The good, the bad, and the ugly.


Postby admin » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:35 am


The large majority of women in prison are addicted to one of two things, drugs or money, sometimes both. Looking down a list of 120 female recidivists incarcerated at the women's correctional institution I visited, I counted sixty-one in jail for theft/forgery. In plain English, that charge translates more often than not as "bad checks," their own or someone else's. I'd asked that inmates with drug related offenses be left out when the computer picked out the list. These days, there are too many crack addicts in and out of prison three times in two years, as if they were caught in a revolving door.

Charlotte, who tells her story here, was more ambitious than many of the women I talked to. "These other women come in here to prison on misdemeanors. I never have misdemeanors. I won't waste a check. It's got to have zeros on it, if you're going to do it. Why would you go in and write a check for twenty-five dollars when you could write it for two hundred fifty dollars? I mean, get real! If you get caught, one's no worse than the other. The county can jail you for the misdemeanors. Who the hell wants to do up to fifty months in county jail? Come here to prison and do the time, that's how I look at it. You see girls up here who have bad checks out for $9.38. One girl wrote a check for socks at Sears for a little over three dollars. I won't waste a check for that. Checks are too valuable. You have to use them right."

She's blonde and a little overweight, which she blames on prison food. Charlotte refuses to eat in the institution's dining hall, because she says she worked in the kitchen and saw the bugs. So most of her meals are bought at the canteen -- packaged soups, sodas, candy, and cookies. "Believe it or not, we got canteen jackers in this place. Yeah! Steal your stuff from the canteen. Give me a break! You're in prison. You're going to get caught."

Thirty-three years old, she's in prison for the third time. She has three children, the youngest born at the beginning of this prison term. "I've got one who wasn't quite a year old when I got arrested. The other one my mom's had since he was two days old. Then I have a twelve-year-old, and I haven't been home in two and a half years."

Unlike many of the other women in the institution, Charlotte has had all the advantages a young person could want. From a well-to-do family, she was spoiled rotten with cars, clothes, vacations. No one ever told Charlotte no.

"Money is an addiction," she says. "I've never been a drug addict. I've snorted a little cocaine here and there, stuff like that. But my addiction was always money and nice things. I was so cheap, I would never waste my money on drugs. I cringe when I go in a store, because I don't want to spend money. I hate to spend money. Why give them cash, when you can give them paper or plastic? Why pay three hundred dollars for this, when I can write a check. It's just a piece of paper. Now, it's hard for me to identify that paper with money." When Charlotte gets out, she's even considering starting Bad Checks Anonymous for women with similar problems.

Men commit over 90 percent of all crimes in this country and an even higher percentage of violent crimes. Just because many women criminals are in prison for nonviolent crimes doesn't mean they can't be violent. I was told stories of nasty confrontations on the streets with butcher knives, an ice pick, high heels sharpened to points, and a golf club. One woman told me she used to carry a thin sword that could be drawn from the shaft of her cane.

A polite, petite young woman I talked to has always come to prison for assault charges. The incidents almost always start with petty theft. The last time, she stole a carton of cigarettes. She hates the police and is deathly afraid of them. Whenever she has been stopped, she refuses to cooperate. If the police touch her, she fights. When she is restrained, she bites, hard enough to carve out a hunk of flesh. She described doing this twice.

Gail, a quiet, but self-assured woman, told this story about the first time she came to prison as a juvenile. "I was at a lounge drinking Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull, but I was putting gin into it. I was really tore up, but I wasn't so tore up that I didn't know what I was doing and who was around me. This woman was talking with her friend when I came into the ladies room. She called my name and said, 'That bitch, she don't want none of me.'

"I looked at her, and I throwed my head in the air. I went on and used the bathroom. But when she came out, the door almost hit me in my face. I told her, 'You could have said excuse me,' because I don't bother with nobody and ain't nobody going to bother with me.

"She starts in about me messing with her husband. What would I want with her husband when men don't even appeal to me? After I got turned out by my girlfriend, I didn't even want to be bothered with no man. Then somebody hollered to her, 'Snatch the purse! Snatch the purse!' What good was it to snatch my pocketbook?

"She had a switchblade. I had a knife in a garter holder around my thigh. So I came out of my shift and my see-through dress. I didn't have nothing on but my negligee under there. The next thing I knew, I was stabbing her. I stabbed her until she hit the ground.

"The judge said, 'You're lucky you didn't kill that child, because you came this close to her lung.'

"You know what I told the judge? I told him, 'Kiss my ass. I don't give a damn. As long as I'm out there, and I feel like someone is trying to hurt me, I'm going to get them first. If you was out here in the same position, you can't tell me you'd just walk away. She had a switchblade, and you can get killed just by turning your back. If she's got a bone to pick with me, I'd rather pick the flesh off of her before she picks it off of me.' I've always been very sensitive, and I don't like nobody bothering with me. I was about fourteen when that happened, using false I.D."

A corrections officer at the men's institution about a mile away, who has worked in both prisons, told me that she prefers working with the male inmates. She's friendly, good-natured, big enough, and strong enough that she could probably break me in half without too much effort. She said, "First of all, every one of these men has a mother, so they are generally taught to be polite to women. But if one of them gets mad and decides that he wants to do something to me, he's going to wait, and plan, and try to do something sneaky where he won't get caught. If one of those women doesn't like something you say, they'll just pick up the hot iron they're ironing with and throw it in your face. The women are more direct."

Charlotte thinks prison is a breeze. She has a good job as a secretary for one of the prison administrators, and she lives in the wing of her dormitory, which is divided into two-person cells, so there is some privacy and quiet. The wing on the other end of the building is one huge room, where forty to fifty women live and sleep together in a bedlam of television noise, singing, arguments, and loud conversations.

Charlotte's relatives send her money. "If I want to buy some yarn and do hobbycraft, they'll say, 'Okay, I'll send you ten dollars.' I don't even do yarn. I buy it, and pay other people to make bears, afghans, and stuff like that." She claims there is some sexual harassment from male guards, but she just tells them, "Why would I want to have anything to do with you. You work for the state. I know how small your paycheck is."

Charlotte says, "Truthfully, I don't think I can live with a budget. But I'm going to have to try. My grandparents are eighty years old now. My mom and dad are in their late fifties. I mean, who's going to take my kids if I get in trouble again? You have to think about that. Plus, this place will make you age. This last year and a half, I've got some gray hairs. I've got my beautician all lined up. The day I get out, I'm getting my hair and my nails done."


I was going to college, and living with my daughter's father, although this was years before I even had any kids. My grandparents had cut off my money again, because my boyfriend was black. I met Louise through a neighbor of mine who I was friendly with. I knew Louise and Mary had been making money, but I didn't know how they were making it. When Mary and Louise sort of fell out, Louise and I started hanging out a little bit. One Saturday afternoon she came over, and we were talking. We had a few drinks, and she was telling me about what she did. "You know, I'm going to the bank this weekend and make some money." I wasn't shocked or anything, what the hell?

"If you sign these checks," she says, "I'll give you five hundred dollars." I'm not doing anything but sitting at her house signing checks? What a deal! Then it got so easy. I could look at a signature and do it. If it was some signature I really couldn't reproduce, I'd put it up on a sliding glass door, put paper over it, and trace it. There are all kinds of things you can do. You can't imagine how lax banks are with signatures. Sometimes when I just couldn't copy it, I'd just scribble and pass it on through. The bank would take it.

Pretty soon, I'm signing checks, and she's handing me two thousand dollars here, three thousand dollars there. Louise tells me that if I wanted to help her pass checks at the banks, on a good Friday, we could make ten thousand dollars apiece. Before long, I was all the way in.

During the week, we would go to real nice subdivisions where the houses were set back from the street -- and the mailboxes -- and we would check their mail. We steal their checking statement. It would have their account number in it, their signature on canceled checks, plus their balance. At night, working with three or four other people, we would go to bars and other places and pick up purses. The guys would break into cars, and get us other I.D., plus checkbooks.

We know the balance in this well-to-do person's account. We have her signature. We picked accounts in chain banks with a lot of branches in our area. We write one of the checks we stole in a bar to this rich person in the amount of say forty-five hundred dollars. I would forge the endorsement on the back of the check. I go to the bank, deposit fifteen hundred dollars of the check and ask them to cash the rest of the check against my account. All the teller would check at the time is whether or not there is enough cash in the account to cover this check, plus she'll glance to see if the endorsement signature is right. We would hit six branches, one after another. Six banks for three thousand dollars apiece, that's eighteen thousand dollars off each account. Then we'd split up the money.

The best time to go was on a Friday evening when most of the banks stay open to six or seven o'clock at night. Everyone has paychecks. All the tellers want to do is get you in and out. I go to the drive-in window. I've got the account number. I know the people have money in the account. The signature is halfway what they want to see, and they throw the money out, just like that. We were going from bank to bank to bank. I was making a killing.

When you ran out of checks, you'd run across a credit card in somebody's mailbox. It was nothing to get a card with a credit line on it of five thousand dollars. You go stay at the Hilton, just party for the weekend like you could afford to do this. I rented cars from Thursday until Monday. Had a guy at the rental agency rent me cars, no problem. I don't think he knew exactly what we were doing, but he knew we weren't doing something legal. He always had a car ready, so we had a different car every weekend. We'd wear wigs and different color contact lenses, and just have a good old time.

When I got bored with the forgeries and the credit cards, when I couldn't get any mail, then I'd just resort to my own worthless checks. It's really amazing, but I can go somewhere, open a bank account for twenty-five dollars, and live for five months on that bank account -- for nothing. I can shop anywhere in the mall, go to motels and stay. I mean, it's amazing.

It was nothing for me to stroll into a big, fancy department store and spend six hundred dollars just on perfume. You go in, and you ask your kid, "What do you want?" My oldest daughter is a spoiled brat. Oh, yeah. She's got one-hundred-dollar tennis shoes, eighty-five- dollar jeans with the holes ripped in the knees and the butt. How can you tell your kid you gave her this stuff before, but she's not going to have it anymore? It's hard. It was nothing for me to go away to Disney World, rent a motel room in the park, and stay all week long. I'd spend thousands of dollars on just bullshit. I'd go to a little carnival at a shopping center parking lot and waste five hundred dollars. But when you get used to doing that, who cared about the bill? You didn't have to worry about the bill, with all these checks. I knew I'd always pay my bills. Just write them another check.

Groceries? I'd spend four hundred to five hundred dollars a week on groceries. I'd go to the expensive supermarkets. Go to the deli and buy the best cold cuts, the best steaks. That's because I never had to pay for any of it. Passing a check in a grocery store is the easiest thing in the world.

Winn Dixie prosecuted me on an organized scheme to commit fraud. I had thirty-two thousand dollars' worth of bad checks just to that supermarket. See, I had a friend who had a restaurant. He's buying everything I could bring him. So it was a nice method of converting lettuce, beans, and smoked hams into cash.

When I go to jail, I might have eighty or ninety felonies at one time. They block them together, and that might kick it down to six. I've come in and been charged with 357 checks at one time. For the first five months, I went to court every day, even on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. One check from here, one from there. All of sudden, twenty might come in.

One time, I was so embarrassed. I had forty-something checks at once. They had to read each charge off. I'm sitting there, and they kept on reading them and reading them. People in the courtroom start giggling and whispering. I thought, "Is this ever going to stop?" They're reading the amounts, the places they came from. The judge said, "You didn't ever write anything little, did you?"

"No, your honor, my hands just can't write a little check."

It's just a revolving door. Once you get in trouble, it's hard to get out of trouble. They put you on probation. The stipulations are that you pay beaucoup bucks in restitution. They're charging you fifty dollars a month to babysit you, plus they want outrageous amounts for your probation. Who the hell can go out and get a job paying three or four dollars an hour with these people asking for this kind of money? You can't do it. So you get back in trouble trying to pay them. It's a never-ending cycle. Once you get on probation, you never get off. I'll probably be on probation until I'm fifty years old at the rate I'm going.

Nobody wants to hire you. Someone who knows about your record sees you on the job. That someone then calls personnel, and they fire you. When I got out the first time, I got a job at a bakery, decorating cakes. It only paid six bucks an hour, but it was a straight job, and it kept the probation officer off my back. Someone called personnel and told them that I had been in prison before, or at least in jail. My supervisor told me, "Don't worry about it. I don't have a problem with you." But the big boss came in, pointed to my name on a piece of paper and said, "You've got to get rid of this girl." My supervisor tried to talk him out of it, but he said, "No, no, no. I can't do it." The next day, he turned around and asked, "Where's that girl with the red hair?"

"That's the one you told me to fire."

"Oh, my God. She's a good worker."

I went and talked to my lawyer. "How can these people keep doing this to me?" The lawyer arranged for me to meet with the owner of the bakery. I talked to him. He hired me back. I never actually took anybody's money. It is taking money, but it's not like I reached into a register and took anyone's money. So he gave me a chance, and I came back to work.

I worked for him for a year and a half, until it just got to where people were constantly aggravating me, and the probation officer was constantly on me, so I asked for a transfer to another state. I moved to my mother's house in Ohio. Very conveniently, my probation officer lost the paperwork for me to go out-of-state. The next thing I know, a year later, he violates my probation, saying I didn't have permission to go. The cops come to my mom's door, "We have a fugitive warrant for your daughter's arrest for violation of probation."

But they couldn't extradite me immediately, because I was pregnant. The doctor told them she would not allow me to fly. I was a high-risk pregnancy, and I could lose my baby. She told them, "You're going to have to send somebody to get her. I only want her driving six hours a day."

They sent this little Spanish lady. She shows up, and she's being real bitchy to me. She handcuffs me. I'm seven months pregnant, and my belly is out like this, and I'm saying, "What the hell can I possibly do to you?"

She was a bitch to me, so I was a bitch to her. We leave the jail, and we're driving down the road. She didn't know how to get on the Interstate, and I wasn't going to tell her. We rode around Cleveland for two hours. I finally had a heart, and I showed her, "You have to go this way." But then I rode her through the part of town I wanted to see. I had her riding all the way around the other side of town through my old neighborhood.

When we got on the Interstate, she was still pissing me off, so I let her go North. The next thing you know, she's looking out the window, and we're headed into Chicago. "Oh, my God, we're going the wrong way."

"Oh, you didn't tell me which way you wanted to go." I was playing stupid. She started yelling at me. I said, "You know what? It will be all right. You can make this pleasant, or you can make this unpleasant. If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you." She had a better attitude after that. She even took off my handcuffs. I had her stop every ten miles, "I want to pee. I want juice. I'm thirsty. I'm this. I'm that." We ate fifty times a day. I don't think I missed a restaurant on that drive. She had to stop, because the doctor told them she had to. I drove her crazy.

We got back, and that's when the fun began. My lawyer was good. He made sure I wouldn't stand up in court. He had a wheelchair for me to sit in. He wouldn't let them put me in a cell. He tried everything. My grandfather offered ten thousand dollars cash bond for them to let me out. An officer had to escort me to a special clinic three times a week, because I was toxemic, I had gestational diabetes -- everything. I gained 133 pounds. I was up to 281. I had them crazy in jail. The doctor gave me a prescription for crushed ice. They had to run and get me ice. I couldn't drink the water. I had to have bottled water. I had to have everything. I was a pure bitch, because they were mean to me.

I had my baby on a Tuesday, and they brought me back to the jail in two days, on Thursday. My lawyer went to the court and arranged contact visits with my kids. I got visitation time for bonding with my new baby, feeding, and changing; three hours once a week, in addition to the regular visitation, which was twice a week.

I got to court for sentencing, and the state attorney throws me an envelope in the courtroom, telling me I'm to be sentenced as a habitual offender. This is only my second time to go to prison. They offered me twenty-five years minimum mandatory, which means I would do sixteen years of that time. I was freaking. Hey, I'm thirty years old, and they want to take my life away. They want me to stay in prison until I'm old.

I sat there in jail for fourteen months before my lawyer and my grandfather could get a bargain. They knocked my sentence down to fifteen years. I told my grandfather, "I'm going to kill myself. There is no way I can contend with this. I just had a baby in jail! I can't deal with this!"

Money talks. My lawyer arranged a private hearing, just the judge, the prosecutor, my lawyer, and my grandfather. He offered to pay them for some of the things I'd done. He gave them a cashier's check on the spot for ten thousand dollars. They still weren't satisfied with that, so he added another seventy-five hundred dollars in restitution and court costs. Court costs are outrageous. Once they had the $17,500, I wound up with three and a half years as a habitual offender, minus time served, waiting in jail. I have been here in prison for two and a half years. I go home in eighteen days.

I'm going to talk to some people when I get out of here. I really think they need to offer self-help programs for check writers. You have Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous. People who write checks have the same kind of problem. You would not believe how many women are in here for bad checks; they're clogging up the prison system for checks. People are out there killing, robbing other people, and they're getting away with it. There's this one girl in the same dorm building as I am, who has been here three times for possession and sales within two hundred feet of a school zone, in the two and a half years that I've been in prison. She just went home again. There's no method to the madness. Us check writers, yeah, we did something wrong, but we didn't molest your child. We didn't kill your grandmother.

You know what pisses me off? The people I stole from got their money back from the banks, and yet I'm still paying restitution. All that money was insured. They got it back, but I still have to pay. My mom and I talked, and she said, "You have to knock on wood, because if you got caught for everything you did, you'd be away for ten lifetimes." She's right, I can't complain.

It's always the little things that I go to prison for. I get caught for a two-hundred-dollar forgery of my own worthless check. I've scammed one hundred thousand dollars on this one forgery, working with these other people, and we don't go to jail for that. I got to jail for something ridiculous.

Really, what I have to do when I get out is learn to live on a budget. That's hard, but I've got to do it, if I want to stay out of here. This isn't the place to be, now that they want you to serve all your sentence. If I knew I was going to go out there, make a killing, and then come back to prison and only do a little bit of time -- three or four years ... but I'm getting life if I come back here. My grandfather says now that he isn't paying any more money, but he says that all the time.
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Postby admin » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:36 am


Definition of BUSTOUT: a confidence scheme in which an established business is taken over, a large stock of merchandise is purchased on credit and quickly sold, and the business is then abandoned or bankruptcy is declared

-- by Merriam Webster Dictionary

Reynolds loves his work. He's had a long career running check kiting operations involving hundreds of thousands of dollars for crooked businesses. "It's like the United States government," he explains. "They have a consistent kiting operation. They call it a deficit. If all your debts are called in -- everything, right now -- you're in deep shit. But if that doesn't happen you can work it for a long time.

"Say you and I and another guy all had a business, and we weren't making it. We could open a couple accounts, write checks to each other -- float some checks -- and by the end of the week, we might each have thirty or forty thousand dollars in working capital in the accounts. We could float instead of getting a business loan. On the other hand, we also could suddenly rape the accounts and take off with the cash."

Reynolds would take off with the cash.

When he doesn't have backers, he becomes a lawyer, even though he doesn't have a high school diploma -- James T. Reynolds, Attorney-at-Law. For Reynolds, the main advantage in being a lawyer is that no one questions his checks when he goes to cash a bad one, as long as it has attorney-at-law printed right under his name.

"I practiced law in one little town for a year. I represented the chief of police on corruption charges. It seems like the more you embarrass people, the more likely they are to let it go. When they charged me with practicing law without a license, I represented myself. The judge said, 'You want to represent yourself? Why?'

"'I have 112 witnesses I want to subpoena.'

"'Before the state pays for all these witnesses, what are they going to testify about?'

"'These people are going to testify that I acted as their attorney, and they're all going to say that they were quite satisfied with my services. Ninety percent of them won their cases. Then I'm going to subpoena the prosecutor. He's going to testify to the cases that he lost to me, and that I conducted myself in a proper manner.'

"'Can't we work something out about this?' the judge said."

Reynolds's eyes twinkled with excitement while he told of his exploits. With his thinning gray hair, he looks to be approaching fifty. He's slender and has a reedy voice with a high laugh, but the timbre and accent change as he plays all the parts of the various individuals he's encountered. He considers himself a master of disguises. "I was able to disguise myself and be with you one day, then come back tomorrow as somebody else, and you wouldn't know I was the same person."

But there is one scam that Reynolds is most proud of pulling off. He and his partner obtained very convincing identification as federal marshals. The two of them went to federal penitentiaries and state prisons taking criminals out of jail under the pretense that the inmates were being transported to other venues to testify in court. Depending on the difficulty of the snatch, Reynolds and his partner made twenty thousand dollars and up for each person they freed. According to Reynolds, all the people he took out of prison are still unaccounted for except for one who was killed later in a car accident.

This scam was Reynolds's piece de resistance. Reynolds showed up at our meeting with a fat folder of photocopies of his arrest record. He was particularly fond of the pages of police affidavits attesting to the convincing nature of his fake identification. The documents also confirm that he was driving a car bearing government license plates and equipped with all the latest technology in civilian and police communications, that he was carrying two weapons at the time of his arrest, and wearing a bulletproof vest under his three piece suit.

There was only one part of the job that Reynolds didn't like. "I could never get over being paranoid when I was a fugitive." You'd never know it by the amount of time and energy he spent taunting the people who were after him, particularly one nettlesome prosecutor. "This one state attorney, he and I just hated each other's guts. When I was on the run, I sent his office twenty-seven pizzas for his retirement party, and wrote a bad check on the state attorney's office. The pizzas arrived on a Monday, and they had a big party -- whee! Fred Malovich's retirement party! I had his mail sent to Canada. I called the papers and gave him a yard sale on Saturday and Sunday. I called the classified section of the newspapers and said, "This is Fred Malovich,' being real sadistic like he is. "I'm a state attorney, and I'm having a garage sale. I got a nineteen-inch Panasonic stereo TV with remote control, and the first seventy-five dollars takes it.' He had three hundred people in front of his house that Saturday morning. I knew the little son of a bitch had some pull with the Herald, so I'd put another ad in the News for Sunday. He was pissed.

"I'd get on my radio that had a microphone which gave it that police effect, and call the local police on his house. 'County communications? This is Deputy Smith with the U.S. Marshal's service. I'm on surveillance at this time at an apartment at such and such. I have just identified a suspect as James T. Reynolds. Can you run him through the computer, please?'

"'10-4. We have some warrants on him.'

"'Apparently, he has a shotgun and is trying to make an entry into this house. Wait a minute ... I got to go now. I need back-up right away!' And I'd hang up. Five or ten minutes later, the SWAT team is there, and that son of a bitch come out of his house. Boy! was he pissed. He made my life miserable, and I made his miserable, too."

I couldn't fault Reynolds on his mathematics, his ingenuity or his sense of humor. "I've been a fugitive four times. I've been extradited four times. The only thing the sheriff who had to come and pick me up every time would tell me is, 'Reynolds, the next time you get busted, and you bring me to a place like Petersboro, Virginia, you're in deep shit. I'm not going to let you drink on the plane.'

"The next time they extradited me from Hawaii. When he came to pick me up, I said, 'How's this!'



While I was in prison, they had put me in the accounting department, taking care of accounts receivable, when inmates were still doing the clerical and administrative work. All the prison industries would sell things to other corrections institutions. Then they'd give each other checks. At the end of the month, I'd have this big stack of checks. I'd just tremble handling them, because I love checks. They were using me as a financier for what amounted to little crooked businesses. I just showed them how to float -- kite without being caught.

