Attainted In AnoKKKa
Written by: Isaiah M. Thomas
"Thomas, phone!" yelled the detention deputy into the over-crowded bullpin. I quickly rose
"from the uncomfortable chair thinking, “it's about time”. I'd been shacked-up in this filthy holding cell for what felt like eternity. My back ached from sitting on metal chairs and laying on the concrete ﬂoor for such long periods of time. I had no idea what time what it was, the evening was a blur; I'd went to sleep, woke up and ate, went back to sleep, woke up again to inquire about the phone, then dozed off again. Drowsily, I stumbled over to the phone, entered in my inmate code, then dialed my mom's home phone number. Unfortunately, she-didn't‘ answer. I tried again and again still, no answer. Shit! Then a glance at the far left backwall told me that it was 4:00 a.m. Humph, no wonder.
After about 10 mins 1 gave it up. The nearby detention deputy told me to grab a roll—up; a pillowcase stuffed with two blankets, two sheets, two towels, and mini Bob Barker hygiene kit. I was being led to segregation (unit 4) due to the seriousness of my offense which, at the time, was 2nd-
Degree—Intentional Murder. Also, because of it's high—profile, I was immediately classified as high- level—security upon intake and placed on administrative segregation status.
When I entered the jail segregation unit I was a bit surprised to see how small it was. The unit had two floors with four cells on each level. The first ﬂoor had a security bubble in which the detention deputies sat to safely monitor the unit . The first floor also held a kiosk machine, one phone, and two small showers. I was assigned to room 503, on the 2nd floor.
As’ soon as I made it to the top of the stairs, I heard a loudand angry voice yell out, “Nigger! I fucking hate you, you stupid monkey!" As I listened, dumbfounded, I continued to stroll toward my room. What kind of place is this? I noticed that this madness was coming from cell 504, right next door to mine.
After being secured in my cell, I tried just ignoring my obnoxious neighbor but, like most “cell warriors,” he mistakenly read rﬁeekness as a sign of weakness and became more aggressive; banging on the walls, kicking his door, and screaming more racial slurs. When I finished making my bed I casually peered out of my room door window and saw a. female detention deputy, on the first
ﬂoor, giggling, while looking up towards our cells. Instantly, I felt my blood begin to boil. "It's funny to you that I'm being called theses kind of names?" I yelled angrily from within my cell. She mumbled
"sorry" then covered her mouth and left out. However, my neighbor, with 1488 tattooed under his eyes, gave me a couple more days of explicit entertainment before finally leaving out, thank the lord.
I used my time in solitary confinement to draw closer to the Lord. I'd never been in a situation this serious so, I cried out to him in prayer feverishly about my life and its current circumstances. My emotions were raw and my words flowed unfiltered. I opened up honestly to the Lord, I told him where
I stood with him and why. I confessed and repented about my sinful ways, but, I also accused him of never loving me. How could he? He allowed me to grow up fatherless while watching my mother live in poverty all my life. He knew that my painful childhood would inevitably led me down a path to trouble with the law. He just sat back and watched as the USCJ S sucked me in, chewed me up, and spit me out. Didn't he understand that this kind.of social injustice only hardens the hearts of my peers and I?
How could I possibly trust a God that says he loves me but stood there as I hopelessly fought, twice, to keep my only precious child out the hands of Child Protective Services? I wasn't the misfit parent being accused of neglect so why was I forced to defend my parental rights? I mean, was my life some type of comedy movie to God? I swore to the Lord that if he didn't provide me the lawyer that I specifically asked him for then I'd kill a guard. And I meant it. Although I found letting my heart bleed to The Lord therapeutic, I still couldn't shake my grief completely. I was living in misery. I just prayed he'd see me through this madness. .
All of the local newspapers and television channels were all too eager to release their “Breaking
News” story. One paper printed: "Repeat felon bu-rglarized 95-year-old man's home: Anoka county officials says that the victim was found savagely beaten to death by family members...Family members says that ‘he was a WWII Veteran‘ that loved to fish and hunt, lived in his home since 1945...Detectives says the suspect made off with..." I felt like every detention deputy in the jail had seen me on the news so, I knew I'd be in for the long haul. This little town wanted me in the worst way. Period.
