In the late nineties a politician from Pike County, Illinois need to find a job for his son. Power breeds corruption. It always has and always will. This was how Donald Snyder from Pittsfield, Illinois became the new director of the Illinois Department of Correction. He came with the get-tough-on-crime rhetoric. He removed a lot of good policies in place to rehabilitate the prisoner. His famous line of B. S. was, “The Illinois prisoner is being treated like a pampered baby. They were sent to prison to be punished, and I will punish them.” He came, and hell came with him. Continue reading “Compliance Check”
Mandatory Supervised Release
In the year 1977, then Governor Thompson signed into effect the “Truth In Sentencing Bill,” a public act law that changed the sentencing structure in the Illinois criminal court system. No longer would the Illinois Parole Board be a part of the sentencing structure. From the date of January 1st, 1977, the men and women sent to Department of Corrections would serve a definitive sentence.
No longer was the convicted murderer Continue reading “Illegal Holding of Prisoners Beyond Release Date”
In Illinois the Public Safety Act guarantees that the Department of Corrections and the Illinois State Police get their budgets, no matter what, in order to protect the public. For we cannot have our prisoners escaping out into the public. So the excuse that “the state Is broke” does not float here. It simply will not hold water.
But the Shawnee Prison is in serious disrepair. Money was appropriated to replace the windows for the cellhouses here. But only the windows in Three and Four House was replaced—the rest of the money disappeared, with no investigation into the millions missing. Continue reading “Something Wrong Here?”
My celly Justin, “Captain Crunchy,” as we called him, was released from the Illinois Department of Corrections on December 8 at 1 a.m. He caught an Amtrak train to Chicago. From there he jumped on the bus for his final leg of his journey. As I draft this blog, I hope my old celly has arrived to see his little girl. For she is the reason I helped him get home on time. Continue reading “A Day in the Life of a Jailhouse Lawyer”
In the prison system you have the cellhouse, a building where four wings intersect at a hub in the center. This hub is a circular control booth with windows facing toward the four wings. The front of each wing, whether it is A, B, C, or D, is full glass from the floor to the ceiling, so that the staff has a complete view of each wing. Continue reading “The Right To Be Free From Illegal Punishment”
People are sent to prison for breaking the law. But prisons have laws also, and the prison staff is obligated to follow those laws. For example, the law has clearly established that prisoners are to get a minimum of five hours of out-of-cell exercise per week, in order to keep their bodies healthy. Exercise is one of the rights given under the Eighth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. This is to prevent cruel and unusual punishment where the conditions of confinement cause the body to deteriorate. Continue reading “The Law Does Not Apply to Prison Staff”
In my last blog, I described the change in diet at the Illinois prisons, from mostly meat to mostly soy. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC):
- There is no proof that soy diet makes men sick.
- I am a “Chronic Complainer” and have no real case against the diet.
Let me set the record straight on both of these assertions. Continue reading “The High Cost of the Soy Diet”
In a maximum security prison, you are a caged man. You spend most days in your cell on “lockdown status.” This happens when someone causes an incident that challenges the security of the prison. Or so the staff will say.
Then all you get is “three hots and a cot.” You get a ten-minute shower once a week. Your meals are brought to you in a cell. No other movement is allowed. My only reprieve from this boredom was to read the law. Jimmy Soto’s words were always there: Continue reading “The Change in Diet”
I was set up pretty good at Stateville. The most notorious prison in the Illinois Department of corrections nourished all the vices. I had found my niche making moonshine. I was learning the law. Jimmy Soto, whom I met on day one, had set my head straight. “Nobody cares about you being locked up but you. If you want to change things, learn the law. Then you must beat the man at his own game.”
In 1994, I was sentenced to forty-five years with another twenty years, running consecutively, or as the boys in the long house would say, “Running Wild.” I have served twenty-two and one-half years on the forty-five. I am now serving ten years on the twenty-year sentence. This obscenely long sentence was handed down because I refused to plea bargain for crimes I didn’t commit.