APWA — essay

Shaffer, Tom



Page 1 A.P.W.A.--Essay I was raised by a mom the first 6 years of my life mostly because my Dad was not given the chance to; I seen my first injustice at 6 years old when a guy who was not my Dad killed my Mother in the middle of the night to steal the drugs that she was selling. Then, I went and hid under the bed until I fell asleep. Then, I woke up and rode my bike until I found a lady named Beverly (or Beth)--one of the two who called the police. The police are telling me after 30 minutes in the house, "Give us a statement". "Your Dad did this right". I said, "No, he did not!" They said, "Would you help us close this case quick if we got you some candy, kid." I said "My Dad will get me that." They said, "Not when he is doing life in prison"! (That was my first encounter with corrupt law enforcement.) Then, I seen more when I went to my third juvenile placement called Northwestern Academy where I watched staff suffocate kids to death in restraints called "prone-positions". I still cannot get those poor kid's voices out of my head to this day! I still cry sometimes knowing so many of their parents just do not know. One of the one's I remember best is a kid who hit his stepdad for beating his mom. He was 11 years old. I remember him being put in the "prone-postion" over complaining about a little piece of cake on a tray that day. I remember his cries of "I cannot breathe, please!!!" Then, shortly after, I heard that last pant for air and knew I'd never see him again or be able to meet his stepdad and beat him myself. I did 6 years of juvenile placements and never got out until I was a month from 21 years old. I was in for a probation violation for driving without a license. Not to brag however, I pulling back in my Grandma's driveway with the car she told me I could use. My Uncle is the one who called the police on me. I got a simple assault charge on a staff member at Northwestern who bragged about how easy it was to get female offenders in the 'Building Bridges' unit to do 'sexual acts'. (We'll call it that for 'edit' purposes). I waited until cleaning time to make him sorry. He was in the education wing the next day when I choked him until his lips turned light blue. There had to be a reason I did all those years. Teaching manners to folks could be one thing and the other would be telling my story. Then, I went to Somerset County Jail for doing something stupid. I did it with a B.B. Gun. Well, I grew to be hated by C.O.'s.there. I ended up earning 6 years of "Hole" time racked up via petty misconducts. I knew that I would never serve all that time! Well, the C.O.'s hated me so much that I was placed on "Water-Restriction". So, one eight ounce cup of water was all that I was allowed per day! I was also refused the right to shower for two months!! In addition, I was put on 'food-loaf' until medical had to pull me off because I was too weak to walk and this combined with dehydration of the 8 ounce cups of water per day! And somedays I was given a cup of vinegar!! Plus, my sink and toilet were turned off for 2-3 months! And the officers would only flush it 1-2 X per month! In the end, I lost my concern for consequences! I came to the understanding that I was going to get the C.O.'s to either beat me and then take me to the hospital or beat me to death! I'd rather die on my terms rather than theirs! Next, I blocked my window with my mattress, and refused to give up my razor. Soon enough, they moved the mattress and two officers took pride in emptying two 80 ounce cans of O.C. tear gas spray canisters the size of fire extinguishers resulting in intense burns, shortness of breath followed by tons of coughing. I figured I could get them to injure me or take my life by stabbing them with pens when they come in. Man was I wrong !!! I was dragged in a walking position to the basement and then put in a restraint chair which I was in for an hour before medical even came to take the straps off. My hands were purple, so, medical loosened them a bit. I sat motionlessly and weak. After spending most of the night in the chair, I was again thrown in a cell with the water off. After 9 days, I was taken to S.C.I.--Somerset for temporary housing for 7 1/2 months. (I never thought I'd be happy!!!)--especially in prison! I am through !!!! Now, I am serving 2 \0xBD years at S.C.I.- Houtzdale where staff target me here because I do not care about anything I've done in my past. A correctional officer is always a correction officer !!!! Next, due to my actions in county jail when I felt my back was up against the wall, I was made a pre-trial detainee in S.C.I--Somerset in Pennsylvania. There, I spent 8 1/2 months R.H.U. going to the useless law library computer program that has no search engine. Nothing is labelled and being allowed only one hour forced me to give up. Some may think I let the system win !!!!!!!! In my heart, I know that I could be alot worse off ! After all, the prison that I reside in now (AKA S.C.I.--Houtzdale Prison) is basically a daycare center. Violence is a rarety; Inmates unlike myself get extra privileges, ice cream, tickets, reduced R.H.U. time (if they go at all) and pouches of tobacco for being confidential informants (aka "C.I.'s)". I'm not perfect by any means nor does anything else involve me. The officers in jails, prisons, etc. are the same as police on the outside walls. Their job is to feed the pockets of overspending officials. I look at myself as a 'stock' in corporate America. I accumulate interest by being stored in "criminal warehouses"-- as I'd call it. Don't get me wrong; I did do a crime. It just disturbs me that my crimes were ones both parties made a mutual decision to do. As to those who are treated like royalty and have far less time such as those who destroyed a child's mind, and future as well as limited their chances to have a normal life, where is the deterrent factor of the justice system's three essentials to a proper sentence: (1) Public Safety; (2} Punishment; (3) Rehabilitation? I see many people with that history coming here getting minimal redirection from officers. Also, they are given minimal redirection from officers plus extra items like ice cream tickets (which many guards carry to give to folks with charges involving children for telling on those around me.) While I pay $1.20 each for them tickets on commissary because I do not believe in pointing out other's flaws so as to make myself look better. Other issues I see are the fact that they want us to return to the community as a productive members. Yet, our schedule assures 80% will become lacadazical due to only limited time outside of our cells. There is no well-paying 40 hour/week jobs and most of the work is useless. And trade classes are cut to one/sentence now. Honestly, I'd rather be chained to a block to break rocks, dig ditches, and split wood 16 hours per day, six days a week in New Mexico's sun than sit in my cell wasting my good health away. And of all the many cellmates I've had, I have yet one to find that does not complain about me working out 16 hours per day while they sleep all day. Someday, I wish the state would start a volunteer basis program such as a volunteer work camp for people like me who don't feel complete without a great day of hard labor in a warm climate. All this is just my thoughts on those who wonder why recidivism rates are sky high. Having a legal job or a real chance of getting one and not feeling out of place because we spent the last whatever odd years as a prisoner sfiieeping our lives away- I wish for. And they keep forcing inmates to take these "rehabilitation courses" that have outdated materials that have minimal effective educational applicability for any inmates. (End)

Author: Shaffer, Tom

Author Location: Pennsylvania

Date: September 7, 2017

Genre: Essay

Extent: 5 pages

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