Due to the j ail‘s policy, my psychiatric medications was banned which left me without a replacement or substitute. My PTSD set in. I could barely make it through a moment of the day without anxiety and pessimism overtaking my mind. For the first two weeks I couldn't sleep or eat and I stoped trying to contact anyone. I figured no one wanted to hear from me, they probably all just hoped I'd rot in this place. I did everything to keep my mind off of my predicament. I even pulled out my dreadlocks one by one everyday.
One day, about a week after being in segregation, I came out for my .one- hour—rec to shower and clean my room when I had my first of many negative encounters with the guards. After praying, I exited my room to retrieve the cleaning supplies from the j anitors closet when a guard that I had never before seen approached and, jokingly asked " Uh, Thomas right? So how much time do you think they'll lay you down for". Instantly, I felt a sinister vibe. I had just finished praying and his smug face did not sooth my spirit. I didn't show any frustration but instead, I waited a few seconds then casually stared at his waistband and asked "Simple question, how hard do you think it would be to disarm you from your taser there?" And for emphasis, I pointed at it with my fingers only two inches away his powerful hip-held device. His pale face told me that the potential of such sudden danger had exposed his fear. Halfway stumbling back he yelled "Lock In!" I told him that I wasn't going to because I had only asked a hypothetical question. As he glared at me from the security bubble, I finished up my hour with a sense of dignity that I didn't have prior to our encounter. Due to this ‘encounter’, the classification officer paid me a visit the next day and extended my administrative segregation status.
Second week in January, I went to my third court date and to my surprise, all of my siblings were present even the sister from out of state. I hadn't spoken to any of them since my arrest so, seeing them all at once in such a strong stance of support overwhelmed me with joy. After about six weeks of administrative segregation, I was reassigned living units. I was taken next door, to unit 5, the j ail's max.
This unit offered a few more privileges such as: church, law library, video visits, vending machines, and a additional 4 hours of day space rec. I spent a lot of my time in the law library or playing cards with a few brothers that I recently met at the jail. My new cell was next to a middle age white brother that we called Nelson. I'd initially met Nelson in the segregation unit a few weeks back before he got out. While in segregation with brother Nelson, he used to kindly offer me his peanut butter packets from his special dietary meals sometimes which, I very much appreciated then and still do today. Little did I know, me and Nelson wouldn't be getting along well soon. In unit 5 Nelson still helped me sometimes. A cup of coffee here, a few slices of bread there. He had money and he noticed that I didn't.
But, one day my mom deposited $20 into my account. I spent about $15 on hygiene and $3 on a bag of coffee. As I stood in front of the vending machine slowly debating what type of snack I wanted with my last $2, nelson strolls up beside me and says "How bout a Snickers for me?" and I replied, " I bought a bunch of hygiene and a bag of coffee.I'm down to my last $2 but, I'll share whatever I buy with you bro".He seemed disappointed. Driving his point home he said, "Alright but don't forget what I did for you in seg" then he quickly walked off before I could reply which made me feel uneasy. Out of anger, I bought the $1.50 candy bar as fast as I could then, stormed off to find him. He was in his room spawled out on his bed coloring. I stood in his doorway then tossed the Snicker bar on his bed, saying,
" Here. I see how you really are and thats cool. I'm good on you". He looked up with a challenging
"What?" taking a step forward, I said " I don't want shit to do with you, I thought you were a good dude but now your sitting here throwing what you did for me in my fucking face". He stood up and yelled
"Get the fuck out of my cell!" I said "I will but don't think I'm some type of-——" he rushed at my waistline causing me to stumbled backward. As we moved outside the cell, I put him in a headlock and pounded him a few times then bam! We're both being mased and carted off to segregation. He played the victim, telling staff I entered his room and begin punching him. He pressed charges against me.
