A place where Chewey’s voice can be heard from behind the cement walls and razor wire.
Letters from Prison, Stories, and Court and Trial Proceeding Analysis
By John D. Grange
Well, It is another year starting here at Airway Heights. I cannot believe that people will be coming to prison who were born in the year 2000. Not too much longer and we will be seeing post-911 babies. I am to the point in my prison sentencewhere I will be telling young men coming in that I have been locked up for their entire lives.
As long term guys are a growing population since Washington slowly increased harsher sentencing in the 90s. Now the old, old guys are passing away, but us next generation group is a lot larger and is going to start hurting the prison system in medical costs. There are over a dozen 40 – 60 year old lifers just in my cell block alone and there are twelve blocks in this institution. At a current cost of $37,000 a year it will only go up as we get older.
I don’t know what relief they are going to come up with, but parole is not moving quickly enough to keep up with all the new men being placed into the system month after month.
Maybe someday I will get to go home from the sheer lack of space to house me any longer.
The dynamics of prison are always an interesting part of living with so many men in one “home”. Imagine having hundreds of brothers that bicker and argue over who is first in the shower, what to watch on the one TV in the living room, or who has to get their breakfast in the microwave so they can get out the door to their appointments. You think your household is chaotic? I can assure you it is nothing in comparison. As you know, I can personally attest to the need to occasionally rough up one of your brothers who always gets on your nerves. There are seldom severe injuries when altercations occur here in Washington. With the current prison system’s extreme penalties for what are realistically minor incidents it has created a snitch environment that causes more anxiety, stress, distrust and resentment towards the people around you. While this may keep administration more informed about what is going on it does not create any kind of rehabilitation for the men who are supposed to be learning how to be an average citizen and work things out on their own. I’m not saying a fist fight, but can’t we at least argue with another person without going to the Hole?
Tomorrow is my last day on Dayroom Restriction. My cellie has Chemical Dependancy in the mornings and GED classes in the afternoon, so I won’t see him for these last couple days. It’s been trying on my patience, but it seems to be harder on the fellas. Everyday I hear from half a dozen guys, “When you gonna be done?” There are still a lot of them who haven’t gotten a chance to sit down and catch up with me. At Walla Walla I only interacted with about forty men every day. Here there are literally hundreds of people to try and spread your social time around with. Since 90% of them are short timers, us lifers get pulled into a dozen different directions on consistent basis. I am really focused on mentoring this time around and, although it draws more men around me, they appear to be those actually looking for a way to better their lives. I also look like I’m their father’s age, so I tend to attract the guys that have shit role models in their life. Anyway, so I’m going to have a busy social calendar when I do get out to the Dayroom for more than an hour a day.
My cellie is probably going to get closed out and go to WSP. He’s on the same sanction as me, but keeps opening the cell door and talking to people and has now received two more Major Infractions for breaking sanction AND he is still doing it all day long. He’s a little, white boy, crip from Spokompton and is going to have to “put in work” for the crip ear at Walla Walla. He was supposed to get out in April, but now he lost his D.O.S.A. so that’s another 34 months. Plus he now loses Good Conduct time up to 120 days and he might get new charges for whatever he has to do for his gang. His mom and/or his girlfriend’s mom visit him here every week, but they are all very poor and are not going to be able to drive all the way to Walla Walla all the time. We know how that works out. All because he won’t just shut the hell up, get on his bunk and stay out of the mix for twenty days. He has no idea what being a gang member really means in prison. Now he’s going to find out and hopefully it will get his head on straight, but from what I’ve seen I really doubt he’s ever going to get it together. He’s almost 30-years-old now and talking about wanting to get out and have a baby with his girl. I want to slap the shit out of him.
On the bright side I have several candidates who want to move in. These are guys I have known for ages. I have the prime corner cell that is quiet because it’s against the fire escape stairwell and it is semi-blocked from the booth, so you can come and go more than the other cells for passing coffee and soups and shit. The Dayroom game tables are on the other end too, so the two tables outside my cell are used for jigsaw puzzles, art, and Bible studies. The four of us corner cells like to keep it that way. I am maintaining peace in my neighborhood. Some of the guys are older and there are a couple younger that I am looking at moving in. I still have this Major over my head that technically does not allow me to even sign a move slip for someone to move into my cell, but if it’s not overturned by the time my cellie gets jettisoned I think I can get a waver from my sergeant (as he well knows my history with bad cellies). I just prefer people who sound like acne medication, “clean, clear, and under control”.
