Our August Visitor and The many problems in our El Pueblito (The Little Village

It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. ~ Stephen Covey

 

No law should be more harmful than the behaviour it is trying to regulate.

 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012; 09/11 anniversary (Pray for comfort for those families who are still searching answers for that one question about their loved ones and history should never repeat itself, for mankind to witness such cold-blooded carnage ).

 

Last night (10 September 2012) after a long battle with the fiscal, the Director finally got them to release the sick lad with the protruding belly; no one knows what the lad is suffering from. He was hospitalised for months and discharged without any cure. Some say he has kidney problem, some believe it’s something more serious; nothing is more serious than being sick and not knowing when you will kick the bucket. The lad look 16, but they say he’s somewhere around 25yrs. Looks they say can be deceptive! 

 

He went around last night to gather what money inmates can freely and voluntarily donate as he’ll be leaving. Those of us with soft spots for humanitarian tendencies gave him our best others will keep that money for weed or a line of angel dust. I hope whatever sickness he’s got, he finds treatment outside. The lad spent about 6 Months in one of Panama’s best hospital, and nothing was done to better his condition or ease the suffering. I, like many other caring inmates here were in shocked to see him wheeled in and in a worst condition than when they took him away. Hope when he’s leaving, there won’t be the normal (a norm in panama to delay things intentionally) bureaucracy; cops or office workers wanting him to pay before he’s released.

 

It’s almost weekend; Thursday came and gone, my workouts has been ON and OFF due to sprained shoulder; hope it ain’t serious. And largely due to lack of water; everything revolves around water.

 

Had our consul visit on Wednesday; was like our pay-day as we had our extra groceries; these are basic necessities which we can’t get here and they’re very important things needed. Sometimes if someone happened to have them, the price is over-the-top!

 

The visit went fine, no news, well…there’s hope as we’ll be having a visit by an official from justice back home. Hope he/she will be allowed to have a tour of our #ElPueblito (The little Village); her safety is guaranteed as we ain’t the locals who will probably jump her. I hope that next visit, will be one that will bring some changes to perceptions and treatment we received. It hasn’t been an easy ride, but such is the path we chose.

 

Back from visit on Wednesday; the sight outside pavilion 2 (where our Ladees pals are housed; The La Joya Trans), sometimes makes one forget the Les miserables of prison life. And helps oneself to a good hearty laughter. The lasses were all hanging out by the wired fence; all dressed up in their best saucy dresses, hot pants, some were on bikinis fully armed with handbags, jewellery, all make-up and standing on colourful stilettos (wondering how they’ll run on that, if one jealous lover goes wacko as we’ve seen lovers killing each other out of jealousy for Ass-love).

 

The free-peep show, friggin look like Panama carnival; apparently, at the carnival, the transvestites and transgenders are always the star-attractions. The lasses in pavilion 2, might look appealing and tempting to those who sees what they’re looking for in them. But it could also be disgusting as the one we met upstairs during our consul visit. Wondering what our visitors will be thinking……Looooool.

Why on earth, will an ugly man want to become a woman? He won’t make it through the metamorphosis process; he will definitely come out as nature’s freak! Such was the look of the man-woman upstairs; got tetas (tits) (.)(.)! The face has been scared by knives or whatever weapon was used, arms all stitched up and man, he damn look pretty ugly. I guess someone inside Pav2 does fancy him that way (One’s man meat is another’s poison). And many of the lads in my pavilion wouldn’t mind taking bite off him or get a head from him. Guess most are tired of using their hands; guess, that’s why some inmates amongst us are ready to fork out $40 for a nightly head-session by our night nurses for a quickie. What an enjoyable way to burn $40……Pheeeeeew!

 

The population of our Ladees inmates in Pavilion 2 seems to be growing faster than we had assumed; on their last patio, the numbers of the Ladees of the jungle were mouth-watering; I guess they’re reproducing los niños there, left to wonder what fatal crime these bunch of jolly-good Ladees are committing out there that brings them in such large numbers. Well, from what I’ve heard so far, they are like black-widow; very fatal and jealous two-legged monsters.

 

Back in and back to our small world and greedy inmates begging for whatever they found with us. When they have, they can be flippin greedy like my cats when eating raw fish/meat; little Diablos, and funny things.