When I was released on parole, my parole officer told me, "I'm going to put you in a job that you're suitable for -- washing dishes." This ex-con who owned a Bonanza Steak House gave me a break. After the first week, I was promoted to cook. In two weeks, I was assistant manager, then manager. Before I got off parole I hired my parole officer's son to work as a cook. Then me and my dad bought the place.

I stayed out of prison. I got married. I really had no trade. I started kiting checks, because I wanted to just see how it would work. I had three bank accounts. I'd deposit five hundred in each of them. One day, the police called me and said, "Reynolds, get your ass down here."

"What for, sir?"

"I don't know. You got fifty thousand dollars in this bank, twenty-five thousand dollars in this other bank, and you're minus thirty thousand dollars in this third bank. I know you're doing something wrong, but I don't know if it's illegal or not. I don't want you to touch any of those checks. Don't deposit, don't do nothing." It took the banks almost thirty days to straighten the thing out. But I'd found out what kiting was.

I started doing a little work for this Mafia guy. He was into a lot of stuff. I never had any direct dealings with the Mafia, but he had little businesses he needed help with, and I'm great with checks.

I made a lot of money. I always made good money. Put me in a town without a dime, and I'll drive out in a Cadillac in two or three hours.

After a couple of years, I went to Virginia and bought a farm. My wife started running around on me. She left me, and ran off with a hired hand. The state police come in there, and told me, "Hey, we know all about you. You got twenty-four hours. Don't let the sun set on you in this state. We called Florida, and they got warrants out on you, but they said they don't want you. So get out of here, and don't go back to Florida."

I said, "Screw it!" I ran back to St. Pete with my tail between my legs.

I didn't have too much money, so I figured the best thing to do is start a scam. I became an attorney, James T. Reynolds, Attorney-at- Law, even though I don't have a high school diploma.

I rented this three-suite office in the high-class section of St. Pete. I was interviewing applicants for secretaries. This lady from an employment agency says, "Look, I have this girl who is really good." It was oversell, is what it was. I says, "Okay, I'll talk to her. I'll see her at the Ramada Inn over lunch tomorrow. I'll buy."

This beautiful girl comes in -- nice shoulder length blonde hair. I asked her how old she was, and she said twenty-one. Okay. She says, "I'd like to work as your legal secretary." I hired her. Two weeks later, I married her. Found out she was only seventeen years old.

I pretty quickly had scammed about forty thousand dollars with the lawyer deal, floating checks. When banks see money floating between attorneys, they never question it. You come in with a check that's got "Attorney-at-Law" printed on it, and they're going to cash it. They don't check. I used three different accounts in my name. She and I had a big wedding, and we were living in a condo out at the beaches. She thought I was a lawyer, and so did my clients. I'm going to court, the whole thing.

A friend of mine called from Tampa and said, "Look, John, we're about ready to rape these accounts now. What are you going to do?"

"I just got married."

"You going to leave her?"

I had thought it was just a one-night stand, a week's stand at the most, but I was starting to like her a lot, so I said, "Nah, I think I'll go on vacation. Although, I need a favor. Call up my wife, and tell her that I better come up with what I'm supposed to, or else I'm in deep shit, because something bad is going to happen to me." He calls and tells her this.

"What's it mean?" my wife says.

"It means, pack your stuff, we're going on vacation." I'm really scamming out of there. She stayed with me, and we went up to Virginia, stayed at the Holiday Inn for two weeks. Then we got a big house to rent for a while. We went to New York on an extended honeymoon.

When we came back down to Florida, I couldn't go back to St. Pete, because I had warrants on me. So we went to Sarasota. I rented a house there, and started a scam. I had a phone in my car. The phone rings, and my wife says, "John, there's two sheriffs here who want to talk to you."

"Whoops." I hauled ass, and left her there. I sent her a Western Union money order, so she could get out of town and go back to live with her mother.

I had very little money, because I couldn't get to my accounts, but I'm driving a brand new Mustang with a telephone in it. I got two suits in the trunk of my car, which I always carry. I got to hide some place. I was still in the same circuit court division.

I went down to this travel trailer place. I said I wanted to look at some.

"Oh, what do you want?" He showed me a used eighteen-footer for seven hundred dollars.

"That's real nice," I said.

"You're an attorney?"

"Yeah, I'm an attorney."

"Who do you work for?"

I couldn't think real quick, so I said, "I work for the state attorney's office."

"You mean Farley G. Hefler's office? That State Attorney?"


"Me and Farley are golfing buddies. We play at the club all the time."

"Let me see one of your new units. How about that brand new Tag-a-Long, twenty-four-foot, self-contained trailer?" He let me have a vehicle for the night while he put electric brakes on my car for the trailer. I gave him a check the next day, and I told him, "If there's any problems with the check, just call Farley Hefler and he'll take care of it."

It bounced. I haul ass up to Marion County, put on a pair of jeans, and went for a job interview at a horse farm. The guy was real suspicious of me, because I didn't care about the pay. I just needed a place to hide. I could park the trailer on the property, and hook it up. They had a place for the help to eat right on the farm. I never had to leave the place. I'm a fugitive hiding out with 100,000 horses.

I had just left my new wife and was on the run. I was totally devastated with grief, because I started thinking about her. Realized how much I really missed her, and that this type of life just wasn't working out. So I wandered to where they had the chow hall on the farm. When I walked in, there were fifty-five girls and two guys. I was in heaven. I loved it.

When things cooled down, I got back with my wife, and we moved to the central part of the state. I contacted my Italian friends, and they loaned me fifteen thousand dollars. I opened up Central Florida TV Sales & Service. We stayed there for quite a while. Then disappeared up North for a while. Then I came back down, settled in another little town and I opened up Monday's TV Showcase. My backers paired me up with this guy who had been one of their heavy tactic guys. We wheeled and dealed and made a lot of money.

My wife sat there one morning at the breakfast table and said, "That's it. I've had it. I'm just too nervous." I'm very paranoid on the run. I could never get over being paranoid. It wasn't enjoyable, but I was making good money. Anyway, she left me.

One of my backers told me, "I'm going to send you to Atlanta. What you do is see my friend up there, and he'll give you new I.D." I got up there and that's when I met my partner, Boyd Bradshaw. I met him at the safe house out in Stone Mountain, Georgia. This particular safe house was for the purpose of getting new identification and credit. It was a beautiful house on Susan Creek Drive. When I pulled up in a brand new car I'd scammed, I thought I was hot shit. I was wearing a suit, and everything. The guy who was running the safe house said, "You realize how much this is going to cost you? It's a thousand dollars a week." That was a lot of money then. I said, "No problem. How many weeks?"

"You'll be here about six weeks." So I flipped him six thousand dollars.

"Here's the house. Just do whatever you want." There was a bar in there. Ten bedrooms. Beautiful woods around the place. They had security on the garage when you came in. I said, "Jesus, this is kind of boring."

But later this young guy comes in. Muscular, about six-foot three. He says, "My name's Boyd Bradshaw. I heard you were coming in. They take care of your identification yet?"

"No, not yet."

He got on the phone, and this guy comes to me, "Okay, who do you want to be?"

"I want to be Richard M. Winslow. How would that be?"

"Okay, just fill out this credit application." This guy had a girl that worked for the credit bureau there. She would put all this stuff in the computer, and then punch in that it was verified. Now I fill out all the credit card applications for Exxon, American Express, and all the rest, in this new name. They take them, and they send them off. Couple of weeks later, the credit cards start coming in. The credit bureau verifies all my information.

On my second day there, Boyd says, "Come on, we're going to go have a drink." We went and partied, and then he said, "We got to be back at the house at six o'clock for the big party."

"What big party?" I says, "Who?"

We get back there about six, after drinking all day, and we met a couple of girls. Boyd is the smoothest guy I've ever seen with a girl. I don't give a damn whose wife she is, how much she's in love, he's in her pants before you know it. His job, I found out later on, had been knee buster, a collection agent. That's all he did was collect on loan sharking. We drove around that night in a caravan. There was a Rolls Royce, a Vette, and two stretch limos. I've never seen so much party in my life as I did that night. The first place is T.G.I. Friday's, then on to some private parties at these apartment complexes. I remember getting drunk. I remember going swimming with my clothes on. I remember going out to the Continental, falling asleep, and waking up with some blonde who put my head in her lap and said, "I'm with you tonight." I woke up with her in the bed with me the next morning.

Boyd waltzes in and says, "What type of I.D. do you want?"

"Something with somebody else's name on it."

"You look like the type with the authorities. I'm going to make you a federal communications officer."

"What's that?"

"The FCC," he says, "and with enforcement, so you get to carry a gun." About two weeks later, I got all this identification, badge and everything. It was all perfect. Boyd and me became federal communications agents.

Next they said, "Okay, you need a scam. We need a finance man." I went from there to a small town outside Raleigh, North Carolina, to the Dew Drop Inn. The guy owned this little bar, a twelve-unit motel, and at the end there was a beauty shop.

I pulled in there and walked into the bar. I was the only customer. Quincy was a balding young guy. I ordered a beer. I basically just wanted to feel this guy out, see how smart he was, see if I want to have anything to do with him. "I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to help you out. My name is John Reynolds, but you'll know me as Winslow. What do you need, Quincy?"

"I need to make some money. I'm about to lose my place here."

"Are you willing to go along with me in every way?"

"No problem."

"Okay, we need to set up some bank accounts. We are going to open up a television place called After Hours TV Sales & Service, because we aren't going to open up till four o'clock in the afternoon."

"Why four?"

"Because the banks close at 3:30."

I started making arrangements. Boyd came up, and an Italian guy was set up to be our finance man. We all met, and then we went to the bank, and stuck 150 grand in an account. Very impressive with that local bank. We converted the beauty shop to a television sales place. We went to a TV rental shop and purchased about fifty used television sets. We bought them for $169 and sold them for $139. We went to the Admiral distributor and bought one hundred television sets for $129 apiece, and sold them for $119. We were losing money on everything, but the thing is we were selling.

We opened up two other accounts, and started floating the money. We had a big turnover on cash, so then we started getting credit with the banks.

We started advertising, "After Hours TV Sales & Service! They're going Crazy!" We bought a hundred fifty television sets with remote, advertised, and Monday morning we didn't have one television left. We had promises and deposits, so we ordered five hundred more TVs. When they came, I said, "Quincy, we don't have room in that damn shop."

"Come back in about an hour," he said.

I come back in an hour, and he's got a hole knocked in the wall with a sledge hammer. We eventually broke into eight of the motel rooms. Quincy was "going Crazy!" The money started coming in.

"I like this stuff. I like this," Quincy said. "How much money do you think we can make?"

"How much do you need to make, Quincy?"

"I need to make about $300,000."

"Okay, we'll work on that basis." So we bought more television sets. The disc jockey is doing remotes from our store. Now, we're doing back-to-back advertising, and it was being distributed all over the area. Business was great. The DJ asks Quincy, "How do you do this, Quincy? How can you sell at these prices?"

"My partner just knows how to buy."

I got a Philco guy going, "Guys, you can't be doing this shit. You can't be selling TVs for $139 that cost you $169."

"We do it for promotion."

"I can't do it. We have fixed prices. I have other companies I distribute to."

"Right. Fine. You got other companies buying from you. How many televisions are they taking from you? I can go to somebody else."

"How many do you want?"

"Give me fifty or sixty. And what can you do me a deal on?" And he'd do it.

I started buying tractor trailer-loads of them. The bank would floor plan the stuff. That means they pay the distributor up front. They'd take the serial numbers off the televisions, and once a week the guy would come around, check off whatever was sold, and we had to pay them. Right then, right there. We'd write him a check, but not from the account at his bank. We keep about eighty thousand dollars floating around these four accounts. If any customer paid with a check, we'd deposit it. But we tried to get cash. We'd tell them they didn't have to pay sales tax, if they paid in cash. We stick the cash money in our own pockets.

Quincy's wife, she's real innocent. She told me, "Dick, Quincy's crazy. He lays in bed at night with money all over him. There's nowhere to sleep. He just sits there counting it." He'd paid off the place, and he's out of debt. I told him, "From now on, you are not to sign a check. Don't sign nothing." He didn't question me. It would be me to take the heat. I was already a fugitive.

I had met this girl, and I was living with her. She was beautiful, and smarter than most of the girls, because she kept saying, "How can you do this?" Asking questions I didn't want her asking.

"Don't worry about it," I said. I bought her a horse, and all these other things to keep her occupied and out of my business. She wanted to get married. She saw money. We were living real good.

If I could have sold everybody in that area fifteen or sixteen television sets, we'd still be in business. As long as you keep the pyramid going, it never peaks. But I'd sold just about everybody in North Carolina a new TV.

We had a Super Duper Super Sale. I mean we just cleared the place out, basically. The bank man couldn't get there fast enough to take the serial numbers off. The different distributors and different banks are coming around. We're giving them checks and getting restocked. At the same time, I called my finance man up. He came down, and we paid him off his money, plus interest. I had him send us two trucks down, and I loaded up televisions to send to New York State. That was the next place. Then we raped the accounts down to nothing.

That afternoon, I told my girlfriend, "I have to go to Winston-Salem." She says okay.

My car phone rings after an hour or so, "What time will you be home?"

"I'll be late." I'd already packed up. Threw a bunch of little television sets for trinkets in the backseat of the car. I had about $350,000 in cash on me, hauling ass out of town. The phone rings again, and she says, "Are you sure you're coming back?"

"Yeah, I'm coming back."

The phone rings again, and she says, "Quincy looks a little upset."

"I'll talk to him. I'm going to stay the night here in Winston-Salem." Hell, the next time I called her up, I was in Richmond, Virginia, at the Holiday Inn. I said, "Yeah, Lola, what's going on?"

"They came by and padlocked the door of the warehouses and the store."


"The IRS and just about every other federal agency that goes by its initials."

There is a place out in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where the government takes bids from dealerships for ten or fifteen cars at a time, and whoever the lowest dealer is gets it. Me and Boyd were walking through there and saw this car, a Plymouth 440, and it had government tags on it that said, "Federal Communications Commission." According to the sticker, it was going to Amarillo, Texas. Boyd says, "We're going to New York from here, and we need a car. You need to become very conspicuous, because nobody fucks with an FCC agent or any government officer."

Fine. He went and took the serial number off the car, and the next morning he gives them a call. He puts on this drawl and says, "How are you doing? This is Inspector Bradshaw with the Federal Communications Commission. I understand that you have a vehicle designated to be transferred to our area."

"Just a minute, let me check. Yeah, Amarillo, Texas."

"I have two agents up in Washington right now. It be okay to have them pick that vehicle up and bring it down here?"

"Yes, as long as they have proper identification."

"Could you have them met at the airport? They'll be on such-and-such an Allegheny Airline flight tomorrow."

The next day, we show up wearing hats and boots, looking like that guy McCloud on TV. We get off the plane. This guy is looking, and he comes up to us and says, "You guys with the FCC?"

"How'd you know?" I could hardly keep a straight face. We picked up this vehicle, and -- Boy! -- I loved it. That thing was the fastest car I ever driven. They gave us government identification for the car, and three credit cards that went with the vehicle.

We went to upstate New York. I worked for a guy out of California who owned a bunch of massage parlors. At the time, I was financing for him, because he had a couple of businesses that weren't feeling too well. But when things started getting hot up there, I contacted Boyd. He said, "I'll meet you in Knoxville."

I got down there and was hooked up with another partner. I met this real exotic-type French girl. She could hardly speak English. I'm hanging out at a bar called The Night Rider's Club, I mean Gangsters, Incorporated. They have shotgun shootings in there. They're all in there drinking whiskey, and it's supposed to be a wine and beer joint. They're gambling -- there's no gambling allowed by law. We're all partying and having a good time. I'm with this French girl. She's rubbing that pussy all over me, dancing and stuff. Man, I go, "Boy, I've got to have this." I forgot who I am, and I'm not even looking for cops, man. I got a cellular phone out in the federal car. She says, "Can I use your phone?" I showed her how to use it and went back in the bar. She comes in and five minutes later, she says, "Can I use your phone again?"

"Yeah, go ahead."

She comes back. I don't know it, but she's doing soliciting, calling her johns or whatever. My phone was a direct dialing system out of Raleigh since that's where I bought it. You had to go through a mobile operator to be connected. They had me down as a federal communications agent. What they did was call the sheriff's department about these calls, and the sheriff's department was down the road that night, investigating this Night Rider's Club.

I look up, and there's two oddballs in the crowd. They're looking at their watches. They were going to raid the place at exactly midnight. One cop looks at his watch, and it's five minutes of. The other cop looks at his watch, and it must have been a little fast. All of a sudden, this squeaky, little fucking voice says, "All right! Sheriff's Department! You're all under arrest!"

Everybody shut up, and stopped. All you could hear from the other cop was, "Oh, shit."

When the Sheriff's Department arrived at exactly twelve o'clock, both cops were out back with broken legs. They looked like Beetle Bailey after Sarge gets through with him. I got the hell out of there.

I liked the little French prostitute, but she really started something. Not too long after this, Boyd and I were driving down the street with two girls, going to stop at the Ponderosa in this big shopping center right next to K mart. We were just pulling into the parking lot and my phone rings. I pick it up and say, "Yeah, FCC, Winslow."

"This is Knoxville Communications. Could you stop by our office today?"

"I don't know."

"Well, where are you right now?"

"I'm at the shopping center right near K mart."

"Oh, that's on Clinton Highway?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Could you hold onto the line a second, please?"

So I'm sitting there talking to Boyd. He wants to go and eat. I didn't really think anything of it. We're waiting and waiting. All of a sudden, I look up and this car comes roaring across the median, into the shopping center, and flies around to the K mart. I look, and here's another one. Here's a cop car coming in, too. I says, "What the hell, hit the police radio." Boyd does it, and we hear, "I don't see the vehicle. What kind of vehicle are we looking for?"

"It's a federal government car."

"Okay, I'm a-looking."

"Boyd," I said. "That's us."

"Ladies," he said, "you mind getting out of the car? We'll meet you inside."

We very slowly drove out of the shopping center and onto the highway. As we were leaving, there's more cars coming in. We're heading on down the highway, and I give it a little kick. I hear, "I just seen the suspects. They're driving a Plymouth Fury, four-door, light color, government tags. I'm in pursuit!"

Boyd says, "Kick this thing in the ass!" I hit that son of a bitch in the ass, that 440 cranked, and we were pulling away from this FBI agent. Over the radio, he says, "Contact the Sheriff's Department and tell them to put a roadblock up on Clinton Highway." Another guy says, "Okay, I'm relaying the information to the Sheriff's Department now." So now we know they don't have direct communications with the Sheriff's Department. But we did. I had every kind of radio in this car.

We're hauling ass. Five or ten minutes down the road, they got two cars across the highway. We're doing ninety. Boyd reaches down and puts the blue light up on the dashboard. He picks up the radio and goes, "This is 2165, this is the FBI. Clear the roadblock! The suspects are on the other side of you men!"

The cars back up, and we zoom right through. We get down to the end of the highway, and all of a sudden State Troopers are coming from the other way. They're on our side of the road so what we do is get on a turnoff and start heading back. We got the light going. Cars are pulling over out of our way. I see this car stuck in the ditch in the median. It's the guy who was chasing us at first. All I could see was little sparks coming out of him as he took a shot.

"I guess he missed us," I said, and about that time the "Hot" light came up. He'd hit the damn radiator.

Coming back to Knoxville, a police car cut us off in front. Boyd jumped out with a shotgun, and just shot the star off the side of the door. The Sheriff's officer threw his gun out and hid.

"You coming with me?" Boyd said.

"No. I'm going this way."

"Okay, I'll see you."

There's this strip mall there, and I went running into this bar. I got up to the bar all dry and out of breath. I got a suit on. Boyd's gone. I'm sitting on a stool, and this guy is going, "How are you? We just opened up today." He's talking real friendly. "Here, have some popcorn. What'll you have?"

I'm drinking this Budweiser, and it's cutting all the way down. I wasn't enjoying it. The door opened. Guy comes over, and taps me on the shoulder, and says, "Reynolds?"

"Excuse me?"


"My name is Winslow."

"You have any identification, Reynolds?"

"I told you, my name is Winslow."

"Yeah, hey, whatever your name is, I want to see your I.D." I took my wallet out, and he said, "Do you mind standing up?" They pat me down and get my .357 Magnum and my backup gun. I said, "I work for the government."

"Yeah, I see that. You got a fucking gun permit. You got government clearance. FCC Pilot's License. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years worth of fake shit you got."

They fucked with me for a while, then sent me back to Florida. "Florida wants you, and you're in deep shit."

I went back, went to court, and after a lot of wrangling, I went back to jail. I beat most of my bad check charges because they couldn't try me fast enough on them all. I kept filing for dismissal on the grounds that I had not been given a speedy trial. There's no law against impersonating a lawyer, although I got a year or so for practicing without a license. The judge got scared when I submitted a list of all my clients as witnesses to the quality of my work. I'd won most of my cases. The feds tried to scare me, and when I didn't jump at the forty years they offered me, they backed off. So I ended up serving four years of a five-year sentence.

I went back to St. Pete when I got out. I got a job working as a repairman at a TV place. It was really bad. I had this girlfriend who was kind of a country girl. I could never get rid of her. Before I knew it she'd moved into my house. The other girl I'm seeing, I've got to go get a motel room to date, because I don't want to hurt this other gal's feelings.

One day, this beautiful Lincoln pulls up. Out gets a six-foot-three guy in a European suit. He's wearing gold. Walks up there and knocks on the door. I open it, and this country girl just goes Woo-Woo over him. He says, "Come on, John." I go out, get in the Continental, and drive down the road. It's Boyd.

"Let's go to a bar," he says. We go to the best bar in this little suburb. He says, "John, you been out a while. I been keeping track of you. After all, you got yourself a five- or six-year-old car -- no scratches or dents. Looks pretty good. You got you some slob girlfriend. I know your taste is better than that. Man, you're working two jobs. You're paying your rent, but is it worth it? Let me take you away from all this shit. I got some scams going with the U.S. Marshals."

We had a few drinks. He bought me a new suit. We went to a hock shop, and he bought me a Rolex -- a used one, but still a watch worth twelve hundred dollars. Never owned a Rolex in my life. Bought me a ring. Then we went to this gun shop. He says, "Look at that." I was picking up these guns, and just trembling. God, I want one. I left the beater car, the girl, the clothes, everything. We were on the road. Going up to Atlanta to get Marshal's identification.

The stuff they gave me was perfect. If you ever want to impersonate somebody, impersonate a marshal. They think their shit doesn't stink, and everybody around them is fearful of them. All they really are is modified bailiffs. I even looked like a marshal with that serious look. We started hitting prisons and taking people out. The bigger the scam the best it was. For instance, Boyd and I had one call at a prison that I won't mention the name of, but it was in New Jersey. It was a Spanish guy who was in on dope charges. We had gotten twenty-five thousand dollars advance money to make a fast pull to get the guy out of prison. We went to Jacksonville International Airport to purchase our airline tickets. We have our identification pinned on -- U.S. Marshal's badge, gun. The airline there says, "You're identifying yourselves as U.S. Marshals?"


