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View Diary: Sending some hope (135 comments)

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  •  I have been out (2+ / 0-)
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    betson08, Denise Oliver Velez

    for more than 15 years... I still have nightmares that I am being arrested.


    It took me a long time to deal with anger issues... and, occasionally, I wig out if I am pushed too much - it's only happened a few times in 15 years... but I don't really have a violent personality. Even in prison... and when these things I mentioned occurred, I was pissed off that they made me get pissed off... I had warned them both to leave me be.

    The second occurrence was a defining moment in my life. This may sound a little odd... but I had to push myself to hurt him the way I did and the next day I felt like I had a clean slate... I don't really know how to explain it... it's like I pushed myself through some invisible membrane and when I came out the other side I was a new person without any of the constraints of my childhood... I was free to be whoever I wanted. My life took a positive turn from that day.

    It is chilling to consider the reality of what actually happened... I almost killed this man. If I hadn't called the guards - he would be dead.

    He was a big guy... not tall but very stocky. I had seem him bench press 350 lbs before. He had been working out on the yard since I was a born. He was locked up in 1969 (the year I was born) and this was 1993.

    I think I released every ounce of evil that had happened to me in my entire life into that fight... and it was a fight.

    He was the night porter - in charge of cleaning the restrooms - he would come back to the cell every night around 2am. It was dark in the cell with just a little light coming through the little window that faced the yard and the light coming through the little window in the door from the hallway.

    I woke as he came in and I saw him reach into his locker and take out his belt and a container of hair grease. It was then that I saw him start to wrap the belt around his hand. I was on the bottom bunk and he came over and reached for my pants. He thought I was asleep. I pulled up both of my legs and kicked him as hard as I could and the fight was on. He was thrown back on the desk and I was able to get up on my feet... it was close quarters... so we were wresting and crashing into everything. He intended to hit me in the face but could never manage to get me in the right position... He got me in the arms, chest and ribs. Luckily, I didn't hit my head on the bunk.

    I was so afraid and fighting for my life... and then it was like time slowed down and I was able to somehow get that nylon cord around his neck and slide around behind him. The loops in the ends of the cord cut my fingers all the way to the bone as we struggled... he was slamming me into the walls, lockers and the desk in our cell... and every time he did the cord got tighter on his neck and bit deeper into my fingers.

    Within a few minutes I could feel him pass out and I realized that I was holding him up off the ground. I dropped him and heard his head hit the ground with a loud smack... he coughed a little and I saw blood come out of his mouth in the dark... I still had both ends of the cord in my hands and it was still wrapped around his neck. I suddenly realized that I was killing him and removed the cord and rolled him over on his side... he spit out a whole mouthful of blood and I could hear him start to breath raggedly.

    I started kicking the door and yelling for the CO... it seemed like 5-10 minutes before they came... they turned on the lights before they opened the door and I saw that the whole cell had blood splattered everywhere and he was lying in a large pool of it. I was afraid he would die and I would never get out.

    The COs opened the door and dragged me out. They threw me on the floor and chained me... My forehead hit the cement floor and split open when they threw me down. They put me in a laundry cart and closed the lid... I passed out.

    When I woke up, I was in the hole - a maximum security area in the prison where they have a number of single cells. A CO was calling me to come to the door so they could shackle me again... they were taking me to the infirmary. The nurse had me take a shower and then gave me stitches in my forehead and the corner of my mouth that had apparently been split open somehow.

    The next day a Michigan State Police Detective came and told me they were going to charge me with Assault with Intent to Commit Great Bodily Harm Less Than the Crime of Murder.

    I told him that if they charged me with that I would sue the state for placing me in a cell with a known homosexual predator - even after I had asked to be moved... they kept me in there. I was due to see the Parole Board and only had 3-4 months left on my sentence. I was classified as minimum security but they had me in a close security prison housed with a lifer who was a predator.

    I never saw the detective again.

    I spent the next 30 days in the hole... 23 hours a day in the cell - 1 hour in the dog kennel for "exercise".

    I saw the Parole Board while I was in the hole... they gave me another year to think about my violent behavior. A month after they let me out of the hole, they sent me to a "work camp" called Camp Lehman in Grayling, Michigan.

    While I was there, I saw the guards dealing drugs... later, after I was released on parole, they all got busted by the feds.

    •  I forgot a detail... (2+ / 0-)
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      betson08, Denise Oliver Velez

      When I was released from the hole... they took me back to the same housing unit. The ARUM (Area Resident Unit Manager) told me that they had planned to put the other guy back in the same unit with me... not the same cell but the same unit. He asked for protective custody and they transferred him to another prison.

      Why exactly would they want to put us back in the same unit? I always wondered what they could have been thinking...

      •  This is a diary (1+ / 0-)
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        Denise Oliver Velez

        Not many people around here have their own experiences of this - and I know it will shock some people but you are so honest and your writing is so great. You will get some bad comments too but as long as you try not to let them get into your psyche, it might be an education to some people around here what the prison system is really like.

        That being said, you also sound like you have PTSD. Have you ever been treated for it. If not, if you can find someone you can afford it might help you put some of the pieces together, although I think you have already done that a lot. Writing especially helps. Was writing this cathartic in any way.

        I say this out of my own experience getting PTSD from working in a refugee camp and NOT being able to write about it. When I finally got some help (it was a dissertation not a personal project that I had to finish) the act of writing seemed to physically remove it from my psyche.


        Helping a food pantry on the Cheyenne River Reservation.

        by betson08 on Tue Dec 20, 2011 at 12:09:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I probably do have some form of PTSD (0+ / 0-)

          but I don't think it's due to this single thing alone... unfortunately, my life has been full of struggles... fortunately, those struggles are the ingredients of who I am... and I love me.

          I thought for a bit about whether or not it was a good idea to describe what happened in such a descriptive manner. I decided to do it because I think that, in terms of the diary, it provides some context.

          Not all rapes in prison are committed in the same way - and even though I used violence to defend myself... I still was a victim here.

          I had been living in fear that this event would occur and planned in advance to defend myself... however, the event did occur and I was forced into a situation that, at the time, I viewed as life/death at the time because this guy was literally a killer.

          That is the biggest problem with prison... living in fear and the pure apathy of the system towards inmates.

      •  Thank you for sharing this (0+ / 0-)

        Sorry I missed your comment -betson called it to my attention

        I understand about the anger issues - all of my friends who did time like you did have them too - as betson mentioned - prison conditions create a form of PTSD.  

        I hope you do write this up as a diary.

        Sending you a hug.

        "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Tue Dec 20, 2011 at 12:28:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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