, but thank God I finally have my ALL WHITE tennis shoes! Later on this day while I was walking towards the chow hall, I walked past the same lady who told me I “got the wrong doctor to sign my approval.” I will give you one guess where she was looking… and it wasn’t at my cheesy smile… Happy reading. I’ll keep you posted to further events.

- Guy

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