From T-Bone (Letter 34)

T-Bone is a massively-built spiritual ex-Marine, who uses fighting skills to stop prison rape. T-Bone’s latest letter:

I’d like to detail how things really are here in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail. It all starts with being let out of our cells at 7 AM. Then, the guards lock us down to feed us hard old bread that has been left in a freezer (for weeks we’ve been told). When we bite into it or try to pull a piece off it, it falls apart like dry leaves on a tree that has had no water. It just crumbles. The peanut butter is all oil or water when it too thaws out.

People walk around hungry all of the time, begging the guards for food or trying to steal from each other or the guards. Grown men walk around in circles all day in the dayroom, or they try to play games or work out to take advantage of the weaker guys. There is a lot of pain in this place, a lot of fear and doubt, and a lot of hope has been crushed by the lack of compassion and the absence of a good meal and because we are never allowed to go outside to receive fresh air and sunshine.

I had to intervene in a dispute because of the conditions here. A guy was taking out his frustrations on another guy who could barely walk. He was blaming him for all of the bad food and the lack of fresh air. Another guy started to blame Obama for the ills of this place. Another said it’s the Mexicans fault. Another said it’s the whites. Then everyone went to their respective racial gangs and looked angrily at each other all day.

This place is always ready to explode for any reason. If a guard is having a bad day, he’ll find any reason to lock us down for the eight hours we are supposed to have access to the dayroom. Some guys cannot wait to go to court, so that they can move around and not breathe in the pink fibres that come through the ventilation system. They have a problem with mice in here, which carry all kinds of disease.

It’s remarkable how the human mind works under stress. A lot of men sit around and hate and dwell on evil things or things from their past. That’s how some get comfort of solace. Others turn to God. God has given me peace and has done so much for me that people here come to me for advice and direction. I know it’s him who is at work in me and through me. You, Shaun, and all of my readers out there on the Internet are a godsend. I thank him and you all.

In the evening, we get our other meal, dinner, which even the guards and the people who cook it call slop. It is something to behold. Sometimes it has rocks in it, a lot of times hair. It has recently tasted like soap. They won’t give us anything else. It’s like a game to old Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his underlings. The beans aren’t even cooked. They are hard and they too have rocks in them at times. It’s so bad that the guards won’t eat it. They shake their heads at it. They give us a pad of fake butter to put on the old bread and we drink water.

When we complain, the guards say to put in a grievance form or they threaten to put us in lockdown for causing a disruption when the only thing we did was tell them that the food is nasty.

Just the other day, another guy was found dead in this place because of the conditions. That’s two dead in 3½ weeks. It’s unreal at times.

There’s so much hate and emptiness because a lot of the guards assume everyone is guilty even though we are unsentenced. Yes, there are plenty of guys in here who are guilty, but no one should be forced to eat food like this in the United States of America, which I fought for as a Marine. I’m starting to think that Arizona is no longer in the United States. Although many of us have committed crimes, treating us like this is inhuman. Men act like animals because of the subhuman conditions. I fear my words really don’t express the depth and horror of the situation here. It’s absolutely sickening.

One of the ways they manage the prisoners is they have hundreds of men locked up on psychiatric medication. It’s all a moneymaking operation for Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the drug companies at the tax payers’ expense.

Most of the guys who are not on psychiatric medication are on heroin and crystal meth. A guy had some dope, heroin and speed, hid up his butt, which the guards had brought in for him. You should have saw how the guys who are addicted to it acted. They were like a bunch of hungry dogs who haven’t eaten in days. The guards know when this place is flooded with dope. They sit back and watch as people try to kill themselves.

If they obeyed basic human rights and allowed us sunshine, fresh air and reasonable food, they wouldn’t have a lot of the trouble that happens here. People wouldn’t want to lose what they have by causing enough trouble to go to lockdown.

I will soon write more about other things that have happened here.

Steel embrace,

T-Bone




My book Prison Time includes how I met T-Bone


Shaun Attwood  

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi T-Bone,
"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." - Fyodor Dostoevsky. I have always liked that quote, and I believe that there is much truth to it. Shaun Attwood has also said something that is genius, in my opinion. Shaun says that all that we focus on, is the "punishment" of inmates. We have to focus much more on the "rehabilitation" of inmates instead, Shaun says. I think that he's right. But each of us can only do the little that we can to change this world, and show the world a truth. Yes, there's probably many people who don't care about what human beings go through in prison. But I'd like to think that there are also many people that do care. People often have no idea how much a small act of true kindness can change a person's life. I do feel sympathy for the unfortunate people who are victims of crimes. But wanting to punish the perpetrator of the crime, will not really undo the damage that has been caused by the crime. Can we really think about punishment and rehabilitation, without also thinking about revenge and forgiveness? Sorry to hear that the food is so bad in prison. I cannot imagine what that must be like. The Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution states: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Basically, inmates in the States are considered slaves, as punishment for their crimes, is my understanding of the Thirteenth Amendment. Does this mean that inmates in the States are not entitled to basic human rights?? T-Bone, all we can do in this world is what little we can. I have a feeling though, that I will have a lifelong interest in the conditions of prisons, and the issue of punishment and rehabilitation concerning persons who are incarcerated. The question of whether or not God exists, is probably the most important question of all, if you ask me. It is inspiring to see that you still hold onto your faith in a place that has so little hope. Let your faith in God be the compass which you follow. Try to show kindness to your fellow inmates when possible. I am sure that many of them look up to you. May we ourselves, be the change that we wish to see in the world. Can't wait to read your next letter posted here, T-Bone. Take care of yourself. God sees everything. May God bless you.
With Much Love and Respect,
- Azar

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