By Robert Pruett   999411  aka Simple Man      

Week 13 2006

March 31, 2006

Shakedown!! My day began at about 6:30am with a nice, hot shower. We went on lockdown status on the 29th for the bi-annual major shakedown and, unfortunately, on lockdown we only get to shower Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That pisses me off more than anything else about lockdowns. It's like that system-wide and it doesn't make any sense (not that TDCJ applies logic to what they do) . Maybe on some of the older farms, where everyone has to march down the hallway to the shower area, such a rule would make sense because it takes quite a few officers to supervise everyone and they need the officers to do the shakedown, but the set up is different back here on 12 building, death row. Each pod is assigned 3 officers and those officers don't leave their assigned pod unless they're on break, even on lockdown. It only takes 2 of them to work the floor and run the showers and the other to open the doors in the control picket. Rather than do that, they lie down up in the control picket most of their 12 hours. Makes no sense.

Anyhow, after I returned from the shower the shakedown crew rolled up into my section. According to policy they're supposed to take each inmate and his property to the dayroom and meticulously search every item for contraband, then pack it into a box that's approximately 2 cubic ft. Everything goes into the box except electrical appliances, clothes, shoes, legal work, and state issued items. If you have more property than what will fit into the box you either have to send it out or have it destroyed. (BTW-having it destroyed translates into giving it to their pets, inmates who snitch for them)
Invariably there's at least one ranking officer with them as they sift through your stuff, so you'd think that they'd treat your property with respect, but that really depends on who's doing the shakedown and who the inmate is. Personally, I expect to be treated the way I treat people - with respect. I've seen them sling dudes shit around, look through their pictures and make smart ass comments, bend up artwork, "accidentally" bust open commissary items, and many other disrespectful / degrading things. Years ago they've done me like that.
But we live and learn and I no longer allow them to treat me or my shit like that. If you carelessly toss my stuff around, then you gotta toss me around. Most of them realize that about me so I don't have those kinds of problems anymore. We've got an understanding of sorts. But yeah, the crew that hit this section today was a decent one. Most of them do their job and nothing more. I don't mind them doing their job, I just take exception when they feel that they need to do more than their job, which usually means they think it's their job to punish us. In a nutshell their job is to #1) maintain the security of the institution and #2) enforce policy/rules.

Shakedowns are different in general population. Out there you're forced to carry all of your property to the gym and if you can't tote it all in one trip then you lose what you leave behind. I don't miss that! Also, back here on DR we strip out of our clothes in our cells and the officers escorting you to the dayroom inspect them and you, then you come out in boxers and shower shoes to the dayroom. In gp you strip out of your clothes as soon as you enter the gym and stand in one of 10-15 lines of inmates
(there are about 15 guys in each line) with your clothes in your hands until it's your turn to walk up to the table where they're shaking your line down. Totally emasculating the first 4 or 5 times that you experience such a thing, but you get used to it after awhile. No doubt about it though, shakedowns on death row are immensely more pleasant than those in gp.

After they inserted me back into my house ( yeah, I call it my house most of the time. A lot of guys refuse to because it's nothing like home for them, but I've lived in worse houses! :-) ) I quickly unpacked, cleaned up, then laid back down. I couldn't fall asleep last night until past lam so I was kinda tired and a short nap was in order. I'm a lazy MFer sometimes! :-;) Now I'm going to catch up on some letters, I'll talk to ya’ll tomorrow.

April 1, 2006
GREAT NEWS FROM THE ROW!! We've just been informed that TV sets will be available to purchase from the commissary as soon as the lockdown is lifted! For those not fortunate enough to buy their own TV the administration will loan you one until you can gather up the money. And they are installing TVs in our dayrooms as I write this so we'll be able to watch when we go to rec.! Great news, eh?! Yeah, too bad it's April Fool's Day! :-( It's all a horrible joke, as many of you already realized. I really need to stop pulling pranks, people are gonna start hating me. Haha.

