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."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


AUTHOR'S NOTE:  If I use a capital letter to indicate an officer, the letter will be random.

There's a lot of mental illness in prison, more than in the rest of the world.  Or at least it's more obvious.  When I was at New River West, half the guys I met were fresh roasted, some of them dangerously so.  Tell your children:  If you break the law and go to prison, the man who lives in the next bunk may very well be a homicidal lunatic.

It's especially disconcerting when for some reason he takes a liking to you, wants to hang out, decides to be your pal.  That's all anyone needs - a bosom bunkie who's doing life for carving up the pizza delivery girl because she was a tool of Satan.  He sits at the foot of your bed and masturbates as he describes his walk with God.

Also, while you're at it, tell your children that in prison you could become a target for a crazy guard, too.

Oh yeah! Yeah oh yeah, there's a bunch of nuts prison guards in America.  Usually they've been fired from real jobs because they couldn't get along, or because they screwed with whatever program they were supposed to facilitate, or because they insisted on engaging in weird rituals or polemics that weren't relevant and that monkey-wrenched the work site.  Ex-cops become prison guards sometimes, for example, after they've been run off the force for violence or for having done something too bizarre for their co-workers or the general public to digest.

At Texarkana FCI there was a guard who had been a police officer in Laredo, Texas, until he chained a Mexican fellow up and threw him off a bridge.  The Mex was killed, I think, and the inefficient officer had to be relocated in a hurry.

But sometimes the employee will do nothing more than become a pain in the ass.  Maybe he rats out fellow workers for not shining their shoes properly.  Or maybe he takes liberties with the public because of his job title.  A man like that is not just annoying, he creates internal dissention and causes needless public complaints.

Occasionally he's dangerous.  The army regurgitates these guys all the time.  Or promotes them.  In Viet Nam they got fragged on a regular basis.  The only possible home for many of these dudes is deep within a giant bureaucracy, counting and cataloging paper clips, or as guards for various Departments of Corrections.

Here at New River East in Raiford, Florida, we've got a certifiable square peg who everyone agrees is insane.  One source tells me he came to us by way of the Investigative Division of the power company, where he spent his days busting meter violators and such, measuring wire fatigue and writing reports on tree limb violations.

Another guy, an officer, says no, he was a county building inspector creating havoc at construction sites all over the area.  He got in trouble with his co-workers when he told on them for using county trucks to go to lunch.  But both sources agree that Sergeant Z is completely around the bend.  He's the proverbial bed bug who, because he's now a Sergeant in the Dept. of Corrections, insists he be treated by his captive audience as some sort of moral compass, a wish not easy to honor from a man who's nose is constantly up one or another prisoner asshole, sniffing for gas leaks.

From a distance, Sgt. Z looks almost normal.  He's your average, middle-age, silver-haired, brown uniform.  But, he's always smiling one of those manic, inappropriate smiles from Venus or Mars that somehow touch the hysteria button, and when you get closer you can see that he's a lodestone.  His eyes are unforgettable mad, and he has a busy, obsessive repertoire of gestures and furtive eye dartings that are extremely uncomfortable for most people (even other guards) to deal with.  

You could say that Sgt. Z is a walking, talking ad for PROZAC.  He's 'Homphrey' Bogart in THE CAINE MUTINY, fingering his little silver balls.  He should be weaving baskets somewhere, or making Hopalong Cassidy wallets in Arts & Crafts class.

For the record, big prison bureaucracies regularly accept his type and consider them perfectly employable.  After all, nothing is ever reported to the outside world, so a total creosote brain can float along in the ebb tide of his psychosis and pick up a check in spite of his world view or his insecure, sometimes dangerous hate.  Other guards just learn to put up with them, and the prisoners run away.  But Sgt. Z is special.  He absolutely will not allow the institution to cruise along doing time.  He has to throw up barriers.

Those of you reading this article have likely broken a dozen state and federal laws, city ordinances, homeowner's agreements, etc. this week.  Y'all know it, too.  Hell, there are so many tiny things that have been legislated, almost nothing you do is clearly, unarguably secure from meddling regulation.  Eating?  "HEY, get that outta your mouth, pal!"  Sleeping?  "What 'cha doon onna bench, asshole?"  Sex?  "Ooh, don't, STOP, NO, THAT'S ENOUGH!" 

If you run a yellow light, if you paint your house pink, if you spit on the sidewalk or water your lawn or own a cat without papers or perform unacceptable sex or smoke something or eat an unprescribed headache pill or tamper with your pillow tag, you're breaking a law.

So imagine what it's like in prison.  Imagine how you'd feel if a crazy person followed you around all day with a little blue book, crying foul and issuing citations and examining your body for evidence of improper behavior.

Sgt. Z's blue book is scruffy and dog-eared from the constant thumbing.  He attacks the inmates with it, and he insists on delivering theories, engaging the men in riddles, forcing his patronizing lessons and finding fault, quoting obscurities then tailoring them to fit his nutso assumptions.  

Reliable sources tell me that when at home, Sgt. Z can spend hours acting odd.  He stands in the shadows under the eaves of a dark night, for hours, just stands there in the yard, hidden from view, waiting for some neighbor to commit something, murder or rape maybe, so that he can spring into action.  His neighbors think he's looney toones, of course, according to my reliable source.  But I don't need to resort to second-hand reporting to see that Z is a freak.

And I don't need reportage to see that his freakishness is harmful.  He pounces on minute, meaningless rule violations, then issues citations that steal time from prisoners and create problems throughout the population, even into the officer cadres because they have to stand up for him.

I watch him operate sometimes and wonder what could possibly be on his mind.  How does he justify himself?  How did his children survive intact (if they did *)?  I look into his eyes and want to run in panic, screaming.  Any moment I expect him to talk to his invisible rabbit or flap his arms and try to fly.  He acts exactly like a man with something to hide, like he's done a thing truly awful and he's ashamed of it.  Maybe he's consumed with guilt over a leather-and-whip fetish.  Or what if he wears pantyhose under his uniform and lashes out because they give him a rash. 

He's on a precipice, a cliff, about to hurl himself into the void, jabbering all the way down and worrying his hands together, shouting about disrespectful inmates, inmates who touch themselves inappropriately or who keep extra pairs of socks in their lockers.

*His son is also a prison guard I think, and if he's the Z that booed me up at FSP, the fruit didn't fall far from the tree.

There is an axiom as true in here as it is on the outside:  "If there is an excessive amount of silly rules, there will be an excessive amount of rule breakers."

So Sgt. Z's insatiable maw is constantly fed.

He crawls the rec yard these days, pouncing on any man who dares to give a friend a soda pop from the canteen ("No bartering," says Z, ignoring the definition of the word "barter"), or capturing some slimy bastard who wears his shoes untied.  And you absolutely cannot point out irony to him.  He's not capable of making the leap.

The other day he confiscated my gym shorts because they weren't neat enough.  They were too scruffy.  Had holes.  As he explained this to me I stood and eyed the other officers in his group.  They looked uncomfortable.  They tried to look away.  Some of them dribbled smokeless tobacco down their chins.  

One guy was five-and-a-half feet tall with three chins and knees like ice cream cones.  He weighed well over three-hundred pounds.  The whole squad looked like a school of blowfish, swollen for protection.  Very neat blowfish.

But Sgt. Z, as I said, sees no joke.  And he's not fat.  He has no time to eat, what with the constant poking into prisoner's underpants, pulling out his blue book, quoting chapter and verse through a nose as red as rutabaga and a lipless smile of contempt.

I'm telling you, this guy is not normal.  He peeks in windows at night.  He times and counts inmate visits to the drinking fountain or sessions on the toilet.  He will spend hours on paperwork so that he can legally take a pair of cheap sunglasses or a borrowed magazine.  He's one of those guys who thinks respect can be commanded, and the whole time he's insisting on his respect, there's this glittering sparkle of madness forcing its way out of eyes like windows in a warehouse.  There's a seretonin overdrive within his neurochemistry that must be a harbinger of something terrible to come.

He's a hysterical balloon about to burst, and I for one don't want to be there when it happens.  His mind will fill with voices and faces and the shrill laughter will echo across the yard, and he will have embraced his rural, ignorant, anal-retentive muse and failed to survive intact.