You have three BAD cellie scenarios that everyone wants to avoid. House Mouse: who is always in the cell and a lot of times seldom showers. Cell Warrior: who always complains and will call people punks and bitches while in the cell, but is buddy-buddy with them outside the cell. I have a bit of this in me, but I never voice my woes about someone unless they are perfectly clear about where I stand with them. I also see the brighter joys of life no matter where I am and Cell Warriors hate everything. The third is a Cell Monster, this is my cellie now. He is never on his bunk and instead he paces the cell, often with his headphones on singing (or mumbling) random lyrics or moaning and sighing. Always has his shoes on, which is a no-go in these little boxes because they’re either clap-clapping as you pace, or they tap-tap as you tap your foot. Cell Monsters always talk through every show when you are trying to escape the fact that you are in prison for an hour or two. And finally, Cell Monsters always bang and clang around the cell. Everything is tossed down or thrown down, never set down. All surfaces are steel so it bangs and clangs all day. Oh, and dirty clothes are always thrown or kicked under the shelves, never placed in laundry bags until it’s time to actually send in laundry. I have the additional issue with this one who is always in trouple. It brings a whole lot of attention to my cell.
October 30, 2017
Guilty-again. “I don’t think you had anything to do with breaking the faceplate on the outlet, but it meets all the criteria so I have to find you guilty”. These are the words from the hearings officer just before I breakdown into tears. I’ve worked so hard to get back to Airway and it is only going to be for a couple of weeks. I still cannot believe, for something I had no control over, I could be in so much peril. But there is light, the proverbial beacon of hope. An appeal to the higher powers that have the discretion to overturn everything. At the recommendation of the very person who has just found me guilty and it should be reversed. Then I can stay at Airway and this brief storm will soon be over. Will it really happen? I wait to find out. I wait already in punishment. A prison time out, locked in my cell for twenty-three hours a day while others prance and dance in the Dayroom. The petty officers are not wanting their pettiness to show, but continue to punish me in their little ways until the chain of command bellows from above to stop their nonsense and let a human being be treated as a human. I am not a number, a meaningless task at their boring job.
October 23, 2017
So I am back at Airway after three years of lockdowns and separation from my friends and the people who care about me. I’m feeling good about where I’m going now, how my life has improved from the prison I come from and come through. All is well and then I am reminded I am still in a prison of Washington’s creation. Before I can even get all of my property, all the belongings collected over nearly two decades of incarceration that fits nicely into three small boxes, I am hit in the gut by a twenty-year-old correctional officer who writes me a Major Infraction. You see, it’s a return to Walla Walla. As a lifer any guilty finding of a Major Infraction requires that I be placed in a Close Custody Facility. Now the question arises of why I would put myself at risk to get into so much trouble when I have worked so hard to return? The answer is, I didn’t. The cell they placed me in had a broken plate over the electrical plug and before I had a chance to even notice it, or put a work order in to have it fixed, this young officer searched my cell and wrote the infraction. I suspect that he knew the condition of the outlet and this was why he chose to search my cell as soon as I was placed in it. Now don’t worry friends, I have been assured by many of this officer’s co-workers that I will surely be found Not Guilty of such a harsh infraction for a cell violation I had no opportunity to correct. These are the daily experiences I face in a lower custody prison like Airway Heights. My daily stress and turmoil does not come from the many convicts I am housed with, but the staff who have chosen to work. In seventeen years I have been in four fights that had been pushed to no other recourse. That is the full extent of trouble I have made. I hope that one day I can leave this life I have been subjected to. Without any of help I have no chance of light or happiness in the free world. As you stopped your daily life to read this letter, please stop to share my story with a friend.
