Thursday, January 16, 2014

Seamus Todd: Notes and drawings from Lompoc Prison

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Last week's feature story, Under the Halo, looked at the life and death of artist Seamus Todd through the eyes of his father, prominent Missoula artist Jim Todd, as well as other family and friends. Mostly it's told through Seamus' art, which was satirical and often provocative. But it was also told through the undated journal entries Seamus kept while serving time at Lompoc Prison for possession of marijuana while (legally) selling guns.

For many years, Lompoc was famously a country club prison. It’s the place where Watergate offenders like H.R. Haldeman and Herbert Kalmbach served their time. In 1990, that changed and it became a high-security prison and has been criticized for the way it treated prisoners. Similar criticisms can be found in Seamus' journal. The Todd family shared some of those journal entries with the Indy. About the journals, Jim wrote: "Our permission to allow publication of his prison notes is not an effort to whitewash his reputation. He was guilty ... nonetheless, we were shocked at the treatment he received in the Lompoc federal prison system, which arguably caused needless damage to his already precarious health..."

MEDICAL

I have to sleep in a ball to avoid crippling back pain that lasts about 2-3 hours before I wake up. I can’t wait to see what the accumulative damage done to my back and knee is from this federally funded shit box.

Saw the "Doctor" last week. What a joke, double talk, ignoring what the Orthopedist recommended, creating his own unique plan that’s only purpose is to prolong suffering until I’m released and out of their hair.

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Still am waiting for a response on my medical issues. Cellmate wasn’t told when his child was born, even though he made an official request to "liars club" prior to her birth.......Another week gone by. Medically I’ve been given lower bunk status and restricted work duty, still no information about my medicine until my MRI results come back. Strange. First I was told that once I took my first MRI my medicine would change with Doc. visit on Nov. 8th. Sat another month, now told once the results come back I’ll receive my meds. I also was told on the 30th I did have an MRI on my back. This also never occurred.

Just gave a 75 count bottle of 800 mg Ibuprofen in for a refill, got back a 15 count of 400 mg Ibupofen. Medical service is excellent , ..... Been waiting 2 months to get two cavities filled and another tooth pulled, not sure what the delay is. If you can’t afford tooth paste they give you an envelope with some ajax looking tooth powder. It's not very effective.

I saw the dentist again, got another tooth pulled, left a piece in which I guess will either come out on its own or not. Hopefully it doesn’t get infected or the piece of the tooth next to the one that got pulled that got chipped in the process doesn’t start a new infection.

Well went to the dentist again "the bone piece will work its way back through the gum and the cavities aren’t bad enough to be pulled." So that’s dental treatment 101. If you can’t yank it fuck it. you're ok.

Meanwhile 8 months to go by no back MRI, my back is worse than ever. I now received no pain med, have been waiting 4 weeks to get a piece of a tooth that was left in my gum after the rest of the tooth was pulled, now trying to work its way through the side of my jaw. Supposed to get a cavity filled.

I still await my change in medicine or my MRI of my back. I’m sure this will be delayed as long as possible. We’ll see how long the response takes to my BP-11 request and what the excuse will be on that one.

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Got a response on my BP-10 which indicated that everything except proper meds would now be allowed / an ortho said my knee is trashed and I need a brace and analgesics. I’m supposed to finally get an MRI on my fused back at some point. At that point I guess I can take the legal option of contacting the medical board or my attorneys.

Also even though the orthopedic physician is supposed to give insight on things which the staff (med) has no clue about , the staff still can deny implementing his recommendations which I think means my back MRI will be put off as long as possible. Its hard to deny the truth ( as with my knee) but they will. And in knowing this even though the initial response indicated chronic pain just from X-rays, an MRI will verify this even more and might show that I’ve ruptured the disc between L-5,S-1, and L-2, L-4 so this will be put off till the last possible moment. I’ve seen people with broken arms reset and given Tylenol 3 for two days. Men with colon cancer receive nothing until they are transferred to a medical prison where they die a week later.

