Prison Blog 5: Free From 21 Days of Torturous Isolation
The Disciplinary Hearing Officer was very gracious (in so much as I was in solitary for 21 days) and agreed that the phone use infraction – the podcast to supporters that was never released – was minor in the big picture. He made it a "397" which involves no loss of good time (the discount of 15% a year on my sentence). He also said "Everyone here knows you are famous and it was a shout-out to your supporters that was not harmful, and we know you didn't criticize the Federal Detention Centre, but you can't do third-party political lobbying over the phone." So lesson learned. I don't have phone access until July 25th, but at least I can "email" Jodie through CorrLinks and have visits in person, instead of the cruel "video visits" they've recently designated for inmates in solitary confinement.
The staff here are acknowledging me more than before as a "famous" person of repute. I was always friendly and polite to the guards, never hostile, angry or sarcastic. I always said "thank you" when they brought me food or un-handcuffed me. Eventually they said, "you're welcome" in response. 21 days in the hole toughened me up, made me appreciate things. I have no interest in anger, defiance or protest from within these prison walls. I was totally polite and along with the program all my time in solitary. I am not interested in breaking rules or causing trouble in here. I'm just so relieved not to be in the torturous SHU unit. That's plain mind-bending, being in isolation...
I received 30 letters on Thursday, and 28 the day before. There are some heartfelt ones I will respond to when I get more stamps. On Friday I got 35 letters – I'm very grateful that people are writing to me, and I will spend time writing back to as many as possible. I was under incredible strain and mental duress for those 21 days in "the hole", but now I am swamped with work once again: so many letters to respond to, all of books to read now that I have access to them again, and many ideas to develop. I couldn't sleep my first night back in general population, unit DB, "Delta Bravo". I ate a huge lunch Friday! Other inmates gave me their extra salad and salsa, and I ate everything they poured on my tray. I could tell they were thinking, "Look at him eat, holy Jeezus!" I lost 15 pounds or so since I've been imprisoned, but I'm eating more now that I'm out of isolation and have access to bigger food servings.
One interesting thing happened in solitary on Monday June 21st, when the first MacLean's magazine of my subscription arrived (thankfully I was able to get newspapers and magazines, but they ultimately took up very little of the constant 24-hour deprivation each day). I devoured the whole issue in one day and, as I was reading about the new prime minister of Japan and Alannis Morrisette's wedding and other news items on page 12, I came across a news blurb about me being put in solitary confinement – which I read as I sat right there in solitary confinement! That made my day, knowing that people are still following my story. Same with the June 13th issue of the Seattle Times; I got that and, wow, a full page about me! The Disciplinary Hearing Officer said, "everyone here knows you are famous," and indeed they do know. That's probably what created the crisis; they really didn't know what to do with me. They ended up boosting my reputation and the FREE MARC campaign in a way that would otherwise not have happened. 21 days in solitary is near torture for any ordinary innocent human being.
In newspapers, I saw photos of how Toronto looked leading up to the G8 and G20 security. They make Toronto look so ugly with all those fences and para-military. It's insane to spend $1 billion on "security", and scares away tourists. These meetings accomplish nothing. How come with all those cops in Toronto can't stop the one thing they are supposed to do, and prevent street mayhem and disorder? I mean, there must be cameras everywhere, surely the cops could move in and arrest these hooligans – unless, as many suspect, the "Black Bloc" vandals are really cops acting as agent provocateurs. But even then, if it's cops, it still shows that for $1 billion they still can't stop or deter street disorder, so they may as well have not spent any money at all. Either scenario undermines the rationale for spending $1 billion on security.
Jodie has been sending me news stories about the blatant police abuse and assaults in Toronto. The police seem to go crazy at these G20 or G8 events. I'm sort of glad that journalists and media were scooped up so perhaps people can see what Canada is like in Harper-vision. I sure hope Canadians are very disturbed and will punish the Conservative Party in the next election by supporting and voting for the candidates who can unseat the Conservative members of Parliament. The Conservatives are at new lows in the polls of 30%, and the Greens at 12.5% (which is close to the vote they got in the last election, yet they unfairly did not get any seats – what a "democracy"!). Let's have an election, for goodness sakes! The speculation that the Liberals & Conservatives form a coalition is absurd. The Liberals can govern fine with the NDP in a coalition with the support of the Bloc. The Conservatives have burned those bridges by playing so dirty the last 4 years.