This is a group lettering to all of you supporters out there about my housing. I was denied Airway Heights Correctional Center and it looks like that is more or less a permanent situation. Nancy Davies at HQ, the lady who originally decided I needed to be in Close Custody has taken upon herself to deny me leaving Close Custody. Everyone in the prison system can recommend me for Airway, but she holds the keys to the kingdom and for whatever reason Ms. Davies just doesn’t like me. So I will remain here, not just this year, but it sounds like it will be many years. In reality, Lifers need not ever be given a chance to leave Close Custody, so there it is.
I finally moved down the tier to cell EW-230, so any further mail can be addressed to that cell. I should not be moving again for quite some time unless the institution does more security moves.
Lots of Love & Hugs & Kisses to All,
May 2, 2015
A hot day here in Walla Walla and no one can go outside. They have sprayed the big yard for bugs and our only options are stay in our cells or go to the gym. Many choose the latter as it’s their only option to do something that day
The gym is a small facility built just large enough for a basketball court and two handball courts. Forty-eight people are crammed in this square of space on Wednesday April 22, 2015. One of the handball courts is also used as a basketball half court and with so many idol hands the inevitable arguments start between the black and Mexican gangs on how this quarter of the gym will be used. Normally an agreement will be reached of “You use the first half of the gym and us the second”, but today is too hot and today is too overcrowded.
Two men of one side follow one from the other side into a small bathroom in an alcove and jump him. Others were watching and so it began: punching, kicking, slamming and stomping. Twenty-four of the forty-eight men involved and no way for prison guards to quickly subdue anyone. Those not hospitalized are taken to the Hole, everyone in the gym.
I was at work at the time and although these men were not even from my cellblock, big punishments were to be handed out for all of us. Locked in our cells for one week. After five days we were systematically cuffed, stripped, removed from our cells, interrogated, allowed a shower and returned to our cells. In the meantime our cell is stripped bare down to steel and concrete, our possessions taken to be rifled through and x-rayed and drug dog searched. We will get our belongings back when they are done with it.
Finally Wednesday morning comes a week later, “Report to work for SPL.” That’s me, so I push the cell button in my cell and it miraculously opens as I step out of my cell and soon after out of the unit into fresh air and sunshine. On returning from work that afternoon, I am told that I will have a shower that night, but otherwise will be locked down in my cell.
I still have not had access to emails this Saturday May 2, but I am hopeful this letter will be allowed to go out come Monday.
By John D. Grange, May 2, 2015, Washington State Penitentiary
Last week I saw a two day and a one day lock down here in my cell block, the Echo Unit. It is not uncommon to experience this at Walla Walla State Penitentiary in the new age of prison management. In the times of old, when I first lived behind these walls, conflicts like these popped up often but we were never locked in our cells for hours and days as punishment. We were not collectively held responsible if two other men fought, nor were we held accountable. Today’s prison is based on group sanctions, an illegal practice by federal law yet implemented upon us on a whim.
To further compound the lock downs a very frightening trend is emerging. As additional punishment for recent events all prisoners are denied portions of our meals. We asked them as they brought our meals to the food slots in our cells, “Where is this? Where is that?” All we received was smiles and shrugs in return. To deny food to prisoners brings us all back to the days of barbarism, where the guards decide what rights a prisoner is entitled to. The system is broken and in chaos. If the powers that be do not control their staff, the staff will cease to maintain control of the prisoner population.
This is one common example of a deeper problem that I believe will worsen in the months to come. Our diet will be changing in April to all pre-package meals. This will only cause more frustration within the prison population and the choice left for many will be to lash out at the guards who represent the inhumane Washington State prison system.
I enjoy what I have here. I enjoy housing and work privileges many do not. The environment could be safer here but I don’t believe the prison wants that. There is never additional funding for a safe, well-managed prison. Only violent hell holes need more money dumped into them.
You all may remember my fight from back in March. You may remember that I was gassed, spent twenty days in The Hole and Isolation, and that I was suffering punishment for that altercation at Airway Heights Correctional Center.
I was returned to general population after the fight and soon returned to my job cleaning the same building I served out my punishment in. I thought I had been done a little harshly for my actions, but I was back to my daily routines and life and simply moving forward. That’s what we do in prison to avoid the insanity of our existence. The administrative headquarters for Washington prisons didn’t feel it had been enough.
