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“John D’oh” Journal Entries

JOURNAL ENTRY #1

November 9, 2007
I guess it should start with the choosing of pseudonym. A cloned phone, ghosted IP address. A drop piece. The usual pseudos just won’t do. No, better make it something single serving, something that will be used for the duration of this project and never more. John D’oh. Ees, good .?

And now to worm into my John D’oh-ness. I’m bald, doughy, yellow and I work in Sector 76 of the nuclear power plant. Shit, I’m Homer Simpson.

The numbers. The numbers are subject to change, subject to standard deviations, subject to faulty collection methods and user bias. The numbers are subject to being suspect, subject to being interpreted subjectively.

The numbers are dehumanizing. I am a number to DOCS-my Dept. ID number, or DIN. I am a number to my company officer-my cell number. I am a number-one Caucasian male-on programming inter-office spreadsheets that don’t technically exist, and don’t technically factor race in when assigning a program. I have earned a number-25 years to life. 25 years, what a thing. 25. the number, years the thing.

(Data Entry Clerk Note: On time computation sheet, an inmate with “Life” on the back of the sentence shall have “9999” in lieu of a date. This has been a recording).

I’ve hated numbers since the algebra Regents. The hatred reinforced, crystalled in Accounting 204, Managerial Statistics 252, and the intolerable Finance 356. Fucking hate numbers but they are a necessary evil. They consolidate groups, make communication easier. So long as they are not abused, numbers can be your friend.

Consider yourself disclaimed.

Re-entry is the new buzzword pinging through the minds of, peppering the documents of, the departmental drones. Re-entering society, preparing inmates too. Sound policy and a good place to start, a good faith move from the upper echelons of power. The flow lies in timing. Specifically, the push to re-acclimate inmates is applied only to those who are about to leave, about to re-enter society. Like how I’d blow 20 milligrams of Rialin and break right studying for a find.

To use an overused bullshitty term, there must be a shift in paradigm. As soon as one goes away, the process of preparing for release must commence. Since were talking about redemption-the transformation of something broken into a fixed state-this concept can also be applied to the small portion of inmates who shall never be released, who shall die behind the wall. (Getting a lifer to redeem will be a tough seat most; this individual can be incentived through the promise of added meaning to his/her life, where there’s hope, blah’ blah’ blah). It’s the majority, however, that should be the focus. Get them started at the beginning of the bid, on the process of introspection and course correction. This benefits all the stake holders: inmate, staff, society as a whole.

Currently, the pre-release program consists of securing documents-social security card, birth certificate and the like–and little more.

The real progress of rehabilitation is done in one’s head. “Physician heal thy self” not in some window-dressing program mandated by the Department. The tools and strategies for this healing should be given rarely on (in the bid) to those willing to accept them. Maybe more of this later, if I have the moxie for it.

T.S. Eliot once said that between the idea and the reality fall the shadows. Or some such. CPL is the idea, jail the reality, inmates and our dealings with the criminal justice system the shadows. Tis a murky world we inhabit. Back room courthouse deals, notations made by officials on documents that technically don’t exist. …. This is the land of the un-transparent, the gray opaque . . .

I’m naked as this takes place. Our group gets strip searched after our first meeting with you. Vexing, but in an inconvenient way-not an “oh the humanity way”. The .. Has gone through my clothes, item by item, inspected my junk forward and oft, top to bottom. The inside of my mouth to in between my little piggies. The search is technically over at this point, but he leaves me standing naked then asks questions about what the session was all about. Apparently, he was under the impression that this was a college program being offered to inmates. “In Eastern”, he says “after Pataki took out the college program, the professors came back in as volunteers.” This is said in a venomous manner, like: Fuckin sneaky professors. He asks more questions that I answer in a brain dead mumbling, nonsensical manner hoping he will tune me out, but not think me evasive. I finally convince the guy that this is merely a CAP session held at different times. Run of the mill. Old hat. “Oh well”, he offhands, “it keeps you busy”. I’m allowed to dress.

Waiting to go back, in another holding area, same slug who just came off the visit tries to chat me up. I know he is curious about the session in which I just participated. I’m vague. This is Fight Club and the number one rule of Fight Club is You do not talk about Fight Club. “Is it mandatory?” the slug wants to know, somewhat worried that he’ll have to participate at some point. No, I assure, then talk in circles. He asks my name. I mumble it. He then asks again. I mumble again but with a tone that says he should have picked it up the first time. Most people are too embarrassed to ask again, as is the slug. He tells me that “they call him “Havoc” or some such non-sense. “A pleasure”, then I bump fists and move away on the pretense of speaking to someone else.

There will always be crime. Prisons will always have occupants. Justice-despite Latin, incantations and blindfolded bronze statues-is not blind. I’m not hopeful that the system will change for the better. Prisons are virtually invisible, the walls or fences serving not to only keep us , but the world out. (Case in point: Your cameras). My hope is that the increased coverage/interest in prisons (MSNBC’s Lockup series) translates into something more. More though, just the desire for vivid details and reinforcements of the tired clichés of the incarcerated. Maybe a forum, a website devoted to incarceration in the U.S. This won’t be an advocacy group of prisoners, rather a consumers union-like affair. Real numbers, as much transparency as possible, the real-life implications of criminal justice policy decisions. The issue lies to be framed properly. The “lock em up and throw away the key” rhetoric is played out, fucking dead. It is also stupid and my opinion.

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Comments»

1. Jane Doe - December 4, 2007

Hey John Doe. I respect you journal entry. Its real and understandable without it being ignorant. Im happy that you are representing yourself well but I have to ask whats more stupider; lock em up and throw away the key or committing a crime that got you 25 to life? We all are flawed in some way just as our justice system is. Patience, my fellow blogger.


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