"Where's your destination?"

"Newark." We had cashiers' checks made out for the tickets. On the cashiers' checks you can print out whatever you want that the check is from. We put the United States Department of Justice. Fuck, people are too stupid to realize that this isn't a government check. It's just a check, and it's a good one. We're standing there in our suits. We already got the court order -- a writ of habeas corpus ad proticu, that's the writ we got him out with for the purpose of prosecuting someone.

The girl behind the counter says, "Just a minute. I'll call security." Aw, my stomach just flipped over. These two security officers come up, and they don't even ask for anything. They see our badges, and one of them he says, "Okay, Marshals. I know you are carrying firearms, so let's take you through security."

They took us right through the airport, right through security, and we boarded first on the plane. They knock on the captain's door which he had closed. He opens the door, and they introduce us as U.S. Marshals with the Justice Department. We start bullshitting. My partner asks the pilot, "Do you want us to check our firearms?" Nah. So we keep them. They upgrade our tickets to first class. Boyd takes off his jacket, and he's sitting there with his fucking gun hanging out. Boyd likes to be the center of attention, especially with stewardesses. I think he's laid every one of them he can get his hands on. Me, I didn't like to do that. I don't want to make people uncomfortable, plus I didn't want to be too noticed. I get butterflies on these scams anyway. Boyd's never served a day in prison.

We're flying into Newark. The captain calls Boyd up to the cockpit to ask if we need any ground communications. Boyd says, "Yes, contact Security. Advise them that we need transportation to the prison. "

"Okay." We land the plane, and there are Newark police waiting on us. I'm just waiting to hear them yell out any minute, "You're busted!" This is where the thrill comes in. But we just walk right on out, and I'm half-crocked because I've been drinking on the plane -- I feel okay doing this stuff if I've been drinking.

They load us into a police car, and take us to the fucking prison. The gates open, and we go inside. They take us into administration, and we flip out the writ. They don't even check. Sit there a few minutes, and that guy is ready, bag and baggage. Communications have already handled it. We take him down to the airport Holiday Inn. We get the balance of the money, and this guy is going out of the country.

Coming into prisons, number one you have to worry about whether or not they believe you're a Marshal. They might want to check. They're getting so that they check a little bit. What we'd do is go into the local sheriff's department in some small county on the way to the prison. They're convinced you're a Marshal as soon as they see your car. They're on the defensive, because they want to know what the hell these guys are doing here. Are they here to get me? We walk in there and act like our shit don't stink. I say, "By the way, how about faxing this up to such and such an institution." They would send a fax to the prison, an inquiry: "Do you have David Jones?" They would fax back, "Yes, we have David Jones. Here is his I.D. number." We'd fax a copy of the writ and ask them to fax a copy of the inmate's photograph and paperwork. They'd fax this stuff back to us. Now when the fax comes back, it has the name of the correctional institution on it. The one they receive has some county sheriff's department on it.

Then we went just a little further, just to make sure that there are no screwups. We'd identify ourselves as being from the U.S. Marshal's Department, Middle District of Florida, Tampa. We'd say, "If you have any problems, call the Marshal's service there in Tampa. The operator will be glad to hook you up person to person."

The Marshal's service, like most law enforcement services on the weekend, has call forwarding. They have a duty officer, and that man is the one on call. All you do is get into the phone system and reroute the phone calls. I'm an expert on telephone security. I'd disconnect call forwarding from their man on call, and reforward it to a cellular phone in our car. We only had one time when they even checked up on us. But if they did, the call would forward from the Marshal's Department to the cellular phone, and we would answer. "Yes, I have two marshals on the way. Check their I.D. numbers. They should be .... " They'd look at our I.D.s, and we would clear. The writ would be executed. They'd give us the prisoner, and we'd walk out.

The bigger fool you make of these people, the easier it is to get away with. I guess it's like catching an executive with his pants down, he's a lot easier to get to. Boyd has always been real good at that. He's always been able to manipulate. He can make you feel great, take you out, wine and dine you, and have you in bed with a girl, take pictures of it, and put you right to where he wants you -- to his level. If you're a high and mighty person and a real snob, he'll break you down and make you crawl.

We were taking two guys out one time. We had a week to wait, because the money hadn't come in. We had to have ten thousand dollars, up front, and we only charged them like twenty thousand dollars to get both of them out, because it was a fast package deal. While we're waiting, I'm staying in this weekly rental trailer. That's all I need, just a place to stay. I had a brand new Ford and a stolen Continental, that Boyd stole.

Anyway, I was out drinking, and I met this one prostitute in this little bar down the street. She'd never been to bed with a cop before. And she still hasn't. I went and partied with her. Then I left and went to see the next door neighbor and partied with her. I decided to drive to town. I had my jean jacket on, ready to party.

My pager goes off. "Jim, this is Boyd. I need the Continental. I'll be there in a minute." He comes sliding up in the Ford, blue light going, almost runs down the trailer park manager. I'm inside there, and don't know about this, because -- Ah, shit! -- now I got to change clothes. I'll be driving a Marshal's car. Marshals don't drive around in jeans. So I'm putting on my bulletproof vest, my gun, and all this other crap. I hear, "I've got the keys. Catch you later. It's on the road." That's it, he's gone. He takes off.

A few minutes later, boom-boom-boom-boom-boom. I said, "Yeah, who is it?"

"Sheriff's Department."


"Sheriff's Department."

"What do you want?"

"I need to talk to you." I find my gun. I open the door, and he says, "Could you step outside for just a minute?"

"What's this about, officer?"

"About that blue light. Apparently, you had a blue light going in your car."

"No, my partner was driving the car. He just dropped it off."

"Is he a Marshal?"


"Are you a Marshal?"


"I need to see some identification." Now, see, he's intimidated. I'm in a suit. I'm wearing gold, and everything else, and I'm a Marshal. He's a deputy sheriff. I'm somebody, and he's nobody. Even though I'm in the door of a trailer in the middle of nowhere, he's still intimidated, because he doesn't know what we're doing.

I show him what I have on me. "No, I have to see something else."

"My picture I.D. and my permits are out in the car." I go out to the car, but Boyd took the car. My stuff is up there on the visor of the Continental, and it's gone. I said, "I got the Marshal's car here, let me show you the documents."

"I've got to have some better identification." I go through the trailer and come back. He's still asking for identification, and I've already made up my mind: Got to leave. I say, "How about this? Freeze, motherfucker!"

He was just a few feet away from me. That Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum with a six-inch barrel did not impress his ass. "Oh, my God, no!" he yells, and he jumps toward me. Right on top of me. I said, "Get off me!"

"Who are you? Who are you?"

"Get off me," I says. "I'm a Marshal. Get off me."

I cocked the gun back, and he starts pulling on the barrel. Oh, God, man! I uncocked the damn thing. We struggled. Backup comes there because somebody hears the struggle. When they come in, all I see is these shotguns aimed at us, and one of them is saying, "Should we shoot, Dave? Should we shoot, huh, Dave?" If they shoot them shotguns, they're going to get him, too. They grab me, throw me out the door. Kick the shit out of me. Handcuff me. Push my face in the dirt, shoving people away so they won't see this. Throw me against the car. They say, "Who are you? Who are you?"

"I'm a Marshal."

They come out with the name of a local attorney. "What the hell happened to this attorney? Did you kill him? We're looking for this guy now."

They pat me down. "Holy shit! What's this?" They find out I'm wearing a vest. I wished they hadn't found that vest. Then they really beat the shit out of me. That vest didn't stop fists. They ripped it off me. They arrested me for attempted first-degree murder, resisting arrest, carrying a concealed firearm, battery on a law enforcement officer, possession of an automatic weapon, stolen government car. I had an attorney who is now a judge come in the jail to interview me, and he said, "I would like to represent you, but I'm a-scared." I represented myself on the attempted murder charges and all. I went to trial, was found guilty of assault and battery on a law enforcement officer, and got ten years. But there were thirteen of us playing Marshal at the same time I was doing it, and there's still somebody doing it today.
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Postby admin » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:36 am


"Drug smugglers, almost without exception, are white males. It's nice to know that the Anglo-Saxons still have a finger in something," remarks Philip, archly. Although Philip is an American, he speaks with an accent I can't quite place. It is foreign, but not exactly German or British. The sound reminds me of a prim, patrician New England Yankee speaking French, yet the words come out in English. He's been in the islands of the Caribbean too long. "The people who smuggle large quantities of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana are mostly college educated, and most of them quite successful and business-like before they got into smuggling," he says. Philip fits this profile. Brought up in an eccentric yet moderately wealthy family, Philip attended private schools for most of his higher education. Quite a few different private schools, in fact, since he had a tendency to get himself expelled.

The legitimate business Philip indulged in with some success for several years before he turned to drug smuggling was futures trading, which effectively straddles the fence between reliable financial services and gambling wildly with other people's money. Philip's profits from his high-stakes wheeling and dealing were invested in an offshore bank account in the Bahamas, which could not be directly traced to him. Even in his most legitimate phase, much of Philip's behavior fell into that gray area that cannot be described as strictly legal or illegal. However, his work was definitely profitable.

Finally, Philip is a white Anglo-Saxon. Not a bearded swashbuckler by any means, he has the smooth-faced good looks and the self-serving aggression of many young stockbrokers. Philip's description of his crimes is oddly spiked with the language of finance. Although he claims merely to have been a marijuana smuggler, primarily because it makes him seem less deadly, he makes no real distinctions between his product and other illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Philip had carved out a niche market in a very competitive industry. What he sold and where those drugs ended up were only a matter of supply and demand, as far as he is concerned.

"I operated out of a loose consortium. We all pitched in some money together and bought in for the air and sea patrol schedules that were conducted by the United States Navy and the Coast Guard. A guy at the military base in Puerto Rico sold us the tour schedules. He was like clockwork. He flew a helicopter that went out on search patrols at night. He told us where his Blackhawk was based, where it refueled, its range, and the effective windows of opportunity.

"The Blackhawk flies fast, it flies low, but it doesn't fly for long. It's got to go back and be refueled and undergo routine maintenance every hour and a half. It's down for an hour every time it comes back in. So there is a window of opportunity there. He told us when and where those windows would open, which areas the Coast Guard boats were to patrol and what times, when the cutters were up in dry dock, and when the captains just weren't going out that night.

"He wasn't alone either. We verified his information from some other people who were also selling out their services. Their own organization was riddled with people who were selling information and who were actively smuggling on their own."

His luxurious island lifestyle among the trade winds jet set was far removed from the American neighborhoods where drugs have caused such devastation. Philip's only regret is that he got caught, and that when he was caught he was not able to make bond and skip the country.

"I am presently on parole from federal prison, and would like to go back and finish my law degree in the Cayman Islands. The education is good, the tuition is low, the degree is recognized in any British or former British territory, from South Africa to India to Bermuda, and there are plenty of opportunities for good scuba diving in the Caymans.

"Can you see me explaining this to my parole officer? 'Yes, Ms. Parole Officer, ma'am, I'd like to go to college again.'

"'Yeah, yeah.'

"'I'd like to go back and finish my training at the Cayman Islands Law School. I want to major in offshore finance and international tax treaties. Would you please give me permission? Why? I can't afford the tuition in this country now that all my money is gone. It's twenty thousand dollars a year to go to Columbia. Down there it's only five grand, and I can live under a palm tree. It almost never rains. The occasional hurricane comes through, but in the local vernacular: Hurricane blow down the grass shack, mon. But we can build it back up in forty-five minutes. Chop, chop some bamboo with the machete, mon!'

"I could just see her expression on that. I used to have fun saying, 'When you release me would you send me back down to Anguilla? I haven't lived in the United States for six years. It's a foreign country to me. I don't look like them. I don't speak like them anymore. I certainly don't think like them. And I sure as hell don't want to live in a place with an income tax.'"


While I was gone on one of my sailing trips, my business partner ran away with a lot of the company money, including a couple of clients' accounts. He was last seen with the daughter of the chairman of a sophisticated telephone systems manufacturer, driving off in a recently rented BMW, toward California. I don't know if the chairman ever found his daughter, or the people from the rental agency ever found the BMW. I know I certainly never found my money.

"This is a disaster," I thought. Fortunately, he was the majority owner in the corporation. The other 49 percent was owned by an offshore company that I'd set up. When the authorities started trying to hold somebody in the company accountable, they were more than happy to head off to the Bahamas and hold Highland Capital Associates Limited liable for every damn cent of it. It was just a letter box and a lawyer's office. My name really didn't appear anywhere, except as an employee. I never signed anything either if I could help it.

"Maybe it's time to go traveling," I thought. "Maybe it's time to go down and check out the opportunities in the Caribbean. I figure I can do well down there." So I sold my place in New York and moved.

I decided to dedicate myself to the task of making money the old fashioned way -- by smuggling. A lot of people in that part of the world do a lot of smuggling. As a matter of fact, there's not a whole lot you can do on an island. Most of the people make their livelihood by smuggling, especially in the area of St. Maartens, St. Barts. The place was well known as a staging point for shipping drugs to metropolitan France, because there is only one customs officer there. He'd been in his job for forty years. He was quite content to get up at ten in the morning, wander on down to the cafe, have a cup of coffee, then wander back up the hill to the gendarmerie and go to sleep until four o'clock in the afternoon. Then he'd wander down again, have a few drinks, and go back home. Needless to say, there was no crime, because there was no way anyone was going to allow a person to commit a crime that might alert the rest of the world to our presence. Speaking French quite well, I had a lot of friends down there. From sailing around, you learn to pick out people from a distance who are involved in the trade.

My first serious contacts were in the British Virgin Islands at the infamous Village Cay Marina which had "C" Dock, where all the smugglers hung out. I'd gone there to do some work on my boat, putting it back together after a hurricane. "C" Dock was known for the wild parties, at all times of the day and night. The local police started complaining. They'd be patrolling around the marina, which was right behind the local telephone building and the Barclay's Bank, and all these people -- male and female -- were in states of undress, lying unconscious on the pavement, or asleep among the empty bottles or entwined in the bushes, naked women running on the docks and on the decks of the boats every morning. It was understood that there would be a roaring party every afternoon from about five o'clock until three in the morning. There was always tons of rum punch. I mean literally more booze than you could ever hope to drink and successfully survive. The island was open and free, because the banking down there was booming. Banks were opening up left and right. People were smuggling cocaine and marijuana left and right. This was the height of the trade, when there was an insatiable demand for it. The price of a kilo of cocaine down in Colombia was about a grand, or you could get the three-liter wash stuff from Peru, which was absolutely fantastic, where they wash it down with three or four -- sometimes as much as seven liters -- of ether to get it very pure. That stuff was available for two or three grand. The cocaine, the booze, and the easy women who were flying in from France, Germany, England, or Australia. The all-night parties, nightclubs with swimming pools: It worked. It was fun. You'd drink all night, and someone would get drunk and challenge the crowd, so the next day we'd have a challenge race in our sailboats. Then the party just went around again.

The local police decided to start cleaning this up. It became too obvious when they saw wrappers for kilos lying around on the dock every morning, and people traipsing down the dock with suitcases of money to make deposits at the Bank of Nova Scotia -- which never asked any questions. Or Barclay's Bank, which wasn't much better, or the Sumitomo Trust, which was best of all, because they didn't even want a name to open you an account. One of the things people don't know is that there are two main places for money laundering. Because of the bank secrecy laws in Japan, they don't have to tell anybody anything, and there ain't much the United States can do to put pressure on them. The U.S. was in no position to tell anyone anything if they still wanted to sell their dead issues -- their T-bills and T-bonds, long and short-term debt. These banks were buying a significant part of the U.S. government debt securities issued at the federal auctions. At one time, as much as 30 percent was being purchased by a combination of European and Japanese banks, so U.S. authorities didn't put too much pressure on the big Dutch banks -- like ABN -- or the Japanese banks. They left them free to launder money as they pleased. The other largest place to launder money was down at 11 Wall Street at the New York Stock Exchange.

No matter what regulatory pressure the government applies, whenever they change the regulations, some financial organization steps in to fill the gap.

The year before last, all the chic banks were from Austria, because they'd do anything. They wanted their market share. The Bank of Vienna would open up voice-coded accounts. You didn't even have to go there. Normally, to open up an account in the Bahamas, you have to appear there at least once, so they can get your voice code, and then all the transactions are done by telephone. You call up, you speak to somebody. They take a few seconds of your voice, and match the voice prints. Then they'll do the transaction for you. No names, no numbers, nothing at all. The technology used by the off-shore people is considerably far in advance of that used by conservative American banks.

Hong Kong-Shanghai has a nice little card for their customers, holographically engraved for double security. It's a cash card, in so far as it has an E-prompt chip in it. The credits that are on the E-prompt chip are considered cash by the bank. The card itself has the same validity as cash, but without the bills. It's a way of carrying a million dollars in a portable electronic form with no signature, no verification codes. The money belongs to the person who is carrying it. You go in and buy this card. It's got a million dollars in cash on it. You insert it into the advanced ATM, which is finger-tip sensitive. It will match your fingerprints with the touch-sensitive strip on the card, and match your voice print when you speak into the identification machine. It's a real clever tool, that has a whole lot of applications in a cashless society. As a matter of fact, that's taking the cashless society one step further than the government wants to, because they are unable to document the cash transactions. The little chip is no bigger than the nail on your finger, so it can be hidden virtually anywhere. I don't think you'll see that particular application in this country for a while.

I digress. I got into smuggling from the party crowd up there. I was sailing around like everybody else was and showed myself to be bright and eager. I was introduced into the business by one very nice gentleman we called Full-Speed Reed. Full-Speed Reed was awarded his nickname because he always lived his life full speed. He was in his mid-fifties then, and he's still going full steam ahead now, although he can only drink beer because of his ulcers these days. He had a beautiful 65-foot wooden sailing yacht, two cargo freighters each about 110 feet long, and at any given moment he seemed to have three or four girlfriends. Reed was always in the bar. You walk in and Reed would be presiding over the crowd from about five o'clock until midnight, at which time we would all go out to dinner, buy Tequila and champagne, and generally have a gay old time. In short, he was a fun guy.

Reed came from the same town up the Chesapeake Bay from my mother's family. They lived on the same road. It's a small world. We started talking. "I used to live in New York," he said. "But about 1969, I said fuck it. I was in the construction trade in the city, so I moved down to South Florida, just in time to catch the big building boom." He was very successful in the construction business, not to mention the fact that he developed a market both in Florida and in New York for the nonseafood harvest that was coming in off the shrimp boats at the time. He built himself a very beautiful house, had the white Rolls Royce, the yacht, the whole schmear. When things got a little bit tough, he migrated down to Marathon Key.

"After a little while there, I said fuck this, and kept right on going, about two steps ahead of the law. I bought a freighter, filled it up with construction supplies -- bathtubs, Jacuzzis, lumber, and roofing material in the hold to build a new house -- strapped the Rolls on deck, hopped aboard, and moved further South." He put ashore at Tortola, tied up at "C" Dock, and started off-loading. He became quite a character there.

Reed took me down on a trip with him to Colombia. We went into Cartagena, which was absolutely drop-dead beautiful, and checked into a very nice hotel. We were wined and dined and treated. Now Reed gave me some advice at this time: "Everybody's going into cocaine and the crazies are going to start coming out of the woodwork pretty soon. They'll all be hot for cocaine, because it's portable and profitable. Everybody will stop smuggling marijuana. The price of pot will go up. If you can find a specialist market, you'll make a killing."

Next Reed introduced me to The Old Man in the Mountains, a very elegant Colombian gentleman. In general, you will find that in spite of their bad reputation, Colombians are very easy to deal with, very honorable. Gentlemen in the old sense, they always live up to their word, and expect you to do likewise, and are understanding when things go wrong in this particular line of work, just so long as you don't lie to them. We stayed for a week up in this gentleman's house as his guests. He believed in taking care of his guests properly, which meant proper drinks, dining, and young girls -- not street girls, some of the nicest girls around. We got to see the fields and the production process. He had quite a lot of things under cultivation in addition to marijuana. The size of his farm was probably eight or nine square miles of land under cultivation with a number of peasants working on it. Many of his peasants were like independent contractors who grew different crops for him. It was run as a large, paternalistic hacienda, where The Old Man was the feudal lord. His word was law in this very rural area. In exchange for that, he provided the schools, built the roads, made sure they had power and TV antennae. He dealt only in marijuana, not cocaine. Most of the people down there tend to be specialized. The older farmer types were into marijuana and had been in that business for say, twenty years. The younger kids went into cocaine for the fast buck.

Now that I had my contact, it was merely a matter of finding people to sell it to. So I gave a call to a friend of mine in the U.S. who was a New York City police officer, and said, "Do you know anybody who would buy my marijuana at a good price?"

"Sure," he said, "no problem. When can you bring it up?"

It was that simple. We practiced what we called, euphemistically speaking, free market arbitrage: Buy low, sell high. I bought marijuana in Colombia for seventy-five dollars a pound at first, then later at thirty-five dollars, and after I was better connected for about twenty-five dollars a pound. We'd bring it out, deliver it, and sell it for seven hundred or eight hundred dollars a pound, maybe even more. I brought a few hundred pounds to my police officer friend, who took care of it. It was very good quality Colombian of the type not seen around much anymore. We used to call it Technicolor, because of the way it looked, but it was just high-grade Colombian. Good, maybe even great sometimes, but a good mild smoke if you like smoking.

I never got into smoking very much. Proximity bred a whole lot of contempt. Live with the stuff, move it around, schlepp bales, stand on piles of it, and worry about it all the time, then you won't want anything to do with it, much less smoke it. The pollen gets everywhere.

After the first two hundred pounds turned over, I was sitting there quite happy with about $200,000 after expenses. "Three weeks' work," I thought. "This isn't a bad idea at all."

I began investigating other markets. I didn't want to deal more than necessary with the United States, given the fact that a lot of the people in the trade in the U.S. were not what you would call stand-up kinds of guys. I started looking a little bit further afield, and I ran into a very nice gentleman who had a fleet up in Scotland, which was engaged in commercial fishing in the North Sea. This Scotsman was also a little bit of a rogue at heart, and also part black Caribbean who had come down to visit some relatives: a Scottish, part-Caribbean pirate with a fishing fleet. We worked out an arrangement. I would deliver the stuff up to the North Sea by yacht, boat, commercial vessel or what have you. We'd do an offshore transfer, and ship it into South London where his connections in the local Jamaican community would take it off our hands.

One of the good things about this arrangement is that the British stopped customs patrols about 1960, so there's no customs at sea around England. And the other thing is that, quite simply put, once you're Eastbound in the Atlantic, the United States Coast Guard doesn't give a fuck about you as long as you stay headed out into the ocean. My home base was Anguilla. It's a little island with four thousand people and seventy banks. No crime. People don't lock their houses as a rule. People leave their keys in their cars, because it's hot and the clothes you wear don't have pockets. You don't want them to fall out in the sand and get lost, so everybody leaves their keys in the car.

The local government is very proud of the fact that all the laws and regulations for the entire island can be published in one book that is about fourteen type-written pages long -- except for the banking act, which is about eight thousand pages long. That's a very specific legislation, which conforms to international standards of secrecy and privacy under the internationally accepted offshore conventions.