 

All Thursday; after the rain, we had our head count and the crack-heads cops flippin made another mistake with the numbers, guess these bunch of brick heads should hit elementary school and learn how to count. And someone should teach them some admin work. Doubt if they know the numbers of inmates here. A freed inmate is still in the system, he was counted, while the lad is probably on the streets hustling; maybe to come back in.

 

One of the dubious doctor (so, they called him, that dude ain’t qualify to be cleaning wound), but in a place like this, he worked himself into the clinic and became the best drug-runner; from legal to illegal shots, he’ll get anything. Finally left this Thursday, but in a hush, flippin thief. Didn’t tell no one as we later found out; he’s has a debt of about 4Mil and those lads will definitely get to him. These guys don’t mess with their money and their drugs. He’s been watching over his shoulders for about 5yrs in jail and will continue doing same even in #Freedom; isn’t that stupid!

 

Was always scare of getting injection shots (diclofenac and B Complex) from him, as I suspected him of injecting people with water. He once tried nicking my vials after injecting me for sciatica pains. Flippin rat! If there’s been any rehabilitation for him; he’s probably learned new skills and how to dilute vials and injects unknowingly inmates with water, who will pay him for proper drugs. Flippin rat got no heart or whatsoever. I know karma will get to him soon. They always meet their fate outside. Wouldn’t be surprise when I hear that, he’s met his fate through the barrel of a #Sicario (Assassin)!

 

The two new kittens from pavilion 5 are giving me loads to do; they’re malnourished and look skinny like fox! One is getting along with my squirrel-look-alike kitten (both play pranks on each other), seems to be accepted by the bigger kittens, but one is not wanted in the group; he’s always pounced on by the other males. And he’s really a fighter, flippin scares the shit out of ’em all. Funny and beautiful things, no absolute knowledge of where they are nor where they were born into. Living in a child-like world would have been great, but then, one will miss those adults things. The age of innocence is over.

 

Friday; like every other ones, sets the spirit of weekend into action, everyone ready for La Fiesta to indulge in whatever will keep body and mind together, doubt if there’s time to think of one’s soul; which survives on spiritual food. The few who walks around with Bible clutched in their armpits are no much different from the rest of us; my religion has always been a solitary one between me and my maker. And I love it that way. Think, i’ve been judged more than enough. Much better to live reality than in an illusionised world.

 

Saturday: The lads went loose, a stranger that walks into the pavilion will be flabbergasted at the sight of revellers and how inmates could indulge in the ultimate gratifications in such condition that we find ourselves. At such moment of ecstacy, the lads seems to forget where they are, they share stories of their past glories and failures, tales of yesterday;  what we assume is our histories. It was an all night affair for some, who spent all night binged drinking and blowing. We tried the “Live and let live” thing, but in some moments of fun, most seems to forget about others; was flippin noisy all Saturday night/Sunday morning.

 

In the joint, one is expected to brave through, be stoical, show an emotion; you’re called a wimpsy; saw this dude, after a lengthy phone call, stood up with tears swelling around his eyes. I knew he’s been hit by his missus, from sources, thing not going well between him and his missus. I have seen many, after their fall, Prison door slammed against them, back home, the only ones they hoped on also slammed doors against; leaving them in the cold and at life’s darkest moment. Such are the bitter experiences of many who find themselves behindbars.  

 

It’s very rare to have things stolen, doesn’t mean one should let loose his guard. There’re many thriving pickpockets and ladrones among us (thought Panama is rehabilitating them….LOL!). A Panamanian inmate walked in with loaded wheelbarrow to deliver goods, entered a cell which many knew him, called out names and no response! On seeing a phone (BB) charging on one of the bed, the lad nicked the phone and walked out; Smooth Operator! Got a free phone he couldn’t afford. When my ring fell in the gym, one from a hardcore gang of pickpockets took it, but thank God for an inmate who saw him and later informed me. Finally got my ring! What a big relief….but then, a compatriot foot the bill of buying grams of weed for them.