I see Z taking a crap in the morning, seated precisely, knees at 35 degrees, wiping left-handed, front-to-back, then examining the residue for contaminants. He flushes exactly once, then stands, tucking pee pee away so that nothing swings or bobs or otherwise moves to a rhythm unacceptable.

Suddenly, for no apparent reason he puckers his lips and makes a farting noise.

"Ha-ha!" he shouts, and begins to pluck his eyebrows in the mirror.  "Goodness, ha-ha, yes!" he screams, giggling, burbling, dribbling wet warm saliva over his chin and down onto his underwire bra.

AUTHOR'S ADDENDUM:   After showing the preceding article to a hundred or so inmates, I must here confess to being told of another reason for Sgt. Z's disruptive behavior, a reason that has nothing to do with being insane.  They claim he's just stupid and mean.  I don't think that's possible, but some of the inmates have convinced me to at least present the argument.  I agreed, only on condition that I use their rationale against them.  In other words, I will here prove that the good Sgt. is nuts.


What separates man from the beasts is his ability to see the whole picture. He has a concept of mortality. He envisions his end, as well as his beginning. Dogs and bugs see only what's in front of them. Squirrels may store nuts for the Winter, but there is no proof they actually know why.

Pretend for a minute that Sgt. Z is not an inefficient prison guard upsetting the orderly running of a human warehouse, but a chess player who has no concept of what it is when you make moves to further an end. He will NEVER win because all he'll do is to capture pawns or knights or bishops with each ill-thought move, and the moves will be independent of any concept of checkmate. He takes his turns, moves his white pieces simply to capture black pieces, and the idea of a goal is lost.

So in the end he'll have a stack of worthless pawns and bishops and knights (various inmate trash, paperwork, punishments), and his king will be in the shitter (the inmates will hate him, other officers will look at him with contempt, the warden will roll his eyes and sigh, the efficient running of the prison will be impossible).

Maybe I'm not being clear...

Shooting at a target is fairly simple. Monkeys can throw rocks. But shooting at a MOVING target takes brains. You have to see into the future, and seeing into the future is a HUMAN characteristic. Seeing into the future entails a bunch of complicated mathematical calculations done on the molecular level instantaneously. It's a uniquely human experience. Only humans can picture what will happen later, when they do something now.

And Sgt. Z will likely never be able to hit a moving target. He doesn't understand the concepts behind managing many hundreds of incarcerated men.

If you readers out there smoke a joint, maybe, and think for a minute, re-read the last two paragraphs, you'll see what I'm getting at. Sgt. Z can't possibly be sane. If he was, he'd be non-human. And I really don't think that's possible. The Florida D.O.C. will do a lot of things, but they won't ever give a monkey Sergeant stripes. Never. And that's the truth.


The real problem with guys like Z is that they wield so much arbitrary power, power that is uncontestable and actually whimsical in its administration. There's the ubiquitous DR of course, but there is also a thing called a CC (correctional consultation), which is a yellow flimsy that takes three days of an inmate's good time and is given out by the guards when they witness an infraction of some kind. It is supposed to be administered judiciously. After all, a CC robs a man of 3 days of his life. But because there is no official hearing or witness evaluation at the administration level, a crazy guard can go wild without any sort of censure.

And that also is the truth!

Gary Brooks Waid

Monday, April 12, 2010

THE BEST OF THE BEST - An American Story

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  IF YOU ARE NORMAL, with normal thought processes and so forth, then the story you are about to read will upset you.  You won't walk away unaffected.  This piece is not journalism.  I don't do that ever; I take a stand, and for that I make no apology. But truth be told, I didn't write this piece. Not exactly, anyway. I listened to a man and tried to reproduce some of his words. Then, as the extent of such a subtly American violation took shape, the story began to write itself.  And I was in the end, occasionally overcome, so that I had to stop, put the pen down, and compose myself before continuing.

Although this is an army tale, you'll have to excuse my shortcomings with regards to military terms.  I never did time in the service, never was conscripted, never joined.  I was in college when I flunked my draft physical and was cast aside for more qualified men.  I remember I had just finished reading a novel by Dalton Trumbo called Johnny Got His Gun, and it so unnerved me that I was terrified I'd have to do Vietnam.  I did everything I could legally do at that draft physical to keep from having to report for duty.  A lot of guys didn't see it my way, though.  A lot of young men were happy to do what they saw as their duty.  It's been thirty years now since the Vietnam war.  Sadly, the aftereffects are still with us.

The Best of the Best
An American Story
By Gary Brooks Waid

My name is Gary Waid and I'm a federal prisoner currently incarcerated by the state of Florida.  I'm not new at life inside, I've been down over 6 1/2 years, been given a bunk in at least 19 different facilities.  During all of that period I've lived with ex-GI's doing time.  They're everywhere.  In transit, lockdown, in all the federal and state prisons, every place where there's a cell, you're likely to find a veteran of some foreign war, usually Vietnam, marking time for every imaginable reason.  I've befriended a few, not for any particular reason, mind you, but because we happened to be thrown together at some point on the rocky penal road to nowhere.

At FCI Texarkana a huge biker named Ronnie, from the Austin, Texas branch of the Banditos, liked to read my stories.  One day I gave him a piece about a biker-bank robber who farted uncontrollably (every beginning writer does farting bikers.  Ernest Hemmingway probably did farting biker stories at first.), and when he gave it back he said:  "Waid, you should be on medication," which made me feel great.  I knew I had talent if a biker wanted to medicate me. Ronnie and I used to talk some, but you had to be careful about what you said.  He would get way upset at any perceived disrespect or flapdoodle regarding the POW-MIA thing.  Ronnie was still in Vietnam sometimes.

Also at Texarkana there was a guy who helped me considerably with my back pain. He'd done his time in the Vietnam bucket, too, and must've known his cookies when it came to explosives because they called him "The Mad Bomber."  The hacks were very careful not to piss off the Mad Bomber, so his expertise in various martial arts must have been reflected in his jacket.

Sometimes a veteran is off his rocker.  Or he's not really, but has a reputation he likes to cultivate. At Texarkana an odd sort named Don once asked me if I wanted to bunk in his cell (he had one of the preferred cells with extra room and no direct sunlight in the afternoon), but he always seemed to be kicking old roommates out for imagined infractions, and most of the guys seemed pretty normal to me.  They always said he was crazy, so I declined the offer and remained in my own sweltering but familiar box.  Don had been a Marine.  He did two tours in Vietnam, then became an instructor of something in a country where dictators regularly hired professional help.  I didn't need any lessons from pros, thank you.

Here at River Junction W/C all the inmates are older guys.  We have more than our share of Vietnam vets, and of course I know a few.  Biker Bill Wagener (See Dressing the Pig ) is a vet.  My companion on the laundry truck is another.  I help a guy named Panabaker with his spelling occasionally and sometimes he tells me a funny story...

...and then there's Sergeant Lawrence Hendrix, my buddy, who during the Hell-for-leather days of the '60s was proud to be a part of an elite group of soldiers within the United States Army of Occupation in the Republic of South Vietnam.

Sgt. Larry Hendrix ain't no joke.  He was an Airborne Ranger, one of those guys who jump out of airplanes, and he did three tours of duty in the mud and the blood, with both the 101st Airborne and the U.S. Special Forces.  In combat he earned the Silver Star and the Bronze Star with a V for valor. There's a special caveat on Larry's jacket: "Do not approach this inmate with violence," because he used to teach FNGs (fucking new guys) how to survive in the jungle.  He was a hand-to-hand combat expert, and an expert at seeing what was in front of him.

I'll get back to Larry in a minute, but first there's something you should know about some of the above guys. Three of them, three out of the seven I've mentioned including Sgt. Larry Hendrix, were compelled at trial to submit their military records, to be used as evidence against them during sentencing.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Okay, obviously I'm no expert about war.  I wouldn't know a Bouncing Betty from a Boomerang.  But I'm going to do the best I can to engage you folks in a dialogue, because there's a problem here, a problem similar to the drug war, in that large powerful government agencies and policy knobs think it's appropriate to warehouse American citizens for lifetimes as a means of controlling something they know nothing about.  And not just any American citizens, they're participating in the removal of men who were the best we had, but who's training makes them embarrassments. 

I've only met a few honest-to-goodness warriors in my life, and Larry Hendrix is one of them. Of course he's also a smartass.  He thinks like a Waid.  We could be brothers. The other day we had this conversation:

"Hi, Sarge, what's up?"