One of the advantages of being in a small place like Anguilla where everyone knows everyone else is that any kind of federal agent sticks out like a sore thumb. If they call up the local government to come to visit and conduct a conference with their island counterpart, about five minutes after the agent hangs up with the government office, the secretary who took the call is on the line out, calling all the subscribers, letting them know that there's going to be a Fed in town next Thursday, arriving on the eight o'clock flight from St. Thomas.

I got into smuggling marijuana across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. It was a very simple numbers game. You buy the marijuana for anywhere from twenty-five to forty dollars a pound depending on quality, you ship it over, and sell it wholesale for about eighteen hundred to two thousand dollars a pound. You don't have to ship much to make a lot of profit, and you don't have to do it very often.

I had more money than I knew what to do with, and I was only sending over about three loads a year. After expenses I could probably make something between $295,000 and $350,000 a load, after all the little odds and ends in expenses and paying people off. It wasn't too bad for about three weeks work, at least from my point of view. Plus I had it in offshore tax-free jurisdiction. The people I worked with in Europe paid cash on the barrel head. Within two or three days of receiving shipment, we'd meet in Luxembourg or Austria, and I'd get my money.

I'd take my money in the easiest negotiable forms of security that all Europeans use when they want to move stuff around -- Ecodenominated Euro-bonds. I'd take it back home and put it in the bank in Anguilla. There were slight service charges, but nothing like a fee. Or I'd go up and deposit them in a Finnish bank. Finland is about the greatest place to do business, since they have no central clearinghouse bank authority. Every bank does it for themselves. There's no organization up there, so there's no records kept. It's painfully easy even to this present day.

I bought another sailboat, and I got together with some other people to open up a yacht charter service to keep myself occupied and to have a legitimate business down there. We chartered Nautor Swan design boats to wealthy clients from England, Germany, and North America who had that same kind of boat at home. They didn't necessarily want to take their vessel all the way across the ocean for the Caribbean season, but would like to charter one similar to it because of their familiarity with the design, and its appurtenances. It worked really well. It was a good idea. We offered full service -- which meant picking them up at the airport with flowers and a pretty girl, driving them around to their boat, having everything aboard that they wanted, for instance the kind of wine they preferred. I didn't lose money for one day while I was running the damn thing.

I started meeting a lot of people. A forty-four-foot Swan cost you just around a million dollars. So the people I met were people with money. Most of them are in a high tax bracket, and most of them wanted to find ways to move their money around offshore. Business opportunity!

What the customs authorities caught me with was bearer securities amounting to about $325,000 in hand, secreted in a specially constructed attache case. At that time, I was functioning as a courier for an offshore corporation based in Anguilla. The securities were in a sealed pouch, and I was bound for the Bank of Luxembourg.

For a number of reasons, I decided to take a commercial air flight as opposed to chartering a plane from St. Maartens over to Europe, which is normally the easiest way to go. I'd get together with a friend, and we'd charter one of the jets from the runway -- round trip to Paris is about $22,000 for you to go over, and the plane to fly back. The advantage of this is that you put into a private airport. There is no customs or very minimal ones. You can come in unobserved by the French Air Police, which is really handy. Or you can land in Brussels, and they don't give a fuck anyway. Or you can land at Schiphol at Amsterdam, where you can just hop into an ABN limo and go to the bank. The Dutch are really cooperative. They're very materialistically oriented and understand that money doesn't really have a smell.

I thought that I'd been really discreet and very clever. I thought that my name had never been come across by anybody. I never used my real name, had never signed much of anything, and avoided leaving and entering through customs as a general rule whenever I went any place, which is remarkably easy to do into this country or any other country. What I'd failed to realize was that the downfall of most people is behaving in an altruistic fashion. They get in trouble by doing a favor for a friend. That will lead to your or anyone else's downfall.

At arm's length, I brokered a deal for a young Danish guy who was taking a load back home to Denmark on a cargo freighter. It was a fairly small amount, about a thousand pounds. It was done on a recommendation of a friend of mine who said the guy was a good kid, but my friend didn't have any marijuana available, and did I know somebody who had some stuff to get this kid set up in like two days? I said sure.

From the inquiries that I made about the kid, he was a stand-up guy. He was intelligent, was doing well, and always paid on time. So I made two phone calls, and the kid went down to Antigua at Ricky's famous concrete dock, put his thousand pounds on the boat, and the boat headed back to Europe by way of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Unfortunately for the kid, he hadn't had much experience dealing with people in the Caribbean. They were taking on cargo in the Virgin Islands. The locals have a tendency to rip open cargo to see what's inside, so they can grab a little bit here and there. Two of the local guys ripped open one of the bags with the marijuana in it, stuffed their jackets full of marijuana, and walked out the front gate of the customs compound. Even in the Virgin Islands, they probably would have gotten away with it, if it hadn't been lunchtime when there was somebody at the gate house. They grabbed these two schmucks who then turned around and pointed to the boat at the end of the dock. Customs went down, and the kid was sitting there, frantically sewing up the bags. U.S. Customs grabbed him.

Unfortunately for me, the kid had a tendency to write things down, which is something that you don't do. He'd written down my name along with a few others. He knew my real name, even though I used an alias with him. He must have gotten it from Ricky, who knew my whole name. Plus the kid had written down my phone number, of all damn things.

That wasn't so bad. The kid was in the slammer there. He did something everyone should do when they are arrested for a federal crime. He posted bail, and he left.

I didn't even hear about it. Nobody heard about it. He was only in for a weekend. Somebody flew in from Denmark, posted the $100,000, and he was gone. It was great. Now, they've got nobody who knows anything.

About two months later, I came flying through on this courier mission on a commercial flight going to Puerto Rico and on to Europe. I got off the plane. "Hey, we've got some time to kill before the flight leaves. Let's go into town and get some lunch." I went through customs coming into the country, drove into town, had lunch. When I got back to the airport, I had to check in for the flight, and there were a couple of agents waiting for me.

I was arrested on five counts of conspiracy to import and distribute, carrying on a continuing criminal enterprise, and for violating money laundering statutes. The conviction rate in federal trials varies from one part of the country to another, but all states have conviction rates in the high 90th percentile. If you go to federal court you have something like a 2.1 percent chance of being proved innocent. This smacks surprisingly of a kangaroo court system where you are going to be convicted no matter what you do.

You shouldn't get yourself an attorney to fight for you, someone who will take you to court and cost you an arm and a leg. They will just charge you as much as they possibly can without telling you that you are going to be convicted anyway. Most people don't figure that out until the judge hands down the sentence. You are going to be convicted. You will get time, and you will do 98 percent of that time in the federal system. The smart thing to do is to put up your $100,000 bail and leave the country, then never come back. There's no two ways about that, as I was soon to find out.

Finally, I pulled into Club Fed, which is very nice accommodations. I highly recommend it for losing weight and for learning to play tennis. We had some of the best tennis players I've ever seen in my entire life down there. This place was known within the prison industry as the Tennis Camp, because fully three-quarters of the people there were committed tennis fanatics. There was no black market trafficking in booze, or in marijuana, or in girls. There was black market trafficking in tennis strings, racquets, specialized tennis shoes, gloves, and grip tape. That's what was smuggled into our camp. Only occasionally would one of the older gentlemen get himself a nip of bourbon smuggled in. Most of the younger camp members would just turn their heads the other direction and ignore it totally, as did the guards. How are you going to tell somebody the same age as your father, "I'm going to put you in the hole for getting your nip every month."
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Postby admin » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:37 am


Jimmy sells beat drugs. He hustles homosexuals. He hustles hustlers who are more small-time than he is. He will snatch a purse, take a leather jacket, steal a beach bag off the blanket, buy a stolen credit card and run it up to the max. A young looking thirty-one, despite a close call with endocarditis and heart surgery from shooting cocaine in his youth, he travels from coast to coast, from Rodeo Days in California, to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, to spring break in Daytona, to summer vacation on Cape Cod. Jimmy preys on party animals.

Jimmy was very introspective about his life when I talked with him. He spoke passionately. On his sixth time in prison, Jimmy forced himself to get into the drug program, and he says he's finally taken a good look at himself. "I can identify my character defects. My biggest character defect is that I'm fucking lazy," he says, pushing a shock of black hair back from his pale face. "I don't want to work for shit, because all my life I ain't never had to work for nothing. Shit has always been where you can go out and get it, and this is the easy way to get it. In fact, it was the hard way to get it."

Jimmy re-creates some of his work here so you can decide for yourself if it seems like the lazy man's way to fortune. What the stories don't always clearly communicate is the surge of euphoria he feels when he succeeds at his deceit.

"Ripping somebody off, when it's going just right, it's like a high in itself. I have the person believing that I'm fucking Joe Dope Dealer, and I'm getting them the best deal they're ever going to get. They're giving me all their vacation money, thinking that they're going to get some free dope and get the money back. It's going so well that they're just going to believe whatever I'm going to tell them. Just knowing that now you got the money, their money. They're still with me, and they're laughing about it. I used to like that.

"I've always noticed that once people have invested a certain amount of money with you, and that amount is gone, they convince themselves that they'll get it back if they give you more money. They don't want to believe that they've been ripped off. 'This can't be happening to me. I'm really too intelligent for this guy to rip me off.'"

Like many of the most successful criminals, Jimmy depends on the illicit desires of his victims to facilitate his job. If someone didn't want what Jimmy promises to supply -- but almost never delivers -- he'd rarely get the chance to employ his considerable talents.

"I always had some kind of weird luck, where I'll be sitting, won't be bothering anybody, and somebody will come up out of nowhere and say, 'Hey, buddy, you think you could get me some drugs? You know?'

"'No, I don't know.'

"'I got two hundred dollars, and I'm looking for some.'

"It's like, damn, man, I shouldn't take this guy's money. But he really wants to give it to me. I don't know why. Maybe because I have a few tattoos they pick me out of a crowd. I give up trying to find out.

"It's like when I was younger with homosexuals, if I was flat broke walking down the street at night time, and there was one car driving down the road, the dude would pull over and want to give me some money. And wouldn't be happy till I took it from him, or till he drove me somewhere."

There is just a glimmer of good news in Jimmy's report -- his hustle is less certain to work these days. "When I first started ripping people off, if a guy had long hair, he got high. If kids were Spring Breakers, they all used drugs mostly. Now with the kids, you take your chances. They might go straight to the phone and call the police on you. So you got to talk to them for a while. Now, lots of times, the guys with long hair are the ones who will want to beat you up and throw you off the balcony. They just say no. They just happen to have long hair because it looks good. The guys who buy look like Pee Wee Herman."

What is amazing is the level of personal violence Jimmy has chosen to live with as a relatively nonviolent criminal. He's been cut, threatened with a gun, shot at, chased, and cold-conked from behind. With his bad heart, he can only run about fifty yards before he's done in, so his chances of getting away are poor. Twice, Jimmy's been beaten to a bloody pulp. But the hot bubbling inner core of Jimmy's crime is his own addiction, to cocaine and to the rush of taking what belongs to somebody else.

"I've always known it would come down to this. I always suspected that I'd get shot, or something like that. You get used to it. You convince yourself that it's not really that bad. 'Hey, I'm having a good time.' Shit's bad, and if shit being bad is the only thing you know, you're not going to know when something is good. You're going to say, 'I don't know anything about that. I know about this. This is what I'm used to, so this is where I'm going to stay.' It's like feeling sorry for yourself. I knew this sentence was coming around, and it didn't even bother me. I just thought, 'Well, this is what I'm choosing -- to do these crimes. I'm not going to get a job and not be able to get high. So what I need to do is just be careful. I know I'm going to get caught sooner or later."

Jimmy wasn't careful. His crimes became progressively more and more serious. Instead of sticking to selling fake drugs to make enough money to get himself high, Jimmy was selling real drugs. In the 90s, he began to buy and sell a lot of crack cocaine. He was burglarizing hotel rooms. His habit was costing up to one thousand dollars a day. He was lucky to stay out of prison for ninety days before coming back.

"I'm surprised I'm not dead a thousand times over. I was just on a suicide mission. I would tell people that, and a lot of people wouldn't hang around me. I'm glad it's stopped, but I couldn't stop it."


For me, it was just whatever crime came along. When I was in my early twenties, out on the street, I would hang out in different big cities: Ft. Lauderdale, New Orleans, Los Angeles. I'd go to areas where there were tourists, and that's where I would make my money. Inevitably, where there are tourists, there are also homosexuals, cruising to try to pick up the young guys or runaways. For a while, I tried homosexual hustling, but I couldn't seem to make any money at it. All my friends could. I couldn't get myself sexually aroused like I should have.

So when one came along, I would try to talk him out of his money, or promise him whatever, then as long as I got the money, I'd try to get away from him. I committed crimes against homosexuals, muggings where I could just grab their wallet, just snatch something from them and walk away. I didn't even consider that as committing a crime on a regular person, because it's almost like they expect to get ripped off. They're out there, cruising around, picking up young guys that they know are extremely dangerous. It seems like this past time I was out on the street things were different for me. I don't know if I look more menacing now. I usually wear a leather jacket, T-shirt, and jeans. I dress casual. Guys pick me up thinking I'm younger. They'd pick me up, I would be high on cocaine, and they would actually pay me money just to get out of their car when I would start talking. "Uh-oh, I've picked up a crack psycho. Let me just give him money to get out of the car."

"What's up, man?" I'd say.

"Would you like to go to my place and make some money?"

"Yeah, yeah, uh, we'll party. But first we need to stop by somewhere I know. You give me a ride, we'll go over here, and then we'll go party, man. I like to party. You got anything to party on?" I'd ask them if they had any drugs and, of course, they didn't have what I want anyway. So I'd say, "I need to go get some weed or some coke. Instead of giving me the money to fuck around, give me the money now to go buy some drugs. When we get over here I'll buy."

Then what I'd do is take them over to black town or wherever I was going to get my dope, get the money from them, and make the buy. Then I get back in the car and say, "We need to make one more stop. Damn, man, just make this one more stop. I didn't rip you off. See? I'm back in the car." On that one more stop, I'd get out of the car and just go.

I don't really like homosexuals. They've always seemed worse of a leech than me. Whenever I was flat broke and doing really bad, or something like that, they've always been around and tried to fucking fuck me over. Here I am trying to fuck somebody over, but they're trying to take sexual advantage of me, or any young boy if possible. But me, I'm just fucking trying to get something to eat. Instead of saying, "You need five dollars to eat on?" they're always telling you, "I'll give you five dollars, if you'll let me suck your dick." Damn, man.

I used to sell a lot of beat drugs. It would be the same thing when I ripped those people off. I'd sell Procaine for cocaine, or I'd make fake hash -- sage and eggs, looks just like hash, smells just like hash. I'd let them smoke just a small amount. Not enough to get high, but to know that it burned, and it smelled real. I'd say, "Let me get my money, man. I got a date." Then I'd get out with fifty dollars. Usually that was the least I'd bother to sell for. The tourists are not going to be in town very long, at the most for a week. I wouldn't even bother ducking them. If they don't like it, I just tell them, "Look, here, have some cocaine."

I'd have dehydrated wild mushrooms straight out of the supermarket chains, and tell them that they're psychedelic mushrooms. The kids like that now. There's not a whole lot of excuse you can give them when they eat a whole lot of mushrooms without getting high, but I just tell them, "I traded somebody my coke for the mushrooms. Take some coke or something."

It's not likely that they're going to confront you. They're on vacation. They know they've been ripped off, but they're not going to go through the trouble of ruining their vacation, especially when you remind them, "Listen, you'll go to jail, bro. You better calm down." You don't let them get you back in the car, and take you into any deserted alleyways. You just make sure you stay out in public.

Some people are actually happy when they get ripped off. They think that they got their drugs. I've seen people snort up Procaine and swear that it was the best dope. I've seen people give me their real cocaine in exchange for fake cocaine, and tell me that they didn't like what they have. I was like, "I'll take all of it. Here, you can have this. Matter of fact, you can have some extra of mine." Procaine sells for fifty dollars to eighty dollars an ounce, and ten dollars for an eighth of an ounce. I can take that ounce and make eight hundred dollars. I can turn $10 into $180. So that's not bad, not bad at all.

It's always easy to make ten dollars. Even if I'm flat broke and spent all my money on cocaine that night, I can always find somebody to give me ten dollars. Or I'll just get whoever wants to buy the dope and tell them, "Look, I owe my connection ten dollars. Ride me to where they sell it and give me ten bucks. When I come back out, I'll sell you a quarter gram and give you ten dollars off the price, plus I'll give you a free quarter gram."

People are greedy. Drug addicts are the greediest people I've ever seen in my life. If they think they can get something for free, they'll give you everything they have, with the probability of never seeing anything back again.

Or I'll leave something for them. If they want to buy a pound of pot, that's going to cost them almost one thousand dollars. What I'll do is, I'll leave them with two ounces of cocaine for collateral. That's like eighteen hundred to two thousand dollars. "You hold this, and front me the thousand. I'll go get the pot."

I'll get their money and leave them with the fake coke. I'll come back to them a half hour later without the money and without the drugs, and I'll say, "Man, you wouldn't believe what's up. I got a deal where I can get another whole pound for five hundred dollars. Man, you guys think you can swing up some more money? And I'll tell you what I'll do: I'll give you all your money back, some free pot, and some cocaine. I'll give you another ounce and a half of cocaine to hold in the meantime. Or I'll give you a bunch of hash to hold, eight or nine ounces. Hold onto this, and hold this here, and give me five hundred dollars. I'll try to rush the deal."

I try to put them in a hurry, and see how it works out. If I can't get five hundred, I'll take two hundred, or a hundred, or fifty. I'll just take something, you know? I'll take their jewelry or their clothes, if they got new clothes, and it fits me.

Say it's a cold day out, I meet you. You want an ounce of pot. I don't have a jacket on, and you got a nice leather jacket. I'd say, "You know what, man? I'm fixing to go in there and get a quarter pound, man. You got a duffel bag I can use?" If you say no, I'd say, "Let me hold on to your jacket to wrap it up in when I come out. I'll be right back." So I'll get you for your money and your jacket. Leave you in some neighborhood.

Sometimes I'd get back in the car with you, and we'll ride back across the bridge into the beach area. I'll say, "It's a Jamaican dude, man, and he didn't want to do the deal across the bridge. He's going to meet us on this side. Let me use your jacket to cover up the pot."

We've been riding around for a half an hour, drinking beer. I done let you snort a little bit of my coke, and I done smoked a little bit of hash with you. I got to be your friend during that time, or what you think is a friend. Most people on vacation, they just want to have a good time. They get drunk. A lot of times, they're intoxicated. Especially if you find them on a pool deck. If you meet them on a pool deck, you can bet they're already intoxicated. They been drinking out in the sun all day long, shit like that, and it's likely they'll go for any kind of deal.

I was so naive when I was younger, I went out to Los Angeles thinking that I'm going to be like a superstar, just like the rest of the kids, thinking, "Probably not very many people sell beat drugs out there." So I went to Hollywood. "Damn, man, this is just like Times Square in New York City. People will run right over you. Don't nobody care about you. Damn, man, all these kids are junkies, they ain't no tourists. What am I going to do?"

I had a little bit of reefer to sell, so I got out there and had to hustle faggots, and rip faggots off on Santa Monica Boulevard. The first day out there, I ran into a great big old five hundred-pound homosexual who hit the drag on Sunset Boulevard. He told me, "You can stay at my place."

I played it off like, "Ah'm just in here from Louisiana. Ah ain't never had no homosexual. Ah'm only down here 'cause my girlfriend left me." He bought it for about a week. That whole time I was with him, I was finding a place to buy pot cheap down in East LA. I'd ride down there on the bus, buy an ounce of pot for fifty dollars, take it back and make it into fifteen dimes. I ended up getting three to four hundred dollars in my pocket. By the time that he was hitting on me really heavy, I was able to plan to leave.

That night I went to a concert. Usually, you can make some money at a concert with beat drugs. But the whole five or six days I'd been in Los Angeles, I hadn't got any pussy, so I just went to the concert in my mind to get laid. I met a girl there who was like thirty years old, nine years older than me. After the concert, we went back to her place. She lived right up near the Hollywood sign in one of them little villages of old Spanish-style houses. I ended up staying with her on and off for about three years. I would leave and come back, leave and come back. The age difference isn't all that much, but I just didn't find her that attractive. I wanted young girls, I wanted fine girls, and as many as possible. She'd give me the keys to her car, I'd take her old two-seater Volvo, and I'd just go cruise around picking up girls in her car and fucking them.

I'd go back to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and then on to Spring Break. In the wintertime, I end up going back to California and hanging with her. I thought I was a real player. I lived the life, man. I used to think to myself, "Boy, you're a real slick motherfucker. You don't even work, and all these people save up all their money, all year long, just to come to the beach for one week, and stay in this nice motel, for one week! Here you are, just living here, hanging out, Spring Break. And before Spring Break, where were you? You were at Mardi Gras, hanging out. Partying off these other people's money. Man, life is good."

I was bartending at a topless bar in New Orleans. The fucking girl I was living with was driving me crazy, and I lost my job, and my car blew up, all in the same day. So I called out to California, and I said, "I'd like to come out there."

"Oh, I'm doing cocaine now," she said. "We're sitting here freebasing a few ounces right now." I had never heard of it. At this time, I was just a junkie sometimes, every once in a while I'd shoot some dope. So I dropped everything, and flew out to California.

She was a base-head, really bad, smoking half an ounce to an ounce a day of fourteen hundred dollars an ounce cocaine. She worked as a computer programmer, but she had quite a bit of money from her parents.

She got to where she didn't care about anything except cocaine, and I got to where I was shooting and smoking. Really I like to shoot drugs a whole lot better than smoking them. It was my first time freebasing, and I seen thirty- and forty-year-old people, all crawling around on the carpet, peeking out the windows, and I said, "Man, these people are weird. I'm going to take my drugs, go in the bathroom, shoot them, and lock all these weirdos out." I had never seen anybody freaking like that. Shooting cocaine, you get so high you just got to sit there, and then you're fucking out of it, you can't do weird things.

Anyway, the thing fell apart. I ended up saying, fuck this shit. I took all my shit and left. Got out there on the street trying to make money by myself. Then she blamed her drug addiction on me. Turns out she had run through $160,000 trust fund in less than a year. Her dad had people looking for me wanting to break my legs. These were big dudes, in suits -- leg-breaker dudes -- the real thing. I said, "This man is going to fuck up my world." I hit the road.

I've been beat up three times that make a difference over a ten- or twelve-year period. Two of the times, it was people trying to take my fake drugs from me, because they thought they were real.

The other time I got beat up, the whole side of my face was caved in, my cheekbone was shattered. My nose was broken, my eyes blacked. I was shooting dope with these people. They had been ripping me off all night, just taking drugs out of my bag. They were also taking money from me, because when we started shooting drugs, they had no money, but then when I ran out of money, then they had some. I took one of the guy's money to go get some drugs. But I just took the money and beat him. Somehow they found out the area that I hung out in was down in the French Quarter. They rode around until they spotted my car, and waited for me. They found me about dawn, when I came back to my car drunk. Within about two minutes, they just kicked the shit out of me.