Here I was, back in segregation again after only 2 short weeks. This time I mentally braced myself for the oppressive living conditions. I called my mom to give her the bad news which, sadden her but, she told me to stay strong and her simple words strengthened me. I went to the disciplinary hearing and got 15 days segregation time. A day or so later, the lawyer that I asked God for prior, came to visit me. She told me that she agreed to take my case: pro bono. It was a blessing and I was beyond ecstatic. We already knew each other well from my previous case. We had connected and maintained a good relationship since. During this brief visit, we discussed the long term plans of my case and also my current well being. It went really well. After concluding our meeting, my lawyer shot me her recommendations: continue to pray, lean on family for support, ask the doctor for a anti-depressant, write grievances if there's more issues at the jail, and also she promised to send me a book of my choosing. Which she did but, it mysteriously disappeared after showing up in mail records. I_§/vrote tons of people about it and I still did not receive it. It was also during this time in segregation that I met and befriended a brother named.'JJ'. JJ was a tall, white, red-headed scrawny brother that loved to crack jokes. He kept me smiling. He was also capable of holding intellectual conversations as well as deep spiritual debates which I really enjoyed. JJ was only 29 years old but, his hairline receded to the far back part of his head so I jokingly referred to him as “Mr. Burns” from the Simpsons. Haha. He grew on me and I took a liking to him. I learned that he'd been in segregation for six months! He was getting out of seg in the next few weeks. Later we'd become much closer.
After I served my 15 days, I was returned to unit 5 and shortly thereafter, I begin having mild tooth aches. I signed up for to see the dentist but instead, I was seen by a nurse's aid who told me to show her my ‘bad tooth‘. After complying, she informed me that the jail did not have a dentist and would have to contact a outside dental office to perform any oral surgery. I told her that I understood. I explained that prior to my arrest I was scheduled to have that molar pulled. I signed a “Release Of
Information” form and she promised to look into it before giving me a 3 day supply of ibuprofen.
After 2 weeks I hadn't heard a word back and my pain became unbearable at certain times. I complained to the detention deputies that my head throbbed violently. I was given more ibuprofen.I was fed up, so the next day I called my attorney and asked her to file a lawsuit. The very next day I was taken to a local dentist and he quickly pulled my tooth. He prescribed a 7/day supply of ibuprofen and a
3 day supply of saltwater.
I returned to the jail at about lunchtime. Feeling tired, I went to my room to rest. I woke up at about
4:30-ish to pick through what was called ‘supper’ and wait for the nurse to arrive with saltwater. I was disappointed to discover that it would only be available after breakfast and at bed time. I received it a few hours later with my ibuprofen. The next morning I overslept and missed the nurse round. When bedtime rolled around later that evening, I was locked in my cell because my rec time was over for the day. I pressed the duress button in my cell room twice and asked the guard to unlock my room for med call so that I could come out to take my meds. The guard acknowledged my request, and said he would, yet, I was not let out. As I watched the nurse leave the unit, I pressed the duress button for the third time. When the detention deputy came over my room intercom, I explained to him that I needed my saltwater and reminded him that he said he'd unlock my door but never did. "Oh, sorry" he says. Then he said he'd call the nurse back because it was his fault. The nurse never came. I stayed up most of the night thinking how easy it is for the system to get over on brothers in it: we're neglected and exploited everyday. I woke up early the next day to make sure that I caught the nurse during her rounds but, she forgot the saltwater,however, she returned with it shortly. As the day went on I felt pain and swelling along my jawline. I asked for more saltwater at lunchtime: denied. Bedtime nurse rounds was finally called but, I was lock in my cell as the previous night so, I informed the unit guard well in advance that
I had meds and he said alright. As I waited patiently, the night began to look like a rerun of last night's episode. Nurse rounds came and went: no saltwater. That was my last prescribed dosage and I became very upset about not receiving it.
Around about 10:30 I began to bang on my door and yell out of my cell room door about medical neglect. The guard on the first shift came to my door and threaten to give me a '24‘ hour cell restriction if I didn't stop disrupting jail operations. I told him “ my jaw is swollen, my head is pounding, and I might have a tooth infection". He explained that there wasn't any nurses on duty during this shift, their on—call for only emergencies. He said he'd try to get me a ibuprofen and walked off. I didn't buy it. I kept banging on my door.
Shortly thereafter, the jail's tactical team arrived at my cell in full combat gear: helmets, shields, shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, and rubber bullet assault rifles. I looked out nervously as one guard ordered me to ‘Cuff Up‘ because I was going to the Quiet Room. The Quiet Room was a disgusting 12 X6 soundproof cell. And for interior decoration? A ceiling-mounted camera and a small drain in the center of the ﬂoor to serve as a toilet which, some devious-—mind-ed person managed to construct. The conditions while being helplessly held here were horrible. There were clunks of caked— up dirt in each corner, loosely tangled long strands of hair lightly floated around the room due to the icy
40°central air blowing it around. The wall held traces of smeared blood, and.the dried urine around the drain reeked so bad that its smell alone made me want to puke. It looked as if it hadn't been cleaned in years.