"Everything but my sentence, Waid," he says scowling.  "Your face is red."

"Ah, well, I just got off the yard and shit.  Did six billion pushups and shit.  But it's gonna rain and shit so --"

"Shit, Waid!"  He grins.  "Shitty shitty shit.  You live a loose life."


"You got a fixation. Go to the toilet. I thought you were a writer."

"Words is me."

"I can tell.  Let's go to chow. I'll trade you my green lumpy shit for your, you know, shit and stuff."

See? Not too many convicts would jink me over such a moronic digression. I mean, you know, it's lonely in here and shit: it's nice to have someone to talk to.

So anyway, Sgt. Larry Hendrix was being a warrior during three consecutive tours of duty, while back home in the world I was a flower child.  I was a very good flower child, of course. Still am. But skill-wise my flower child couldn't compare to Larry's bad-to-the-bone. His three tours must've been whiz-bang bitchin' things, because the first time I heard him actually talk about his history in combat my gonads shrank.  Words fail me here. His true tales are absolutely the most horrifyingest, terriblest stuff imaginable and I ain't lying. Larry's liver was more death-defying than Rambo ever thought of being.

Actually it was my neighbor Charlie who asked him how someone gets a Bronze Star.

"Well, said Larry, "mostly by being in a situation. You're scared out of your mind and just sort of react."

He must have felt expansive, then, because he rummaged around in his property and pulled out a document and handed it to me.  Here's the condensed version of what it said:

"On the morning of some long-ago day, during a firefight in the highlands west of somewhere nobody's ever heard of, when a bunch of wounded men were lying screaming in the middle of a minefield, Sergeant Lawrence Hendrix, with total disregard for his own safety blah blah blah, crawled on his belly through Hell and rescued his men."

The Sarge spent a couple quality hours inching back and forth across a fucking mine field.
I was speechless.  "What...I mean, how did...Why - ?

"A lot of stuff was flying around, Waid.  you could hear the guys out there...It was like everyone thought I had nerves of steel, but my whole body was shaking.  I just kept inching along using my bayonet, sweating bullets, poking my bayonet into the dirt ahead of me, probing around for the mines.  You had to find the mines from the side or they'd blow.  I crawled in and out of the minefield, another guy started helping, we got all the wounded out and the dead.  We humped 'em to another area for dust off.  When it was over, I sat in the dirt and pissed all over myself."

Charlie and I just stared at the Sarge, stunned.  I've heard a lot of things in my life.  I've seen a lot of things.  I've heard prison stories that would burn your ears and I've even been slightly brave a time or two, what with the sailing and the pot smuggling and that. But this was over the top.  I'd never heard such a reluctant admission of worth.

That was just one story though.  Larry could float something by you that'd give you the willies before you even gathered it all in.  Once he told me how he went nuts during an engagement:

"You can read about Vietnam and see movies, Gar, but it's true what they say about being there. 
You had to be there, at least where I was.  I remember one time we were in a big firefight, threatening to get overrun. You could see the VC coming across this open rice paddy and we were hunkered down and I was so damn scared I was blind almost.  I'd set up a bunch of claymores out there so I just started watching the enemy and firing off the claymores when they got inside my kill zone.  I had all the triggers, so they're coming in, running like crazy and I'm firing my mines off, Blam Blam, shit and bodies and brains are flying, and I'm so fucking freaked that I don't know who's dead. Blam Blam, those claymores raised hell, Waid. Then for some reason I pick up my M-16 and start firing. I'm standing inside the perimeter, Waid, and I empty my clip, eject, jam another clip in, standing there like John Wayne, blowing holes in a bunch of enemy dead. I'm out of ammo so I've got a sidearm on my hip pulled out, I'm screaming, shooting my 45, Boom Boom, and the guys behind me are yelling, "Sarge, sarge...they're dead! It's over!"

"They shipped me to Japan for R&R and evaluation. I'd seen too much combat, they decided.  I was gonna go home."

"Thank God for John Wayne," I said.

"But I didn't want to go home.  I wanted to win that war, Waid! So they sent me back, but as one of the rear-echelon personnel with the 101st Airborne.  When I arrived, shit I said, this is an in-country training camp for FNGs! There's no action here! I was wrong, though. As wrong as I've ever been.  During the second or third week, in the middle of training my first group, my point man walked my patrol into a VC ambush."

"Why are you still around, Larry? What's your trip?"

"I was a badass. The first thing I'd taught those guys was what to do in an ambush."
"What do you do in an ambush?"

"You fire, Waid. You don't duck, dodge, run or roll sideways or any of that Hollywood crap.  You stand and lay down as much fire as you can in the direction of the ambush.  You make the enemy duck, make 'em hide, make 'em wish they'd never seen your ugly asses.  I remember I had this kid named Camacho from New York on point.  When I saw something weird, I turned and opened up and screamed Ambush left!, and he turned and fired too.  And then everybody was shooting. 

"Camacho has some cojones, Waid. We were a patrol of fifteen new guys, and we killed eight VC without losing anybody.  Couple guys had minor wounds.  And that was in spite of the fact we got caught in the killing zone. When they asked me how it happened, how in hell we got out of that shit, I didn't tell 'em it was an accident.  They couldn't believe it."

There are one too many stories and not enough space here.  Eventually Lawrence Hendrix came home a bona fide war hero. By the time he got out of the army a few years later, he was involved in broadcasting and music promotions around Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, which led to a larger role as a promoter and producer of talent.  He's got a photo album filled with pictures of his family, but also pictures taken of him with various musicians and groups from the '70s.

But back in the late '70s and early '80s, a job in music often meant a life involved with cocaine. Movie stars, politicians, musicians, people from all strata of society were indulging in nose candy, and admitted freely their love of the stuff, or didn't admit it but indulged just the same.  They said it was non-addictive. Said it enhanced performance. Said it was a harmless stimulant and great fun.

SO Larry became entangled in an imbroglio, a man with a gun tried to kill him, and former Sgt. Lawrence Hendrix, 101st Airborne, Special Forces, 3 tours, silver Star, Bronze Star etc, shot the man first in a him-or-me situation that could have easily been dismissed as self defense had it happened to someone else.

The actual charges aren't relevant now.  Larry would have long-ago been released from prison except for a whopping enhancement and a sleight-of-hand at trial in which a firearm element was charged in the information.  Except the jury was never instructed about a firearm element, nor was it submitted to the jury for a factual determination. You can't do that. But they did, in spite of Larry's clean record (he'd never been convicted of anything.

But it gets worse.

The judge had ordered a PSI (Pre-Sentence Investigation), which is common practice before sentencing a man to a prison term. The report, when submitted by the prosecutor, was permanently sealed. To this day, Larry has not been allowed to see what was in that report to create such an impossible situation and to paint him as some sort of deranged killer.  It was right out of Kafka:  You go in a room, you sit, the man behind the desk consults a mysterious book, and you're judged by whatever he finds.  Remember, Larry had no record.

So while the judge was considering this sealed PSR, the prosecutor requested a side-bar for the record and said: "The State thinks this defendant may have his own graveyard, your Honor, that we'll never find.  He may be guilty of other robberies and assassinations that the jury doesn't know about."

What robberies?  What assassinations?  Why weren't these allegations made public?  Was there a secret agenda?  It was like if you were to put huge, gruesome, rusty handcuffs on an accused man, tattoo his face, head, and march him through the judge's bedroom.  Or like mounting little devil horns on, say, your grandmother, then parading her before the court, making her stand on a table and growl and bark like a dog.  Of course, Larry's not your grandmother.  But like I said, he had no record.  And why is his PSR still sealed today?

Then the prosecutor used Larry's military record in front of the jury, asking witnesses questions and going on and on about the training and skills of a Special Forces Airborne soldier.  He forced a theory that went something like this:  Hey, people, it wasn't really a fair fight, wasn't really self-defense, wasn't really cricket at all because this nasty bad-boy defendant here had been a Vietnam killing machine!

So Larry went to prison, sentenced to 75 years hard time.