One of the things I really enjoy about lockdowns is the peace and quiet. Guys tend to stay up late during lockdowns and they sleep in. With the dayrooms being empty it's usually silent until past noon, providing the perfect opportunity for uninterrupted introspection. As I emerged from yet another blissful night of dream sequence ( actually there's nothing sequential about my dreams, they're generally discontinuous, contradictory, and quite chaotic) I was able to reflect over the contents of my dreams and peacefully cogitate over them. I believe we can learn a lot about ourselves from our dreams. Our unconscious produces a variety of symbols and analogies that communicate psychic events and problems. If these are properly interpreted and integrated into the psyche problems can be avoided or fixed.
My favorite psychiatrist, the late pioneer in psychoanalysis C.G. JUNG, wrote, "The general function of dreams is to restore our psychological balance by producing dream material that re-establishes, in a subtle way, the total psychic equilibrium."
So yeah, I find it interesting and enlightening to analyze my dreams. Can't make much sense out of last night's, there were a lot of sexy girls involved! Not only would any analysis, or an attempt thereof, be inappropriate here, it might give credence to Freud and that's the last thing I want to do! Unlike him, I don't think all of our problems revolve around secret, repressed sexual fantasies of our mothers! Yikes!
I'm geared up for the Final Four that's about to tip off. This year's NCAA tournament has been as exciting as I expected, it usually is, and I have no reason to think that the last three games will be any different. I've been a closest Gator fan for a number of years so I'm pulling for Florida to win it. George Mason has been impressive though, they could present huge problems for the boys from Gainsville.

It's past 4pm and the pod is still tranquilly quiet. I guess everyone stayed up later than usual last night. Now that I think about it, I did hear a chess game going when they were passing out johnnies ( the sack lunches they feed us every meal on lockdown, in case you were wondering) at breakfast. Anyhow, I'll get out of here, gotta get ready for the games.

April 2, 2006
Today was rather uneventful, typical for a Sunday on lockdown. Actually, it's not such a bad thing being on lockdown right now. With the clocks moving up an hour this morning (due to Daylight Saving Time) the lost hour of sleep is easily assimilated since we don't have to wake up for anything. I forced myself out of bed around 8am and have been up all day ( it' s 8:27pm ) so the lost hour shouldn't affect me. Anyhow, my day was spent finishing up some letters and listening to music. I like to channel surf up and down the dial, although there are a few stations that I rarely stop at. All of the country music and rock stations are mandatory, but I like the Mix station, too, they play a lot songs that I enjoy. I know this is cliché, but I believe music is food for the soul. And I LOVE the guitar! ! My father taught me to play when I was about 8 to the old country and later on I learned to play a little rock from my cousin John. If they'd give me an acoustic guitar with an unlimited supply of strings they could have everything else they allow me to have ( well, not my writing supplies; writing is my prime source of energy release and, more importantly, if I lost contact with my friends and family they'd all beat the crap out of me in the next life! :-) ) But yeah, the guitar is awesome. Listening to the likes of Jimmy Page, "Dimebag" Darrell, Stevie Ray, Clapton, and many more is like eating ambrosia straight from heaven. I imagine heaven being like the sound of the perfectly strummed guitar riff with the essence of my being intrinsically connected into the sound. Utter ecstasy, complete satiety.
I just learned that we won't be getting our hygiene tonight. That's frustrating. Every Sunday we're supposed to get 5 bars of soap, l razor, and some bippy, which is a cleaning substance. Being on lockdown is no excuse to deprive us of our necessities.
I understand that they can't give us state-issued clothes everyday on lockdown because the inmates in gp wash that stuff and they're locked down, too, but the hygiene is in the Necessity room here on 12 bldg., no reason why they can't give us that. I'll make an attempt to informally resolve this problem tomorrow. It being Monday, all the high rank will be around so hopefully common sense will prevail. Not that high rank invariably equates to common sense! !

The "Hard Show" is about to come on. Every Sunday from 10pm - midnight Wendy Miller from rock 103.7 plays nothing bat hardcore heavy metal (bands like Pantera, COC, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Sepultura, and all that testosterone laden music! :-) ) and I try to catch at least the first hour before crashing out. She does this really cool thing called the "Cellblock of Rock" where she'll read inmate mail and play requests for us. In an era when anti-inmate sentiment seems to be on the rise she shows us that she has a heart and that we're not forgotten. For that I applaud her. There are aspects of her personality that I don't particularly care for, but for this she has my utmost respect. Anyways, I'm off to the show, it should be a good one tonight, so I'll holler at ya'll tomorrow!

One Day at a Time,
Simple Man