Forty Years and Counting

Off and on, I have over 18 years in segregation. Fewer years than some, more years than most.

My Achilles tendon was being worn throuqh by the biting leg shackles. It took three separate restraining orders to finally get them to stop putting on leg irons over the bleeding and puss-filled wounds. It took a couple years to completely heal, yet to this day I can still feel the irons. I accept full responsibility for my past actions, so I have no real complaints about being locked up. I own it all. I did five years straight in the hole for trying to blow up the industry buildinq in Walpole. My intent was to simply burn the damn slave-labor factory to the ground, thereby denying the slave-masters a lot of income from the blood and sweat of the slave-prisoners. As it goes in prison or anywhere else in America today, I was ratted out by a cop wannabe. Later it was for inciting a riot. My favorite was for "committinq a mutinous act." The ones I am most proud of however are for escaping, and then for constantly attempting to escape. Now, forty years later and in a damn wheelchair, all I can do ís dream about it.

I got away in 1983 and was captured 93 days later in Carson City, Nevada, by the Feebies. From '83 till '99 I was in the hole . . . again. In retrospect, putting me in segregation for so long was a big mistake on the part of these "I'm so much smarter than you" people. It gave me the time to read a library and to hone my writing skills. In my pen I found a more powerful weapon than fire or rain. Through the written word I found ways to give my tormentors the blues by exposing their chicanery and fascist-like attitudes toward us.

Today we live in a closed and hidden-away environment. We are out of the public eye, and because no one can see what they do to us, they invent onerous and idiotic rules to make our lives as miserable as they possíbly can. In the 70s, they used to deal out regular beatings and gassings with CS-gas (something even the military is not allowed to use in combat against enemies). Today it's much more subtle. Mostly it is mental punishment and emotional anguish replacing the beatings and gassings.

They make visits so uncomfortable that many family members do not want to come into these places to be humiliated by searches and by dogs that feel it's okay to put their noses in your crotch. In the visiting rooms themselves, screws will patrol gestapo-like up and down the aisles, thereby inflicting themselves in the course of your intimate conversations with wives or lady friends. Words are the only true intimacy allowed between you excèpt for the hug and kiss at the begínning and end of each visit. As the screws pass by, you instinctively whisper or stop the conversation because you don't want to share even the most minute thought with their prying ears or oogling eyes.

Anytime a country allows its smallest segment of society to be hÍdden from public scrutiny, it seems to be a natural progression to fascism. Prisons essentially become like small isolated third-world countries, and the armies of guards feel invulnerable and inviolate in their actions toward the chained people in their charge. Rules are made up on the spot to fit whatever course of action they wish to take. By the time we prisoners get it straightened out, we will have spent months in the hole on Awaiting Action (AA) status and lost several items of personal property which were thrown in the trash by vindictive and twisted, mentally deficient, swine.

We are forced in isolation to breathe recycled air that comes out of the vents in thin dust balls. Blankets that shed like diseased collies, and greasy Johnny WaIker water with its alluring caramel coloring. Lumpy thin mattresses that feet like you are laying on a bag of softballs . . . or body parts. After many years with your arthritis, you get up in the morning feeling like you just defended your title. Then you painfully make your way to the chow hall where you are insulted with the gray lumpy stuff on your dirty tray. Thirty days of this living in a county jail is one thing, but imagine forty years of it?

In a perverted and sick way I almost relish this treatment, because it keeps my mind sharp and my intentions focused on exposinq these assholes for what they really are: overpaid and inane drones. They come into the prisons hung over or still high, then ask you for a urine sample. They will work double shifts after taking "diet pills" to stay awake.

They commission panels to try and figure out why the recidivism rate in Massachusetts is so high. That makes about as much sense as having a panel trying to figure out why a tortured dog gets off his chain and then bites the person(s) who tortured him. Lucky for these sonsabitches that I Iost all my teeth over the long years of great dental care. Lucky for them that the medical department has done all it could by its crack staff to ensure my failing health. Still I am able to bark. One day even that will be gone.

I am training other bigqer and stronger young dogs to take my place. We can never stop barking, because the silence will signal our total demise as human beings cought up in this fanatical mileau called prison.

   Joe Labriola
   August, 2013

  Return to top of page