A man broke his leg on the baseball diamond and waited for two hours to receive some Tylenol 3 and waited for 3 weeks to have it reset at the hospital and continued with the previous meds to recover. Meanwhile mail coming in is still fucked up, medical care is a joke. I sent BP-11 forms to Wash. D.C...one for an exam for me to renew my licence and get some glasses and the other to change my seizure medicine. To get an updated license, I need to take the eye exam and validate that I've had no seizures in here.

Since I've been in prison, I continue to fill out multiply "cop-out" forms to obtain proper medical treatment without getting any type of logical response. I’ve currently moved up to writing cop-outs to the warden and head of medical staff. We will see if this proves to provide any better service.

Next week I supposedly get an appointment with an actual doctor, we shall see. This is supposedly to deal with my medication and maybe the X-ray of my leg. So far though the medical service here is deplorable. Guys with broken legs and carpal tunnel surgery arguing to get any medicine beyond Ibuprofen after surgery....Oh, my appt. with my doctor never occurred. I don’t know if this is due to my refusing the head MRI or what...Also due to my going once a week to the X-ray, MRI or whatever is producing rumors that I’m actually giving information, yeah, that’s why I’m still sitting in segregation for the past four months.

While waiting for the MRI I sat in a single man cell, arms handcuffed behind my back for over an hour. Try this if you think I’m whining about nothing.

Its now been almost 3 months of filling out forms B-P8, BP- 8.5, BP-9, and finally a BP-10 in order to receive proper medical treatment one goes first to in-house problem solving, the second B-P 8.5 to administrative remedy, third #9 to the warden, the fourth to the regional administrative problem solvers, next is the national BP problem solvers . All come back with a different reason why they can’t respond.

The warden’s response was minimal. He said I was finally being scheduled for an X-ray of my left knee (compound fracture, knee cap avulsion, art. knee piece) and my back (4- fused vertebrae. L-5, S-1, L-2, L-3 .) I went to get my X-ray on my knee yesterday. Today I went to get an MRI, lo and behold it's an MRI for my skull?! I guess they can waste tax payers money on MRIs that don’t deal with any medical issues that are relevant. So I guess this is the BOPs attempt to find something in a head MRI to give them support in saying my physical problems are mental, or to briefly mention I had been given an MRI and no problems were found. I have no idea how devious these guys are. But it doesn’t seem to make much sense. I refused the MRI, hopefully this doesn’t complicate issues more. They offered me an MRI (for my head not my back) and I refused the treatment requested in any BP. 8.9 and 10.5. If so I’ll have to receive clarification from the med. staff on why I was to take a head MRI and then clarify that on my med. BPs. I WANT AN MRI ON MY BACK! Another week goes by and no further info on resolving my medical complaints. Hurry up and wait seem to be the motto of the BOP and enjoy what little you are graciously given.

THE HOLE ( SHU )

Today I’m writing about my new temp. environment. The "SHU"-special housing unit. I’ve been here pending investigation of narcotics use. What a shock. This is the punishment cell’s 24-hr. lock down. Constant sweltering heat. A few books, bad food and a 4'x 8' room to share. My first "cellie" was a good natured intelligent leader of the famed SURENO 13 gang. His life is modern Romeo and Juliet. Gang life for the past 15 years. Now 40 days from release. He just married the daughter of an LA County sheriff who dislikes him greatly. Wants to counsel young gang bangers about the bad future ahead of them based on his experiences. Yet in all 15 years of being institutionalized no one has told him of his college funding rights for school in California, and how to become a respected family man doing good for society. In the past his only family was his gang. My second cellie is a good natured Portuguese Islander. 1st time offender, good family provider, wife, four kids, own home, hard worker. 15 year sentence for under an ounce of Hawaiian ... The feds sentence without sense.

Between exercising, reading and writing and hopefully art I can exist in this shithole and with these skills can exist in some other shithole with the rights of the "free."