I got so bad on cocaine that I used to go into the black neighborhoods on foot, and trade the black guys fake reefer for their crack cocaine, taking the chance that they'll find out that it's not real weed and get me before I got out of the projects. That's how bad it got.

They got me one night. I got about five blocks away, and I heard somebody yelling. The dude I was with took off running and left me. I ran about a block, and this dude on a bicycle spun the bike around in front of me, hit me one time in the temple and dropped me. He hit me, I hit the ground, and then I shit myself. I was knocked out about thirty seconds. The dude had hit me so hard, I forgot which hotel I was staying in. I walked up to the main highway, and I couldn't remember what hotel I was in. Damn. That was the last time I ever walked down there.

When I get high on cocaine, I just really don't care. I have only certain things I'll do to get the money, but as far as to get the drugs, I'll go to any extent to get the drugs. I'll walk through the worst neighborhood in the middle of the night. It doesn't matter. I never thought twice in any city I've ever been in about going into a neighborhood. It just didn't matter to me. If that's where the drugs were, I was going in there to get them. And I was coming out with my drugs. The only way you were going to get them away from me was if you bodily take them away from me. I'm not handing them over.

I don't like to be around guns, and I don't carry guns. It's really weird, the anti-violent part of me. If I get a gun, man, I'll trade it for some drugs, because I don't want to carry it. That's a three-year mandatory sentence. An automatic gun, I don't even know how to load it, or shoot it, or anything. All this time I've been on the streets, all I've had is a revolver, and it doesn't matter if it's got bullets in it or not, because I'm not going to shoot nobody.

In a fit of anger, I've stabbed a few people, but only when they were beating me. I've pulled a knife when I've gotten cornered and said, "Look, man, back up. I don't want to stab you." I have a lot of friends, they'll just stab a person. If they pull out a knife, they're going to use it automatically. I always give a person a second choice. I've stabbed maybe three people, and it's just been a slashing thing. I don't even know if I cut them. It's just enough to get them off me, so I can get away from them.

In the environment I was in, that was the chance you take. If you jump on somebody to beat them up or to hurt them, be prepared for them to shoot you or stab you. If I stab somebody or pull a knife out on somebody, then I've got to be prepared for them to pull a knife on me, and stab me or shoot me. Whatever's fair is fair.

Actually, I've probably got real good sales skills. Every once in a while, I'd go home and stay with Mom, or I'd get straight for a while, and I always did okay in a job. It's just that I would get bored. I wouldn't be getting what I wanted fast enough. Or Spring Break would come up in Daytona, and I'd be stuck in some podunk town, or Mardi Gras would be going on. A couple of times I lived with girls who were good, steady girls that I wasn't able to turn into maniacs. I'd just take off for Mardi Gras and say, "Fuck this shit." Make a couple hundred dollars and take off. Because I've always been able to just jump out there in a city anywhere, with basically nothing -- just some BC Headache Powder and make one hundred dollars, or go to a bus station somewhere and make some money real fast ripping off a homosexual. I never worried about being broke. As long as I'm not locked up, I'm not going to worry about it.

I've had a whole lot of burglary charges recently. I started hanging around with younger kids on the beach side who were burglarizing motels. The way they get in is people actually leave their doors open, or leave the sliding glass balcony windows open. They'll be on the second floor and leave it wide open. The kids just climb up the wall, go in the room about four or five in the morning and grab the pants or a purse and go on out. They'd go in there when the people were sleeping. I tried that once or twice, and I was scared shitless. I have friends who would go into hotel rooms while the people were in there sleeping, get up between their beds where the nightstand is, lay on the floor, and do a hit of crack. Then grab the stuff and leave. Just kids who were psychos about that.

Then in the morning, these younger kids will have credit cards, they'll have traveler's checks, and they'll have cash. The money, they're going to buy crack cocaine, but the other stuff they don't know what to do with it. A lot of times, they have trouble renting a room in any kind of nice hotel.

Now on the street, even with my habit, I keep myself looking presentable. Never dirty clothes, never ripped up clothes, always nice clothes. With a credit card, the first thing I do is go and buy the best clothes I can for myself. I try to look so that people will have no second thoughts about letting me a room even without an I.D. I have nice luggage. I always conduct myself well. I always go in by myself. I'll go and get the room. I don't like a bunch of street people and junkies around me. If I'm going to sell drugs, I get a room to sell drugs, and then I get another room where I sleep. This way, when I pass out, I don't have to worry about anybody creeping in my room and robbing me.

I'd get the kids to stay with me, if they were good kids and made a good amount of money. If I had a young guy who made a goodly amount of money, I didn't want to lose him, I wanted him to stay with me. I might get him high all night until three or four in the morning. Then it's time for him to go to work. "Man, it's time for you to get out there and go climb in through a few windows." When he comes back, he's got a pair of pants, a wallet, a purse, usually a thousand dollars or more, plus people's credit cards.

I had this one guy for a while, and I thought we were doing good, because we were jumping from the Sheraton to the Marriott to the Hyatt. Get into the hotel in the middle of the night, and the first thing we'd do is call an escort service, have them send over two girls in about an hour. Then we'd go -- boom -- get some dope real quick, and come right back. We'd be sitting in a three-hundred-dollar-a night motel, spend five or six hundred on a whore, get high, and eat on room service. The next night he'd go out and do another one, and we'd get another hotel. We'd have three or four hotel rooms, all on stolen credit cards. I thought, "Man, we're doing good. I got five thousand dollars' worth of surf clothes, plus cashmere jackets, beautiful shirts, and shit."

Went to jail, and lost it all. That's how it goes every time. I get all these nice clothes and jewelry, and I give somebody my jewelry to hold for one night or trade it off, or I go to jail the next day, and it'll all be gone. Clothes, piles and piles and piles of clothes. Get a piece of luggage, be in a hotel, and I can't go back in the hotel, because it was rented under a stolen credit card, or because the police raided the hotel. "No clothes again. Don't this suck? Got to go out, make some cash. Buy me a stolen credit card, and go buy me some clothes."

After a while you just get to accept it. This is no big deal. Losing stuff is no big deal. Losing, being all fucked up, and broke is no big deal. You just got to make some money. And you convince yourself that it's no big deal, when it really is a big deal that you just lost everything you had, when you didn't have too much in the first place. In the morning when you get thrown out of the motel, because you spent all your money -- five hundred dollars -- smoking crack the past night, and didn't pay the rent for the next week, you're sitting out on the sidewalk and thinking, "Boy, am I a fuckup. Well, I got to find somewhere to stash my clothes. Then I'll go down on the beach and make some money."

You haven't slept all night long, and you got to go down on the beach, and it's a hundred degrees down there. It looks like a desert, because in July not too many people go on the beach, but locals. You got to walk along the beach, hungry, broke, mad as hell, trying to make enough money just to get a room and eat. Walk off with somebody's bag, sell something, steal something. You kick yourself in the ass the whole time. Then when you do make some money, the first thing you want to do is go get a rock. "I want to go get a rock, and then I'll go get the room." Sometimes, you just say fuck it, you get where the dope is and, "Fuck it! My clothes ain't going nowhere. I'll smoke up this eighty dollars and go back out and get another one."

You put yourself on a merry-go-round. You come in and out of prison. When you come out, you got nothing but the same people and the same thing to look forward to. Locked up, out on probation, busted again. It seems like ninety days is a lot of time for me to stay out on the street anymore. I'm lucky if I can spend a year out there without getting busted.

When I first started out I was like, "Wow, I'll never have no hooker as an old lady." You say to yourself that you'll never do that. "I ain't never going to have no hooker, old sleazy bitches." Before you know it, you end up meeting a hooker. She's making money and getting high, you're making money and doing the same thing. You become friends, and you're staying together. You say, "Fuck it," and she becomes your girlfriend. Even though she's pretty and shit, how did 1end up with a girl who sells herself as my girlfriend? Obviously, she don't care nothing about me.

You don't want to think about that, because damn, man, you realize that you've sold yourself. You're out there selling beat drugs, and she's doing the same fucking thing you are, and you've done sunk to this level, and-fuck it-who cares? Let's get high! You're going to hang around, no matter how long it takes, sooner or later, you're going to end up just like the people you hang around with. I always try to look a certain way, but what's inside is what counts, and I got real problems inside.

Harming people, taking their money so I could get high, that's fucked up. I convince myself, "Well, they're trying to get high, so it's really not that bad."

But what about these people, I stole their fucking credit cards? What about them? They wasn't trying to get high. 1don't even want to hear that shit.

What about that fucking pocketbook that got snatched? Those people were just sitting there. I don't want to hear that shit.

What about them girls you turned on to crack cocaine, ain't never smoked it before? One of them might end up being a fucking crack whore, fuck up her whole life. Over the years, there's been a few like that, you know, that were down on the beach side. I ended up talking to them: "Well, you want to get high?"

"Yeah, sure."

"I got some pot, and some other dope." I'd take them somewhere, and after we'd smoked some pot, I'd say, "Here, smoke some of this, you'll like this." Not even tell them what it was, and make them smoke it.

"Wow! I like that. That stuff's good." The last time I seen her, she was nineteen, and she was fucked up, selling her pussy, fucked up with fucking niggers, a young white girl, all fucked up, man. I said, "Damn, man, look how this girl has fucked up, man. How did she get so fucked up?" It was old sorry motherfuckers like me helped her get fucked up.

I didn't care, 'cause the next time I seen these young girls partying, and I had a fucking house on the beach that I was selling dope out of, I brought them up there. I told them there was a party.

There was a fucking party, all right. Crack whores and fucking junkies coming in and out of this house all the time, fucking smoking. I've got the guy who owns the house hooked on crack, so I can sell out of his house. I took over the guy's bedroom. I take the two girls in the bedroom, and they're like sixteen. They don't know any better, they don't really know nothing about crack houses, and all the fucking prostitutes like that.

"Here, hit this," I said. The one girl hit it. Obviously, she wasn't a virgin, she says, "Does it always make you horny when you hit it?"

"God damn, this is good here. It does me." I ended up having sex with one of them then, and the next day I have sex with the other one. She's over there saying, "Don't tell my girlfriend, because my girlfriend says this is a crack house, and all ya'll are crack heads."

"Man, this ain't a crack house. There ain't no crack heads. Look, this is a nice house," I told her. Which it was a nice house, but the guy who owned it had a good job and all this shit. Now he's on unemployment, and just wants to smoke crack. He's fucked up all his money. The only one he's got to look forward to get him high are me and the fucking people who come in the door. I'm buying the groceries and giving him a little bit of money, but he's taking the risk. Eventually, the cops come crashing the fucking door in, board the place up, and take him to jail.

I'm trying to convince her to smoke some crack, and she's smoking. "Yeah, I like to smoke it." We're sitting in the dude's bedroom, watching TV.

"Give me some more," she says. "Let me smoke it." But she don't want to get naked or nothing, so I say, "This right here, I have to save for somebody who I can have sex with."

"Who is it?"

"It's somebody. I don't know who it is yet. I was hoping it was you."

"Oh, if I did that, I would be a coke whore. No, I don't want to be a coke whore."

"A coke whore is girls who come in to buy drugs, and they buy by giving head. You wouldn't be a coke whore having sex with me while we're doing this together."

"Oh, okay then."

Things just keep coming around in a circle. I kept thinking that I could keep doing the crime and getting away with it, that I would never get old. Now I find myself thirty years old, and I don't have shit. I'm in prison for the umpteenth time. I been all these places for Mardi Gras and Bike Weeks and Spring Breaks, different places in California and Atlanta, all up North in New York City, Boston, Cape Cod. I went through all these women that weren't prostitutes before the prostitute part. And I don't have shit to show for it, not shit, except for a bunch of getting high and a bad heart. Everything I have to show for it is negative. I spent my whole life doing negative things, and the outcome is negative.

They have that saying, "If you keep doing what you been doing, you're going to keep getting what you been getting." There's no doubt about that. In the past seven years, my life has been shit. No matter how good the money I had was, it never lasted till the high was over. I always ended up in the same place I started.
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Postby admin » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:37 am


Crack cocaine has gnawed a huge hole in our society. You don't read about it in the newspapers much anymore. Crack crime stories are often too sordid for the nightly news on television. There's been enough publicity about the drug's incredible power of addiction to slow down middle-class white kids out for a night of fun who might have experimented with cocaine in the past. Many slaves of the rock are more or less disposable citizens of our society, anyway -- poor, black or brown, uneducated, unemployed. As one prison inmate put it, "Another nigger shot in the head for a rock just ain't news these days." Nobody pays attention to crack stories anymore.

Even a child knows that just because you ignore the monsters under your bed that doesn't mean they aren't real. There is still a Dickensian shadow world of rock monsters lurking on bad streets in fractured neighborhoods from East Harlem in New York City to the Lincolnville section of the quiet resort town of St. Augustine, Florida. The cops in your town know where your local crack haven is, a netherworld of skeletal men and women at the beck and call of their demon addiction, day and night, night and day. Crack isn't gone, we've just gotten used to hearing about the horrors of the rock. I heard a version of this story over and over again, from men and women, black and white:

"I was on crack. I went into the grocery store. I got away the first time with two packs of steaks. This woman had spotted me in the store. She probably already described to the man what I looked like. I go back the second time. I believe they were waiting on me. I'm making my way out of the store, and I played it off -- tried to pay for a Snicker's bar. I noticed the security guard was on one door, and the guy worked in the meat department went on the other door.

"So here I am. I'm thinking crazy now. The woman gets on the microphone, and calls somebody else up. It's the manager. I knew it had to be for me.

"I had a knife already open. I went out the door. When the guy tried to stop me, I stabbed him with the knife. He received eighteen stitches that same day.

"I got away for a while. I crossed the parking lot, and I hid out. A guy who works at a warehouse saw me, so I had to move from one spot to another. I'm squatting down among the garbage cans. The place is already surrounded by the police. There is no way I can get away. I heard the voice of a detective I've been knowing for a long time. He had a nine millimeter pointed at me, and he said, 'Okay, give it up. Put your hands up.' I did that. 'Come on out. Lay down on the ground.' At that point, I knew I was going to jail. He searched me down and found a crack pipe on me and a lighter.

"Everybody was there, all the employees that worked at the grocery store, black and white, people from the neighborhood, I even seen my brother in the crowd. At the jail, the door to the interrogation room was open, and I saw the people coming to give statements. When you are high, and you do a crime, hurt somebody, you'd be amazed who saw you. I didn't realize how many of these people saw me. They had old men and old women down there, this one young guy, seven or eight people made statements against me.

"I had got to the point where I didn't have proper clothes. Shoes, the same way. There was days I didn't comb my hair. Lost weight. Dirty underwear. Didn't shave. People would tell me, 'Go home and take you a shower.' I had home messed up so bad, my mother didn't want me in there. I'd wrecked that. She had a pistol that I stole and sold. I took her money. I even bought some chicken for her one time, trying to make up, and then went back, got that, and sold it.

"I had to be out of my mind when I stabbed that store employee. I'm not the type that would do things to hurt someone. It's just that he was in my way, and I felt like he needed to be moved. So there ain't no ifs, ands, or buts about it -- I did it."

Franklin, a handsome giant of a man, folds and unfolds his hands as he tells this story. He speaks with subdued disbelief, as though he were recounting a bad dream. Instead, these are the bare facts that led to his twenty-five-year sentence in state prison.

The senseless petty thefts; the unpredictable and often violent attacks of an army of addicts in dime stores, at red lights on isolated intersections; the fear of dying because you won't let go of your purse; the certainty that your car window will be bashed in if you leave it parked in one place too long -- desperate people committing desperate acts have plunged into the lives of millions of Americans who never expected to be victims of crime.

The gram of cocaine that sells for a few hundred dollars can become hundreds of ten dollar rocks. Control of crack distribution and the drug's incredible profit margin has fueled the gang wars, the spread of high-tech weaponry into the streets, drive-by shootings, and the revenge murders of one child by another child. The brutality crack has spawned, especially among the young, is unthinkable.

Crack is the unacknowledged subtext of the public outcry over crime in this country. The major governmental response is the political nonissue of just which politician can claim to be the "toughest" on crime. Crack is the reason the prisons are overflowing. Crack and the escalation of violence it has caused are the first cause of the confrontation over gun control. Crack has breathed new life into racism. Unfortunately, we don't want to hear about crack anymore.

Harold, who tells his story in the following pages, has willpower. He fell into The Pit, as he calls it, of crack addiction, "But I was keeping my head above water." After a few quick turns in prison's revolving door for possession and sale of cocaine, and several years of running frantically after the rock, Harold found himself, by chance, in charge of an empty rooming house. Harold is smart and tough, and he was tired of running after the rock, so he built himself a system that would bring the rock to him. He converted the place into a warped and filthy version of Rick's Place in Casablanca, where everything is possible for a price -- only Harold's place was for crack heads. It was the scene of hellish extremes -- ecstasy and death. Harold's ability to resist the mental churning and physical depredations of the drug, so that he could twist the other addicts to his purpose, only made him more of a monster.


I was a rock monster. I started smoking that crack, and I been down in the gutter ever since. I started hanging in alleys, hanging in abandoned buildings with a glass stem, waiting for somebody to come by and give me a hit, chasing behind cars, knocking peoples in the head, and taking one rock. Snatching money to get high. If you come to cop, I might jump on you with three or four other people just to get them twenty dollars.

I was fortunate to not be in a situation where I had hurt anybody, where I got caught breaking into somebody's house, shooting somebody. I done had friends who is doing time, doing time, doing time, for lesser than that, because of crack. I got a friend who's doing fifty years for a twenty-cent rock. I can tell you all kind of people doing time for nothing, for the rock.

When you selling a few rocks to smoke a few rocks, people come by in cars and trick you with a dollar bill that has cut twenties on the edge, taped on the corners. You're not paying attention. They act like they scared, 'cause you might snatch their money -- and you might. They just crack the window and say, "Hey, man, I got twenty dollars, man. Give me a rock, man." By the time you drop the rock and snatch the money at the same time, they gone. When you look at the bill, you done got beat.

I got drug by a car for reaching in the car, trying to snatch the money. I had sense enough to let go, but when I let go, that pavement ate my ass up in the back. I had asphalt burns, man. I couldn't sleep on my back for a week. Every time I moved, I'm groaning. I couldn't wear a shirt, because it was in the summertime and the shirt would stick to the scabs.

I ain't taking no bath or nothing. I be stinking so, but I be around people that be stinking right along with me. We going day after day after day. People go till blisters come on they foot, big as my thumb. When you see them walking barefooted, they walking on the side of their foot, still trying to get a rock.

After the second time I went to prison for smoking crack, when I got out, I said, "I ain't hanging in the alleys this time. I'm not doing that. I'm not chasing cars this time." I said, "I know how to finesse. I know how to be cool."

My mother's old aunt and uncle, they had a two-story rooming house they let me stay in it. That way I wouldn't have people coming around smoking dope at they main house -- I'm way off in another part of town. They had a landlord, a lady who collected the rent, but she couldn't do nothing to me, because she didn't have no say so over me. Only my aunt and uncle could say, "Hey, you get out!" But they knowed I had been smoking crack before. So I have people come up in my room smoking that dope.

Then my aunt dies, so my uncle wanted to sell the place. He told me, "Harold, you have all the people coming around there smoking that dope. I'm scared to close the house up, 'cause somebody might go in the house, and burn it down." Which that can happen. I done seen many houses caught fire. I done been in an abandon house, trying to smoke crack. Them people in there get paranoid in the dark, and they just drop the matches on a piece of paper or something else that will burn, and it catch on fire.

So he said to me, "You stay in the house until the house is sold." Oh, boy! I got a big old twelve-room, two-story house, all to myself. And I had big fun.

This was my way of surviving, support my considerable habit: If you white, you come in the neighborhood, and you scared. Or say you know somebody black and he your friend, and he know me, he'd bring you to me and say, "Harold, hey, this guy want to cop a fifty, but he done got beat."

You might tell me, "Hey, I'm not going to give you my money, man, to go cop. I done been ripped off too many times."

I'm going to tell you, "Hey, keep it. Don't worry about it. Stay right here. I'll be right back."

Now, I have two or three drug dealers who sold on the street that I can go to. They know me from selling dope. They trust me. I wasn't the rip-off type. My game was too strong for that. I had too much finesse about myself for that, too much pride. I wasn't the type had to jack. You see what I'm saying? I always used this brain here. So if I come up to one of them and say, "Hey, Tricky, let me get a fifty, man. Let me go round here and serve it to this white dude, man, and I'll bring the money back, man. It take about fifteen, twenty minutes." If he know me -- and they know me real good from those days -- he says, "Okay, Harold." Ain't none of that, "Hey, I'll go round there with you." It was a trip. If I didn't come back, then he wouldn't fuck with me no more, period. But see, I'm going to come back.

So I return to you, and say, "Here you go." I say, "Now, I got to go pay the dope man. Now, don't that tell you something? I went and got dope with no money. If the dope man trust me, why can't you?"

My next thing is, "You want a place to smoke? I got a pipe right here for you. You sit right here and smoke, man." You sitting there smoking, you might want another fifty. You still need me, 'cause now you paranoid since you done got high. But you still say, "I ain't going to give you no money."

"Don't worry about it. I'll be right back. I'll be right back. Relax." I go again. By the third time, I got your confidence. You believe in me then. You going to give me $100, $150, whatever, because I done went to the dope man and got dope for no money, brought it, and served it to you. So me and you friends now. I might see you every other day. Every week. But I know I'm going to see you now. You going to come.

"Harold, I got one hundred dollars. You think you can get us something?" I don't care if it's three in the morning. I know people where I can go knock on they window. Go knock on they door. "Hey, man, get on up, man. I got money here." For money, they going to get up. For twenty dollars they might cuss you out. For one hundred dollars, they going to get up.

I had a little brother, he done went to selling dope now. He's strong. I'm giving him a little business. He said, "Hey, man, I don't like to sell to no white people, man. You know what I'm saying? They set you up."

"You ain't got to sell nothing to them. I'm going to do it. When I call you on the beeper, you got to hurry up and get here, that's all. I don't even want you to see they face." So I had people just coming to my house. I was the dope man. My place was the dope house.

It got to the point that the prostitutes is coming. I became a pacifier. Girl can go out there, can turn six tricks, and can't get no nut like she want. She come to me high and horny. Cocaine supposed to dull your senses, but it don't dull mine. It's like an aphrodisiac for me. Builds my sexual urge up. So she'll come to me, "Harold, let's do something, you know what I'm saying?" Put her money in my hand. Girl come in off the street and got forty dollars. She's scared to walk over to the dope dealer, 'cause she's scared they might take that forty dollars. She got to be a white girl that they really know in order that they won't bother her.

Now, I got four or five white girls coming round there. Then you come around there. You see these pretty white girls in there. "Wow, Harold, damn, you got all these pretty girls around here."

"Hey, you want a piece of them? I got a room for you. It ain't but five dollars for you to go in one of them rooms with one of them girls. That's all. Five dollars."

