Key, Kenneth M.



"Retaliation" By: Kenneth M. Key It was the usual Thursday morning, I usually wake up at 5:30am, say my prayers, make a cup of coffee and get ready for the day activities. It was Thursday, and my son and I would be going to the Law Library. It is a place he and I had frequented together over the years. This morning it was -1 degrees. As a jailhouse lawyer I am always a potential target and so I make extra efforts to walk a certain way, to simply avoid confrontation. Cold weather brings out those who for reasons that are obvious brings with it a lot of purposeful verbal assaults, power and senseless confrontation. My son and I would attend the Law Library that morning and share the table with two other inmates. We would discuss the Law, the events of Donald Trump and of course prison politics. The table is a place where all can come, share, get feedback and rest assure nothing would leave the circle, no matter how personal. I would spend the better part of two hours, researching, briefing cases and in between sharing pearls of wisdom with my fellow convicts. When our time is up, we are lined up outside, mind you, our cell house is about the distance of two city blocks. We are lined up outside, but must wait 30 to 40 minutes in the cold for other line movement to clear, and so here we were were 45 minutes in -1 degree weather cold from head to toe, waiting on the order to move the line around to the other side. When we finally reached the backdoor of the cell house, Bravo, we are told to get on the other side of the fence. We would be called to merge with the galleries of the returning chow lines we were on as they return. This would be an additional twenty-five minutes. The inmates had reached their tolerance level in the cold, mind you it was -1 degree and it could be felt. All week they had refused us yard, stating it was for our safety, ten minutes in cold could cause one to experience frostbite and here were were one hour into the cold, imagine everyone's surprise and anger. So the call went out from the crowd, man! We ain't just going to stand here and freeze, if we all go in they can't walk us all. Yeah! Yeah! as the crowd got louder and louder. My son was leading the cheer, (and truly knew not a good move) along with another individual we'll just call Big Man. No one breech the gate, as the c/o stood between them and the door. I could hear on the radio, "have them get behind the gate". I knew nothing would become of the chants, stateville simply isn't wired that way; more passive-aggressive then outright aggressive, and many suffer from the Stockholm syndrome, master sick, we sick mentality. I walked up and around the crowd, the 40 and entered my cell house door. As I did this Sgt., a washed-up, want to be AMA fighter named Sgt. Heathrow would meet me, Key where you going? I responded I need to use the restroom, I take 80mg Lasix and I need to go. As this conversation is going my son and a few others had come to the cell house doorway. The Sgt. and I were going back and forth and my son moves closer, as the Sgt. places his hand out to stop my son from entering further, stating to my son Step Back! My son responding, man don't put your hand on me, and as he's saying this the Sgt. is reaching for his mace, stating it's not going down the way you think Key. My son responding "You're right not going down the way you think. At this moment I am between the Sgt. and my son, but to the side, so I place my right arm between my son and the Sgt. , and tap with my left hand the Sgt. right; which is reaching for the mace in this moment I have already caught an assault, the lieutenant was moving behind the Sergeant and pulling his mace, but decide to defuse the situation,: Key speaking to me, you come in use the washroom. The rest of you step back and go behind the fence. Trust me, no one had our back and my son was just following me, he had no idea I was going to the washroom; for me not about the cold. As for the other inmates, no rhyme or reason. I used the washroom, came back to the back door and was allowed to stay inside while the next twenty minutes the cell house lines were coming in 10, 8, 6, 4, and two and individuals merged with their gallery. It would take that twenty minutes plus, to secure men in their cell, and the Law Library line and the incident was over or was it? No tickets were wrote, nor did anyone come to speak about the incident to any one of us. Friday would come and the routine was the same coffee, prayers, and preparation for the day. I would go to lunch my son and I when the news flash came: They called both of your names to move an inmate would tell us, only to find out after further inquiry, it was me that had been scheduled to move next door to Charlie house. As a few thoughts immediately ran through my head, the incident from yesterday or my cellmate who was paranoid and often pulling behind the back tactics. Could it possibly be him behind this overt move or was it simply retaliation, which is often the pattern and practice of these spineless individuals, who decided maybe my influence might cause them problems in the future and simply decided to move me. I would move and trust when I tell you it would be painful, why? Because it would be twice as difficult to see my son despite a wall only separating us and the equivalent of 16 cells. Up until the cell transfer, we were next door to each other. I would be placed in cell 235 Charlie hse right in front of the Stg. and Lieutenant's office and all the traffic that comes through. These are the type of things that go on in the prison. My placement here would have its minuses and pluses. Stg. Death Row would make it a point to come back, go to the cell house and state: I had your pops moved on my off day. Now I would be separated from my son, and would have to get permission to visit and write and if given, my letter would go out like regular mail be process and he would get it in two to four days. For an inter-institutional visit, it would mean I would be allowed a one hour visit in the lawyers conference room. I would have to go up to the visiting hall, be shook down and then placed in a conference room on the weekend. If not up to visiting hall on time (which is always the case) and the fault of 40's, not being called in a timely manner and so on. This lost of time is deducted from our time and visiting can become stressful. Yes! In hind sight this looks like retaliation for lawsuits, grievances and so can't be mad or become unfocused, you continue on. No property lost, no ticket, seg time and no one hurt. But it's still an inconvenience. This comes with doing time, especially if you're a litigator who questions polices, rules and regulations all the time. My regret, my separation from my son. I tell you this story because it's true and its part of the prisons fabric, you will be tested, provoked and many increase their sentences, lose good time, and some simply can't take the harassment, and so do other stupid stuff that takes them out of the environment and into a constant non-movement pattern of being housed in segregation. I wrote these stories for the most part ripped out of my experiences, my witnessing and some from my very own personal interactions. As I said my biggest regret in all of this is the separation and companionship me and my son had developed over the years ALL GONE! and I have to ask myself is the filing of suits, grievances, and the confrontations with authority worth it. I would have to say clearly I wouldn't change the way I stand up and challenge prisoncrats and I understand the consequences, we will adjust and continue to move forward on all issues that effect me and the prison and prisoners at large. -END-

Author: Key, Kenneth M.

Author Location: Illinois

Date: June 26, 2019

Genre: Essay

Extent: 10 pages

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