My address has changed. I was woken one morning shortly after getting to sleep from my graveyard job, “ Put your shoes on and come with us Grange.” Weird. I hadn’t done anything for six months that would get me hemmed up by the officers. I was taken in the back and placed in a holding cell, at which time I was informed HQ was sending me to Closed Custody because of the fight I had months prior. I was stripped, cuffed, and taken back to The Hole to await my transfer. The biggest worry for me was whether I would go to the older established Clallam Bay or the new gang units of the Washington State Penitentiary known as the West Complex. Of course a hardened criminal like myself, who has never been in trouble with the law, ever, before coming to prison for two murders, who never has given into the pressures to find security in prison gangs, who is now forty years old and has not been in a Closed Custody facility in over a decade and must be housed in the most dangerous, violent prison in the state. Off to WSP West Complex I went.
I was scared to come here. A new prison always comes with worries and stress, but this was more. This prison is truly dangerous. I have seen it first hand in the short time I have been here. Men carried away on stretchers, blood pools here, trails of it there, seldom are the attacks one on one. If the gangs decide they don’t like you or they want their hommie to live where you live they strike.
Am I still scared? No, I have adjusted to this new environment and I am well known and liked in the prison system. Men have jumped forward, inside and outside the gangs, to speak for my integrity. How do I earn and deserve this status? I say nothing and I keep my mouth shut. If I hear something go bump in the night it is none of my concern. That is all you have to do to earn honor in a place like this. Turn a blind eye to the wrongs you see done. Sell yourself into the atrocities of a prison system like this.
Thank you Nancy Davies from Washington Prison’s Headquarters for giving me a chance to experience this world you have created
By John D. Grange, September 2014, Washington State Penitentiary
April 18, 2014
My cellie is up and moving around the cell again. Doesn’t he see I’m trying to read my book and relax for a little while? I want to escape this reality and go on an adventure, but this putz will not let me forget where in Hell I am. He is under punishment right now for trying to pick up a book for another inmate at the prison library. The book was reserved in another person’s name and my cellie was caught checking it out. For this crime he was taken to the hole for three days. Now that he’s back he must spend thirty more days confined to his cell, our cell. He is allowed out for one hour a day to shower, check emails, etc. The punishment really falls on the other cellie, in this case me. I of course go places during the day so he has time alone in the cell to unwind, decompress, and to void his bowels alone and in peace. Every time I return to the cell there he is. You begin to accept living with these things in prison. My cellie has the added problem of needing to get up and do nothing what-so-ever-at-all every five to ten minutes. How do you live your life with a total stranger in a 7′ X 10′ foot bathroom, kitchen, living room, and bedroom? I am in prison, right? It’s not supposed to be a vacation, right? How is anyone supposed to learn to be a “productive member of society” in this forced atmosphere of contention? The prison formula is created to prevent inmates from forming relationships with any other person. It makes it easier to control the men who are locked away with each other. As I write this, my cellie has two more weeks of cell confinement. Yes, he is only halfway done. I can’t wait for some time to myself. Time to think, to pray, to take a dump without someone watching.
April 16, 2014
To me social media is something I see on TV. True I can send emails now as my only web access but that has complications that make it less desirable. Mostly I am left to writing letters by hand or making phone calls. For you, ignoring an email or not answering the phone when a loved one calls may be the norm but for an inmate it can be an unusual pain in the soul that leaves you feeling abandoned. I have been gifted with always having at least one person who regularly writes to me. Sometimes this person changes but there is always someone. For the most part this has been my cousin Cheryl. Always there to send pictures or an aid package when she can. There have been gaps here and there when Cheryl gets busy with her two kids, school and work. She always comes roaring back when she catches her breath. Cheryl is always my contact to a real world that exists somewhere outside of this. All other contacts in my life, from before prison or after my sentencing, ebb and flow. Sometimes there for me. Mostly long stretches of time pass and i’m left feeling that black hole sucking all my efforts to contact them into an unknown void. Their phone ringer is turned off, their emails go unchecked and unread, the letters go in a box to be looked over when they feel like responding to me. I have been told it’s too hard for them think about where I am so they ignore it. They block me out of their minds, their lives, either pretending I’m gone or on vacation or some shit, instead of helping me to change my circumstances and leave this place. What can I do? There is no driving to their house to ring their doorbell until they acknowledge I still breathe, I still need, I still love them. I spoke at my sentencing about the pain of the loss of commerce with mankind where contact still exists but only with those willing to answer to the pleas of my sent forth voice.
