Last week I was moved from Queen's House (yes, it's really called that) to the Manhattan Department of Correction (MDC). I was, along with 23 other inmates, moved to MDC due to much-needed construction at QH and not, as Michael Musto mistakenly wrote in his column, due to any sort of gang-related situation-or so they told us. One of the first things I've learned in here is not to trust or believe the officers in charge. For security reasons, they are instructed to lie to us in regard to the movement of inmates.
We were woken up by officers screaming for us to pack all our belongings; we were moving. After putting all of our personal property into folded sheets, we waited five hours to be brought downstairs, where we were placed inside a holding pen. With 24 inmates and their property in a holding pen built for 12, we waited until 8 p.m. to leave. We were put on a bumpy, overcrowded bus and moved to MDC, where we were once again put in a holding pen. Here we sat until midnight, at which time we were taken upstairs to our lodgings-altogether 20 hours to move. We were taken to our cells and fell immediately asleep.
Today was my first day here. There were lots of things to do. Every new inmate has to see the doctor upon arriving-tests done, X-rays taken and head/mind examined. By noon, all of this was done. I have the most depressing view from my cell window: a perfect view of the Manhattan skyline. Talk about adding insult to injury! At least I found out that there is cable TV here. Ricki Lake is queen of MDC.
The rest of the day went by incredibly slowly. Dinner was served at 5:30. We watched The Simpsons, Married With Children and Martin and went (gulp!) to bed at 9:30! (Note: Sleeping and wake-up times are not enforced. We can get up or sleep whenever we want.) Tomorrow is a court date with my lawyer. Dinner: Beef stew, Rice, Bread, Kool Aid (called "juice" in prison)
Court-yuck! Woke up at 6 a.m. Another thing I've learned in here is that you get woken up extra early for court. I waited until 11 a.m. to be taken there, where I waited until 4 p.m. to see the judge, who rescheduled my court date for June 18 because the DA wasn't ready yet. That took exactly 20 seconds, and back to the holding pen I went, where I waited until 9:30 p.m. to be taken back to MDC. There I was put in, yes, another holding pen-starving-until about midnight, when I was taken up to my floor. Eighteen hours. Dinner: nothing
Today I was coaxed into joining all the jocks to lift weights with them on the roof. Yet another depressing view of the skyline. We were whisked upstairs to the roof-all 18 of us-in an elevator. (It was relatively fine going up, but returning-yuck! All those perspiring bodies squished together. Somebody needed Right Guard.) So that the entire afternoon was not a total loss-I did manage to lift 120 pounds 10 times!
Upon returning to our cells, we had an unexpected pleasure: 30 huge officers were on our floor for a "surprise search"! A surprise search consists of a humiliating body search, then a very thorough search of your property-through your books, clothes, magazines, every nook and cranny. NOT fun. I fell asleep afterwards. How I wished I could sleep through the entire ordeal-but, most likely, that wouldn't be possible. I woke up to one of my favorite sounds: the cheering crowd at a basketball game! Yeah! Dinner was not worth the sickness I'd feel after eating it. Who would have thought I would ever look forward to an oatmeal cookie?!
Dinner: "Beef" patty, Beets, Kool Aid
Today was an exciting day. Word had it that there was chicken for dinner, and it was TRUE! I gorged for several minutes, and then it was gone. The day and evening were long. Spades and dominoes are not my forte. There's only so much reading one can do.... I did, however, as Musto pointed out, begin to read Crime and Punishment. Naturally, it hit home. One good thing about being here is that I feel as though I am being punished (and I am) for my reckless lifestyle, which culminated in the death of a friend. When I get really depressed, I try and think along those lines, and it is a very good healing process. Nobody will argue that I was a living, raging, full-fledged drug addict. Period. End of discussion. Sure I had lots of fun, but for all the good times there were also bad times, some worse than others. Reflection with a clean, sober mind can be a valuable process. My senses, once dulled by years of indiscriminate drug use, are once again sharply defined and tuned. Hopefully, I will once again be able to put those senses to use. Some days I think I will, some days I don't. Dinner: Chicken breast, Bread, Corn, Kool Aid
Jail is NOISY. The doctor has put me on several medications. (Depakote, Addavan and some sort of sleep aid. Medication is given out twice daily.) I was awoken at the ghastly hour of 9 a.m. for my first dose of Depakote (the doctor diagnosed me as having a bipolar disorder, which Depakote supposedly takes care of)-that along with the constant TV sounds, the slamming of doors and, of course, those loudmouth inmates playing spades and dominoes. They act like they own the place, and they do. Each inmate seems to be some sort of caricature of either the loud, goofy or the quiet, insane type. One of them, called the Nose Digger, picks his nose and eats his boogers all day long, just as I've developed the habit of eating my nails due to constant boredom. There are SPAs (Suicide Prevention Authorities) who "guard" all the prisoners to try to keep them from performing hari-kari. At 35 cents an hour (seriously), they're some of the highest-paid workers! Speaking of noise, some nut is chanting some sort of Jamaican farewell eight doors down from me. Dinner: Fish sticks (a la Mrs. Paul's), Potatoes, Carrots, Kool Aid
Today was exciting for two reasons: 1. Today was shopping day. We're allowed to choose from a "vast" array of choice, tasty items. From Ritz-type crackers to oatmeal cookies, we may spend up to $70 a week. Even if you bought one of everything, I don't think you'd spend $70. Absolute nirvana! 2. I got a visit from my friend Oitsy, who is leaving for Florida. After our one hour, which was done in a glass bubble to "protect" us from other inmates, and a teary good-bye, I waved to her and was taken upstairs, where even more "excitement" was found. Tonight was also Narcotics Anonymous. Speaking to an overcapacity, sell-out crowd, the speaker made all four of us stand up and tell the entire class what our problem was. After listening to other people lie about how long they've been sober, I went back upstairs and to bed. Dinner: "Hot dogs", Sauerkraut, Kool Aid
Sunday. Bible study. The "church people" convinced me to go and get some "soul food." I consented to go, but later on was "saved," as this activity was canceled. (Note: Being in protective custody, as I am, means you're not allowed to walk around without a constant captain's accompaniment, so a lot of services are never called on our floor because they're too lazy to walk us there.) I tried (and succeeded) in finding four other older inmates to join me in a game of "$20,000 Pyramid." I was the MC, wrote up the "Things a Stewardess Might Say" categories and was amused until bedtime. Dinner: Hamburgers, Fries, Salad, Kool Aid.
Club promoter Michael Alig is currently awaiting trial for the murder of Angel Melendez.