That's right, 75 years, over two-thirds of which is an enhancement for being a soldier.  And his appeals have all gone for naught because whatever was in that PSR has convinced the higher Florida courts to uphold a lie by the lower Florida court, and to ban Larry from submitting anything further pro se (acting as his own counsel).  He had his day in court, they said, which is not true because he never got to see the enhancement evidence, and the jury wasn't presented with part of the gun evidence, and some of the other evidence was spoken in side-bar and sounded like an editorial describing Attila, King of the Huns.

All of this is confusing as hell to me, but typical of the crap I hear every day.  Except every day a man isn't done in for 75 years! Larry's adjusted out-date is 2021.

Larry's been down a long time now, all of the '90s, most of the '80s, and River Junction Work Camp is the first time he's been allowed to live in a semi-relaxed environment.  He's a certified law clerk, a litigator, who fights for the rights of Florida inmates, so if you've go a question or a problem, he's the guy to see.  He is admired and respected by everyone in blue behind the wire, and also by the guards who know some of his history.

But his wounds are daily on display, bleeding still. The scars of prison line his face and exhaust his eyes and when he walks he limps with Airborne Ranger pain, but also with the effort it takes to keep his pride and integrity intact in a world that doesn't want him, that doesn't need him, that has never needed him except during one dark day in America's past that we wish would just go away.

For Sgt. Lawrence Hendrix, that dark day has turned into thousands of dark nights in dark cells in some of the most violent prisons in one of the most politically corrupt states in the greatest country the world has ever known, the land of the free, the home of the brave.
I wanna be an Airborne Ranger,
Live a life of guts and danger...
Yeah, right.  The greatest country in the world has a self-serving president who's own involvement with cocaine is said to have begun when Larry's did, but is somehow excused as youthful indiscretion, which makes it acceptable for him to judge others from on high.  The greatest country in the world has an ex-president who pardons smarmy, oily, billionaire profiteers, but didn't have the courage to call a halt to the madness in our courts.  The greatest country in the world has a population eager to punish, but that bows to the antics of football players, wreathes them in glory and gives them MVP awards for bravery on the field, toasts them, lets them speak in victory parades, lets them tell us how sorry they were about, you know, the thing outside the bar that time.

There are a lot of vets in prison in America, and some of them are still being punished for their training and their devotion to duty in far flung theatres around the world.  Who cares?  We don't?

What America wants, but what it won't get is absolution. Neither will it get these men to finally succumb and fall down smooth-faced and porcelain-eyed from all that brain-numbing rejection after rejection.  There are minds at work inside here, and emotions - angers, joys, selfless industries, reckless courages, contempts, horrors, memories - men hanging on words, children of a greater God, inferno-hardened but not for what they did, only for what they endure today - and saddened for what will be endured by the next groups that goes to war for liars.

And it's the politician-facilitators that should be recognized as dangerous.  They're the serial criminals.  They're the ones who are slack-jawed and shrill and constantly afraid of things and asking guys like Larry to do the dirty work.

Everybody reading this should go to the FL DOC website and look up Mr. Lawrence Hendrix, DC #094601. Punch him in, scroll him down, look at the man.  Look into the eyes of Sarge.  He's the best of the best.  The best we ever had.  The question someone should ask is not what did Larry do, but when did he do it.  And the answer is not 20 years ago when he protected himself from armed attack, but 34 years ago when he crawled on his belly, eyes squinched up and pee-in-your-pants scared, so that the men he was serving with could be redeemed and could live and go home.

Look at the man.  There's your Rambo, Folks.  In Prison.

Sgt. Hendrix's sentence was illegally enhanced by a venal, ignorant American underbelly alive in our legislative bodies and our courts, not to mention Washington.  His skills were not needed.  He was frightening and embarrassing.  After all, we lost the war.  We shouldn't have to put up with reminders as distinctive as Larry.  And his PSR, written by morons, probably claimed he was an assassin or maybe Spiderman.  They enhanced his sentence using a firearm question never presented to any jury, despite a legal requirement to do so.  Then they made it stick by dumping all over his record of valor in Vietnam.

I hope this story is coherent enough to be read.  I hope that personal stories, their connections and consequences, can help people see the larger picture and take offense at the cruel disparity involved with locking up some longer than others.  I encourage anybody who is moved by Larry's plight to circulate this story, to print it up and mail it to diverse people, to talk radio maybe, to republish it, whatever.  

*Maybe Sylvester Stallone needs a copy.  I already asked Kay if there might be lists of pro bono lawyers on the net that may want to tackle an unpopular cause.  But if anyone reading this is affiliated with or knows of a law firm willing to provide a little assistance in helping Sgt. H. file a collateral motion, or if any veterans' groups are interested in assisting him, please write:

Larry Hendrix  # 094601
 1601 S.W. 187th Avenue
 Miami, Florida


Recently the Federal Bureau of Prisons traded thirty minimum-security, non-violent inmates to the Florida Department of Corrections in exchange for thirty maximum-security state inmates. I am one of the thirty Federal prisoners, a marijuana offender, used as barter.

I was moved in secret, in ignorance, in chains, from F.C.I. Texarkana, through Oklahoma Transfer Center, to F.D.C. Miami, where on November 5, 1998, the Florida authorities took possession of my body. I had never been convicted of a crime by this state. Nevertheless, they gave me a number and processed me at a facility called North Florida Reception Center, a boot camp for mostly violent offenders in Lake Butler, Florida. It was an experience that shouldn't have been allowed to happen.

When I arrived, I still hadn't been told anything that wasn't a lie designed to placate me and my family, so the shock of everything, of all the violence, muted me, scaring me into compliance. There were fifteen of us in that first batch, and no one had heard anything except false stories released by the administrators to expedite things or for the "greater good."

We were mostly small time drug guys or money violators who's crimes orbited one or another illegal drug. We had all done several years of our sentences, which were long. In the Feds, long sentences are the norm. I, myself, am doing a 9-year bit. None of us had been troublemakers, though. Evidently, we had been chosen for our non-litigious, submissive natures. Cow-like, we hunched our shoulders and squinted into the choreographed anger of the guards in the reception bay.

Lake Butler Reception was a cold, brick and concrete room lighted with neon and marked by rows of wooden benches. We were stripped, weighed, measured, our hair removed and our property scrutinized then confiscated or boxed up to be shipped home. We sat at attention for hours while a succession of bully boys shouted at us. At midnight we were trundled off to lock-down cells, then the next morning at 4:00 we did the whole thing once again, this time in company with forty or fifty other mostly violent state offenders just arrived from the county jails. Some of us had to scrub the floors with toothbrushes, others had to stand at attention with noses pressed to the wall or risk a beating. 

Screaming and head slaps were administered. Occasionally a man was carted away. All of my group had been, until this day, enjoying a certain incumbency as well-adjusted minimum custody guys. Now suddenly, we were thrust into another world, a world where the guards screamed and spit and cursed you, calling you names, exercising a sovereign brutality as in:

"Come on Fed boy, let's see what you got! Ain't no marshals gonna protect you now, is there?" etc.

They dared us to speak or stare at them or suck our teeth or show any kind of defiance. It scared me big time.

That night I was deposited in F-Dorm (I think), with five others of my group. I was exhausted, afraid, my back hurt so much I couldn't climb into the bunk, and I still knew nothing.

F-Dorm was less a prison wing, more a bizarre hospital set from some foreign movie in which various war-wounded men limped and wheeled and washed body parts and made sick, suppurating noises and spent a good deal of time grossly, pinkly naked. There were a lot of A.I.D.S. patients, too, slowly dying and unhappy about it, occasionally extremely sick about it.

F-Dorm was a well of lost souls, where all manner of personal frailties and tragedies displayed themselves like balloons at a circus. We had a dwarf, a pair of grossly fat men in wheelchairs awaiting heart operations, several cirrhotic alcoholics with their frail limbs supporting distended, poisoned guts that made them look comically like wading birds, and there was a guy with a drain in his navel, which twice a day filled its attendant bag with a yellowish opaque fluid that smelled of rot, like bad teeth.

There were amputees and multiple amputees, paralysis cases, imminent failures that bespoke gross intemperance, wheedling, whining crybabies, insanely energetic sodomites squabbling like strutting street hookers (excuse my alliteration), and we had six federal inmates horrified at the thought of contracting whatever was most contagious in the air.

