Miami Herald Article on Gary B. Waid

Miami Herald
Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Steve Bousquet
Capital Bureau Chief

TALLAHASSEE - A convicted marijuana smuggler serving time in Florida was moved over the weekend from a low-security work camp to a high-security lockup amid accusations that he used the prison's computer to write letters to The Herald and other newspapers.

In those letters, inmate Gary Brooks Waid, 49, joined the chorus of prisoners accusing guards of brutality. And in the tense atmosphere following the fatal beating of Death Row prisoner Frank Valdes, Waid's charges are being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and his temporary transfer has drawn intense scrutiny.

Late Monday, Waid was back at the work camp with other white-collar criminals, away from the killers and rapists down the road at Florida State Prison - the place where Valdez died a month ago after a confrontation with guards. Waid's brief journey speaks volumes about the climate in the Florida prison system since Valdes died.

Shortly after Waid was moved last Friday, his lawyer was demanding explanations, and a friend, Kay "Grandma" Lee of Key West, was sending urgent e-mail messages to Florida newspapers and to inmates-rights groups around the country, pleading with them to take up Waid's cause.

Prison officials took pains Monday to describe Waid's three-day transfer to the closest prison as a necessary move while they look into charges of misuse of state property - a computer in the work camp law library.

"He is not a security risk at the moment. We're moving him back to O Unit," said Florida State Prison Warden James Crosby, using prison jargon for the work camp. "We wanted him separated from any access to the computer until we could have someone go through the computer and check it. We have everything he had on the computer. We had to remove him over the weekend until we could get an expert to look at it."

Letter not typical

Prisoners' letters to the outside often are written in painstakingly precise handwriting, a reflection of the amount of time inmates have.

Not Waid's.

His three-page letter to The Herald on July 28 is neatly typewritten and articulately phrased, with key words italicized for emphasis. Describing himself as an apprentice law clerk, Waid said that since Valdes' death, "more and more inmates are coming to me to help them with their affidavits."

"They don't like a prisoner who's able to articulate himself," said Waid's lawyer, Donald Cohn of Miami. "He's one of the people they don't like because he's exercising the rights he has. This was, in effect, a form of punishment that was given to Gary because he's not the kind of inmate you normally get."

Waid, formerly of Merritt Island on Florida's Space Coast, was convicted four years ago of conspiring to smuggle two tons of marijuana on a fishing trawler from Jamaica to Florida over several years. He got a nine-year sentence in a federal prison and wasn't supposed to be in state custody in the first place.

He was one of about 30 minimum-security federal prisoners swapped last November for 30 violent state offenders, many of them murderers who came to the United States during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift. The prisoner swap had been advocated by state officials.

Miami Herald Article

Record Defended

His lawyer says Waid had an unblemished record while in federal custody and that he'd probably be in a halfway house by now if he hadn't been transferred to Florida State Prison's work camp last November.

"We're now in the process of doing whatever we can to get him out of there and get him back into federal custody," Cohn said. "He was in the worst place they could have put him."

Corrections spokesman, C.J. Drake said some e-mails on Waid's behalf came from people involved in efforts to legalize marijuana use. But, he said, Waid's transfer back to the camp was not a result of any complaints made by Waid's supporters on the outside.

"There's a heightened sense of awareness by prison management when it comes to conducting internal investigations," Drake said. "The Valdes incident has created an environment in which prisoners feel they have a forum to rehash allegations against the prison system."

Waid's Internet home page, set up by his friend, Kay Lee, is entitled "A Smuggler's Tales From Jails." On it, Waid describes Florida's prisons as "factories of hate and violence."

A biography written by his brother says Waid was a promising musician - a onetime professional trombonist with the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra who got into shrimping and from there "became enticed into the marijuana trade."

Friday, June 19, 2009


Hi Kay, I tried to write up a little bit about you know what. Here's the paper. Flush it if you want to, or line the potty . . . or print it for the sake of the DOC guards who aren't telling the whole story. Gary Waid
Thursday 08/29/2002 6:52:33pm
Name: UCI
Your Location: RAIFORD, FL


“Uh . . . Toi—“
 “I, uh, said, ahem Toile—“ 
“What? Speak up, man! What d’joo say?” 
“Okay, well goddamnit I said, shithead,

Toilet Paper!

Gimme my toilet paper!”
Which is what my bunkie shouted at me when I first met him in the county jail at Sanford. He was standing on his box plugging up the air conditioner vent because it was freezing in the cell and you had to regulate the temperature somehow, and what with the impossibility of anything metal or anything sharp to use as a lever or tool of some kind, and with the impossibility of actually adjusting anything, you either froze or you mashed up a papier-mache-type goo made from toilet paper and a little toothpaste and whatnot, and you did your own engineering. You could use the food for the same thing, I suppose—grits and beans and stuff make pretty good glue—but the most practical building material in any joint is toilet paper.

