Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 5 - Goodbye Andy

Thursday, March 5

Clayton was able to get a phone call out to friends before his visitation time today.  They were surprised to discover that he was alone in his cell, and Andy had been moved from the facility.   Clayton inquired of his friends about how his wife was truly doing, as he knew she would keep on a brave face for him. They relayed that she was keeping herself going, and that family and friends were doing everything they could to help her out.  Clayton provided basic information about what he'd been doing during the day, and said he looked forward to visiting with his family later that night.

When Clayton's family arrived at the facility, they were surprised to find that he was sad.  He looked exhausted, and his normal, cheerful disposition was completely absent. When they asked him what was going on, he started off with an, "It was a very long night."

Medivac Emergency

Clayton explained that the normal nightly screamers had started up around 9 PM last night, and made it impossible to get any rest. The screaming included everything from random screams of frustration, to inmates shouting out numbers at one another.  This screaming continued straight through until around 3 AM, when screams and shouts began to arise for an entirely different reason.

The prison had what appeared to be (from his cell) a medivac emergency. The older man who Clayton had mentioned in an earlier post appeared to be having a heart attack, or some other kind of medical emergency. He wasn't sure what the two true situation was, only the resulting uproar that it caused within the administrative segregation unit.

Clayton reminded his family that this older man had been receiving a lot of grief from other inmates immediately after arriving in segregation. They accused him of raping a young boy, and continually shouted, "Chester!" at him as he left and came back to his own cell for visitation times. Clay was not willing to believe those types of accusations against the man, even if they could be true, because they shouted the very same things at Clayton as he came and went as well, and there isn't an ounce of truth in it. It is the worst accusation that can be made against someone, but is thrown out somewhat at random by the men within the prison against those they don't like or don't understand.

However, as soon as the accusation is made, it seems to feed a form of madness within the other inmates.  The prison staff and emergency responders were working diligently to remove the man from his cell and transport him away from the facility, but they appeared from Clayton's perspective to be losing him. Meanwhile, nearly the entire population of inmates were losing their minds with what appeared to be maddened glee.  They banged on their cell walls and shouted and screamed things like, "Die! Chester die!" and "One down, 1 billion to go!"

"It was so sad," Clayton said to his family with his head hung low, "he was dying to the sound of people gleefully cheering about his death."

Goodbye Andy

Shortly after the medivac emergency, Andy got called up to be transported back to Anchorage. He had some form of hearing coming up in court, and needed to be housed closer to where the proceedings would take place. Andy was excited to go back, because this would put him closer to his family and more accessible to them through telephone calls and visiting hours.  He had been expecting the transfer to come eventually, and they had transferred the borrowed playing cards Clayton had been using to teach him Rummy back to their owner through the guards the day before.

Andy left behind a small Catholic devotional which Clayton hadn't seen before. Clayton was familiar with Christian tracks and pamphlets, but had never seen one from the Catholic perspective. So, he decided to read it and find out what was inside. He said there was all kinds of information inside about Catholic mass, and the history on various saints. He said the included history was fascinating, and made for a great read.

"I’ve got a cell all to my lonesome now," Clayton relayed to his family, but he seemed far from cheerful about it.

Clayton said he was thankful for the time alone to himself. It gave him time to process the events of the night before. He mentioned to his family that he felt closer to God than he had in years.

"I can't really escape him here," he said with a chuckle.

He then read his family the Our Daily Bread devotional for the day, and said it had helped him significantly. The word for that day dealt both with death, and with the principle of not judging others who we don't know or understand. It encouraged him to embrace God's love for those around him, so he prayed for the man whose name and crime he did not know.

Clayton wanted to encourage his friends and family to read Lamentations 3:31-36.  He has read the bible many times since he was remanded, and said that out of the whole scripture, these verses speak to him the most in his current circumstances.

Clayton had also spent some time getting to know the guy in the cell next to him pretty well. The man said he had "PC’d out" because people were trying to extend his time.  He explained to Clayton that sometimes, when other inmates find out you have very little time left, they become jealous. They will try to pick fights with you, or accuse you of other wrongdoing, in an effort to extend your time through punishment from the prison staff. PC is one way to avoid that complication if the worry becomes too great, and the inmate explained to Clayton that he would be more than happy to spend his remaining 2 months in "the hole" so he could go home on time.

Alaska Prison Gang - 1488

Clayton also had an epiphany while reviewing the events of last night, which he relayed to his family with shock and confusion.  

“There’s a gang in here!” he shout-whispered into the video phone.

Aside from the obvious presence of gangs in Alaska, which one typically heard about in the streets or high school hallways, there appeared to be a gang specific to the Alaska prisons.  The gang is called Crew 1488.  [The link is provided, but at this time Clayton knew nothing about them other than the name.]  He said the graffiti he had seen at MSPT and many of the rooms here at GCCC suddenly made sense, because 88 and 14 was scrawled on nearly every surface.

Apparently, the gang members would shout out "88!" as one of the all-night screams to one another. Clayton hadn't understood, and it had seemed completely random to him while he was trying to sleep.  In his frustration he had joked with Andy about shouting out random numbers of his own like "42!" or "37!"  This had made Andy laugh continually, and Clayton now assumed he must have understood all along, but he simply told Clayton, "Man.  That's funny, but don't.  Don't do it."

Last night, the screaming had taken a different tone after the medivac emergency, leading to Clayton's epiphany.  All night, the members of the gang who had been thrown into segregation were screaming back and forth to each other; hyping each other up.

They were shouting things like, “Man we love being in the hole!” and "This s*#* don't bother us!"

Managing the Rest of His Day

Clayton mentioned once again that it is a continual struggle to keep his cell clean.  Just yesterday all the inmates had gone through cleaning routine required by staff, which had caused them to clean every surface in their cells, including ceilings and floors. Despite the recent exercise, Clayton still wished he had access to regular cleaning supplies. He explained that the food trays are passed through a hole in their doors each day, and have a tendency to collect food residue on the edges of the opening if the food is too tall, the trays are too dirty, or they are simply passed through poorly. He said there isn't much that can be done to clean it.

In addition to the door, he noted that there were already crumbs, and little bits of food, on the floor from passing the trays back and forth to the door. In addition to the crumbs, there is a continuous battle with the small pink 'lint bunnies' that accumulate on the floor. Clayton explained that it is impossible to keep them out, because there are multiple vents in the cell that both suck air in and force it out of the room, and they seem to cause the lint to collect constantly.

It is difficult to ask for cleaning supplies, and the guards rarely respond; especially on days like today when they seem so short-staffed. Clayton said that after the events of last night, there was only one guard passing out breakfast this morning instead of the normal three or four. For now, the best Clayton can do is use a large brown paper bag from commissary delivery for Andy as a trashcan by the door, and ask a guard to empty it when necessary.

Clayton had a few letters written to family and friends, but was awaiting the arrival of stamps in commissary, which would still take at least a week to arrive. His cell did have a small bookshelf available for his use to store personal items, which was where he was currently storing books and letters. His wife mentioned that the GCCC handbook said they would have small bins available to store personal items, and he confirmed that the bunk he had been assigned had railings designed for bins, but that no bins were actually included in this unit.

Clayton struggled to end his visit with family on a positive note.  He mentioned that he was very excited that the book cart had come by today, and he had grabbed up 2 new books.  During his earlier call out he had already been ¾ of the way through the first one, but by now he was finished with both.  The first had been a Ken Follett book called Night Over Water.  The second was a Harlan Coben booked called Miracle Cure.  He enjoyed both.  

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