My cellmate likes to read late, which is good since I also have a lot of reading and writing to do. It may be possible to get my own cell, because a large number of inmates currently here are being shipped out next week. The only thing is, I would likely get a cell mate eventually, and my cell mate now is probably as good as you could get for a "cellie" (as they're called), so I'm not sure that’s preferable in the longer run.
When lunch was served on Saturday, I was very hungry. They haven't made my diet "no flesh" (vegetarian) yet, as they haven't transferred instructions from SHU (Segregated Housing Unit, "the hole"). Lunch was chicken and potatoes and mixed frozen-type vegetables. I saw from the return trays most people left various parts, as the quality is very poor, but I devoured it all: threw all those mixed vegetables in, added the potatoes, stripped the chicken off the bones, added the gravy, and ate that down like a starving African. I would have eaten the other guy's meal, too! Go to solitary for 3 weeks and you don't complain about food much after that. You can't wait for mealtime. I actually had an apple on Sunday (it was a Red Delicious; in solitary you just got unripe Granny Smith apples) and banana Saturday; any fruit is definitely appreciated. My stomach had shrunk from the reduction in food volume while in "the hole".
On July 4th, Independence Day here in the USA, Jodie is coming to visit and we'll be able to have a photo taken together! She's coming for the weekend, which she will hopefully do every weekend with the generous support of fans and friends. So we get to see each other on Friday the 2nd and Sunday the 4th (visits are only allowed every other day). I found out that inmates who have family come from out of state are able to apply for extended visits once a month, so instead of 2 hours per visit, which is the time limit, Jodie and I can spend 3 or 4 hours together each day for one weekend each month! On July 16th and 18th she'll come see me and we'll get up to 7 hours of holding hands and talking. Even though visits take place in a very large, crowded and noisy, guarded room, it's priceless to hold my wife's beautiful hands and look into her loving eyes and hear her voice. I know she feels the same way!
I have to get back into writing Robert's life story (the African-American senior Vietnam draft veteran I wrote about in my earlier blog posts), but first I'm going to write letters to the fans who wrote me. I will get a staggering amount of mail on Monday June 28th, probably over 50 letters, plus 8 newspapers (from the weekend backlog) and a few magazines, so I'm busier now than I was at the beginning. Robert's story is going to be really good though, so I'll have to commit to 1-2 hours a day to that by Wednesday. My old cellmate here, the Iranian Jew/Canadian who's got an odd and unjust case, is not nearly as happy with his other cellmates. He liked having my intense cross-examinations, which all my cellmates here and in Canada do – people rightly regard my interest as caring. I help them analyze their lives and address the problems that led to their imprisonment. It's clear I want nothing from them and I'm not a criminal, so they are always eager to download their life stories and listen to my advice.
Ending up in solitary is being blamed on Nicholson and the Prime Minister, as though torturing me in a US prison was what they had in mind all along. That has turned out to be more than they anticipated. I heard about how Nicholson has hired private personal security (on the taxpayer's dime, of course) for "undisclosed" reasons, though the news article mentioned he has been running away from any FREE MARC activists and signs. My supporters are not dangerous or threatening – it's free speech and exposure of his cruelty that Nicholson truly fears. The L.A. Times article really helped boost my US support, and the libertarian and anti-prohibitionist media are using me to ratchet up the campaign to repeal prohibition, which is exactly what I want from my imprisonment. Let my incarceration not be in vain; let it galvanize you to action!
Free from isolation, but still a prisoner in a maximum security facility as I await my sentencing in the US federal system... Marc Emery #40252-086
- Blog posts are compiled and posted by Marc's wife Jodie Emery