March 28, 2014
Run cold water over the rag, put it to my face, run cold water, to my face, run the water, face, water, face. Since I work in the Hole at least I know where everything is. Blinded and on fire for two hours, I am finally able to start flushing my eyes (If you have read my previous entry below entitled “The Fight” then you know why I’m in The Hole). It is 7 pm, just two hours after my fight. The guards bring me a PB&J and an apple because I missed dinner. This is generous because I have been here before and the only thing they’ve ever given me is the finger. I wolf it down if for no other reason than to get the taste of Oleoresin Capsicum out of my mouth and throat. At my hearing the next day I try to argue my #633 Assault down to a #505 Fighting but the other guy has more juice with the staff. Prison officials want to pad their stats about how violent it is so they can hire more guards. I had a cut and a scrape and he had two scratches, a fight. Two seven-year-old kids can cause more damage to each other playing tag. Regardless, I have received fifteen days Hole time and five days in Isolation. ISO is basically the Hole, minus my hour of yard every two days and can’t communicate with anyone by phone or mail. Three weeks was my punishment but if classified a fight rather than an assault I would have received three days instead. Gone are the days of dark, wet, dank cells. The Hole is now glossy sterile, bright, and very dry. The cinder block walls are off white, the floor concrete. A stainless steel sink, toilet combo and white desk finishes the décor. A vent by the ceiling blows air in like a jet engine and one at the floor sucks it all out . The fluorescent light shines bright 24/7. There is no way to turn it off but you do have the option to turn two more on if you want to get a good tan. The air is so harsh, re-circulated with the other sixty-three cells, it sucks the moisture from your bones. My lips cracked the second day and the backs of my hands are so dry they stretch and bleed when I flex my fingers. The air is filled with the sound of voices. No more screams of terror or mad ramblings these days. Instead you get to hear all the battle cries of prison antics and the gossip of who did what to whom or who told on whom. You hear prison poetry that is reminiscent of Manson or Bundy. All this yelled through 4” X 4” screens from one cell door to another. You hear the heavy steel doors clanking and banging as the guards make their rounds. A constant clamor only slightly lessened by the toilet paper jammed in your ears. Breakfast is at 7 am. It’s a cup and a half of oatmeal, tortillas, milk, and an enriched juice packet. You mix the juice into your milk because it does not break down well in water. The packet holds your nutrients for the day so you have to drink it. 10 am is lunch and it consists of a sandwich, usually PB&J or bologna with mustard, a piece of fruit, apples (we are in Washington) and another juice packet– no milk for this one. At 4 pm is dinner subsisting on a patty, either soy burger, soy chicken fried steak, soy meatloaf…regardless it’s a 3 oz patty of soy. You get a side of instant potatoes (no gravy) and two tablespoons of frozen vegetables with a pat of butter. If you can enjoy any of this (besides the apple) without salt, pepper, sugar, or Tabasco sauce, you are crazy! I know I’m in prison, in the Hole in prison, but it still sucks. I’m a big guy at 6’6” and 300 lbs and this is not a lot of food. Showers are Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday and this is when we are given a change of clothes. It is hard on me, probably the hardest thing for me. I am a clean freak. I prefer to shower two or three times a day and change my clothes at least twice. I know, I need to suck it up, but it’s hard. I don’t like to smell and going from Thursday to Sunday with the same socks, underwear and t-shirt is beyond me. I strip down, wash my clothes in my little sink, and take a birdbath. Fortunately due to the total lack of moisture I can hang my clothes on the vent and they are brittle dry in thirty minutes. The funny thing is the guards complain about the clothes hung up but never about you bouncing around with your goodies hanging out. Everywhere you go outside your cell you are cuffed by two men who guide you. Cuff up to the shower, un-cuff. Cuff up from the shower, un-cuff. To your hearing. To the yard (a twelve by ten chain link cage inside a large room with other cages), anywhere you go you cuff up. Visits are even worse. They put on a “belly chain” which keeps your hands by your hips and they put ankle restraints on you. All this and you are placed in a glass partitioned booth and somehow supposed to reach the phone. When my sweet friend Hugs came to visit to see if I was alright she asked if I was in the Hole, I told her no. This is not how you want your loved ones seeing you. All I think about in here is what I have to deal with when I go back to the cell block. I don’t return to my cell with the same guy I’ve lived with for a year and a half. I get thrown in with some other stupid bastard like myself. I have to find all my stuff that’s been moved every which way and I have to figure out a new way to fill my days since the daily life will change.