Currently I am in my 49th day of being in the hole. I was sentenced to 30 days Disciplinarian Segregation on July 24thand today is the 27th of August, while I spent two weeks prior to my hearing waiting for my Disciplinarian Hearing before sentencing. Now me and my cellie have been told that we could be in here, indefinitely, or until we snitch on where our contraband was obtained from. This presents two issues, one to snitch and to be known as snitches would put our health in serious jeopardy when we return to general population, and two, I was sent to this prison, giving up visitation from my daughter in the next door state where I was sentenced. I meant to participate in this facility’s drug program but by being in the SHU indefinitely I lose out on any of the benefits one receives by being in the DAP. One goes in with more than 9 months left plus the ability to do 6 months in a half way house and depending on when I am released I won’t have the time left to complete a 6 month half way house. Very strange. I have waited for any response about this for the past 3 weeks.

Sat. 16 September. I am completing my 10th week of being in the hole and boy it’s fun. Up at 6:00 - 7:00 for a good breakfast every other day of cereal and a pastry, bad is powdered eggs and grits, ummm good. Lunch at 11:00-12:00 today we had 3 pieces of some kind of baloney with 2 pieces of bread ( hopefully not moldy ) and a peach and dinner of who knows? It was curious when a radio told of a semi carrying frozen chicken overturns on the highway near us, we had chicken a week later in every other meal, or Quizo’s expired roast beef ( I know people who work in the kitchen).

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Thanksgiving Day in the SHU "hole". I didn’t think last July that I would still be in segregation after a 30 day sentence. Just got a notice that the BOP needs an extension on their response to BP-10 request. Inmates don’t get these opportunities to dictate extensions. I’m not sure why they need one. Yet I doubt it is in my best interest. Our Thanksgiving dinner was disgusting as was expected.

I also wrote a letter to the BOP asking about the Capt’s. actions in dealing with us ( cellie and I ) without any paperwork, etc. I don’t know if that will be of any benefit. He seems to think he is the dictator, does what he wants without being responsible to any one. Our counselors and case workers are what they are in title only. They might show up once a week and say "Do you need anything?" and move on. I haven’t seen the Capt., the Lt. or such in the past 3 weeks. They are supposed to stop by once a week. As usual, all rules and regulations are strictly enforced with regard to prisoners, yet in regard to staff and personnel, they follow rules and regs when its convenient for them with no recourse available to prisoners. One prisoner who attempted written complaints was threatened with having contraband placed in his property if he didn’t stop. This was told to him by the Capt.

Once in awhile personal reflection babbles forth. Normally I am able to keep feelings of pain in suspension. After many events one learns even without drugs how to keep oneself numb. Keeping blinders on is to not allow oneself to focus on the issue which would cause one to face severe depression for one’s actions. One gets a lot of time to focus on what one has done in the past and where changes would have benefitted a better outcome but to focus too intently would cause one to abandon all hope and that’s the last thing one should do especially if one has any intention of retaining their marbles after getting out of this shit box.

It hurts to not be able to have my daughter see my grandmother who is dying because of my actions. It’s amazing how with children and divorce how many other family members can be hurt without that being thought of at the time of one’s actions.

My cellie and I still await our unknown release day. I’m sure they (Capt. Lt.?) Must realize their plan of breaking us isn’t going too well. I just hope now it hasn’t caused them to be embarrassed because now it’s a battle of wills.

Every week the Lt. comes by on liars club day, every Thurs. all the counselors, officers and wardens come through to "make sure we are OK, answer questions, help when needed." They just all walk by or look at us like lab rats in a cage except for this bald stupid lieutenant who can bravely stick his head in the cell doors window and goes "Hear your D.S. time is up, and you’re still here, imagine that?" Now, I don’t know if he has a limited vocabulary or just think its really funny because he says the same thing every week and seems to get a big kick out of it.

I have thought about all that has occurred while here and discovered that the isolation I am currently in has resulted in forced abstinence, and even in this place (open yard, rec yard in segregation) I could obtain drugs. So if I request continuation of this isolation, does this effect my early release for not completing other tasks? I shall find out in the law library whenever I’m allowed in there. I’m going to (I think) do whatever it takes to avoid other extensions of my time so that I can get out of here alive and as healthy mentally and physically as I can be..........

