Through My Eyes : The Shake Down
By Kenneth M. Key
The setting is one all fimiliar - we are usually awaken by someone who gets up early and notices the water and the toliet had been cut off. Indicating we are about to be shook down.
Its a level one shakedown and its a statewide, which means officers from (various?) institutions, so 30 plus will be (converging?) upon us to search for (contraband?) such as knives, home made wine, drugs, phones etc. Its (over?) four hundred officers.
Inmates are awaken 6:45 am. There are four units B, C, D and E. 290 men per unit, but water is cut off and they will only shake on to two units a day.
Two men dressed in orange (riot?) gear bullet proof vest, tear gas, large (oak?) stick and large containers of mace are at your front door.
Inmates he (hollers?) on the floor, one to the front, the other to the back of the cell. Face the wall, this is where you are stripped butt ass naked, he hollers commands, open your mouth, move your tongue, stick fingers in - lift your nuts, turn around, spread your cheeks, squat and cough.
You are not allowed to wear underwear or socks, only a shirt and pants and shower shoes - whatever the weather - you're cuffed from behind and you are told to face the back of the cell, while your celly goes through the same ritual of humiliation.
There are 29 cells to a gallery, not one door will open until inmates are searched and cuffed. When done all doors are opened and we are (marched?) to a location such as the gym, chapel, or dining area and placed standing along the wall. You will be standing for the minimum of three hours or longer.
There are no bathroom breaks, mind you, you just woke up and if no one has noticed the water has been cut off, you won't be able to use the washroom, wash up or drink.
Some inmates are randomly taken off the wall for drug drops, there is no talking, just silence, like death with these huge masked officers behind you with stick that often tap you, punch you with these oak sticks, if you're moving, seem to be irritated by the standing etc. Any feedback will automatically have you removed from line and taken to segregation immediately. This is about power and intimidation.
This is done several times a year and, something no one ever gets use too. You will return back to your cells and depending on the type of cell you kept and the type of officers you draw. Your cell will be totally ram-sacked, yes! Imagine "Katrina" taking place in your cell and your property and cellies are all mixed together.
Food opened, containers taken, bowls, anything they feel you shouldn't have despite you're purchasing it or it being sent. It depends on why they are here in the first place that will determine the level of damage.
Officer (assaulted?), man get ready, happened in your cellhouse, well you may have your TV smashed, cassette player thrown off the gallery. Earphones stepped on. One thing is certain, everyone will be touched by their actions.
It will take several hours to clean up, take inventory of things destroyed, taken or missing. As a jail house lawyer and considered a (agitator?) I am always prepared for the tsunami of shakedowns. Off into court you go and if you win - you are given money to replace your property from the Inmate (Benefit?) Find, but its not money from the state or employees money, but the recycling. Its your money (used?) to purchase commissary, books etc.
This is another thing you will have to, but never get use too. Trust me after 35 yrs still bothers the hell out of me. Here your girl, wife, or family or friend sends you $280.00 to purchase a 13 inch digital tv and its been smashed and if you sue, you will only get $100.00 its called depreciation and this claim (could?) go on for a year to a year and a half or longer.
In the meantime you are without a tv or what-ever property you have lost, unless you have another $280.00 to get another or your celly don't mind you looking at his until you get another one. You're in waiting for some type of justice.
This is one of the many shake downs that will take place. We have the ones that take place every 30 days, the random and wine shakedowns, the (snitch?) shakedowns and sometime you can be shakedown four to five times in a week or month and loose something every time. Unfortunately this is part of the perils of prison life.
Last year they took everyone's typewriters in a maximum security prison, claiming a security threat. Imagine the brother who saved up $300.00 dollars or family just sent it, buys the (typewriter?) and the following week they take it, NO REFUND, and yes its what they did.
Now everything is done by long (here?), you are allowed to purchase (illegible) four inch (illegible) state pens only. Trust me not a lot of ink, when you are corresponding, during legal work or writing in general.
This is a prison where your property isn't your own and can be taken at anytime on the whim of the (prisoncrats?). without due process and without ever replacing what was sold or given to you and this is life in prison.
- END -
Mr. Kenneth M. Key
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