John D. Grange, March 28, 2014, AHCC
March 24, 2014
I hear a voice and then another in response. I’m in my cell and my celli is gone so I should not have to hear anyone. My neighbor has pushed me to the breaking point. I have told him many times, daily, in the eight months he has lived next door that it disturbs what little peace I have when he chats with other inmates two feet from my door, eight feet from my bunk. Our only peace is what we allow each other to have. I step out again, “I told you two enough. If you want to talk go sit at a table in the day room.” There are prison rules against cell visiting but they are widely ignored by guards and inmates alike. His friend laughs and does not leave. “Fuck both of you. You’re both punks.” Prison lingo for “Back away now or it’s going to get physical”. “Who do you think you’re talking to?” my neighbor shoots back. Prison lingo for let’s go. I push him against his door as I step in his face, “I’m talking to you”. He throws a cup of ice in my face and right hooks me in the jaw with it. I end up getting a cut, a scrape, and a bruise. This is not my first rodeo in prison. As he is covering up on the floor and I am repeatedly hitting him I get doused with o/c “Oleoresin Capsicum”. One spray and I throw my hands up backing away and then a second spray and then a third. I go to the floor and am cuffed. My hair and face are completely soaked with dripping pepper spray everywhere. I am placed in holding in the cell block waiting as my “victim” is taken to medical for an evaluation by the nurse: no injuries. I am on fire, blood dripping from my jaw, hyperventilating. Hair is plastered to my face and my glasses are keeping the fumes in my eyes. I am finally placed in a car and taken to the Special Management Unit, SMU, The Hole. I’m familiar with this building because this is where I work. Well, where I “worked”, I will lose my job for fighting. I’m pulled from the car and guided this way and that, through this door, down this hall, still blinded by the o/c. It has been over a half hour since I was sprayed. I am taken out back, put on my knees in the gravel with a guard’s hand holding me by the back of the neck. They turn the hose on me. It’s 30 degrees outside and as the water hits the back of my head it’s an instant brain freeze. I can’t escape it and I mentally try to absorb the pain as icy shards stab my brain and my face and chest burn as if my skin is melting from my bones. When they are done I feel no change in the burning in my eyes. If anything I burn more since they rinsed the o/c from my hair and down into my eyes. I spend another half hour stripped naked and a nurse checks me out. She fixes my cut and clears me. I still haven’t been able to open my eyes but at least my glasses are finally off. I’m given a towel, washcloth and pants and they put me in a cell with a small sink with less than adequate water pressure. After rinsing my rag under the sink and dabbing my face for an hour I start to flush my eyes, another hour and I can now go more than five seconds without pressing the wet cloth to my face to soothe the burn. It will take two days for the contact areas of my skin to stop burning. It will take two weeks to get the o/c out of my hair so it does not burn my eyes when I wash it. Even though it was all caught on camera and he used a weapon, with the cut on my face to prove it, I was the so called “winner”. I was charged with Assault and he went free to talk in front of someone else’s cell.