I was ‘Cuffed Up‘ and taken there. Once inside of this bio—hazardous hellhole, I was then directed to
‘Strip'.At this point my spirit begin breaking and felt warm tears pouring down my face from being humiliated and dehumanized “Lord why? All I wanted was saltwater, I didn't mean to cause trouble" I blurted. I slowly proceed to take off my clothes while my head continued to pound from tooth pain.
Next, I stuck my tounge out, lifted my sack, turned around, lifted each foot and wiggled my toes, then finally I bent over spread my cheeks and coughed. A guard snickered.
After their departure, I put my back against the wall and dropped to the floor then pulled my knees towards my chest. My tears continued to heavily fall down my face——-I couldn't stop them---so I remained quiet and distant. I was left in this room wearing only my socks and underwear for five hours.
I was brought back up to unit 5 sometime during the middle of the night. Today marked St.
Patrick's day 2017.The guards told me that I had been written up for 'Disrupting Jail Operations‘ and would be locked in my cell for a '24‘. Yeah, yeah. I still was exhausted so after breakfast came, I ate quick then went back to bed right away. I was soundly asleep when suddenly, I was rudely awaken by a small female guard who begin to angrily bang on my cell door “Count time Thomas! Get up!“ she ordered. I said "I'm on lock down“.It was well known throughout the jail that, inmates on lock down status weren’t required to stand up during count time. She mumbled something then stormed off. About a hour later the same guard returned and slid a formal discipline report through my door crack which meant, that I would be automatically taken to segregation and have to see a hearing officer. Clearly confused, I leaped from beneath my blanket to read the report. The report claimed that I told the guard to ‘fuck off‘ which was a flat out lie. I appealed to her from behind my cell door saying that it was a misunderstanding, I didn't say this, I said “I‘m on lock down".She flashed a smug smile which revealed her coffee—stained teeth “Take it up with discipline“ she gloated. Now wide awake, I stopped two guards and explained that the report was inaccurate. One said that he understood and even believed what I said to be true but still, he had no authority to dismiss it.
About a hour later, two guards came to my cell and told me to ‘Pack Up‘ because I had to be ‘Stripped
Searched‘ and escorted to segregation due to my new pre—detention status. I packed my little bit of belongings then went down stairs to be stripped searched. This was my second strip search in less than
12 hours and to say that I felt violated, was a understatement.
After being ‘Stripped Searched‘, I returned to unit 5 to do a inventory of my property and separate the items that were allowed into segregation and those considered contraband. While some things were stored away until I would be back out of segregation others would simply be labeled A consumable items and disposed of. One of the two detention deputies conducting my inventory search was the small female guard that wrote the bogus report on me. As she dug through my small bin of property, I watched closely from nearby. She checked over my hygiene items which, I was allowed to keep in segregation. But, when she made it to my few consumables she begin tossing them in the trash.
As she went to reached for my unopened bag of coffee, I approached with concern and asked, "I get to keep that stored right?" "N 0, it's consumable item" she replied, "but it's unopened can't I at least send it out if I choose to?" She tossed it in the trash before saying, "Nope".Right then and there, before my mind formed its next thought, I felt my body react. I smacked the side of her upper face hard, "Bitch!
Stop playing with me! My life isn't some joke okay?“ I exploded. I tried grabbing her by her long hair to smack her again but she quickly ran. The other male guard tried restraining me from behind but, I quickly yanked away then turned around and landed a three-punch combo to his face. Next, he tried locking around my waist area. I went for his waist, "Yeah, let me get that taser off you homeboy!“.I could see the horror in his face as‘I urgently searched his waist for the weapon but, mistakingly grabbed his ﬂas tire 11nit_'5 was imau.proarTc ~%h-% et l’1I3”f&S€1'5 Get-l-iis taser !"
