CURRENT STATUS

If you have any questions for Andy about the prison system, what it is like, what goes on there, or anything, please leave the question in a blog comment and Andy would be happy to answer it. It keeps him occupied and allow us to learn about the system.

Also, for his friends, he would LOVE to get pictures of anything, so if you have his address, please send them to him, or if you would like to email them to the blog editor, you can do that and he will print out the pics and mail them to him.

He is now attending the class he must take before his release, and he will mention the journal entry memo they discussed that day in class.

Even if you don't know Andy, feel free to comment on his blog entries, which he gets and will respond to.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2 WEEK LOCKDOWN

Hello everyone.  I know it's been quite a while since I’ve written you and I'm sorry about that.  My motivation to write has been at a near zero level for the last couple of weeks.  I can’t explain exactly why, but, as I’ve described before, perhaps it is mainly just the feeling of being out of material to write about.
 
I hope everyone got all their Christmas shopping done......I know I always put it off until the last minute.  This may be the first and only time over the last year, that I prefer my spot over yours. LOL!  Needless to say, I do not list shopping for gifts on my top 10 list of fun activities. Best of luck to you and I hope it all turned out well.  I also hope Santa brings everyone exactly what they want.

We’ve been on this lockdown here for the past 12 days.  My dorm is completely confined to itself.  I cannot leave the front door barrier of my dorm.  The dorm consists of 3 floors with activity rooms on floors 2 and 3.  Usually, I am able to traverse the floors, spend time in the activity rooms and spend time in other inmates’ rooms if I choose.  Generally, the television in each activity room is on from 8am through 11pm.  The showers and laundry rooms are open from 8am-5pm.  All of this isn’t really too bad.  It’s definitely much better than a county jail situation.  I’ve been outside twice during the lockdown.  

My dad and cousin visited this past weekend, so I walked from my dorm to the visitation center.  Also, last Thursday, during the ‘shakedown’ portion of the lockdown, I walked from my dorm to the chapel which is probably a few hundred yards away. The ‘shakedown’ is the main purpose of the whole lockdown.  It’s meant to find and ‘shake loose’ all for the contraband that has accumulated over the months.  There are 2 of these per year.  I arrived here just after the first one was completed.

Basically, in the ‘shakedown’, everyone bags up all their belongings and carries them out of the dorm to another area.  At this area the items are searched and, in theory, all contraband is discarded.  Notice I say in theory.  Most of the ‘good’ contraband is never discarded.  However, there are a few reasons for this.  Number one, the guards conducting the searches in here are tired and overworked and simply don’t want to deal with the paperwork necessary to confiscate an inmate’s property.  Second, the system here is borderline corrupt.  Equate the governings here to the Louisiana political machine.  On the surface, it’s all good, but the shadiness is not far below the surface. That being said, most of the ‘good contraband’ gets by (radios, fans, watches, sunglasses).  
I think it’s pretty safe to assume that most of the drugs and tobacco are consumed prior to the shakedown, and the cell phones are hidden.  When the inmates leave their dorms to walk to the chapel shakedown area, a team of guards enters the dorm to perform an exhaustive search for contraband.  I really think that the vastness of these buildings is too overwhelming to find anything that is truly hidden well.  That may seem like somewhat of an outlandish claim, but you must remember that inmates live in these dorms and are exposed to 24/7 concealment opportunities. It’s amazing how creative the human mind becomes when given time and motivation!
On the bright side, the shakedown purges loads and loads of trash and does make the dorm feel fresher.  That’s definitely a plus!

So, that’s the lowdown on the lockdown.  I think we were supposed to be off of it by Christmas morning, but on the other night there was a big ol’ fight in one or more of the dorms.  I think the guards classify it as a riot, although it had nothing to do with a riot against the prison, as it was simply a bunch of Mexican gang guys fighting with a bunch of black gang guys.  When I say a bunch, I really do mean a pretty large number of people to be fighting with one another at one time.  I know that very early the next morning, about 55 guys were bussed out of this unit and back into TDCJ care because they had been involved in the fight. I think most of these guys were Mexican. 