 

Sunday: Sun 16 Sep 2012 @19:29:16

Barrage of shots outside, Pavilion 5 (supposed to be all Born-again inmates there); think, there’s a fight and the only known solution to bring a stop to the brawl to both police and inmates are shots of canisters of tear-gas, which they did and thank God for the wind blowing southwards today, we got hit by the wave of gas…. My cell mates initially thought I was cooking one of my fiery recipes, sooner than they thought, we scrambled for towels to help ourselves. Well, it ain’t new, such is what we live with whenever the friggin locals decides to knife themselves.

 

Fights are very rare in our pavilion, there’s always ears to listen and an alternative measures are taken to avoid the inevitable. But when an inmate makes and takes a unilateral decision. It can be fatal and deadly; like the dude that was almost paralysed from a stab with a shoe-needle. He was damn lucky! 

 

No water for 3 days now, cleaned up with towel soaked in water. Tomorrow is our fortnightly visit,  many’ll be going out stinky and smelly.   

 

A bit tensed all night as the cops were busy with the lads in pavilion 5; we wouldn’t know what really happened, but by Monday, everyone in our little village called La Joya, will definitely know why the gas was used and the movement among the cops.

 

Finally, On Monday morning we got the gist of what happened in pavilion 5, about 20 Gangs members were moved to Pavilion 15 (Maximum Security for the Locals), we have heard that those lads are armed to their teeth; Guns, machete, poisons, knives and whatever can cause proper harm. When there is search there, they are striped bare. It’s gonna be real warfare in there.

 

Fast forward; it’s 02:05:40 on FRI 28 SEP 2012: been a while, all last week, taken ill with the worse case of Diarrhoea, guess food poisoning but glad I pull through it. Many others had same, but mine was bloody severe, had my consul bought me some medication.

 

And within the week, we had an August visitor from Den Haag; an official from the Justice ministry. She came, saw bit of what we go through daily, heard from the horses mouths. Bet, if she was allowed in, she would’ve collapsed. Hope she does tell as she saw and heard to those in Den Haag.

 

On the day of her visit, our pavilion built for #216 inmates at any given time was having #502 inmates and later that day #5 Freshers were hauled in to meet their fate in El Pueblito (The Little Village); El Pueblito was a model prison in #Mexico, where some inmates were allowed to live with their spouse and kids, but it was an overcrowded hell. Since the day of visit, more and more are hauled in on daily basis. Nobody cares how and where they’ll sleep. Such is our path and life.

 

FRI 28 SEP 2012: On Wednesday evening, a mate got a powerful punch on his mouth from a compatriot of his; from all I heard, failed promises on Monkey business. One can’t help it, there’s always one business or the other to do for one’s survival, but when you are on the payee and debtor and u failed on your words, then get ready to get some beating. A dollar could get one knifed. Now my mate barely comes out, he doesn’t seems to be on most inmates white book; rather on their black books as he has stepped on many toes, sooner or later he’ll ask for transfer; but where will he go to? It might look horrible here, but it’s much better here compared to our maximum pavilion. The situation in the centre is becoming very tensed, little stealing here and there; anything they can nick, just last night, my Canadian mate nicked two onions from the grocer in my cell; after drinking all day, he doesn’t cook as he has no utensils, I believe he nicked them for someone else. Was pathetic, he’s supposed to be this revolutionist; from his song lyrics, but since a Cayman island inmate came, they bonded and became drinking partners. Always together, drinking our potent brew #Moonshine. I hope his country do something about his condition and get him home soon for proper rehabilitation; he once had on his BBM status; that he is losing the battle to some unseen demons, to some forces greater than him. I have seen able bodied men broke down from the pressure of this place.

 

My sore shoulder is healing, had to stopped heavy workout, doing light exercises and also the sciatica pain is back. The persistent ills among inmates here are back problems; we sleep on a sheet of polyfoam (mattress) on a slap of concrete which will fit perfectly in an abattoir; that alone is killing our backs. And with little movement as there isn’t any space. The older inmates suffers most; many are walking around with swollen legs/feet from prolonged sitting on one spot all day or squeezing themselves among others in their cells.

 

The situation is alarming, but nobody give a damn about prisoners. Water shortage is hitting us pretty hard, and power failure now. The roof of the pavilion is filled with drainage to collect rain water; pipes are connected to whatever is used to collect the water when it rains. Hope the authorities will do something about this. The clinic; we are supposed to be attended to every Thursday, but none here knows how it works, they wait until one drops from whatever illness, then they come rushing, pathetic and appalling.