I was there about ten days before they moved me, so, trying to be helpful, I used to push a murderer's wheelchair to the chow hall and get his lunch tray for him. He and I would eat quickly in silence, shoveling down as much of the food as we could before one or another of the guards threw us out. The man had been down 16 years of a 120 year sentence, and was so ravaged by diabetes, his legs no longer supported him. I remember he took his showers in the early evening with the other crippled men, all sitting in sling chairs under the communal spray.

I, myself, was reluctant at first to expose myself to the guards and surround myself with so many sick men. I'd wait until the freak show ended and wheeled or hobbled or slithered away to bed or their card games. Then I'd go quickly, undress, bathe in the fluorescent glare in front of the picture window where the guards stood watching TV, dry myself, dress and run away.

Just being there was a miscarriage, I thought. Like an insult. I'm a marijuana offender, right? I suppose some people might wonder why I expected any consideration. Others might say I was intolerant. But they don't know; they've never had to dance in the menagerie. I'm supposedly a well-behaved, compliant man, now being punished for my good behavior these past 4 1/2 years. I was a pot guy, a Fed, not a wielder of weapons or a rapist. Why, for political reasons unrelated to me, should I have to rot in this stupefying hole? I don't deserve this, I thought, and the other federal inmates with me agreed.

That week a counselor told me I was no longer a candidate for any federal programs. Neither would I be allowed state credits or good-time incentives. I was officially in limbo. Meanwhile, some of the guards accused me of being a 'plant.'

I can understand it now, really. They were afraid of being ambushed. They thought the feds were bushwhacking them and they knew their own bosses would stay silent. It's odd how large, complicated institutions work to dehumanize like that, but the most certainly do. If I and some of my confederates were really F.B.I. agents, no one in the D.O.C. hierarchy would talk about it. It's watch your own ass time, so benign directives passed down from on high become sinister lies meant to ensnare a poor working man or woman for being a mostly winked at bully or for breaking civil rights laws or for committing more straightforward crimes like assault.

All of this drama served to anger the guards more, though, which made things hard for me. I was asked point blank by more than one guy: "Who are you really? Are you F.B.I.?" And the ominous stare-downs seemed dangerous, if slightly comical. I and some of the other guys actually began to entertain the notion that maybe we WERE a kind of double-agent plant system, disposable chaff in a federal game of some sort.

Lies are lies are lies, we thought. How would we know? After all, some of the staff at Lake Butler had allegedly just killed an inmate, pushed him down the concrete stairwell. And not long ago a genuine undercover agent was beaten to death, so they say. A few years ago they killed a federal judge's son or nephew no less. The Florida D.O.C. currently has ten officers charged with conspiracy to murder. They allegedly beat a man, chained him to a bunk, and let him bleed to death.

Considering all these stories, anything was possible. Every afternoon at count time, I'd sit on my bunk and endure the stare-down from a pair of hulking goons or uneducated women in uniform, and every afternoon I was afraid they'd decide to chain me up and do me for sport.

I hated and hated and hated during my time at Lake Butler (about 3 weeks in all). I kept thinking, "These men are family men. These guards and officials and even the politicians who've looked this disgrace in the eye, they're family men who are so dumb they don't see the recidivist irony. They don't understand their poor rehabilitation record in Florida, but they are surrounded by the reason. I wanted to shout it in their faces. "Hey stupid, in a family, the violence visited upon the kids is ALWAYS returned in some other way, at some other time, father to son to son to son....."

A prisoner who is violated, lied to, cheated, beaten, sooner or later will strike back, usually on the weakest of his everyday encounters. Horrible, horror-filled institutions like Lake Butler are factories of hate and violence, especially when forced upon the non-violent inmates. Those guards were creating thousands of guys who might decide to solve their problems (or continue to solve their problems) like they were taught.

I'm at Florida State Prison Work Camp now, in Starke, Florida, awaiting the results of my lawsuit. All my federal rights are gone. I've written 30 unanswered letters to the B.O.P., the Marshals, the Florida D.O.C. etc. I was removed from my status in waiting for the D.A.P. (Federal Drug & Alcohol Program, residential treatment), a program that offered a year off and six months halfway house. 

My jailers have told me nothing and, indeed, stripped me of my federal good time. My new out date, so they say, is unknown. They issued me a notice, but the date is wrong. It must be. It says I do nine years to the day now. They tell me if I don't behave, they'll send me across the street to the big prison to be beaten up. I can't believe they say such things, but at least I'm not at Lake Butler.

My family knows now why I think prison administrators are the worst of the worst. It's because they use people like cattle. It's because they're liars. It's because I'm a victim of a personal agenda. It's because I was trying to do right, and they ignored it for "other reasons." If people think I deserve to be brutalized, my questions ignored, my time increased, well fine. But allow the judge to pronounce the sentence, not some baboon. There are 30 of us in Florida State Prisons now, spread out across the state. But some of us are trying to fight it. And I've heard rumors. Some of us are winning.

They call this place a camp. Fancy that. A camp with double razor fences, patrolling perimeter trucks, and 14 counts a day. Just fancy that.

Gary Brooks Waid

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Hi Kay and Pals. As I said, this may not be so suitable for the web.  On the other hand, people probably expect me to be a bit irreverent.  And it's not about River Junction, it's about the whole meatball.
Dear Reader(s):

This may be the silliest story I've ever written.  And the most disgusting.  I mean it. This thing will offend everyone, even those nice people in Western Europe who send me cards and think I'm off my rocker. I may soon get hate mail from people whose children are exposed to this drivel, too, so CAVEAT EMPTOR! Babies should not be allowed near the actual text, and pets are to be kept in the basement, especially if you've got one of those little yappy dogs that humps things.

The only possible social value herein will be argued in an historical context many years after I'm dead.  Whomever wishes to stop reading now, let me assure you, you're doing the right thing. Why would anybody wish to write about something so yukky?  And call it:

A Plague of Priapisms Unloosed
(The Shameful Truth About Self Abuse in Florida's Prisons)

"...nature hath adapted the eyes of the Lilliputians to all objects proper for their view..." - Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels

Alright, let's begin by stating the obvious.  For a young man newly pubic, a young man who's just hitting his hormonal downbeat as it were, there is no way to get sexual relief in a prison setting except by initiating contact with a "punk", or by doing the dirty deed to himself.  The man is alone now, with no assist from his hometown sweetheart, and now he's forced to mount his all-alone efforts behind a shower curtain, or seated on a lonesome commode, or maybe under his blanket at night.  So he damns the distractions, biology being the victor in every case, and firmly grips his own rein to gallop over the no doubt photographic imaginings in his head.  He strains for sacred visions, hues and cambers in the mists, odors and rubbings and oily seas, volcanic eruptings, smoky whorls, secret looks, bits of sweaty clefts in celluloid garishness or underwater murk.  It's all there.  He describes his perfect personal demi-monde while ignoring the prisoner in the neighboring bunk, a guy who's probably busy with his own concerns and couldn't care less what's going on elsewhere.

Each cell, then, on any given night, is a theatre of absurd proportions..

...except in Florida's prisons.

In the state of Florida most prisons are open dorms.  Extremely open dorms - open showers, toilets en' flagrante, inmates knee to knee, uniformed guards examining every move and febrile bit of night time frission (please excuse the big words.  It's my way of masking my embarrassment).  The fact is, there is an utter lack of privacy.

Nowhere on any compound, except in CM (Close Management) or on Death Row, is there a spot that can't be viewed from at least three sides.  All the world's a stage in Florida, and any galvanic eruptions are absolutely and irrevocably "for the record".

And no Florida DOC training manual explains to a young, ignorant female guard
* that watching a man in the shower or on the toilet, in an attempt to catch him doing something or touching himself inappropriately, is rude.  Besides, trying to stop masturbation by ambush is stupid and about as effective as, say, the war on drugs.  In fact officers peeking and prying, as I have recently learned, only creates prisoners who enjoy being peeked at.

Yes it does.
*This piece is most definitely male chauvinistic.  Please forgive me my narrow view with respect to the subject matter.

This is very uncomfortable for me.  I have trouble with the whole notion of privacy in prison.  Not to have any is wrong and creates some sort of definable pathology that someone somewhere has probably studied.  I mean, if the object is to make animals of men (and women), then surely the DOC has succeeded, and they've used safety as an excuse not to put a little door on a toilet stall.