Day 101 in the hole. Just finished my work out and listening to the radio. It seems whatever they took out of the BOPS massive budget to build this wonderful new SHV building is coming out of our food and electricity budget. Since we arrived here we’ve gone from two pints of milk a day to one, 2-4 pats of butter a day to 0, desserts are optional, coffee (instant) optional and our lights are shut off 3 hours earlier, don’t want us reading; education, bad. I’ve discovered education is the least of the concerns of the BOP at least continuing education.

Every now and then they’ll roust someone’s cell; throw all their shit in the hall; stomp on it, dig thru it, throw out a bunch of your possessions, while they do this, they cover up all the nearest cell windows so no one can see what the C.O.s (correctional officers ) procedure is. Usually it involves stripping, then handcuffing the inmates before they loot their cells. If the inmates are getting a subscription to a magazine the C.O.s like, they’ll confiscate that too.

We also are supposed to receive one hour of rec a day. This seems to be an inconvenience for the COs, it seems they have to do a little work. So they schedule the time for you to be up and giving your name for that day's rec. list at 4:30 a.m. and they generally try to creep by as quick as possible so you don’t get on the list. See, for them to take you to rec. they have to strip, examine, handcuff and walk you personally out to the rec yard and then back when your hour is up. Now this interferes greatly with their donuts, computer games and web searching and the fact that even in 2 to 1 situations they generally are very worried. But give them 4 or 6 to 1 odds and boy you’ve got some real tough guys. They’ll handcuff you, beg you to hit them. That way whatever they do is self defense. I heard one prisoner being told to swallow some batteries. I’m not sure what that was about. I don’t even want to guess. The basic rule amongst convicts, even convicts relating to COs is the goal of some type of mutual respect. Not love.

Actually, time seems to go by faster here in the SHU than over in the "dress for success" low facility. The lack of sun is not good. After about 4 months of flourescent light, I seem to be fighting some skin rash. Lovely. Maybe I should ask the doctor to help. Ha-Ha!

Oh well, 270 days to go until half way house time. Must maintain until then , and then for another 1-2 months before freedom (well probation freedom). Hopefully I can call my daughter without interference from her mother.

All I need to be concerned with is another 220 days, and then I am partially back into reality and how society is supposed to work in the re-acclimation of the "criminal element" back into society. Between my back and my cellie, I don’t know how much longer I can take of this routine. I already told him to throw down once and stood tall, but he was shakin’ like the Northern Pacific was racin’ by. Young kid. Young, dumb... thinks the system is great in his gov’t.

Books they come back from down the hall with $4 of unused stamps missing. A week later a rejection notice telling me to fix something that isn’t wrong with 6-7 days to get it fixed and sent back to Wash. D.C. or it will be refused for exceeding the time limit. Meanwhile regarding my situation in here the caseworkers and counselors would try to recommend a security upgrade to save the gov’t some money by not moving me to a low facility until I’m released but by putting me into a medium, yeah fuckin’ great. What the fuck, or I sit in here for the rest of my time , finding anyway to avoid getting into trouble or to risk going into G.P. and completing some requirements before I go to the half way house? I don’t trust any of these fuckin’ liars. The counselors, the caseworkers, the captain, the warden..all of ‘em. They could give a rat’s ass about the prisoners.

Just finished a couple of good books. "Heavier than Heaven" about Kurt Cobain—very strange guy, kind of a spoiled brat. I’ve been getting a lot of good books from a friend of my dad’s and my brother’s god father.

As usual, walk through was a joke. We’re kind of observed as an oddity. "Look at the two white guys. They’ve been in here over 6 months and haven’t cracked." It is good knowing the Capt. wasn’t able to win this little pissing contest. Couldn’t break us, couldn’t make us snitch and knows he can’t send us to an even worse shit hole or place us in his prison. What a fuck he is.

Hey, what’s up, I just got phone privileges back. ( 1 call a month as long as I’m in the hole ) tried to call my daughter. Some guy answered her cell phone and blocked this number from calling her. Nice.

Then I heard that I’ve got a $ 450 fine still in Jackson, which means a warrant and a detainee so I can’t go to a half way house in Oct. but will stay in here until Dec. 30, 2007. Fuck that! I’ll pay the fine. I don’t care if I have to stay in here for the next 8 months but I’m not staying for another two months just to get arrested upon release in Jackson.