I had growed to a two-hundred-dollar-a-day habit. Thousand dollars a week. I mean every day. I had built a clientele so long that I had people coming all during the night. I'm smoking so much that I don't pay the water, I don't pay the light bill. They cut off my lights. I go in the boxes and cut them back on again. They come and cut them off again, and put on a seal. I got sense enough not to break the seal, that's a criminal act.

But I'm getting enough money coming through my hands, because now I got girls staying in the house seven days a week. My clients are both black and white. When Friday get there, they punch they clock at five in the afternoon at they job. I punch my clock at five o'-clock and sit out in front of my house. I'm cooking on a grill, that's how I'm feeding myself. Put wood in a grill.

My mama, she bring me some meat or something. She'll bring me something to eat when she come by to check to make sure I ain't OD'd. If I don't come by her house in three or four days, she'll make an excuse to come over to me. She's worried about her son, if he died in that house, because a couple of her friends on rock they done found dead, shot up. People on crack get so paranoid that they locked theyself in the closet thinking they seeing things that not even there. They lock theyself up and suffocate.

But I had control over it, because it's a mind thing. It didn't affect me in that type of way. I didn't trip out. I was in control, because if I wasn't in control then I can't manipulate you. If I'm peeping out the window and all this here, I can't talk to you, I can't get you to do what I want. I got to talk to you to convince you, "Look here, man. I know you got paid today. Man, you sitting there smoking that fifty, man. You see that girl over there? Look at that ass. I want some of that pussy, too, you know what I mean? Me and you both'll bang her."

That's how it worked. I had so many white friends that come to me saying they just wanted to be round me for the fun. "Harold, man, you fun to be around with. Man, I don't mind partying with you." 'Cause see, I ain't going to let anybody come in my house and rob them. If they got five hundred dollars, ain't nobody going to come in my house and talk about jacking them white boys. They under my protection. My reputation was so that it stood.

I had so much company that I had somebody watch the door. I might go upstairs with you, and me and you both freak with some girls, because you don't want to be by yourself. Because so many peoples in the house, even if I'm in the room with you, I'm going to make sure that one of them girls don't rip you off. I see she make the wrong move or try to take control, I'm going to say, "Hey, baby, this ain't your show. I'm the captain of this ship. This is my castle. This is my domain. I run this. If you don't like my rules, go on. I am the boss man, see?"

My uncle, he didn't throw me out. He's about eighty-two years old now. His niece, my mama's sister, couldn't do nothing, because the house was supposed to go to my mother in the will. But he had to sell it, because he was in debt. Just as long as I didn't burn the house down, it's going to be sellable.

But I'm living in filth, you know. I had to go to my mother's house to take a bath. I take my dirty clothes to her. She wash them. There was three bathrooms in the house, and all of them is backed up with shit. I mean, backed up.

The only-est excuse I can give is that I was a rock smoker. I even told the judge in a letter, "No one is invincible from this rock. It can affect anyone, if you try it, including the judge, the governor, it don't make no difference. If you try it, it can affect you." I was beyond the bottom, what they say is The Pit.

Sometimes I might go three, four, five days straight with no sleep. I had so much money coming through my hands, but money wasn't no use to me, because when the rock is gone, if I got any money left, I'm going straight to the dope man and get some more rock. That's how it was. I done had people come -- not black, but white people -- and spend one thousand dollars just running me back and forth. It could be storming and lightning, I'm running in the rain.

"Harold, you can't find no dope in this weather."

"Who? I know too many dope people." If my brother wouldn't come, he ain't hurt me, he hurting himself.

The house just went to shit. Kicked the walls in. I got clothes throwed everywhere and everything. The real estate man come in there to show the house to somebody, and, hey, it ain't worth showing.

Then the police started getting into it. The first time they tried to catch me with dope, I ran, and I throwed it away. They gave me ten days for resisting arrest. I got out, and I went right back to doing the same thing. If they could prove that dope was being sold out of the house, then they can take the house. But the way I had the operation going, if you were white, the only way you were going to come there and buy some dope was if I knows you, and you had to be coming there two, three months earlier, sitting there smoking dope with me. You ain't going to come in there talking about buying some and then haul ass, or someone bring you that I don't know. I'm not going to let you in. So the police couldn't bust the house like that. They knowed I was in charge of the house, because I had done told them, point blank.

One night they came, and there was about five white girls there, all of them prostituting. And the cops know they are going to be there. I'm thinking in my mind, one of the girls done turned against me. The cops say, "Yeah, well, this is the haven for the prostitutes. Everybody out! Now!"

They busted me for a stem. I'm here in prison for this charge now -- a glass stem. That's outrageous, you know, to come to prison for smoking dope. That's all I can see. They sent me to a drug center. I violated that, and now I come here.

My conscience now is killing me. But when you on that crack, you ain't got no conscience. I didn't have no sympathy. I always been cold-hearted toward a woman if she do unnecessary things with her body for another person just to get high. I don't have no sympathy for that. I have a sister who is a prostitute, too, but she didn't do unnecessary things to get high. She done been in prison four times. She went out there, committed crime to get money, support her high, not doing unnatural things to get high. This crack make you do unnatural things to get high. I done dogged people out, or helped dog them out. I done seen people lose their house, their car, everything, just by listening to me. All I wanted was their money. Their money helped me get high.
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Postby admin » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:38 am

Part 1 of 2

THREE: Same as It Ever Was

"Guys say, 'Prison keeps you looking young.'

"Hell, I known guys never been to prison look young. I don't need to come to prison to try and stay young, man.

"They say, 'You get a lot of knowledge, you get sharp in prison. Man, you acquire so many things in prison.'

"Hell, I could have got sharp in the streets. I haven't acquired anything. I messed up a lot of opportunities. I honestly believe I could have went to college, man, and been something. I'm not saying it's too late, but the odds are out of my favor now," says Howard the creeper, assessing all the years that he has spent in corrections institutions.

"The first things they build at a prison are a fucking weight pile and a basketball court. They want you to play all the time. That's how you got here, playing. I don't play no more. Nothing's fun no more. I wasted too much time already playing. I be tired a lot, I'm mentally exhausted from playing this game."

America is spending $30 billion a year to keep people in prison, and it's not nearly enough money. California needs twenty new prisons in addition to the sixty now in operation to handle the influx of prisoners expected as a result of their new "three strikes" law. The state of Florida is building eight new prisons, four new work camps, and adding more than twenty new dormitories at established institutions by the year 2000. The federal corrections system has added thirty-four new prisons since 1982, bringing the total of federal penitentiaries to seventy-seven, but they still house 30 percent more inmates than the prisons were designed to accommodate. There are small tent cities inside prisons in both New Jersey and Arizona to house the overflow of inmates.

No matter how up-to-date the facility, despite any rehabilitation programs and educational amenities a corrections institution may offer, prison is a cage. Human beings in prison are animals in a cage. They pace off the limits of their confinement repeatedly like all caged creatures, looking for a weakness, looking out, looking to escape. The stress of confinement is visible on every face I saw in prison. I was repeatedly surprised when inmates would tell me their age. They almost always looked ten years older than they were. There are dark circles under their eyes. They complain about their hair falling out, their teeth getting loose. Lines mark their faces from where they wear a constant mask of anger, pain, boredom, or sadness. "It ain't natural to be locked up," says Howard, who is serving his fourth prison sentence. "It ain't nothing natural about this. Only the strong survive, and the weak fall by the wayside, except the strong fall, too, in here. There is no way you're going to come out of this situation unscathed, untouched."

They must keep their guard up against one another constantly. There is no escape. As one woman told me, "I can't even wash out a pair of underwear, hang them on the line, and walk away. I got to stand there and watch them dry if I want to keep them." Eileen has to watch her few paltry belongings -- a lipstick, a deodorant, a small bottle of perfume from her husband, a paperback book, pictures of her children. She has to keep a wary eye on her bunk, her back, the guards themselves. There is no relief from this edgy vigilance, no relief from the endless, aggressive sparring with other women, no relief from the interminable cacophony of the place. There is no privacy.

Eileen sleeps only a few hours a night. "I try to stay cool with the women who sleep around me. You never know when somebody is going to get mad at you and decide they're going to fix you up good while you're asleep." After four years, she still has no appetite and rarely eats. Eileen has her own private hell to cope with. Her guilt for getting herself sent back to prison eats at her. "I hear my son saying, 'Mommy, you're going back to prison again?'"

All these pressures have Eileen's emotions stretched to the breaking point. It's all she can do to keep from exploding. "I pray for my tolerance level, and my attitude, because these are my problems. My fuse is short. Everything can't go my way. I can't hit everybody in the mouth when they say something. Amazing, isn't it? I can't get their jaw wired up, just because I want to get out of here. I can't spit in your face, because I'd rather be at home. I know that's the lowest thing you can do to people, and I know how that makes a person feel if I do it. That used to be my world.

"I try not to count the days," she says. "I definitely don't tell nobody my release date. When they know you're going home, that's when all the trouble comes. That's when they come at you to blow your date. They want you to stay here as long as they do. Just out of meanness."

There is a widely held popular theory that criminals subconsciously want to come back to prison over and over again. Unsuccessful with the confusing choices of freedom, they secretly long for the security of "three hots and a cot," the predictability of having someone else tell them what they are going to do everyday and when. I saw no predictability in prison, except for the constant danger, the threat of being overpowered, robbed, possibly raped. As "Howard says, "There is one thing I'm always going to do while I'm in prison. I'm going to keep a weapon. You can't be in here without a knife. It's too dangerous, man. What are they going to do to me if they find it? Give me three years. I'll take the three years, man, just add them on."

If there is some deep-seated motivation for men and women to get themselves locked up, it would have to be an addiction to the adrenaline drive that the constant pressure of life behind bars triggers in the body, not any feeling of safety they may find there.

Presumably, some criminals are changed by the experience of being imprisoned, and cease to be criminals. Those successes mostly go uncharted. The majority of prisoners will return again and again to confinement until age forces them" out of a profession monopolized by youth, or until an untimely death catches up with them. Considering the violence of their lives and the high level of drug and alcohol abuse among people who live the life of crime, death seems likely to cut many of them down before the slow lessons of rehabilitation take root. Howard is only a few months from getting out of prison once again. "I'll be honest with you, man, I can't tell if I'm ready to get out. I'm afraid now. Don't get me wrong, I feel I can cope with society, but it will be the first time I ever coped in society. I ain't ever coped in society before."


The first time I went to prison at the age of twenty-four, I only had a year and a day. I was out in two or three months, and it didn't even faze me. I tell you, prison is not at all what I thought it would be the first time I came here. It wasn't. I was hanging out with the crowd, so it won't seem like I was in prison. It didn't seem so bad. I could go out and play basketball. I did that on the streets. I lift weights. Hang out with the guys. So you don't really see the limits of it. It's like you got blinders on. You don't see nothing. I never stopped and said, "Man, what's going on?" I just kept running, you know, just kept running.

The second time, I got two and a half years. I did six months on that. When I came to prison, I was doing the same thing I was doing on the streets. I would get with the guys that was into drinking buck, the pot smoking, the hustling, and all that. It's exciting hanging with that crowd. It gets your adrenaline flowing. You're away from your family, so you're real lonely. You want to fit in somewhere. If you can get in with this group over here, they look like they're running everything. They seem to be in charge. You feel comfortable around them, because that's what you're into anyway. You want to get high. You want to drink buck. Do crazy things. It's only feeding the sickness that's there anyway, that's the medicine for it.

Plus it's an escape from your reality -- that you're in here anyway. It makes the time go by.

When I got out, I would do the same things again. Only I would think I'm more slicker now. I can get away with it. People in jail give you all kinds of ideas. You think, "I just didn't do this right. I'll try it this way the next time."

This is my fifth prison sentence. The second and third time, I didn't even notice I was here. The fourth time, my mother passed away. That was rough, man, because you always think Mom's going to be there for you. She is the person I depended on when I came to prison. She was the connection. She was someone who cared about me when no one else did. That was the letter coming in, and that little bit of money, and a phone call here and there. You need it. When that was taken away from me, man, it really hurt.

This time the judge gave me a forty-five-year sentence as a habitual offender, because of the number of times I've been in. It kind of shocked me in the courtroom. I wasn't expecting it. I cried. "Man, I can't do no forty-five years. I'm a young man. I want to see some more of the outside. Thirty plus forty-five is seventy-five." But it happened.

The reality of it all is devastating. As a man of the age of thirty years, my life is going nowhere. That's sad, it's very sad.


They couldn't do nothing with me. I was outrageous when I came in this time. I came in fighting. I went to lock from Receiving and Orientation. I sure did, for slapping a girl off the bunk bed. It didn't matter to me. I told them straight up when I walked in those front doors, "I don't want to hear nothing ya'll got to say or how you want to do it, because I'm going to do my time. The judge gave it to me, and I can do it laying down in lock or any way I please." So they put me on this psych medicine for three or four months. They see that it wasn't calming me down. I was still in trouble. So they started giving me Mellaril. That stuff kind of knocks me down some, paces me out a little bit.

I have this best friend named Money, because she loves money. Me and her always play cards, or sit down and eat together, right? They moved us together into another dorm, and Money was real happy about that. She says, "Oh, girl, I'm going to introduce you to my daddy."

"Your daddy?" I looked at her. It kind of freaked me out at the beginning. So we get over there, and we are playing cards. I won the first game. Here come this girl called Two-One she's talking about. Money says, "This is my daddy. Why, Daddy, you can play with Mama."

I thought, "This little sneaky helper, she's trying to fix us up, put us together." I say, "You're the one used to try and talk to me when I passed by getting my daily exercise."

"Yeah," she says. "You sure know how to wear that purple lipstick, don't you?"

"I sure do, and I wear it only for me."

"You're so sexy," she's saying.

"I know I am. You don't have to tell me." I was real snappy. Don't worry about me is what I'm trying to tell her, nor how I look, because I'm going to be me.

So I was sitting in the dayroom one day, eating soup, fish sticks, and some rice, drinking a Pepsi. Two-One came in and sat at the table with me, and she say, "What's your name, can I ask you that?"

"Pudding-tain. Ask me again and I'll tell you the same."

"You is spunky. How old is you?"

"Old enough. Probably older than you. You look young yourself."

"I just want to talk with you. You ain't got to get smart with me."

"You can talk. Sit down over there. There's plenty of chairs." I was just eating and she talks.

"I like you," she says.

"Oh, you do?" I say, "I ain't going to be here that long."

"I sure want you to be my girlfriend until you get ready to leave."

"Be your girlfriend? I'll have to think about that first and see what I'm getting into."

"I'm serious. I'm a real person, 'cause I'm gay on the streets."

"Nobody can't play with my head. I ain't going to let them. You think you going to play with me, you're going to mess around and get hurt. Then, they sure enough are going to ship me out of here."

"I'm not about that," she says. She takes one of my hands in hers. "I really do like you. Can I take you to the movies?"

"Sure, I'll go to the movies with you."

We had sex one time. The first time I ever had sex in my life in prison with a woman. I thought about it when I gave her my coochie -- that's how I say it -- when I gave her my coochie I started having these feelings for her. She would call me and say, "You know something? You fucked up, because when you gave me your coochie, you thought you were just going to give me a little bit, and just keep on stepping. But that ain't how it is. You belong to me now."

I looked at her like she was crazy. I was ready to fight, too. I said, "Girl, I belong to me. I own me. Do you understand? Read my lips. I belong to me, and you belong to you. You ain't going to tell me what to do. And if you start anything with me, I ain't going to take you to lock, I'm going to take you a little further past lock."

But I was tripped out. I got permission to braid Two-One's hair one day from the officer. "Sure, but if anybody come in here, you're on your own."

"Okay," I say. "I'll just look out for myself." So I'm braiding her hair and her old girlfriend come up saying, "Two-One, you better tell that girl who I am."

"No," I said, "let me tell you who I am. I am Nadine Elizabeth Turner, and you is irrelevant to me. I don't see you or hear you. If you got anything to say to me, don't go behind my back. Please be woman enough to come and tell me, because I'm woman enough to tell you anything I want you to know."

"Fool," she said, "didn't I tell you, Two-One, that you weren't going to have none other girlfriends?"

"I don't think so," I said. "She belongs to me now." She didn't know it, but I had a razor on me right then. I had took it out of my pocket and put it between my fingers. Two-One is holding me back. She say, "Hey, Baby, please, Baby, don't fight."

"She had her chance and she lost out. She sent you to lock, and now she wants you back, because somebody else sees something in you that she didn't take the time to see. But I seen it." Two-One is a very warm, loving person. She got a lot of friends on this compound. And I'm in love with her. I sure am. She calmed me down a lot. She don't like for me to get in trouble.

They separated us, just because they seen us eating together, sitting in front of the TV, and going to the movies. If you're a correctional officer, it's what you see with your eyes that you can use to penalize a person. They listen to another inmate -- can you believe what they saying? That me and my girlfriend had sheets around the bunk bed, sucking and licking. I'm going to tell you like it is. It wasn't like that at all. I might have got sucked a few times. But me? I couldn't see myself doing it. She don't let no woman touch her anyway. She don't like that. She say she likes to do all the work.

The most dangerous time is near the end of your sentence. I had a couple of them last night, kicking and juggling, saying kiss this and suck this. I just looked at them and smiled. I went to my room, and I got down on my knees. I prayed to God. I say, "Lord, give me a peace of mind, because I refuse to let Satan take me over like this, just because of their stupidity, their miseries." I'm not about misery. I'm happy. All the time I been coming up here, I finally found happiness.


They were pretty sure I'd get killed if I was put back in the regular population. So when I got out of the infirmary, this old prison guard I was friends with got me on this job. They had all of Cell Block Q and Cell Block R, which faced each other, empty. I was to keep the whole area clean. Didn't nobody come around there except to go out to the showers or to go outside for recreation three times a week. My cell was open all the time. There was only one other inmate in there. I'd seen this whole souped-up cell, but they didn't tell me nothing about it. They had the bean flap way up high, like a window, except with flap on it. I looked in there and I seen all this hair coming off the side of the damn bed, real long chestnut brown hair. "Damn, that's a pretty ass faggot. Wait a minute. He'd have his hair cut off if he was a man." I said, "Hey, come here."

"What the hell you want?"

"Oh, God damn, lookee here. Excuse me, honey, but you in the wrong prison, ain't you? They fucked up. How'd you get in here?"

"Fuck you, bastard. Get away." She was the only woman on Death Row. I was the only person to get to see her. She was gorgeous. Ain't like this trash you see up here all the damn time. I swear to God, they don't lock any pretty bitches up in this county jail. They must fuck them and let them go. I'm serious, man. I've been down two and a half years, and I still wouldn't fuck these damn things with your dick, much less mine.

Her name was Delila and she was down there for a videotaped murder. Her boyfriend had killed a couple of people, and she had seen it. So he made her kill somebody, and videotaped it. He told her, "If you ever turn on me, I'll have this against you."

They ended up catching him, he copped out to a plea with the tape, and put her on Death Row. They built a separate Death Row for women now, but then Delila was the only one, and she had a special cell.

All them male guards and all them male inmates, you can imagine what she had to go through. I'm a real nice person, especially when it comes to women. I'm a sucker for women. I get taken advantage of so many times, it's pitiful. I'm serious. She was a pure bitch with everybody. The more that I tried to be nice to her, the meaner she was to me.

Now, you can get towels, shoes, socks -- everything but shirts and pants -- sent in from the streets. I had four towels. You can only have two towels, and two wash cloths. I could get extra because I had one of my boys I was taking care of up there. He didn't have no money, or anything. I'd look out for him, if he'd do things for me. You know, hold marijuana for me, or order stuff that I can't order anymore of.

Sometimes, I'd have a full pound of weed in the prison at one time. I'd have a kid hold it -- somebody they wouldn't think would have it. There was this old man -- I called him Pops -- he smoked weed like I smoke cigarettes, a pack a day, so he went through about four ounces a week. He came to me and said, "Just go up to the front gate, and get it for me, and I'll give you an ounce a week."

They handed out bag lunches at this institution. "Yeah, this is a bag lunch for Number 0247," which was Pops. I knew what it was -- five ounces of weed. He smoked four and he gave me an ounce. I split that in half, sold it to the boys around there, and I kept half to smoke for me. I usually got it from a trustee. One time I got it from a sergeant, and that really freaked me out. I had to take it round the corner and look in there to make sure I had what I was supposed to have before I took it back to him.

I had all kinds of things I used to do around there. I had a big washtub in my cell, and I used to give a guard twenty dollars to go get me a big box of Tide, a couple of jugs of bleach -- real bleach -- fabric softener, those Bounce things. I was doing people's laundry like they'd have it done at home. I'd fill that damn tub up in the shower, and I'd wash their damn clothes. Then I'd put it in their bag to have the laundry man put them in the dryer. When he'd give them back, I'd take them out of the bag, and I'd fold them up. I knew whose clothes were whose. They'd get them back nice and neat.

So I did that with Delila. Hell, I used to snort her panties sometimes, buddy. I know it might sound sick. Oh, her bras -- God!

"I think you enjoy doing my laundry."

"I just enjoy doing things for you. I'm a nice guy."

"Yeah, right. I never met a nice man in my life!"

"Well, you just have."

"What are you doing in prison then?"

"I'm here for being stupid."

One day, I took her white state issue towels. I had one towel that was a bright yellow, and it had been washed so many times that it looked like a shit yellow, canary yellow. I had another towel that was bright red that had turned pink. I didn't use that towel for nothing. I took them two towels -- they were still in real good shape, just faded -- and the wash cloths that matched them, and I folded them up. I'd just gotten my shot of weed for the week from old Pops. I rolled two big, bad joints and put them in that towel. Then I put all her stuff on top, folded T-shirts, folded bras and panties, and everything. I walked up to her door, and I sat the bag down. "All right, Delila. Come get your laundry."

She'd kind of lightened up on me. She's not saying too much to me, but she's not cussing me out like she usually does. Sometimes she smiles when she thinks about what I'm doing with her panties while I'm washing them and shit. I hand her the towels, and she says, "Them aren't my towels. It looks like you got them mixed up."

"No, these are your towels."

"Those are not my towels."

"Those are your towels now, so don't fuck with me. And be careful when you open up the pink one."

"But these ain't my towels!" I shoved the bag in there, ignored her, and walked away down the mainline.

I come back thirty minutes later, and I could smell that smoke. I looked in there and she's laying up on the damn bed fucked up.

"Come here," she says.


"Put your head up here." The top of the door was inset bars, but below that was the place where you could put the big tray through. She pulled my head down in there and laid a lip lock on me. Whoa, that made my day right then. It generated from there.

I made her my last stop of cleaning up. Then before I cleaned up her cell, I dumped everything out, I put a fresh mop on the handle, fresh hot water, new pine oil in it, and let her clean her self up and do all kinds of extra things that nobody was supposed to do. I really took care of her. She was the only woman in there, and it was as close as I was going to get to one.

One morning, we had bananas for breakfast, one of them big old fat bananas. She sanded down one end, so it was good and smooth, and baby-oiled that bad boy up. I get down there, and see her watching through the little crack of her door. I was always excited to get down there. When I got down there this time, she was laying on her bunk, stark-ass naked. She had to work with this bad boy to get it going the way she had it. She had her legs spread wide open, and she was running that banana all the way up in there, and all the way out.

