Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 15 - Sentencing, There and Back Again

Wednesday, July 15

Facing a sentencing date is something few people who have not experienced the justice system can imagine.  Clayton's wife remembers being asked by a reporter what it was like to wait for sentencing.  She was at a loss for words.  All she could think was, "It's like being wounded, and awaiting a surgery where you know you're not going to have any anesthesia."  You are literally waiting for someone to decide how much of your life to cut short.  However, Clayton's final sentencing date involved much more than just the judge's decision.

Nothing Like an Early Morning

As per usual when being moved from the facility, Clayton was moved out of K Mod in the wee hours of the morning for transport.  Transport requires inmates to pack up all of their belongings in a large plastic bag and carry them, under guard supervision, to the property department as they begin processing.  Processing involves lots of steps, like bagging up and turning in the coat you've been assigned from property, and even more waiting around while guards move you from place to place.  Getting additional rest is not much of an option.  Clayton did receive a sack-lunch style breakfast.

Clayton's experience being moved from the facility to the courthouse was much different than the experience he had last week.  When he was placed in the bus full of prisoners, he was the only Protective Custody (PC) inmate being moved this time.  He was locked into a cage in the center of the bus, with General Population (GP) inmates all around the cage.  These inmates tend to be vicious and violent to inmates who are classified as PC - automatically calling them "Chester" (the prison slang for child-molester) and attempting to harm them.

Clayton was surprised that the guard in charge of the transport made an extensive speech to all the inmates before leaving that if they were attempting to harm Clayton, or causing too much commotion and harassment, he would not hesitate to pull the transport over and stated in very specific terms that there would be hell to pay.  The GP inmates did harass Clayton a little, and attempted to provoke him verbally, but he simply ignored them and they eventually lost interest.

When arriving at Mat-Su Pre-Trial (MSPT), Clayton was placed into the Echo Mod, which was surprisingly familiar.  It is the Mod he was first assigned to after being remanded from court in February.  He was greeted by the sight of 2 metal bunks, a toilet and a sink.  He was not initially given a mattress, but eventually was able to beg one from a guard.  He was informed that they were very busy, however, and did not get a blanket.  Clayton has a chronic problem of being cold in the mods, and when at GCCC uses his jacket constantly.

He laid down on his mattress, and attempted to sleep until lunch but had difficulty due to the cold.  Eventually, lunch was served and he was happy that he was at MSPT in time to have a real meal.  After lunch, he managed to beg blanket from a guard who just came on shift and took pity on him.  He wrapped himself in it and attempted to make up some sleep while he waited around some more.

Moving to the Courthouse

When Clayton was finally moved to the Palmer courthouse, he was surprised to be placed in a van with a bunch of men & women.  From what he could tell, he was just shoved in with other GP inmates.  One woman from the group recognized Clayton.

"Hey...," she said, "You're that guy from TV right?  It was an accident, right?"

Clayton said his entire body was rigid with tension as she talked to him quietly.  He prayed that she wouldn't say something that would tip off the other inmates around them about what the charges were against him.  She made a couple of comments about seeing his wife supporting him on the television, but Clayton was extraordinarily thankful that she didn't stray into dangerous details.  He said he felt as if God was guarding every word.

After arriving at the courthouse, the guards again neglected to realize he was PC status, and placed him in a cell with another GP man from the van.  He said he remained quiet and attempted to rest while staying alert, and that eventually the guards recognized their error, and pulled him out to place him in a cell by himself.

Sentencing Hearing

The sentencing hearing was surprisingly short, and shockingly brutal.  Judge Vanessa White came in and simply read a prepared statement declaring her sentence.  Clayton's family, friends, and community members filled the courtroom - wearing bright green t-shirts that said "Show Your Stripes For Clay" and displayed zebra-patterned hearts in the center.  Everyone was armed with tissues, holding their breath and their frustration in as the judge read.

The judge declared that multiple inaccuracies in the pre-sentence report prepared against Clayton would not be corrected, because she found them to be 'immaterial' to her decision, and she didn't feel like a parole board down the road would care about such details when determining Clayton's fate yet again.  She did not make any reference at all to the statements or letter submitted by Clayton's family about the misconduct of prosecutors during Clayton's trial, or the slander and libel being hurled at them.  She did declare that the court did not agree with the inference in the report accusing Clayton of long-term abuse, noting that the record did not support such a claim, but claimed that she was not taking it into consideration when issuing his sentence.

Most surprising of all, the judge declared that the basis for her sentence rested almost entirely on the sentencing criteria for "community condemnation and reaffirmation of societal norms."  Then, she declared that Clayton would serve a 40-year sentence, 10 years of which would be suspended, and added 15 years of mandatory probation.  She simply handed the prosecutors everything they asked for.

Clayton's lawyers asked that the judge would recommend that DOC house Clayton permanently at GCCC, to be in close proximity to his friends and loved ones, and the judge agreed.  Then Clayton was fingerprinted, and dismissed.  Media snapped pictures and rolled cameras as members of Clayton's family and friends shouted, "We love you!" as he was escorted out by the bailiffs.