John D. Grange, March 24, 2014, AHCC
March 4, 2014
I am unlocked from my 6 ½’ by 10’ cell at midnight. The officer walks me to the sliding riot door and I am told to sit until the outside escort officer is ready to take me where I need to go. I work graveyard in SMU, Segregated Management Unit, The Hole. Between 5 to 30 minutes later, or whenever the officer is done drinking his coffee, going to the bathroom, or whatever it is he does when he knows I go to work at midnight, he calls for me to be released from my cell block. The heavy metal door slides open with a loud bang and I’m off ti work. I walk the distance of a block to a small building located in the middle of the prison courtyard. There I wait with the officer for the two night porters to join us and then we walk another block or so to the hospital where we drop off the first inmate for work. After several radio calls and going through multiple security doors popped open by a headless voice over the speakers, we are outside again. Before we can move from the backdoor of Medical to SMU there is one final radio call to the Tower. The officer is making sure we are not shot while crossing thirty yards of blacktop. Once cleared we make our way to the prison inside the prison. Two more doors must be opened here but this time it comes from the SMU booth in front of us that controls all movement into the SMU. It goes quickly and I am taken to a 4’ x 4’ room and stripped naked. “Brush behind your ears. Open your mouth, lift your scrotum. Turn around, bottoms of your feet. Turn around and spread ‘em.” This means bend over at the waist, spread your butt cheeks and cough so they can see your sphincter do whatever it does. I am then allowed to get dressed in SMU clothes and start my work. As I pass from room to room waiting for the booth to open one door after another, I sweep, mop, collect garbage, etc… There are sixty-four cells in SMU and the “favorite” of my tasks is separating the dirty laundry on shower days (three times a week) and cleaning the cells after the prisoner has been released back into the general prison population. The aromas that come from men who have been locked in boxes for two and three days at a time, only to be given a ten minute shower and then returned to their box for another two or three days, well you can imagine, its a life experience that should be utterly and completely missed. After the fun stuff of wiping bedpans and scrubbing toilets, cleaning up urine or blood, I move on to inventory, library, food cups, intake supplies, bedrolls, etc… It’s on me to make sure everything that the men in SMU need and expect is tended to. Around 4 am another outside officer is called to come and return me to my cell block. Again, an unknown wait and then another, lift and separate, bend and spread ‘em moment, and I’m on my way. Until recently the routine would end with a hot shower and a lock up in my cell, but now it has been determined that graveyard workers can wait to shower until morning. So after I do some of the nastiest, filthiest things you can think of, I am required to immediately get on my bunk and remain there until seven o’clock in the morning. This rule will hopefully be reversed soon, but until then it is what it is. This is my job assignment. I can’t quit or I will receive a major infraction, the same as if I assaulted someone. I must do what they tell me to. They do pay me but how much is this worth? I work seven nights a week and I am paid $55 a month. That’s less that $2 a night. This is my life, day in and day out. No vacations and no holiday pay. If I don’t go the men don’t get what they need that day and suffer even more. As I say, it is what it is.
By John D. Grange, AHCC
January 14, 2014
So, I sit here writing, after breakfast on a Thursday morning. I’m miserable just like every time I wake up. I alternate between wanting to take a high-dive off the top tier, lash out at someone and everyone, or just breaking down and sobbing myself back to sleep until my head is pounding and I have to come up for coffee and codeine to make it a couple more hours.
My point? I live in a constant state of hell. Those who think I’m guilty probably look at it as justice. I guess what I want you and those who support me to understand is that I do not live in a life of stasis. I have been doing this for over thirteen years. Let me try to put that in prospective. When I type “website” into the typewriter I’m using and it does not recognize it as a word. I was in prison when palm-pilots were the wave of the future and 9/11 was just a date in September two days after my birthday. Hell, George W. Bush was the ‘golden son’ of a previous President who was going to straighten out our nation. Yeah, are you starting to see how long it’s been and how much has changed? Perspectives in my case have changed too. Those following this site are seeing it happen. I am trying to see the possibilities of what may be. Those running this site have been given a mountain of information and are slowly making a molehill out of it.
What do you know? Who do you know who knows? I’m asking. I’m always asking. If you heard, saw, or remember something, if you remember rumors, myths, or theories about Nick and Josh’s murders bring them forward. Write them down, think on them, air them out. You might think we know something we don’t and it will fill in some link to who we believe was responsible for all of this. I’m here. I’m always here and will continue to be until enough people come together with shaking fists and start asking why this man is still in prison when there is so much to show why he shouldn’t be. My Extreme Thank You, J.D. Chewey Grange, AHCC