Friday, May 4, 2007

Inside the "Hanoi Hilton" Day 1-4

So I have made it this far. I have been garnering some interesting stories about both "inmates" and "guards" at the "Hanoi Hilton". I am going to post some of my observations for you, dear reader, whomever you are, to read. It's quite the experience. It's not really frightening though it certainly isn't pleasant. Various stories from people I have met and stories that happened before I got in there.

I spent Tuesday, going in at 1:30 pm to almost 7:15 pm in the "tank". This is where they process you and others before they send you to the "tents". That is the worst part. They handcuff and shackle your feet and then frog march you, after being driven from the Lower Buckeye jail, to the Towers jail facility. They are definitely out to humiliate you in any manner they can. One guard I talked to while being processed, told me that he thinks they have gone way overboard on the DUI issues as he said "they need to work on catching the real bad guys and not the drunks that haven't done anything bad, except drive." He didn't say that he thought Drunk Driving shouldn't be punished, rather that if a guy has a few too many, they shouldn't be made to spend 10, 15 or 30 days, sometimes 90 days in jail. He also told me that he shouldn't tell me that, but that's how he felt. He said, they should punish DUI people, but the ones he said, he sees repeatedly, 4 or 5 or in one case he said, a guy who had 10 DUI's and has since been incarcerated for quite a long time now. I told him that I thought my particular sentence was a little harsh, but under the circumstance, I had the responsibility for doing what I did. He agreed. After processing, they then send you to the tank to head over to the tents.

I lay awake in my bunk at night after checking back in, listening to the dissonant chorus of 20 guys snoring. Kind of like listening to rap music. I can hear the sound of generators in the night from both the tower lights and the distribution center nearby. I also hear at occasional odd hours, the sounds of the PA as the D.O.'s announce the "kick-outs", people who need to leave at 3 am, 4 am, etc telling them to go to the gate. Kicks outs are people leaving to go to work. And occasionally, I hear them calling a particular "inmate" to the office, usually a work furlough guy, for whatever reason. Work furlough inmates have it worse than people like me, "work release." They have to report anywhere they go, work, home and the sheriff's deputies are constantly checking up on them. On top of that, they get their checks from work and take out all the jail expenses and child support, which many of them are in for, and then give the rest back. I heard of one case where one guy was only getting his check of $7 bucks and another told me that he knew of a guy that was getting approx, .25 cents after they deducted all the expenses. Ouch!

Most of the guys I have met in there are regular joes like me, that made a mistake. Many of them have huge resentments against the legal system, among other things, and blame others for being there. I have heard of guys in there that vow revenge for being jailed on some of the guards, though I am sure that they are usually idle threats, borne out of frustration more than anything else.

The guards are something else. I have been watching one in particular that seems to think he is Sheriff Joe himself. And most of the "con-tents" as they are called, just hate him. I won't give his name now, but they have various nicknames for them. I have taken to calling him "Reinhard Heydrich" after the Nazi SS thug in WWII that was responsible for exterminating many Czechs and Poles and one of the architect's of the "final solution". assassinated by czech partisans by a bomb after succumbing to his wounds about a week after. If you want to read about him (Heydrich) click his name. The guard in question, I am sure is certainly not a nazi, but you can see where these people get a little bit of power and they abuse it over people who can't defend themselves. One wrong word and they "roll you up", sending you into "stripes", the uniform that Sheriff Joe is famous for.

Some of the stories are legion. They employ a tactic that resembles what the Nazi's called "Nacht und Nebel which means in English "Night & Fog". This was a tactic where the gestapo would raid a person's house at night and then take the person away, with his neighbors waking up the next day wondering what happened to him. Basically, they just vanish and history shows it was usually a concentration camp to meet the final end. I don't make the comparison to the Nazi's so much as I point out, that in that environment, they have complete control over what happens.

An example recently was a TV crew that was touring "Tent city". What happened was, an inmate in work release made the mistake of talking to them and showing them the "Green Bologna" stuff or the "Ladmo bag", the "food" they feed you with, named after the beloved character on the old Wallace & Ladmo show here in Phoenix. How's that for irony? feeding inmates subpar food named after a children's show character. So, anyway, I guess, the guards put it out that they were not to say anything bad about the jail or sheriff Joe or the food. Long story short, after the crew left, the inmate was quietly whisked off by the D.O.'s and put into "stripes", never to be seen by the inmates where he was staying (Nacht und Nebel). No word at this point what became of the guy. No one knows.

Now, I don't want to infer something here, but Sheriff Joe I am sure, doesn't condone some of the actions the D.O.'s take, he can't. He probably is not really at the tents all that much so, he can't supervise everything. But still, these guards don't have a standardized modus operandi or so it seems. I have been refused my meds, that are from my doctor, for 2 days, even though they have them, they know about them and let me get them once. I was told both times to come back after lockdown and get them, only to go back a little while later to be told, "we already gave out meds, you're too late." I mean, the guard just has to open a locker and let me get them. But, that is one more method of intimidation. I also have noticed they are getting work release people to do hazardous work in the yard, helping set up new tents with metal frames, replacing the old stick types. And one guy said, " Why do I have to do this?" to which the guard replied, "you're in jail, this ain't no hotel and because I told you to. Do you want to go into stripes?". Nice guys.

One more story, an elderly man who was in for 10 days, evidentally had a seizure and the guards lollygagged for 45 minutes before going to see what the problem was. As I heard told, they said "he was probably doing drugs, or drunk or something" and after an hour, the EMT's were called and he was duly spirited away to the hospital. After spending 2 days in the hospital, he had his wife take him back to the jail, to finish the last 2 days remaining on his jail time, only to be put in stripes. Why? well, according to my source, the guards claimed his missed "headcount" and that's why. Well, they were the ones that called the EMT's, they had to have signed something indicating where he was to be taken and then the poor guy shows back up, in good faith, with 2 days to serve only to be thrown into stripes? and I heard he got 30 more days to boot. Truly, something doesn't smell good in Denmark.

So, as the days continue, I will post more as time permits. I have names and situations that I have been gathering from my stay and I will post them at a later time. I have also made arrangements with a good friend of mine that will post them in my stead, should God forbid, something happen to me. Which I am not worried will. But I am going to keep posting on my experiences from my stay and hope that someone will take heed and make the decision to not find themselves in the "Hanoi Hilton." Oh and by the way, the biggest insult is they don't even have coffee, I can deal with no cigarettes for 2 days, maybe 3, but coffee I have to have, there is just no way to get it in the Hanoi Hilton, I could cop a resentment over that, but I won't.

Till we meet again.

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