After Clayton left the courtroom, his family and friends filed out as well.  Reporters asked to talked to many of them, and most struggled for words after being leveled by the judges indifference.  Clayton's wife struggled to relay as much information as possible about the various websites they would be using to push out information about the case, including:, the Free Clayton Allison Facebook page, Free Clayton Allison Twitter page, Free Clayton Allison YouTube channel, and this blog.  The only words she could find to describe her feelings after were, "I'm livid."

Heading Back to GCCC

After court, Clayton was put into a holding cell by himself, and was thankful to have a few moments alone.  Eventually he was collected by guards, and put back into the van with random people to be transported back to MSPT.  He overheard guards saying they would not make it to the bus on time, so he was placed with about 5-6 men in a van and driven back out to GCCC.

After arriving, he realized that one of the other men who had previously been difficult to see in the van was PC as he was placed into a cell by himself.  He appeared to have been badly beaten sometime before transport.  The guards seemed to have overlooked that Clayton was also PC, and he was placed into a cell with a 2 of the men from GP.  The men seemed to know that Clayton had come from a sentencing hearing, and began asking him about it.  He was frightened of them finding out who he was, and decided to tell them vaguely that he had been sentenced to "a few years" and act like he didn't want to talk about it.  Recognizing that anyone would be depressed after such news, the men stopped pressing him for details and instead began barking and hollering at the other PC inmate locked into the other cell - calling him "Chester" and threatening him.  Clayton simply closed his eyes and prayed that the guards would realize their error and retrieve him soon.

Eventually, the guards came to strip them out and process them.  When taken to property, one of the guards became frustrated that he could not locate Clayton's property and asked him, "Which mod are you from?"

Clayton went rigid, mouthing to the guard silently that he was from K Mod, and attempting to stay out of the line of sight of the other 2 inmates.  He said the guard acted completely calm and normal, but uttered, "Oh shit" under his breath.  He quickly ushered the other two men out of the room with their property, shutting Clayton in behind him.  Clayton finally breathed a sigh of relief that he was once again safe.

Mixed Reactions From the Guards

Clayton retrieved his property from that department, and noted that his jacket - which had been bagged separately - was missing.  He decided to try and ask one of the guards with him politely if he could locate it, but another guard in property overheard him and exploded.  He began screaming profanities at Clayton, and calling him names the inmates used like "Chester" and making threatening comments about inmates from K Mod.  He was screaming at Clayton to leave.  Clayton was shocked, and began to tremble.

The other guards with him began to laugh nervously, and comment to the man, "Hey [name]... better tone it down a notch, huh?  You're gonna get in trouble again."

Suddenly the guards demeanor changed to be sickly sarcastic, and he began saying things like, "Oh, forgive me sir..." still complaining about people from K Mod, and obviously not really apologizing.  When returned to the mod, Clayton learned from other inmates that this particular guard had a reputation for hating K mod inmates, and had multiple grievances filed against him in the past - including a determination that he needed special training.

Clayton ended up returning to K Mod with the other guards, and abandoned his jacket entirely.  He was pleased, however, to find out that he was able to return to his previous cell and bunk.  Additionally, his unpleasant roommate (who was previously on a mattress on the floor) had decided to move into another bunk that opened up while Clayton was away.

Then Clayton received yet another shock in his exceedingly long day.  A guard that Clayton was familiar with brought him supplies he needed and began to have a long conversation with him.  The man informed Clayton that he knew he'd been brought back from sentencing.  He asked Clayton if he was suicidal, and emphasized to him that he had seen how many people were supporting him, and how hurt they would all be if anything happened to him.  Clayton tried to express to him that he would never resort to something like suicide, and he appreciated his family and friends more than he could say.  Clayton was also later surprised to learn that one of the guards in the mod had spoken to another inmate they knew had become friends with Clayton, and asked them to watch out for him and make sure he was alright in the coming days.  Clayton was moved by the guards concern.

Surprise Visit

Next, he decided to move his things back into his cell.  As he was unpacking, he decided to plug his MP3 player into the kiosk and download some music another inmate had recommended to him earlier in the week.  One of the songs that downloaded was a Jeremy Camp song called Same Power.  It brought tears to his eyes yet again, and moved him deeply.  He put it on loop, and listened to it for the next 45 minutes.

"It was just what I needed to hear," he explained to his family.  "Please tell everyone online to listen to it."

Clayton managed to get a call out to his family, informing them that he had made it back in time earlier than expected, and they raced to see him for a visit that night.  On his way to visitation, another guard from the shift that had just begun informed him that someone else from the facility had come by with Clayton's jacket.

"Don't let me forget," the guard said, "and we'll have you grab it on the way back to the mod."   He was able to pick it up that night and be warm once again.

Clayton was pleased to get to see some of his family for visitation that night and let them know how things had gone for him that day.   It had been difficult the day he was remanded from court in February, as the bailiffs had nearly prevented him from hugging his wife goodbye.  It was hard for her again tonight, as she heard them gently scolded by the visitation guard for hugging just a little too long.