Meanwhile I’m waiting for some books and pondering how hard it is to get in touch with certain people in here. We have no access to more books, the internet or information from the phone co. There are women I wish I could at least talk to through the mail. Some to apologize for past behavior. Some just to write a page a day. I still might be able to put together a book and upon release getting a computer with word perfect and the ability to transfer this to corrected written form with detail using whatever this verbal recognition program is and some drawings and paintings.

Well just got informed that I am (as usual) an interesting case, even though they tried to keep me here at the "medium" and release me from here. I don’t qualify point wise to be in "medium" but since I’m still a "security risk" they don’t want me back at the "low", so after they figure out my half way house, they have to figure out what to do with me. I have a feeling this means I might sit here until I’m released in 8 and ½ months to my half way house. Yet I wonder how I would get normal rights, phone, dentist when I’m in this shit box and how do I complete my requirements in here, with classes, drug awareness, etc.

Whoa! Just found a razor blade planted in our toilet paper roll, mmmm? Guess that Capt. really wants us to talk. We’d been told this is along the lines of what he likes to do. What a jerk.

The possible outcome of me being a " concern as a security risk" is a transfer directly under the Capt.’s domain at the medium penitentiary. From what I have heard this guy has no qualms about planting weapons or drugs on prisoners either to be a prick or to further teach them a lesson. Depending on how credible this seems I might opt to do all my time in here where at least I cannot get any more charges since being in my cell 24 hours a day leaves little options for this type of activity by the Capt.

Sorry haven’t written in a while. Xmas was yesterday. Oh boy. Got a goodie bag.2 pieces of processed cheese, 16 hard candies, a bag ( 1oz.) o, of plain chips, a banana and a hot pocket. Oh, Joy. Got a Christmas card from my daughter after a psychotic episode from my ex which indicated my last 3 letters and Thanksgiving card and $50 gift were not allowed thru my ex’s censorship line which I think is depressing my daughter.

We still have not been informed of what is happening to us. Last info was we are both being transferred as we are both receiving an upgrade as we both need increased supervision even though our points are camp level. Since I possessed legal guns and my cellie has a charge in Hawaii we go to a low, now we go to a medium because the captain’s mad he couldn’t break us. I’m waiting to submit my BP-11 form and paperwork for cruel and inhuman punishment.

I’ve just seen the rat who put me in here. What do I do? Wait and kick his ass or not deal with him and get of here earlier than if I do something. Should I let karma be my vengeance? Probably so. I can’t afford any extra time in this place.

Meanwhile no date on when I get out except the Capt. who saw me in the hall asking asked me if I was ready to snitch. "Nope." His response, " Talk to you in a few weeks."

Another piece of excitement I guess. My cellie got mad because I didn’t give him my turkey. I generally don’t eat my fowl or fish in this place and give it to him. He doesn’t drink his instant coffee so I get that. Anyway, in this discussion he stated I don’t share my commissary with him. I offered once, he refused, fine. I stated he seems to be a power tripper. He is 23.Seems like his status when he was dealing, people depended on him, as the center of attention, etc. In here he is trying to amass the most doughnuts, crackers or whatever as long as he has the most it seems to give him a sense of peace. The funny part is he is totally dependent on his mom to pick up his disasters, and deal with the aftermath. She is currently going to file for custody of a newborn that he can’t and his partner isn’t capable of caring for. But he told his mom to take his money, car, etc. and transfer it to her but not to use it to care for his kid or pay for child support if his mom doesn’t get custody. Priorities in the younger generation seem askewed with no concern for the responsibilities of their decision making.

Well, just got a small victory, me and my cellie showing a little more respect for each other, but the victory is the "investigation" is over, the beginning to us of actually being released back into general population. We still have the possibility of having the Capt. being mad and transferring us to a different facility so we have to wait and see if he is a sore loser, which I have a feeling he is. This would involve reclassification holding until our transfer date and then being shipped all around until we get to our new destination.

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