Human nature is a complicated thing.  A man can get used to almost any discomfort.  So the younger prisoners of Florida have turned the whole thing around and made a game of it all.  A team sport if you will.  Nothing in my experience has been as off-putting as coming upon a squad of love-starved gunners
** running amok, whooping with delight, competing sometimes, squinching their eyes and pounding away for all the world to see as some chubby DOC ladyguard passes before them in the act of doing her job.
** Public masturbation in prison is called "gunning" or "gunning her down."

So now it has become my duty to report that sometimes a chubby DOC ladyguard learns to like the attention.

What the hell, maybe you'd like to read a...

( which adjectives are o'er-sprinkled like rich, red, ripe raspberries.)
Please dim the lights.

Not so very long ago there lived in the countryside near Raiford, Florida, a young girl of unsurpassed beauty, who's gift of love lay sadly dormant and who's heart sat on the shelf.  Her name was Jolene Godwin, and in the summers of those years, during many an evening's breathless indention, she used to sit on her parents' porch and gaze out at the swamp, jabbering on the telephone as she ate fistfuls of buttered popcorn and drank glass after tall, iced glass of sugared tea.  She was, in those days, at a stage of fresh bloom that poets and performers rhapsodize about.  Her body glowed with promise, and her budding ovulations spent themselves in warm, sanguine waves which saturated the air around her, filling the trees with her vulvar essence and blanketing the local atmosphere with pollinations so robust as to be practically magnetic.  Her neighborhood, as could be expected, was crowded with constantly sniffing, turgidly boisterous boys annoying her.

They were big husky fellows, too, who played football and fished for bass and dipped snuff like their daddies did.  And like their daddies, they occasionally fought amongst themselves for the right to attempt to lay hands of Jolene's nubile young body.

Their hormonal thrashings were positively hound-like.  "Arooooo..."  In fact, throughout high school both fathers and sons harangued Jolene, promising rich things and truck rides, bribing her with cakes and cole slaw and chickens fried, begging, pleading, weeping, carrying on like idiots.

All those theatrics never did work, though.  Not one stinky Raiford boy was successful.  Ever.  No amount of cajolery could loosen the resolve that Jolene Godwin bore like a plank across her privates.

Let's listen to a brief episode in the front yard:

"Well shucks, I never," Jolene breathes, in her sultry southern soprano.  "Y'all go on, y'heah?  Ahm savin' mah little self (tee-hee) for a verra han-some prince, who one day'll come down heah an' save me.  I reckon ah'll be rescued, y'all, from a fate worse than death!"

She flips her little hands and purses her ruby lips, and sends the gang packing once again, all but the most determined of them, a boy named Billy Don Whitehead of the Starke/Raiford Whiteheads.  He's a huge, rubbery lad that lumbers when he walks and growls when he speaks, and he isn't used to being thwarted.  He says:

"Goddamn, Hellfire, shit, spit!  I luv you, Jolene, goddammit!  Yore tiddies is all I goddamn*** think about!"
***In trying my best to reproduce the local dialect, I've realized that the term "goddamn" is used an awful lot around Starke and Raiford.

But Jolene will have none of it.  "Go away!" she shouts over the roar of chrome tailpipes and the twang of top-40 country on Whitehead's radio.  "Git y'alls big ass offin mah daddy's lawn, Billy Don, an' don't come back a'lookin'!"  She glances down at her perfect paps swelling under her fuzzy sweater.  She vows they'll never be touched by any teenaged Raiford clod.

Sadly, though, time passed and Jolene was never claimed.  Not by a prince nor anyone remotely similar.  She sat on the porch and ate her popcorn, drinking her sugared tea, and no one from the wide wealthy world showed up to collect her.

So she got fat.  By the time her parents put her out the door, her pork-loin butt was as big and active as a basket of puppies, and her tits careened like bombs into the twilight zone of Oscar Meyer meatiness.  When she walked she looked like two sea cows doing the lambada.

Goddamn life, she thought.  She couldn't get a job anywhere normal, so she was forced to try at the prison.  She was forced to go to work for the Florida Department of Corrections.  She was forced to become a prison guard.  For the next two years she sat in a sunless, glass-walled office, in a prison dormitory, scowling into a horrifying future, constantly on display in front of 140 sex-starved prisoners.  Her former admirer Billy Don had died unexpectedly in a horrible accident involving a cow, a stump, and an enraged bull, and so now the only hints of love's wretched twists and turns were seen in the rictile strainings on inmates' faces as they gunned her down either in plain sight, or from the other side of the office door at night, or sometimes out on the yard.  Instead of southern belle beauty and delicate charms, Jolene was now blessed with only one prize with which to attend a suitor.  She owned what her felonious charges insisted was a "fat pussy".
Author's Note: A "fat pussy" can be distinguished from the other types, I'm told, by carefully eyeing the curves and lumps of the subject's uniform then calculating size and shape obsessively in your mind as you gun and gun and gun.  Make no mistake, large women are unbelievably erotic and actually preferred by many men in prison.  The term "thick" is used, and comments about "thickness" run the gamut within any given prison population, usually weighing heavily towards the good.

Your average DOC male officer may be any size or shape, recognizable in the same way a great ape is recognizable, especially when they speak.  The DOC ladies, however, seem to be extremely type-conforming with regard to genome and phylum, and also with respect to cultural identity within the herd.

Morphologically, your typical DOC guardette is a steatopygic, carrying around enormous surpluses of fat in their buttocks and breasts.  They must be breeders, too, because the uncanny resemblance to the original Neolythic "Venus," (that bulging queen mother of fertility found first among the fossils of "Piltdown" Man on the Asian Steppes) is more than mere coincidence.

So Jolene wept hot tears at her fate, and hunkered down to a life of night-shift, potato chip pacifying and weekend, correctional officer humping.  So many potato chips did she consume and so many correctional officers did she hump, that inevitably her life became boring.

And her weight crept ever upwards, too, so that soon her breasts filled large buckets and her thighs snicked and snacked together loudly as she made her nightly rounds.  Eventually her great jowls and porcine elbows frightened the male correctional officers away and she was bereft of even that small, small diversion.  "Oh, what'll ah goddamn do," she lamented.  "Ain't there no one in the whole world to luv me for who ah am inside?"

But of course there were.  Hundreds of them.  The fun and gun squads of jitterbugs**** and other randy inmates of New River CI West.  And it didn't take Jolene long to get with the program.
****A jitterbug or "jit" is an inmate who's young, usually younger than 21.  The term has nothing to do with race.  You're thinking of the word "jiggaboo".

One day she was reassigned to the day shift, prison library, to be isolated in the little glass-walled officer's station that was more like a booth than anything else.  And she was told to watch the inmates during the long, hot, sticky, sultry, lubricous, onanistic afternoons. (phew)

She was the only officer there.  Alone, so to speak.

Except for the inmates.

Nothing to do but watch the inmates.

So all by herself she watched them.  For hours.  Young, weight-trained black men, bulging and rippling under their blues, or sullen suntanned white boys, feral and flexible and fine.  She watched.  Ivory powerhouses.  Chocolate Gods, lumpy and glistening and tensile, standing between the rows of books.  Layers of meat.  Engorged crotches.  Butts like baseballs.  Yards of Negro salamis and...

"Oh mah GAWD!" she finally gasped.  "Look'a those....."

Okay, okay, okay - TIME OUT!  I can't go on with this.  This is too much even for me.  And to tell the truth, what seems to be epidemic in Florida's prisons is not Jolene's fault.  Not long ago a man who played with himself in front of others was considered a jerkoff.  One of the things that distinguished man from the beasts was our sense of modesty and a wholesome ration of shame, wasn't it?

So what's going on?

I just finished reading a novel called "Tyger Tyger", by Richard Hoyt.  It was a suspense/detective thing about endangered species, and at one point the main character said this:

"As I got older I slowly began to lose my enthusiasm for zoos.  I like animals, and it's true what the critics say, zoos really are prisons.  Some of them are perfectly abominable.  Animals get neurotic when they're penned up like that, and you see monkeys so bored with nothing to do that they masturbate all day.  I got so I just hated the idea of sending an animal someplace where I knew it would be stuck behind glass or bars with absolutely no privacy."

Mr. Hoyt has hit the nail on the head.  Or at least part of the head.  Or maybe he's bent the nail over some or broke it off or at least swung the goddamn hammer!