 

Sooner or later, Panama should be expecting similar prison riot as such that was in Brazil, but funny enough, the overcrowding conditions does not affect the locals as they have many pavilions compared to ours; only two are assigned to foreigners.

 

But, from a recent article which I stumble upon online about the alarming overcrowding federal prison in The US, clearly spells out our problems; and also the problem for the authorities.

 

Since my incarceration, I have been doing a lot of reading and researches on anything to do with Crimes and prisons. The psychological impact that prisons and incarceration leaves on most inmates after doing time for their crimes. Prisons or jails were supposed to be a place of punishment and correction (that’s the name so chosen by most governments), but there isn’t any correcting going on in here as far as I know; instead most prisons are breeding or grooming grounds for criminal to learn new skills or perfect in what they didn’t do right that led to their demise that brought them to jail.

 

I find the report on the overcrowding situation interesting and informative; will make a good read for anyone whose got family member incarcerated or working in one way or the other with inmates.

 

Here is an excerpt from the article:

 

The ballooning incarcerated population puts inmates and guards in danger and holds back efforts to rehabilitate convicts………Wardens may see a spike in violence as more inmates are squeezed into tight living quarters, researchers warned. The overcrowding contributes “to increased inmate misconduct, which negatively affects the safety and security of inmates and staff,” according to the report.

 

“If you start cramming more and more people into a confined space, you’re going to create more tensions and problems,” said the GAO’s Director of Homeland Security and Justice David Maurer. “It creates the possibility that someone’s going to snap and have a violent incident.”

 

With more prisoners confined to limited spaces, prison officials are forced to cut back the time inmates have in the cafeteria, recreation yards and television rooms. Two and three inmates are bunked in rooms designed for one prisoner or in common areas that were never meant to be used as cells.

 

The federal prison system has been unable to keep pace with the stream of inmates flooding its facilities over the last five years despite adding space for thousands of new convicts, according to a government report.

 

Bureau of Prisons

Growing Inmate Crowding Negatively Affects Inmates, Staff, and Infrastructure

GAO-12-743, Sep 12, 2012

 

[http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-743]

 

Crowded cells and the loss of privacy increase the odds that inmates will lash out, threatening the guards keeping watch.

 

“Once they get frustrated enough, we’re looking at another riot. And that’s what scares me,” said Dale Deshotel, president of the Council of Prison Locals, which represents about 32,000 federal prison employees.

 

As the prison population boomed, Deshotel said the government in 2005 reduced the average number of guards stationed in prison housing units. “There’s no way that they can monitor that many prisoners,” he said of the guard-to-inmate ratio.

 

The hazards of overcrowding could eventually ripple outside prison walls. Unless prison budgets grow, inmates will have less access to job training, education and drug treatment programs, which could increase the likelihood that they’ll commit crimes again after their release.

 

“People will get out of prison, but they’re not being helped to reenter society,” said Inimai Chettiar, a director at the BrennanCenter for Justice at NYU School of Law, who has reviewed the report. “People are going to recidivate more when they get out of horrendous conditions without job training and development programs to get their lives back together.”

 

To decrease the overcrowding problem, Department of Justice officials could push for options like constructing new prisons, lightening sentences or reintroducing parole for federal crimes.

 

[http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2012/09/14/prison-overcrowding-report_n_1883919.html?icid=hp_crime_art_more]

 

 

The above article clearly states our dilemma, if in America things could be that rough, then we’re in a deep sh*t here in Panama.  I hope I won’t be here in Panama when it all goes down, as many are on the edge and the verge of breaking down. I and my fellow compatriots are waiting for whatever will come from Den Haag; as Panama has finished with us, it’s left for Den Haag to decide if they want us back home on article 10 from the repatriation of sentenced persons treaty with Panama or leave us to rot in here.

 

With the dawn of each new day, someone will be handcuffed and his fate; he barely knows what lies a head, but sooner or later, hauled down here to begin a treacherous journey, which his survival rate depends on many factors inside and outside the prison. And his response and reactions to those stimuli. Many walked in here to do time, but at the end, they got done by the Time; battered and confused. 

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