From the information I can piece together about the whole incident, I think some black guys got the best of some Mexican guys first. Then, the Mexican guys started running throughout the Northside dorms to gather more troops.  Once the Mexican guys had regrouped and were about to whip the black guys, the guards here were able to cordon off the Mexican guys in one section outside and then get the situation under control.  I guess, all in all, there were about 75 - 80 guys involved.  I think those numbers would constitute a large fistacuffs in just about any setting other than a war.

What does all of this mean for me? The lockdown continues!  For most of the day yesterday, we were confined mostly to our rooms.  Mid afternoon yesterday brought back the ‘normal’ lockdown protocol where we could once again leave out rooms and roam the dorm.  Oh, I’ll remind you that all of the meals we are served during the lockdown are cold, brown paper bag, to-go style meals, consisting mainly of sandwiches.  I can tell you for certain that I have currently had my last 35 meals served to me in a paper sack.  It’s really kind of funny if you think about it.  I wonder what the world record for incessant sack lunches is.  But hey, it’s better than 35 meals of bread and water!

I don’t know how much longer this portion of the lockdown will last.  It could only be a couple more days, or it could last for a couple of weeks.  I’m pretty sure it won’t last long enough to interfere with my class starting back up on January 3rd, but geez, there’s no telling. I’ve been exercising inside and I can tell that I’ll have a reinvigorated approach to my outdoor workout routine as soon as we are allowed to go back outside.

The visit with my dad and my cousin was very nice, but I think there was less to talk about than in prior visits. We once again affirmed that it would be our last visit before I was released.  I remember that Dad and I had the same discussion back in August when I felt I’d be getting out much sooner.  We joked that it was nice to know, this time, that our next planned meeting at my release was a done deal.  All my dogs are still doing OK at his place, and I think it was determined that my ceremonial first round of golf would be played at a sprawling Country Club.  I did forewarn Dad that the day I am released we’d probably need to stop at a store on the way home to buy some blue jeans.
 
During the lockdown we continue to receive postal mail. Last Friday, I received the most recent round of blog comments.  I’m going to start working on those replies next.  I’m down to only 2 or 3 more envelopes, so I’m not sure when I will mail this letter out.  Commissary does not run during lockdown, so my postage supply is limited to my inventory on hand.

One last thing…. I’m actually reading an economics book right now that I’m finding very informative.  It was penned after our current recession began, and it addresses many of the current issues going on in the US and the world right now.  I can’t remember the exact long title right now, but I’ll report back when I am finished.

Now, I will end this letter to begin working on the responses to your comments, which I continue to enjoy reading and always appreciate. Have a wonderful Christmas season and a fabulous New Year!

4 comments:

  1. Lockdowns ain't all that bad with a locker full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

    hehehe....
    Tucker Max for prez!!!!


    To all the followers. I was just released from being locked up with Andy (if that is your real name...) and, yes, the lockdown was not fun. Especially with the gang/race riot that extended it for a few days. Anyway, he's doing good and will be among the rest of us soon.

    See ya soon bud!!

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  2. Hey, great to hear from you again. When you talk of these gangs that were fighting, am I correct to assume these are probably young men? Seems they are the ones who feel they have to prove something, from what I can gather. I still find it ridiculous that once you find yourself in a more lenient place like MW that you would still want to cause trouble and risk getting taken to a stricter environment. Totally beyond me, but I guess that #1 shows they arent ready to be cut loose, so open a space for someone who is deserving of a little more freedom, #2 Makes it safer and better on the others.

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  3. Wow, that's a lot of sack lunches! Come on down to Austin when you get out and I'll treat you to some Foga De Chao!
    -Jeff B

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  4. So any updates on release date?

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