Anybody who's involved with the mental health profession will tell you that a bit of aloneness is necessary for the health and well being of the organism.  And speaking as one of the affected organisms, I can tell you that even though I'm no longer as young and robust as I once was, I still cherish a bit of privacy from time to time, the bit of privacy I was allowed in federal prison but not with the state of Florida.

Consider:  At Lake Butler Reception Center, while I was still in shock over my forced conscription into the ranks of state inmates, a conscription that violated state law (FS 944.091), violated federal law (§3621(5)(e)), but was perfectly okay with Janet Reno and Lawton Chiles, prison guards watched me on the toilet as I wiped my ass.  They looked on later as I washed my dick.  I stood nude in front of a huge glass wall and under a six-million candle power bank of neon lights, and I showered.

Behind the glass wall was the TV room attended by 30 seated inmates and two fat ladyguards (ex-welfare mothers in uniform) eying me, no doubt disappointed.  I should have peed on the glass.

From that day till this, I have been on display with the other state inmates, some of whom have learned to perform for their keepers just like the monkeys in the aforementioned excerpt.  If in later years I hear of or read in the newspapers a story about a wave of exhibitionists in Florida, I'll know that those sicko men were trained by the FL DOC, because believe me, Florida has way more than it's share of jerk offs in jail.

During my first week at FSP Work Camp the guards took a man out of the dorm late one night and (it was reported) beat him up.  He was sent to the hole across the street at the main unit.

"Why?" I asked my neighbor, Jim.

"He was gunnin' in the laundry room," Jim said.  I later learned that the man had been playing with himself as he sat behind the little dutch door, talking with the hackette.  She leaned over the threshold and caught him.  She called her boss.  I didn't imagine at the time that the inmate would be hoping for another response.

At New River West you never went into the bathroom area without first running a recon patrol to clear the gunners.  They'd sometimes be lined up at the sinks.  Sometimes they'd race.  It was so bad there, that at my job washing dishes one day I had to leave the room for a while because an inmate decided he couldn't restrain himself and began whacking off into the slop cans.  INTO THE SLOP CANS!  He was hammering away, peeking through the try slot in the wall where a great big DOC heifer was chaperoning breakfast in the dining hall.

"Unnnnnnh," he moaned, visualizing the lady naked.

"Gimme a fucking break!" I shouted over the noisy dish machines.  I walked out back and sat on an overturned bucket for a while.  When I returned the guy said:

"What up, man?  You ain't down with that?"

"Gimme a fucking break!" I said again.  My vocabulary had dried up.  I hoped the guy had washed his hands.  I hoped the cooks working elsewhere in the kitchen weren't similarly spicing the cookie batter.

I hope you're getting the picture, here, because now, aside from the real sexual stuff that abounds in prison, stuff like big hairy men kissing each other, I was forced to duck, bob, and weave from an entirely different crew of gamesters.  Or sometimes it was amusing.  Out on the yard I once watched an inmate drop his pants and masturbate to the girl in the guard tower.  There he was at the foot of the castle keep, in the bright sunshine of a fall day, looking up into the unreachable heights where his imaginary lover was doing her eight hours eating Hostess Twinkies and painting her toenails.  The inmate was actually whistling, trying to get her attention.

"What's up with that?" you ask.

At New River East I was removed from my job in the law library for being too blunt with my pen.  I was put on a squad of weed-eating, ditch-clearing, potato-picking jitterbugs.  My new boss, Ms. Crumley, was very pretty, although some inmates thought she wasn't nearly "thick" enough.  My first week at work she escorted six of us between the perimeter fences as we killed the weeds with scuffle hoes.  She stood there watching us, while inside the wire a grown man sat on the softball bleachers not twenty feet away and gunned her down.  I could hardly contain my thoughts.  I whispered to my new buddy, inmate King:

"You see that?"

"Shut up, Waid - keep scufflin."

"The guy needs to take up finger painting."

"Shut up. Crumley's gonna see."

And so on.

But this kind of thing was an everyday occurrence.  There were mowing squads actually running around together, running between the garden sheds or behind piles of mowers and machinery, wands in hands, eyes on some officer lady's behind, running with a sort of Chaplinesque, hoe-down motion, knees high and apart, running and gunning and racing away.  Ms. Crumley actually caught one of her squad beating off in the back seat of the work van once, beating off to an image of the back of her head as she drove.

Ms. Crumley wasn't with that, of course. She drove straight to the gate and rang for reinforcements.  The guy went to the hole for a month or so.

So you see that there's a problem here.  But if this thing is such a big problem, why did Florida remove the incentives to be good?  What happened to the carrot-and-stick approach?

How do you mean?

Well, how 'bout haircuts:  "Okay men, if you don't pound your pud in public, we're gonna let you grow your dreads."

Or why did Florida take away all the other options?  Almost every prison system in America has hobbycrafts, art, leather shop, music lab etc..., not to mention shower curtains.  The DOC actually took my good Sony Walkman and made me replace it with shit.

Remember, this thing is learned behavior. It's a team sport.  It entails vocalizing and great escapes and bragging. You could say that jerking off in Florida's prisons is not done for biological purposes anymore.  It's a public display.  It's choreographed, like some antiphonal call-and-respond in a perverse playhouse.

At one of the prisons in the panhandle there was, for a time, the T-shirt gang.  They'd run up to an officer's station with their dicks in their hands, t-shirts over their heads to prevent any recognition but with little eyeholes cut out of the material so they could see.  Pump, pump, squirt, squirt, I don't need to finish with this story, you figure it out.

Thank goodness I'm at River Junction with the geezers, now, if only to give my head a rest.  A bunch of gunners here would take all day.  They'd have heart attacks.  They'd need Ibuprofin for arthritic elbows.

But I just want to say that young prisoners in Florida should be no different than young prisoners anywhere.  And although I've been around when some really rotten, nasty stuff was done regularly elsewhere, I personally was never forced to attend performances until I came to Florida.  Everywhere else you could avoid the yoke of involuntary participation.  Fist fucking al fresco was a rarity.  I wonder if this thing can ever be put back in the bottle, now, because so many youngsters are in jail and there's no diversins, no privacy, snoopy guards teaching men that nothing is private, so many females in dorms, super long sentences, no privacy, no privacy, no privacy...


So I bet you perverts want to know what happened with Jolene, don't you?  Yes.  I bet you do.  All the slimy stuff. so:

During the Saturday afternoon of my first weekend at New River West CI in Raiford, Florida, I walked into the library to get a book.  There, in front of me, were eight men seated in chairs with their penises in their hands.  Inside the officer's station, behind the glass, I saw a huge uniformed girl dancing to the music of her portable radio.  Her hips were thrusting this way and that.  The men were watching her and grinning, flogging their flounders like nobody's business, while she was gazing at Venus and Mars (tee hee).  I walked out.

The other day I was thumbing though my trusty old dog-eared copy of Friedrich Nietzche's Greatest Hits, and ran across his extremely famous old saw about hanging out with crazy people or felons or idiots.  It goes:  "...And if you gaze for too long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

Pretty heavy, huh?  And true.  But actually, I don't have an old dog-eared copy of Nietzche's philosophies.  Nobody does.  Nobody can even spell Friedrich Nietzche except people with ears like dogs.  I read the quote somewhere, though, and it struck me that desirous looks and longings can sometimes metamorphose into peeking and prying and public indecency and an abyss that a tiny bit of common sense in the beginning might have helped to avoid.

Feelthy Peectures are not allowed in Florida's prisons.  Stupid, huh?

So there you have it.  Great minds think alike.  Me and Fred.  I'm in jail, of course, but I'm cool.  Fred's Beyond Good and Evil; he's dead.

Thus spake I.

The end.
Gary Brooks Waid


I have an announcement to make (Ta-Daa-):

I've finally come to the end of my time of sanctions - a required cycle of punishment lasting four months. Soon I'll be able to enjoy all the advantages of the well behaved. The weight pile will spread its arms for me; my muscles will bulge; my skin will sparkle. And should there be something in school I want to study, I'll be able to apply and get on the list. I'm free, so to speak.

I got in trouble last August. I was given a D.R. (Discipline Report) for "lying to staff."  It was bogus, of course, a big fat hockey puck of a fib. But it cost me a black mark on my record nonetheless, along with the above-mentioned penalties and some others. 