Of course toilet paper is not exactly job-specific. It can be used for about a thousand things. On my first day in the big house that they called the Bird Cage, at El Reno, Oklahoma, I got to know my roommate over a nice cup of tea he’d brewed using an old soda can suspended over a toilet paper stove. 

He wrapped the fuel in a sort of cone and set it on the floor, and it burned from the inside out—a furnace effect—while a piece of wire suspended the soda can over the heat. Half the guys in there were cooking lunch in their cells, and depending on the quality of the paper, it seemed to be pretty clean-burning and almost smokeless.

But in Florida’s prisons there are more pressing problems to contend with. 

You are allowed two towels in Florida’s prisons. They aren’t the plush, homey bath towels in your own house. In fact, the showers are closed during many hours of the day, and if you’re at all active (or especially if you’re locked down and get only one towel), the DOC issue becomes nasty fasty. 

Remember the temperature in the summer is sometimes off the page. You work out. You expectorate. You sweat. You leak a lot. You have NO OTHER MATERIAL in which to keep yourself decent. For those of you who’ve never been to jail, I’ll help you figure it out:

Have you ever used a Q-tip for your ears? In prison they sell them, but they don’t pay the inmates for work so many guys are broke or nearly so.

You clean your ears,
And your nose,
And the space between your toes,
. . .with TOILET PAPER!

In the evening you make yourself a little snack. The Aramark food is, to say the least, lousy. So you eat something, then wipe out the bowl with what, your elbow?

The ladies have special problems pertaining to, ahem . . . ladies. What’chu tink, mon, Jah Ras Tafari gwan clean de boosh?

In the bathroom at River Junction Work Camp there were nine toilets but no urinals. The men were older—they had lots of years to practice—but still, they often sprayed the utensils with their pee. There were 140 men sharing the nine seats. Should we all have had to sit in our buddies’ expulsions when we needed to do our doody?  Hell no. Some of us would wipe up a bit. Like they say in the army, clean as you go. And some guys were so meticulous, they’d cover the seat with wrappings.

Guys with hobbies like art, or guys with special needs used toilet paper to protect their material.

River Junction Medical actually became pretty responsible after they got rid of their first PA, but in many joints they won’t rewrap wounds or supply gauze for burns or friction problems. To get a band-aid for a blister in prison is such a chore sometimes, what with the long wait outside the wicker, the grumpy guard saying, “what’cha-want-I-ain’t-got-time-fer-you-now-go-way-n-come-back-later . . . , then the form to fill out and the stuff to sign and of course you have to ‘splain what your injury is and how you got it and do you really need this band-aid, anyway . . . that I used to swipe tape at the library (liberry for those of you who work for the DOC), and make my own bandages from—yes mother—toilet paper.

Or I could have paid the four-dollar medical fee.

Walk through your house. Remember what you do all day, then reflect on what it would be like with no actual materials or tools to do it with. Remember, you have only what they issue to you. Rags are contraband. If 140 guys shaved in your sink this morning, would you wipe it out before using it?
Every little thing.

On Saturday mornings out on the yard I had to wipe the water off the pull-up bars and the dip bars. Towels weren’t allowed, so I could either slip and slide, or improvise a little bit.

Going to work I ALWAYS had a wad in my back pocket. You just never knew.
And I used the empty roll sometimes as a bracket for my radio. I’d slip the cardboard over the bunk post, then clip the radio on the thing and voila—I could lay there and hear stupid top-40 tunes till I puked, which by the way had to be cleaned up, so I better have had a full roll somewhere.

If a prisoner is locked down he is issued a roll of paper a week, I think, which seems reasonable to me. But if you had to share that roll with a cellie, and if that cellie was, say, six-foot-six and two-eighty-five, with a shaved head that exposed a tattoo of a monkey fucking a football, then who’s gonna get that roll of toilet paper, hmmm? Your roll is your roll, man, in the box. Or other accommodations are made—like TWO rolls per cell, per week.

It’s a cleanliness issue. A hundred years ago, during the era of open sewers and cholera epidemics and rats in the kitchen and all that, when people of limited means were expected to die at fifty, one snotty rag was used for everything, one shitty wipe was good for every ass, one filthy sponge was fine for every dish or pot in the orphanage. But we’ve become more learned with regard to things like germs breeding in a closed environment.

Try this: Go around the house and collect all the paper products, then toss them away. Put your towels and rags and whatnot in the closet, but allow yourself two flimsy kitchen towels to use for everything. Turn off the air conditioner. Pack your clothes up—all but the required four undies, four T-shirts, four socks—then share a roll of toilet paper with the kids, the dog, the husband or wife, and grandma. When you run out, use your hands on your ass, and wipe your nose on your shirt, and clean the hairs off the bus-station toilet with your chin. And then, next time you see him, tell a Florida State prisoner that he’s using too much toilet paper.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

Gary Waid, former asswipe of the Florida DOC.

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