I couldn't even get it out of my pants. I done it right there all over myself. In the time that I have been with women on the street, pictures I've seen, anything, that is the most erotic thing I ever seen. Nobody fucked me up like she did that day there. That just really fucked me up when she done that. I didn't even have to touch it. I done had a bad accident then. Oh, man.

I fell in love with her, buddy. When I left there, she went to crying. I told my wife, "If that girl gets out of jail, you're history. That's all there is to it." I tell every one of them, "Listen here, I got a girl down there on Death Row. She'll probably never get out, but if she does, you're history."

"That's nice to know," they say.

"That's all you need to know."


The vibes in a place like this, the negativity is so thick. When you first walk in here, just the look that people give you is horrifying. They check you out to see if they can see a weakness in you. Even if you're not a bad guy, you got to play this bad character. You got to put up this big facade. "You're not going to fuck with me," because if they see any weakness, they going to try you. They going to try you anyway. I don't care what you do, you're going to get tried.

They have a little thing. They might whistle at you, or say something about whatever your physical build is, comment on it in a real slick way, right? But me, I don't play that. "My name ain't no fucking Slim. You don't even know me, brother. I don't know you."

It's just so much negativity, you can see it like electricity in the air. You got to always keep your awareness up. You can't even go to the shitter without taking your shank, because you never know when somebody might just want to try you.

The conditions is so animal. You see people getting taken advantage of, the weaker people. They take a man that never had any type of need or wanting to be a homosexual, put pressure on him or they trick them. The guy be so scared that he just falls right into the trap. They forcing themselves on him sexually. You might wake up one-thirty at night, seeing some guy and another man having sex. You see some guys crying, because they don't want to have sex with a bigger, rough guy. They just take advantage of him, and do him anyway. A lot of these guys just give up. He says he can't win. He just becomes all right with it, and then he labels hisself as a fuck boy. You got two types: You got sissies, and you got fuck boys. Fuck boys are turned out in the joint. Sissies are ones that come in sissies.

This animal that we are is so animalistic. I have a good friend, I won't call his name, but all he did was go around and rob Cubans and whites, and some blacks, too. 'Specially if he thought he could get a bomb. A bomb in prison is the drugs. A big thing -- maybe an ounce -- they call that the bomb. If he wants some money, he'd just go around there, and he'd take it, you know? We have a couple of guys now, they just walk around and rob people in the prison system.

One time, we robbed this Cuban guy, and the guy wasn't going for it. Two days later, the Cuban saw this friend of mine down by the basketball court. The Cuban had these guys with him that were his friends. The guy taped a shank to his hand, so it can't cut him, and the guy he's after can't take the knife away from him. The Cuban walked up on the dude, and he just started stabbing him in the neck. Killed him right there.

The officers are so scared. When a fight breaks out, they know there's weapons all around the institution. They're not going to risk their lives. I can't much blame them. For instance, you got eight inmates jumping on this cat, kicking him, stabbing him. Lot of these guys got two or three life sentences. They ain't ever going to get out. What do they care about taking your life? Ain't nothing. An officer's not going to run up into that until he gets a whole lot of help. Even then, they're going to call certain people's name out that they know have a big reputation for being bad. "Look up! Back up, So-and-so!"

The administrators and the superintendents at these violent camps, they try to have law and order. But it's kind of hard, man, when they're not going to risk their lives for the undesirables of society. Most times they build state prisons in rural areas. And the people who work here, they ain't very intelligent. I ain't calling them dumb. I'm just saying that they ain't very, very intelligent. Being in here is traumatic. This is terrible. Ain't nobody got a handle on this. Officers be victimized by it when they end up staying here all day.

And you got nuts here, I'm talking some serious bugs. You got guys will pull out they johnson and jack it right in front of the women officers. The women officers, they immune to it now. They just call on the radio and get another officer down there to put handcuffs on him, lead him off to a padded cell.

Then the keepers treat you like shit in some of these institutions. You get one shower a week, and the water is cut on and off from inside the officers' unit. So they put it cold and hot, be laughing and fucking with you. You can't do a damn thing about it. They flush your toilet from the outside, you can't flush it. You go ahead and call one of them down there to flush your toilet. Shit, man, I been through it.

You got inmates, man, who just don't care, even about themselves. You got officers can get you killed. And then you got your so-called friends who will set you up and cross you before the next man will. So this environment is just a whole big rat race. I don't recommend it for no one. I really don't.


The cells there was three stories high in tiers across from each other. My job at night was to go around and mop up all the tiers about eleven o'clock after everybody else was locked down. So I was up late every night.

There was this great big nigger they called Jabbo used to come by my cell first thing every morning, grab the bars, shake them and growl, "Hey, white boy, you lucky you in that damn cell where I can't get ahold of you. I could get with your pretty ass."

"You don't know me too well, do you." It was an every morning thing.

Now in them cells starting by the bars on one side, you had your bin where you kept your shit, went right up to the bars. You had your table behind that. The toilet was in the corner, and you had your shelf. Then the beds finish it up back at the bars on the other side. You sleep with your feet to the cell's open bars. That way nobody can reach through and stab you in the head or anything. If they hit you in the foot, they won't do much to you, just cripple you up for a day or two, and end up getting killed in the process. Revenge, you know? If you're going to reach through those bars, you want to make sure you do some permanent damage. Which was my mistake.

I had a really bad ear infection as a kid and every once in a while it comes back on me. That night my ear was about to kill me. It was so bad that it hurt to talk. Early that morning, I finally fell asleep. Jabbo come by there, and rattled that damn cell, "Cracker! Get your ass out of that damn bed."

"Let me tell you, something, you dumb fuck nigger. If I ever get my hands on you, I don't care how big you are, you've had it." He laughed and he went on out the hall to go to work. I was sick, he pissed me off, and, boy, was I mad.

Now, sodas up there was only twenty-five cents apiece. Name brands, no generic. So I was pouring Cokes down all day long, and only pissed when I had to, saving it up. Boy, when eleven o'clock came around, and I had to do that final clean up, I had to pee so bad my eyeballs was floating, and it was coming out my ears.

Jabbo was on the middle tier, and he slept with his head to the cell bars. I'm up there sweeping and everything. Now, there was an outlaw across from me they called Cat, 'cause he was a burglar. I had to piss so bad I was hurting. I said, "Cat." He got up to his bars. Everybody is hollering and bullshitting.

"What's happening, Snake?"

"Man, check this out," I said. I whipped my dick out.

"Man, why you playing with me?"

"I ain't playing you, bro. Watch this here." I turned around right in front of that motherfucker, Jabbo. I was just inches away from him, and I pissed all over his head.

Now he's laying there, curled up on his side. He starts slapping at his face like it's mosquitoes. Everybody done quit talking on all three tiers, and they're looking at him. "Look at that down there, man!"

I'm telling you, I just cut loose. Man, it was really good, too, I had to piss so bad. He's still swatting at it like it's bugs, so then he rolls over so I can get the other ear. Same thing over there. Everybody is about to die laughing. His roommate's looking over the bunk at him about to die. People got they little spooks out, looking, just laughing their asses off. Even the guards were laughing. 'Cause this guy was a big asshole. He was huge, and he liked to push his weight around. He was a loud-mouthed, obnoxious, son of a bitch. Nobody liked him.

He rolled over and opened that big ass mouth of his, and when that bad boy breathed in again, he started choking, banging his head on the damn bunk. He had piss all over him. I pissed so much it was falling off his bed on the floor.

It took him a minute to realize what it was all over him. Then he starts roaring, "You pissed on me!"

All night long, that motherfucker was crying. Everybody laughed at him. "Hey, Jabbo, you woke up with a pissy deal, huh?"

"Golden shower, huh, Jabbo? You said you liked it kinky." They fucked with him hard.

I was ready for him the next morning. I'd done rolled up all my shit I had in my cell, my blanket and everything. I knew he was going to come by there with a couple cups of piss or something. I already had my mop bucket in there with me, and a whole jug of Pine Sol.

He comes up there and I just hold my sheet up in front of me. He starts in, "I'm going to kill you. You ain't going to get away with this. I'm going to get my hands on you and kill you!" And every morning it was the same thing.

About three days later, I had a call out to go to the dentist. I should have knowed something was up, because it was the only morning he didn't come down there and fuck with me. But I didn't think about it. Jabbo played hooky from work.

When they called me, I went down there to the dentist and got my teeth cleaned. I'm walking back, and I see Jabbo's partner out in the hallway. He was acting like he was talking to some person. As soon as I cut that corner, this guy threw his hand up. Soon as I walked around that corner -- Smack! -- I ran into it. I mean a good hard, solid punch. I had just turned my head around and had my mouth wide open to say something to somebody. That fucker Jabbo hit me, and I mean"he hit me hard. I about choked on one of my teeth, and the other three hit the floor. I didn't even know what happened. He hauled ass, because the goon squad around there was nothing to be fucked with, buddy.

If I'd fought him head to head, I probably would have lost, but he's still in that prison, and I bet you they still talk about the guy who pissed on Jabbo's head.


If I ever had illusions about being a handsome guy or a cute guy, that place took care of it. I turned nineteen years old there. There were a lot of bandits in that prison that liked young boys, plenty of deviants. Any young kid could be in trouble up there. They tried psychologically to get you to offer them things. But no one ever did that with me. When they had a new busload of kids coming in from reception, kids with big sentences like me that they didn't want to keep down there, these old guys would be saying, "Hey, Martin, look at that kid. He's cute, ain't he?"

"What do you mean him? I'm younger than he is."

"Get out of here. You couldn't get hit on in the Greek Navy, you bear."

So I never had any illusions about being a nice-looking man. Even the guys don't think I'm cute. I said, "The least you could do is put a carton of cigarettes on my bed, so I think somebody likes me. You fucking guys are mean." Nineteen years old in the state prison, and nobody hits on me.

I had everything pretty much under control. I was doing a nice bit. There was really nothing happening around me that looked like jail. It was like a big college campus. I had my routine down. Days were going by. I had no complaints. I was just marking off my time, making the best out of a bad situation.

Then one day I seen guys by the windows. "What's happening?"

"It's a fight."

I went to the window, and I looked down across the way to the school. There was a fight going on. "Yeah, a fight. Look at that." I see a hack is trying to grab one guy off another guy. The hack gets pushed away. It looked to me like the one inmate was hitting the other guy with a ruler. The guy getting hit was lying up against the blackboard. "What's he hitting him with, a ruler?"

"That ain't no ruler. That's a shank."

"My God, that's a fucking sword. Looks as long as a ruler to me." About that time, he stuck it into the guy's eye. It was real brutal, and we were watching this thing go on for a long time, because there was only one officer. The guy who was assaulting and killing the other guy kept pushing the hack, so he wasn't stopping him from stabbing and slashing the inmate.

It really shook me up. I had forgotten where I was and who I was with. It really brought me back. It was happening right there.

Up in the tiers that we lived on, they didn't have any hot water in the cells. If you wanted hot water, they gave you an empty five gallon paint bucket, and you put that at your bars. A guy who was the waterman would come along at night with the hot water spigot and give you hot water to wash with and fill up your thermos. You only got one shower a week.

People would leave their buckets out in front of the tier, so when you came back from work at night, you could just pick up a bucket of hot water and take it into your cell. I was all alone when I got back up there for some reason. Everyone else on my tier was at work. Totally alone, no one else around. The hacks opened my cell block to let me in, locked the thing, and then left. I started walking through the tier, and I kicked an empty bucket, accidentally. I said, "Excuse me." Then I said to myself, "Look how fucked up you are. You just said excuse me to a fucking bucket." I didn't want to offend nothing. Not even an inanimate object.


I stabbed a guy the first two weeks I was in prison. In the West Unit at The Rock, you had the juvenile section, and then you had the men's section -- the grownups' section. Because I was only seventeen, I was in the juvenile section. When I first go in there, I went and had me a knife made, and I kept it under my pillow. About three in the morning, I wake up, and there was this man had his hands in my shorts. I asked him, I said, "What do you think you're doing?"

"You know," he said, "I want some of that."

I'd done made up my mind. I'm going to stop this right now. So I said, "Go on in the shower." You had just a little light bulb in there, and it was real dim. The officers counted every hour on the hour. I grabbed my knife up in my towel, and I went on in there. He was already in the shower. I was going to kill him, but sometimes you don't have to do that. I stuck him, and he changed his mind. He didn't bother me no more.

That's the type of thing you have to do. People make you do things like that. If you tell somebody to leave you alone, that's what you want them to do, not fool with you. If they keep on, that's the best way to deal with it.

I got a friend of mine, Duke, killed a guy here not long ago. It was a dude kept messing with him. Again, it was a sex game. Duke kept telling him not to mess with him and not to mess with him, but the dude kept on.

Out on work crew, Duke got hold of a bush ax, broke the handle off to ten inches, and slipped it down his pants. You can cut down a tree as big as your wrist with a swing from a bush ax. The blade is about a foot long and as wide as a regular ax head. With a long handle on it, you use it to cut bushes and clear brush.

Duke caught the guy sitting on the commode, went in there, and hit him in the head -- three times. His head was just hanging on his neck when Duke got done. So my friend come in the door with three years and picked up a life sentence here. That's the type of people that I've built time with.

Between me and you, there was a friend of mine asked me just last night did I have a shank. I said, "No, I don't have one," and I asked him why. He had got into an argument with a black dude. He was in the canteen and the dude asked him for a quarter. He said, "I don't loan money."

"I need some cigarettes," the dude says.

"I don't give cigarettes either." That's his right. Then the guy went to running his mouth at him. That's why he wanted the knife. He said, "I will fuck his world up, if he fucks with me."

"I know you will," I says. "That's why I'm not going to get you no knife. You don't need no more fucking time. You ignore that. If he jumps on you, it's a different thing."

My friend told me, "If he thinks I'm scared of him, he's badly mistaken." The guy's my age, maybe younger, forty-five or fifty, can't fight a lick, he uses a cane. But you don't have to fight. As soon as the dude closes them eyes, he never wakes up again. That's the way it works in here.

I can get a knife. Anybody can get one in here. But I don't want one. I've had them before, and I've done things with them. You don't need a knife. If I know a guy's done stabbed seven or eight people, maybe killed one or two, and I have trouble with him, I'm going to kill him, because I'm not going to close my eyes and have to worry about this man a-coming up, creeping me and stabbing me. Shit, I'm going to just kill him, and I'll take my chances in court -- if I get caught. If I don't get caught, and he's dead, I don't have to worry about it anymore. That's the code that's in prison. I've seen killings over nothing. One friend of mine killed another guy over an egg. One guy killed another guy over a pork chop. I seen one man stab another guy for fifteen cents -- a dime and a nickel. It's the principle behind the thing. It wasn't the egg, but the argument started over the egg.

Tattooing is one of my sidelines. I like art work. I used to draw portraits all the time from photographs. Guys have a picture of their girlfriend, and I draw them a big portrait out of it. Guy asked me, "Did you ever tattoo?"

"Yeah, as a matter of fact, I did." You got to make a homemade tattoo gun. You use a little battery operated rotary motor like in the little toy race cars. You put a cam on the shaft, so when it goes around it will make the needle go up and down like a sewing machine. For the shaft, you use a ball point pen. Sand the tip till the ball falls off, and the needle will come through that hole. Then you take a toothbrush handle, and melt it into an L-shape. Sit the motor on the top, put the pen shaft on there and run the needle down the middle. Hook it to the shaft, and you got a rotary tattoo gun. That's what they used to use in the old days before the magneto guns came along. They work pretty good. They're real good for outlines. All I do is black and white. I haven't got no colors yet, but I got a guy working on it.

This guy had a nice photo of his wife's face by a professional photographer. He showed it to me one day, and he said, "Can you make me a picture?"

"Yeah," I said. "Do you want me to draw it on paper or do you want me to tattoo it? I can tattoo that on you perfect."

"Man, do it!"

His old lady was crying in the visitors' hall when he showed it to her. You put the picture next to it, and you couldn't tell the difference.

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Postby admin » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:39 am

Part 2 of 2

They had took my radio and wrote me up. It was just a fuck-with-me deal, so I really showed my ass. I smashed the damn announcement speaker off the damn wall, smashed the light off the wall, tore the shower out of the cell, just got real destructive on them.

They jerked me out of that cell and put me in the one next to it. I tore that cell up the same way, smashed the light, kicked the vents out, and the whole nine yards. So they come down there and put me in full restraints -- those plastic strips like they use to hold bundles of electrical wiring. They tightened them bad babies up, and Boy! I was hollering.

After everything settled back down and they fixed everything up, they put me back in that cell. I'm in there playing solitaire, and some asshole over the top of me is fucking banging. The officer hears the banging, came and looked in my window. I wasn't doing anything. She. said, "That boy in there is beating." They report me again, and they come in there and take all my property away. My deck of cards got knocked across the floor. I said, "You going to pick all my cards up?"

"They ain't all there."

"Bullshit, it's a brand new deck."

He picks up one of the cards and rips it in half. Now that's really pissing me off. They took everything from me. I'm in my underwear with a mattress, and that was it. I didn't deserve none of that. This cell I'm in now has a full set of everything -- the call box, the speaker, the sprinkler system, the light, the shower. I started working on that call box, and finally got it unhooked and disassembled, just fucked it all up. I got a metal plate off the call box. I went to the window and said, "Sarge, come here. I got something for you." He come running up. I said, "Lookee here, man!" He looked right at me, and I cracked that window just as hard as I could with that damn metal plate. The glass spider webbed and a piece flew out the other side and hit him in the face.

"Yeah, now I done something for you to write me up on!" They snatched me out of there, and called maintenance up there. That's two reports that officer that tore up my playing card had to write now, and by this time it was four in the morning, so there wasn't nothing else they could do to me.

Soon as they put me back in there, they fed us breakfast. After I got done eating, I took a little piece of milk carton and shoved it in the lock in the door, so they couldn't open the door. I took that metal speaker cover back off, and I said, "I wonder if I hit that sprinkler up there if it'll bust off?" I started hitting it, and I kept hitting it and hitting it. It wasn't doing nothing. I missed and hit the top of that damn thing, and -- WHOOSH! -- the water come out of there so fast, I mean gallons. It burnt the walls. There's hundreds and hundreds of pounds of water pressure behind that.

They couldn't get the door open. I had a piece of paper over the floor drain, and the room started filling up. "Oh, shit, I'll be swimming here in a minute." I was drenched, soaked. They can't get in the door, so they're pissed off. The sergeant, all he can think about is all the paperwork he's got coming now.

What saved my ass from drowning was an inch-wide crack under the door. The water went gushing out and ran across the floor of the prison. It knocked out three elevators. It flooded every floor up underneath me, from the fifth floor down. They couldn't find the way to turn this water off, and they couldn't get me out of there.

Finally, they got me out of there, and they got me hogtied. It's early in the morning and every piece of brass in the department is there. They couldn't jump me, for all of that brass. I'm laughing my ass off. I said, "Now, you stupid son of a bitch, I've done something for you to write a report on, you sorry motherfucker." I didn't do nothing to deserve this.

I wasn't near done. I'm going to give these motherfuckers the blues. Every time that son of a bitch comes on duty, I'm going to fuck with him.

So they got a new sprinkler head on there. They took all my clothes from me, took my mattress and everything. I didn't even have a set of drawers on when they put me back in that cell.

My enemy come back on that night, and I was ready for him. Oh, man, all hell broke loose. I tore out the call box, and the speaker box. I tore the shower out and kicked it loose. I ripped the mirror down and put it up in the window, so they couldn't see in. I'd already set the door so they couldn't get in like the last time. Now, behind the holes where the speaker box and call box came out, there was a chase that holds all the plumbing and electrical work. I called to one of my buddies in the cell behind me, "Take paper and put it in the locks of both utility doors on my side right here so they can't get in there."

There wasn't nothing but a couple of pipes coming up out of the floor of my cell by this time, and the whole shower is laying all over the cell. I'd stack shit up on the bed to make room to work. I stood on my damn table, and I rocked that light back and forth, and finally twisted it right off the wall. But the sergeant is an old guy, and he don't hear none of this.

"Well, guess it's about time for me to hit that sprinkler head off again!"

I had me a long piece of that shower. I stuck it up there and -- Boom! -- knocked that sucker off. It started raining. I had about an inch of window where I could see him out there reading the paper. The fire alarm goes off, and he jumps up to go look at it. He's on the phone. The next thing the floor is all flooded up, and here we go again.

This is what really scared me though. He went around to all the other isolation cells and put paper over their windows, so they couldn't see out. I thought, "Oh, no, now they're going to kick my ass good. I got a trick for them. They ain't going to be able to get me so easy." I'm laughing at them, singing, "I'm singing in the rain ... " I look like I live in a damn tropical rain forest.

"Get this damn door opened." They had one guy holding the key and this other guy beating it into the hole with the damn phone book. They can't see me too good unless I get right up in the window and fuck with them, which I was doing from time to time. I hear that key hit the back of the lock -- "Oops, time to go!" -- and I squeezed my shoulders through that hole and into the utility chase.

They come storming in the damn cell.

"He ain't in here."

"Hell, he's got to be in there."

"But he ain't!" It took them a few minutes to figure out where I'd gone to. I'm about to laugh my ass off. I'm about to have a fit. I'm stark-assed naked, soaked to the fucking bone, with pruney wrinkled fingers by this time, hanging in the utility tunnel like a monkey.

"He had to have climbed up into the vent. He had to."

I climbed up to the top, and I'm talking to my buddy through his vent. He said, "They're going to kill you. They going to fuck you up."

"It won't be the first time I've had my ass kicked, and undoubtedly, it won't be the last."

"They're going to fuck you up, man. I heard them. They're mad."

"Yeah, I could tell they were mad when I knocked that sprinkler head off again."

The guards come on the floor and locked everybody down. They had to do the same key hammering trick to get that utility chase open. I'm at the very top of this thing where the air conditioning system vent come in that sucks all the return air through. The duct is a good twenty-four inches around with a flip door that opens and closes. I knew you could escape through that damn thing, somebody had done it before, but I didn't even have clothes on. I'd get arrested before I got two blocks away from the jail for streaking. So I just sat up in that duct.

An officer, who's supposed to be "a friend of mine," he shines his light up there where I'm sitting naked as a jay bird. "All right, Hank. Enough of this game."

"Fuck ya'll. I want to see the superintendent. I want to see some brass down there. If I don't see no brass, you can kiss my ass." I was fucking with them hard.

"Okay. Now don't make me come up there and get you."

"Man, I got this big old duct open up here. You want to follow me all over this jail? We'll go down to the third floor to the women's section and get some pussy, come back, and say we done it. I'll run you all over this damn jail if you want me to."

"Just come on down, and let's talk about this."

"Talk about this? Hell, ya'll are looking to kick my ass. I ain't no dummy. You think I'm one of these new cunts around here. I ain't about to crawl down there and get my ass whipped."

"Just come on down."

"Ya'll going to jump on me?"

"Come on."

"I don't want to hear all that bullshit. We going to talk about this thing, or are you going to go to blows?"

"Nothing's going to happen to you. Just come down."

"You got to promise me." Finally, I got him to promise me, and I come down.