For y'alls information, a person representing the Florida Department of "Corrections" calling me a liar is like, uh, hmm . . . is like a pig calling me greedy. Or a fish calling me slimy. Or a toad calling me ugly. It's odd.

Of course, if irony was the point, my D.R. was surely ironic, don't you think?  

What happened was, an intensely angry lieutenant customized an infraction and gave me the D.R. in hopes I'd pick up a 60-day stay in the box at F.S.P. He was mad because I'd been helping other inmates expose him and his pals.  At least eleven men were beaten severely, and I did the affidavits for them. Sent the stuff to the F.B.I. and the paper.  So one night when I told the lieutenant I had a Lower Bunk Pass, he said, "no you don't!" and I was officially D.R'd.  

Actually I'd just gotten out of the hole (a fact for which I'm eternally grateful to the Miami Herald, Kay Lee, and a host of others who explained to the warden that you can't just throw a guy in confinement with all the killers and such because he wrote a letter on a keypad), and this officer wanted to put me back. He was really, really mad. 

But an extremely embarrassed pair of D.O.C. judges decided I was a high profile inmate, refused to lock me down again, and although they had to adjudge me "Guilty" for D.O.C. political reasons, my hole time was "Suspended".

By the way, I've had a lower bunk designation since 1995. Hell, I'm 50 years old. My back is killing me. Of course I've got a low bunk pass. My feet hurt, too, and my prostate.  That weight pile stuff was just a joke. I was lying.

Anyway, there's a prison concept I've mentioned before that has to do with (ahem) reciprocity - or tit for tat. The quid pro quo that is or should be part of a prison population's relationship with the administrators. 

I now have no qualms about doing a Ronald Reagan ("I have no recollection of that at this time.") because if they can bullshit me, I can bullshit them. I've been lied to by the best, now.  Respect for the truth is missing when I'm involved. And in the Florida D.O.C., use of  the "lie" is an important tool.**

**I actually have a memo labeled "Sensitive: Limited Official Use" that
instructs the U.S. Bureau of Prison Administrators to lie to me. It's a tool of B.O.P. also.

I'm sorry, Kay, to hear the D.O.C. is offering up veiled threats, trying to intimidate a poor old granny (you). But you should understand that until recently, their's was the only game in town. Their rules had never been examined, X-wing was not on the nightly news, the bones of excess and ignorance had never been exhumed.  D.O.C. bull had never been questioned. It was always the Inmates  that were liars. 

Now you, the A press, and others are challenging that. And as a result the D.O.C. is being more careful. Jeb Bush has retooled the investigative arm. Inmate ladies aren't hanging themselves. Inmate men aren't throwing themselves around their cells and breaking all their own ribs and smashing their own faces into walls and tossing themselves down stairwells and accidentally slipping in the shower so much. Reports of transgressions are not automatically dismissed. There's hope for change. Which means that Some D.O.C. are pissed.

And if the courts do what they say (I've been told that judges will reevaluate reports of past transgressions), some officers will get even madder. They've never been challenged. They've been able to pick and choose inmate accounts,
painting a disingenuous picture of lying inmates. 

Such a system of exclusivity (choosing whom to believe) has been a staple of corrections and law enforcement forever. And as we all know, the folks with the power and those who's objectives are bureaucratic (designed to perpetuate the bureaucracy), are often the very people most prone to hiding or ignoring the truth, or otherwise manipulating the facts. Recently the media has quoted various D.O.C. officials as they dismiss inmate complaints.  

"Remember," they say, "These men (or women) are convicted felons. You can't expect them to be truthful.***

***If  having a record means you're a liar, what does that say about the 88 employees of F.S.P. who've been charged with one thing or another, some of them very serious?

And of course they have a point. Any stories should be examined carefully.
So I offer myself as exhibit A in the controversy.  The testimony of various felonious bad guys and convicts is why I'm in prison.  I'm doing a 9 year bit because of what a bunch of jailbirds or former jailbirds Said I did.  There was no physical evidence - no bales of pot etc... - and testimony was used exclusively.

They were right, of course. I did it. I'm guilty. There was never any doubt of that. Lawbreakers' testimony was perfectly acceptable.  And even in prison the administrators regularly take inmate statements to prove or disprove something.  So the great irony here (not to belabor the point), is that I and many like me were charged and cases were made against us solely on the strength of inmate blabbermouths - and the inmates were even rewarded somehow - yet these same inmates can't possibly be telling the truth when they have a long, detailed story about D.O.C. or B.O.P. shenanigans.

Maybe the officials of D.O.C. can claim to You that inmates are all
liars, but federal investigators know better.  The feds can construct a very
compelling scenario based on witness testimony - CONVICT  witness

And anyway, if we're all such liars, why are they so worried?  Why the constraints and paranoia like mailroom censorship, no typewriters, no copying of documents, throwing typists in the hole etc...? Could it be they want to control information? Hmm....?

Even outside, within the system, why is, for instance, the inmate grievance process entangled with so much procedural muckity-muck?  Why is the process designed so that an officer or a group of them can so easily play C.Y.A. (Cover your ass)?

I've thunk and thunk, and if I could explain it I would, but I can't.  In what to me is a baffling bit of non-logic, the four D.O.C. prisons I've so far been to allow an inmate to retain No receipt or copy of his "Informal" written grievance. And here at New River Correctional Institution he is forced to depend on the staff to correctly date and return a receipt of any "Formal" grievance through the in-house mail, a procedure rife with abuse.

Tell me this: When you sign a deed, contract, or sworn statement, don't you request a copy then and there for your files?  Could a Real Estate office or a bank operate by issuing receipts only when they want to?  Are we all stupid? Please!

So grieving an official entails sending your painfully exact, written testimony through a minefield of the offending officer's fellow employees, which include friends and family, and then hoping for a hearing and a reply. When you file a complaint, you send the authorities all the copies, and they're supposed to do the honorable thing and send you a receipt at some unspecified later date that they control anyway because they have the date-stamping thing, that can be used to pre or post-date your by-now dog-eared grievance, so they can then pick up another stamp thing and stamp it, "Not in Compliance with Regulations."
Or they may just throw your complaint in the garbage, claim they never received it, and call you a liar as they escort you to the hole for, oh, how 'bout "Lying to Staff."

Whoops! The ubiquitous lying inmate again.

And there are other D.O.C. tactics, too. Some are positively sinister. Here at N.R.C.I., for instance, you must Sign for a formal grievance form. So when the list is reviewed by staff, they know just who to shake down and harass. 

Inmates are regularly searched and their possessions scrutinized (especially at the main gate from the library to the dorms), and if an unwanted complaint is found or imagined, the inmate's stuff may be confiscated amid a (spontaneous) ceremony where loud, excoriating, intimidating officers yell at the poor inmate, who by then is so frightened he's forgotten all about filing a complaint on the crooked guard who DR'd him for nothing, and threatened him with bogus dope charges if, for example, he were to rat out the
little operation where the officer was selling state-issue boots at the flea
market, or the one where he was peddling pot on the range like what recently happened across the street.

When I worked in the law library at F.S.P. Work Camp, I once had to write out something called a "Writ of Prohibition,"  (See "All Writs Act" at your local federal law library) on behalf of a frightened inmate who'd been told he was in deep trouble for accidentally witnessing a deal going down.  The guy bothered me for a week because an officer took him into a room and explained what could happen if he talked out of school.

"I think my life was threatened, Waid. You gotta help me," he said.

I armed him (actually his cell mate) with something they could date and mail to a federal judge should the worst happen. But wouldn't it have been nice if there were a fair in-house grievance procedure in place? One in which the inmate's confidentiality was protected and his integrity not automatically maligned?

One more story I'll leave you with:
Last year a D.O.C. guard up in the panhandle was busted for forcing young male inmates to perform oral sex on him. He was threatening them with all manner of punishments, the nature of which are unclear but which may have included extra time, charges and bodily harm. The officer had a history of this kind of thing, so he must have been very adept at scaring the hell out of youngsters. According to a Pensacola newspaper, this guy was eventually found out, suspended, and fined $500.


$500 for rape. I can't begin to tell you how that makes me, a marijuana offender doing 9 years, feel. But my feelings are not the point. The point is, had there been a proper grievance procedure in place, this man would not have been able to intimidate his charges.


Gary Brooks Waid


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