The guard and I continued to tussle. He eventually wrestled me to the ground. Once grounded, I announced that "I'm done!"‘and became submissive but still, the female guard stood over me and emptied her entire mace can in my face. When their reinforcements arrived I was “Cuffed Up” and escorted directly to segregation. I was charged with 2 felony accounts of “Assault on a Peace
Officer”(which they weren't).
The next morning I planned to to call my attorney to tell her what happened. Instead, I was given and ultimate by the guards: scrub all of the filth and grim off of the my cell room wall or forfeit my one hour recreation. I told them that that was “Cruel and Unusual” punishment. They laughed and said that life is cruel and unusual. I refused to wash the walls and was denied my rec time.
About a week or so later, I was awaken by four guards and told that they were conducting a ‘Random
Room Search‘ which, I'd never before seen done in this unit. Two of the four guards were the ones who tried forcing me to wash walls a week prior. I was “Cuffed Up” and held right outside of my cell while they searched it. After about 5 minutes I was walked back into my cell. I was told that a “dangerous weapon” was recovered - a rolled-up magazine that I used as a tool to keep my sink's hot water running. This was ludicrous, and I explained that everyone in the jail had one. They didn't care. I begin to get the picture, I was being vindictively targeted because of the St. Patrick's Day staff assaults. I didn't want to cause anymore trouble within the jail but, I wasn't going to let the guards strip me of my dignity by framing me and calling me a lair. I felt as if they were attempting to demoralize me by trying to make me believe that “I was just this big trouble maker out to violently hurt people.”They wanted to psychologically strip me of my right to think and believe that I was good person. Their sinister actions touched a part of soul and it did not resonate well with it.
As the guard took off my first handcuff, BAM! I caught him with a right hook that knocked him outside my of cell. He seemed completely shocked as I stepped to the doorway to face off with all four guards. I swung at the main guard that tried forcing me to scrub the walls a week back. However, I was quickly surrounded and taken down. On the ﬂoor, my hands were tightly subdued and held away from my body but the guards kept yelling, "Stop resisting! Put your hands behind your back!" I replied “ I'm not resisting! Your controlling my hands, I can't put them behind my back". Meantime they're giving me powerful ribcage shots while another held me in a airtight choke-hold. "I can't breath“ I mumbled,
"Shut up! If you can talk you can breath!" one guard yelled. I was choked out and used as a punching bag for 15 minutes. Next, I was taken to the “Quiet Room” to be held there. There, I noticed that I was coughing up blood and requested to see the nurse. A few hours later, two nurses arrived. I told them everything that pained me. Without examining me, one told me that she "heard about the incident and that my pain was normal" then departed without giving me as much as a ibuprofen.,I sat in pain and thought to myself, “If this happened on the streets, I'd be dead no doubt.”
Back in segregation, I laid on my bunk resting for a few days trying to build back my strength. I didn't even have the energy to get up for my one hour rec to place a call to my mother or attorney. I sat around mostly reﬂecting on some of my life events and how they affected me and those around me.
One day, my buddy JJ was brought back to segregation and was housed next to me. To past the time we talked and joked most of the day. Then suddenly, while showering during his one hour rec three guards entered the small segregation unit and gave J J a “Direct Order” to get out of the shower. I heard him ask why but they told him that they didn't need to give a reason. I watched from my cell as a guard grabbed his drying towel from the shower hook and tossed it into his room. I continued to observe as the situation escalated. A guard reached around the shower curtain then turned the water off. Instantly, another one snatched the shower curtain from it's Velcro end leaving, my buddy’s wet naked body completely exposed. I could see him in plain view but, I choose not to look because it was too humiliating too watch. Instead, I put my ear to the door and listened intently. The guards had pulled their tazers and were threatening to use them if he weren't cooperative. Next, I heard JJ's wet feet threading across the seg ﬂoor. I glanced out, and what I saw I'll never forget.‘ My friend was shaking visibly p I ~ three .g1_2=;zic_phn:~1i=.dla<e.r—.,bean:¢>dtasers atlis na_ked and wet body._I_saw deep pain and defeat in my friend's face as our eyes met for a split second. He turned his head away out of embarrassment and, locked into his cell. We sat in silence for a moment. I knew the feeling all too well.
Knowing my friends agony made my eyes water with empathy. I finally worked up the courage to say
"The Lord knows brother. He knows.”
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