Boy, when I got down there, the arms reached in, those motherfuckers snatched me out of there, and damn nearly killed my ass. Fucked up my knee real bad. Messed up the other leg. Kicked in my ribs. Fucked me up pretty bad. But they didn't send me to the hospital, didn't want nothing where they'd have a permanent record on it.


They will shoot you now. That's their job, and I don't hold it against them. If I can beat them, they shouldn't get mad at me. It's their job to keep me here. It's my job to try and get away. That's the way I look at it.

I've escaped from a road camp where they guard you with a shotgun while you get out in the mud and water in the ditches and work. We were working on the side of the Interstate up in another county, and it just hit me. I was working beside a guy named Willy Maloney. I grew up with him. I looked at him, and I said, "Willy, I'm fixing to go to the house."

"God damn," he said. "They're going to kill you."

"How far do you think he is from me?"

"About thirty yards."

The shotgun guard's name was Fennel. He used to carry the shotgun up on his shoulder, and he was always looking out there in the woods. I was shoveling that dirt, and I told Willy, I said, "You want to go with me?"

"No," he said. "I think I'll wait and make sure I get away."

"Well, shit, I'm going."

I just kept watching Fennel. He had that gun up on his shoulder, and when he turned his head off to the woods, I was gone. I was running, and he shot at me. They shoot double-ought buckshot in them shotguns. The first load, it come down on me, and went by my head and my back, and never hit me. You have to cross a hog wire fence to get into the woods off the Interstate. I was running to the fence. I knowed he was going to shoot at me again, and I was praying the whole time. I said, "Jesus, please let this next load miss me." Fennel shot at me, and it come by me the same way. Everybody says you got a guardian angel, if you believe in Jesus -- and I do. I believe in my guardian angel. That shot whistles, and it will tear up the dirt. I hit that hog wire and I said, "I got this motherfucker now." That's exactly what I said, and I hit the woods.

I'd run and walk, run and walk. I run from Pasco County down to Hillsborough County, and about half of it's three feet deep in water. That's right. They had hound dogs hunting me. They had two airplanes, a helicopter, all the law enforcement, and me on foot. They couldn't catch me.

I looked like a wild man when I come out of that swamp. I stepped in a friend of mine's house, and it scared him to death, because he didn't know who I was.

"Take me to Mama's," I said. I left about nine-thirty that morning and stepped into Mama's house at ten o'clock that night.

I also escaped from this prison here one time. It was pretty neat. This camp, they used to count every hour on the hour. If you was watching TV, whatever you was doing, when the hour came up, they'd holler count time, and you had to go to your bed. They'd count. I got to talking with a boy named Wayne Sharp. I told him, "Wayne, I'm going to leave this place."

"Hell, let me go with you," he said.

"All right." Then I went to figuring out how to do this. And I figured it out. I had a friend of mine worked in the laundry inside the building. He told me there was a vent from the machines to the outside. I counted all the officers came to work that evening. I was set to go. As soon as they come to work, one goes around on the perimeter after you're locked in, and checks the grounds. Then he comes back in. I waited till the eight o'clock count cleared, and that one guard went out and came back in the building. I went around and counted all the officers to make sure they was all in the building. Then I told Wayne, "Come on, now, we got an hour." I went out the laundry vent. We crawled the fence. That main road is one mile from this institution. When we got to the road, a ride picked me up -- but I won't say his name.

Hell, I wasn't out but about a month. Then you get wild, and you get caught. I got myself pulled over by a highway patrolman going back to West Virginia. I was by myself. I didn't have no I.D., and that's the bad part.

"Go ahead and get in my car," he said. I went around there and acted like the passenger side on his car is locked.

"Your door's locked." So he goes to his side, opens his door, and crawls through to open the lock. When he was halfway across the seat, I hit the woods and was gone. It was March, a-drizzling rain. I just had on a T-shirt, and it's cold in the Carolinas where I was.

"Come back here!" He was chasing me hard. Shit, like I was going to come back. II I'd a mind to come back, I wouldn't have run in the first place.

I went in what they call a bay head. It's a swamp. Run through a briar patch, eat up with briars and shit. Went on through that bay head, and made it back out. I got on a hard road that's got the creosote pack on it. That and the rain helped me.

I was tired. I found an old barn out in the middle of this pasture. It was falling down, but it had this coarse hay in it. I went in there, and -- shit -- I dug me out a wad of hay and covered up because I was cold. Rats run on me all night.

The next day I made it to a truck stop. It was a small town. I give a guy two dollars to let me go upstairs and lie down, because I was waiting for a ride to come get me. Somebody said I was scratched up, and I looked suspicious. When a stranger comes through a place like that, and the cops is after somebody, everybody knows it. They come and got me.

Oh, this highway patrolman was pissed. He come to jail. I looked at him and said, "Why are you mad at me?"

"I'm not mad at you."

"Sure you are," I said, "because they been telling me you could run, and you let another old country boy outrun your ass. I beat you. Now you shouldn't get mad about that." Then he got to talking and he got nicer. I said, "That's better. It don't hurt to get beat."

Then two forest rangers come down to talk to me. They explained to me that they weren't police officers, but they wanted to ask me some questions. "What do you want to know?"

"Will you tell us how you beat the dogs?" They had the best dogs in the state for hunting people lost in the forest, and kids, and like that. What I could tell them might help them find some lost kid. I told him everything he done wrong.

"Did you find where I went in the swamp?"


"You went right in behind me?" He took his shirt off, and he was skint up worse than I was. Right through the briars he went. I said, "Why did you go through the briars?"

'Cause you went there."

"Why didn't you take the dogs, go on around the swamp and see if I come out the other side? If I hadn't, you'd know I was still in there. You could have surrounded the swamp, and you'd have had me."

"I didn't think of that."

"You found where I crossed the hard road, and got me a drink of water out of a drainage pit over there because I was thirsty?" You do a lot of things when you really need something.

"Yeah, but then we lost you."

"That's because you figured I'd be back down in the woods. I knew the dogs would lose my scent on that creosote road in the rain, so I just hightailed it down the blacktop." I picked up six years for that escape there.

You do enough time, you just get tired. You just want to go to the house. You know you're going to get caught. You just want to get out and have a little fun. And that's what I done.


I was hoping to be out of prison before my kid was born. My fiancee was out of work two months after she had the kid. Nobody didn't help her. Her parents didn't, my parents didn't. She just struggled through on her own. Now she's behind in all the bills. The state won't help her, says she makes too much money. She makes $6.50 an hour. She's got a daughter in high school, graduating this year. She's got a daughter in ninth grade, and now the baby. She's got a mortgage payment of $575 a month, plus insurance, electricity, and all. Then they tell her she makes too much money for them to help her.

She's standing behind me. My main problem is getting out. I just know by June of next year when it's time for me to be free, she's going to already lose the house. She can't keep making payments like that. The kid's going to have to start going to get his shots and seeing the pediatrician regular, and she's not going to be able to afford it. We lose the house and we're fifty thousand dollars in debt, plus the fifteen thousand dollars her parents loaned us for a down payment. I'm sitting in prison, so I don't know what's going to become of us.

One side of me says, "You got a family out there. You got a new son. You got to try and stay out of trouble and get out as quick as you can." But the other side of me says, "Fuck it. They want to be assholes, I can, too. Just say fuck it and do whatever you feel like doing. If the officer wants to say something to you, punch him in the mouth!"

I'm running out of patience. Just because my father and one of my uncles were two of the biggest drug dealers in South Florida at one time, they want me to help them set somebody up. I keep telling them I'm a roofer now. I've been trying real hard to turn my life around. They're holding me back for the main reason that I won't set nobody up with drugs. I do know some people who know guys in high places in the drug game, and they don't play. I've seen witnesses supposed to be in protective custody come out from testifying in court and get run over seven times right in front of the cops. The cops ain't going to protect my life. My fiancee's got to go to work every day. My kids go to school. How do I know one of these guys isn't going to wait at the school and kidnap one of my kids, or be down the street with a scope and shoot them dead. Some people don't play. I can't help you. Go to the guy you got to get me in trouble, maybe he can help you.


We have visitation here every other weekend. My father brings my kids to visit me whenever he can. It's hard seeing my kids when they come. It's worse for me when I see them. I cry when I see them, then I cry in the middle of it, then I really cry when they go, especially letting them go. My daughter and I are really close. We used to do everything together. There wasn't anyplace I'd go where she couldn't go. I'd go to Bally's to work out, and she'd go with me. I'd pick her up from school, and we'd go out to lunch and just talk. She's only eleven. I want to see her grow up.

My son is really angry. He doesn't like to talk to me on the phone. He will not write to me. He hasn't written to me since I've been here. When he comes, he's really distant. It hurt him more than my daughter. I don't know what's being told to him from his father or his father's mother. I write to him four times a week. I send him cards for just anything. I know he's getting them because his sister tells me. When I came to prison the first time, he and I weren't really close. Then when I got out, we formed a real bond and attachment. Then this happened again, and his mom was just snatched away from him. I hope he doesn't grow up to hate me, because mommy wasn't there like she was supposed to be. His friends' mothers know me, so it's all over school: "Your mom's in prison." I know he's taking a beating from that, too.

My daughter is at an age where she has lots of friends and is getting interested in boys, God forbid. I have to practically beg her to write to me, because she's so preoccupied with other things. I encourage her by sending books of stamps and paper and envelopes. I do everything but write "Dear Mom" at the top. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

The first thing I want to do when I get out of here is go pick my kids up from school, and take them to some drive-through to get something to eat. I'll take them to the park and enjoy the whole day. Then I want to go home, put one of them on my right side and one on my left side, curl up and go to sleep.

By the time I get out, they'll be a grown woman and man, but that's what I want to do. I don't care how old they are.


It's hard. I can't hardly explain it. The idea is that this is a world within a world. Some people here are going to be here the rest of their lives. They know all the ins and outs. They know how to manipulate, how to make money. They marry a homosexual, and they say that is their wife, because both of them are going to be here for the duration of their lives. They feel like that person can fill that void that being in prison gives you.

This place gives you an emptiness. You feel isolated from the world. You feel useless. Your life is at a standstill. You're not going nowhere. You become hopeless. You feel hopeless in here.

I guess I haven't dealt with the reality. The reality is I've got the thirty years. I'm here. I've got to make the best of it. That's the positive way to look at it. But I can't look at it that way, because I don't want to be here, God knows I don't. There's a life out there for me, and I know it.

I've always felt an emptiness. I lost my identity. My problem was trying to identify, and that's why I kept making mistakes. There were people in that dope game, and that pimp game that I said to myself, "He's cool. I wouldn't mind being like that." I had an emptiness in me, a void. And right now today it's still not filled.


I got in the program and I had to learn the Twelve Steps. Then they got the House Rules and the Cardinal Rules. The House Rules is: Honor, Dignity, Respect, and Responsibility. The Cardinal Rules is: No possession of a nonprescriptive drug, neither manufacture or use of same. No sex. No gambling. No threat of violence. This is enforced in this program. They don't want to see you messing around with homosexuals.

The Pledge is like a recovery tool. It starts at the Morning Motivation, Monday through Friday, and it says, "We are here, because I there's no refuge finally from ourselves. Until a person confronts himself in the eyes and hearts of others, he is running. Until he suffers them to share his secrets, he has no safety from them. Afraid to be known, he will know neither himself nor another. He will be alone.

"Where else but on this common ground can we find such a mirror? Here, together, a person can at last appear clearly to himself. Not as the giant of his dreams, or as the dwarf of his fears, but as a man, a part of a whole. With this purpose, on this ground, we can each take root and grow. Not alone as in death, but alive to ourselves and others."

When I first heard that I said, "They got to be crazy! What the hell they talking about. That don't mean nothing." The more I kept listening to it and reciting it, it made a lot of sense to me. It's talking about your life. I didn't want to say nothing about myself. You got to go into that dark center of your life that you don't want nobody knowing about. You feel it ain't worth it. You don't want to let that skeleton out of the closet. A lot of people treat that hush-hush.

I had to deal with my skeleton. It's killing me. I had to surrender, because I knew I needed help.


The first time I was in, I did four years, and I stayed out for ten years. I got a job doing construction work. I had gotten my high school equivalency in prison, but I still didn't know I had any talent for anything but stealing or being a laborer. I worked waterproofing, putting scaffolds up on buildings. I really didn't care for it. It was all right, you know, and I was staying clean. It was nice money for that kind of work.

Then they sent me to Washington Square Park to sandblast the monument. Sandblasting entails 100-pound bags of sand, humped into a hopper. It was July, and I was picking up 100-pound sandbags, sweeping sand in July with an asbestos suit on. I said, "This fucking arch has defeated me. I'm just going to go get high. Fuck this shit." I quit. I started stealing and getting high.


I just kept going to jail. I'm twenty-eight years old, and I've been to jail five times. My wife finally just left me. So when I would get out of jail I had no where to go except to go live with my sister and brother-in- law. She married some guy that's a mailman, who I hate his guts, but anyways, they helped me out. I have repeatedly screwed them over, but they were going to give me one last chance. My sister had a house with an extra room. She had weights, stereo, color TV, everything I could possibly want. She practically gave me the run of the house. She knew I didn't have money, so she bought me the kind of food that I'd want, cigarettes, even beer. She was really good to me. She was separating from my brother-in-law. He was living some place else, but he'd come over almost every night, and spend the night anyways, even though they were separated.

I had a job in a restaurant. I was a real good worker and everything. But the night I got my first paycheck, I didn't go home. I went next door to the bar and cashed it all in. When I came dragging my ass in the house, I didn't have no rent money for her, didn't even go to work the next morning.

Everyone is pissed at me. My boss is pissed. My sister's pissed. Everyone's mad, but I said, "I won't do it again." My boss called my sister, and said I was one of the best workers he ever had. He wanted me back, suggested AA and said that he goes to AA. So I went back to work.

For some reason, I had an ex-girlfriend who wouldn't come back to me no matter what. I just felt so lonely. I didn't know anyone in that town. I was writing my friends who were in jail.

The next paycheck, I did the same thing. I walked in that same bar and spent my whole paycheck. I was playing five dollars a game pool. It was weird. I was running the whole table. Then I'd get to the eight ball, and I'd get nervous. I couldn't make that eight ball. This old man and old lady were there who were pool sharks, and they were saying, "God, we're pulling for you over there. Every time you get to the eight ball, you're having a hard time."

Here I lose all my money, I'm drinking like a fish. I walk home. When I got home, she had a purse on the table with a couple hundred dollars in it. I had been out of prison a month. I hadn't been laid. I'd been down all that time. So I was thinking, "I could get this money, and I could go someplace. I'd have a blast, man. Fuck work, fuck life. Just party, get laid, and whatever happens, happens."

I took the money. There was a watch on the table. I didn't know it was an expensive watch and that it was an anniversary present and all of that, but I took it. I went and took off, and I had a blast.

Then, when the money and the party was over, here I am looking sick. I'm like, "What the fuck's wrong with you?" I was in a hotel room. Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys were playing the Super Bowl, and I went to the store, and I stole some aspirin. I had a case of beer in the room. I took ten aspirins, downed a beer. I'd pass out. Wake back up. I'd take ten aspirins and drink another beer. Pass out. I did this about four times, and some guy called the police, told them I was trying to commit suicide or whatever. So I voluntarily went down to a crisis center. I told them what I did, that I stole from my sister, and can't go back home now. I feel terrible, and wish I was dead. All this shit.

I went to a treatment center. It was volunteer. They were saying, stay here, go to all the meetings. We got counselors here, group meetings. I was working in the kitchen there. I'd never been in a treatment center before, or to AA. This was all new to me. I was starting to feel pretty good about myself through all these meetings.

I knew my sister was still pissed, but unknowingly, my brother-in-law was doing everything in his power to put me back in prison. He'd get off work at the Post Office, and he'd go straight down to the state attorney's office saying, "Look, we bent over backward for him. We did this, we did that. He's an asshole. He needs to go back to prison."

The people at the treatment center are saying that they would protect me. I'm sitting there, and sure enough, a month later, the sheriff pulled up for me. He said, "Your sister is pressing charges? That's a frigging bummer!"

I go to jail, and I never hear from the treatment center people again. They don't accept collect phone calls. They don't answer letters. From what I understand, they're helping to prosecute me. They done told the state attorney that I admitted to stealing the money and the watch. Really it was just their word against mine, but I was feeling bad about it, so I said, "Fuck it. They want to go through with it? I'll plead guilty. I won't lie about nothing."

I want to tell you, I've been five times to prison, and that's pretty bad, you know. But if you knew the circumstances, for every single time that I've come to prison, it's because I got real drunk and did something stupid. I've been out of control for a long time.

I wrote a letter to the judge. I was truthful with him. I told him, "I haven't really been hurting anyone except myself. I'm an alcoholic and a drug addict. I don't really consider myself a bad person, just someone who can't get their life together and on track." When I went to court I had no idea what might happen.

"Mr. Chaney," the judge said, "I want you to know that I read your letter, and I spent more time on your sentence than I've spent on anyone's sentence before. I've come up with a few conclusions of what I'm going to do with you. I'm giving you five years with the Department of Corrections with a recommendation for the Drug Rehabilitation program." At this point, I think I'm lucky I didn't get habitualized.

I got into the program. I was only in it for twenty-nine days, and I got kicked out. They got a lot of little rules in there. It just seemed like I couldn't do it. I got a lot out of the NA and AA, and I was feeling better about myself, but I just started rebelling.

I was in school, too. I took that test that sees what level you're at. I scored college level on everything. Even though I quit high school in tenth grade, I was an honor roll student up till then. Really, I consider myself pretty lazy, but when I work, I work hard. I do a good job. When I got to do it, I just do it. But I quit school, too.

I've been kind of a failure since I've been in the system this time. Instead of turning myself around, it seems like I'm giving up on myself. Jesus Christ, man, I get to prison, and I can't wait to get out. I sweat it. Then, when I do get out, it just seems like I have no direction. It just seems like I can't get my shit together for some reason. It seems like maybe I've been fucking up so long that I've got to the point that it's just what's the use?

I think about working out with weights for the next year or so I have to do, getting to where I'm a pretty good size again. Start feeling good about myself. Then maybe when I get out, "Just smoke a little reefer like you used to and drink. Remember, Chaney, how you used to feel good when you smoked reefer and drank?" I'm not thinking like normal people: Get out, and get a job. Get a house and get a wife. I'm thinking still back to ten years ago. I'm still there. I haven't grown out of that. I still want to be that person. That was the happiest time in my life -- them two years between when I first tried beer and when my dad died when I was nineteen. I remember smoking reefer, going out and picking fights, beating hell out of people, and getting laid with any chick I wanted. To me, that's what I want again. I just refuse to grow up for some reason.

I don't know if I'm hurting myself on purpose, or why I'm doing this to myself. There isn't going to be anybody out there to take care of me. Dad's gone, sister's gone. Man, I'm having a really hard time, because I know that I'm a good person, but it just seems like I can't get my shit together, man, so I don't know. That's what's wrong with me, and until something drastically changes or I change some way, something bad is going to happen. Someone is going to kill me, or I'm going to come back with a lot of motherfucking time, because I've done started a hell of a fucking wheel, and I just keep going in the same circle, and I've been doing that for years now.


When I got out September 22, there were three other girls with me. We were all from the same town. They had given us our bus tickets, one hundred dollars, and all our money that we had in our accounts. We were all supposed to be friends. I picked their pockets while we were sitting together on the bus.

We got to some small town, stopped in a service station, which was also the bus station, and the driver announced that we were taking a ten minute break. I went to the bathroom, pulled down my pants, stuck all their money into my stocking tops. I had my own personal eighty-eight dollars in my pocket. I noticed the other girls went to the phone, but I wasn't paying much attention about it, because I thought they didn't even know their money was gone.

The police come charging into this little bus station, about five of them swarmed around the bus with the lights and sirens going. They asked for me by name. I said, "Can I help you, sir?"

"Yes, we have a report that you have stolen these three people's money right here." They were standing there looking at me. I know I've got their money, but I say, "How in the hell could I get their money?"

"Do you have any money on you, ma'am?"

I pulled my money out of my pocket, put it on the hood of the car. Then to make it look so good, I unbuttoned my pants, started pulling them off, and convinced the guy that I didn't have anything on me. This nice cop is saying, "Aw, ma'am, you don't have to do that. You don't have to do that."

The money was right at my crotch. If he'd let me go down with those pants a little bit further, he'd have seen it. He told me to put my clothes back on, put my money in my pocket, and get back on the bus.

We got home. One of the girls whose money I stole, her boyfriend was a dope dealer. I called him and told him to meet me at the bus station. I spent a hundred of her dollars on dope. That's one time I got out of prison, and I just knew I was going to come back that time.


When I go out there after each sentence, I have to adapt to a new situation. I have been fortunate to have something to go to, some place to stay, clothes to put on my back, some way to get started. This time, I don't have nothing. Zap. Zero. Nothing this time. Period. No house to go to, no clothes, nothing. I don't even know where I'm going to begin. This is it. Boom. If I could have my sentence continue on, I'd be glad to keep on going. I don't want to be in prison, but this is all I know right now. From this spot right here, I got to start a new chapter, and I don't know where I'm going to put the first step.


I believe I can get out, and might stay out. Might. You can't say while you're in here. When you leave these gates, they give you a hundred bucks, and then kick your ass out. If a person ain't got a place to stay, and they give you a hundred dollars -- shit! -- that ain't going to last long. If a man's not skilled, his ass is done for. Four dollars and fifty cents an hour, he can't make no money. That's no money. It won't pay your rent. You can't eat, not barely. You're going to be walking, less you get you a ten-speed bicycle. You can't get no car with it. What does most people turn to? Where's the quick money? Drugs. There's no money in robbery anymore, unless you know where the score is.


I know a guy, he just got out in July, went home. He came back last week doing forty years with the bitch. He's thirty-two years old. If nothing don't happen in the court, which it probably won't, he'll be close to seventy when he gets out of here. His punk, his homosexual girlfriend was waiting on him at the gate. He might not make it to seventy, because I know without a doubt that homosexual has got AIDS. I seen him in the line for fucking AZT every day. I told the stupid son of a bitch that, but I guess he don't give a damn.


If I wasn't here, I could eat what I want. I want a steak. I want a center cut pork chop. I want something different. If I wanted to just open my refrigerator and just stand there looking, I could do that. I miss my family. They have a lot of Christmas parties, and they do a lot of fun things. I miss automatically walking out the door, getting in a car and driving. I just miss being able to walk somewhere and not look over my shoulder without somebody saying, "Hey, you aren't authorized to be in this area." I miss freedom. If I was just able to walk into a store and buy a bag of grapes, that would be just fine with me. I miss being able to turn on my television and look at anything I want without all these different people yelling, "No, we're not looking at that!" They talk the whole time, and every time a video comes on, they all are going to sing.

I miss not being able to wear what I want to wear. The color of these uniforms has gotten to me. I don't want nothing blue when I get out. I miss little things: being able to sit on my porch, looking at the sky, my microwave, little things I took for granted.


My release date is July 14, 2005. That's a long way off. That's a Buck Rogers date. You don't know if you'll still be on this Earth. What's going to happen in 2005? Is there still going to be a world? Is there?
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