Archive for November, 2012

24 Hours: Our Frailty and Survival in The Clink.

Posted in Living Behind Bars in Panama on November 20, 2012 by doingtimeabroad

You’re never a loser until you quit trying. – Mike Ditka

The Prison, is an institution set apart from normal society in which brutality can be legitimised. – Prof Philip Zimbardo (On his Standford Prison experiment)

A day in the life of a prisoner; it’s 01:22:43 on TUE 20 NOV 2012! Sitting upstairs by my mates, as the signal is better here than in my cell. Many are switching networks, but as they say “The Devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know”….well, I’m better off with my 3GB for $15 at a steady speed than 1GB, same amount, but faster speed and once you’ve used up the 1GB; you have to top up again. Bullocks!

Felt very bad today during my workout; nauseous and short of breathe, had to take some time out, went outside and sat for a while for fresh air, felt better afterwards. While outside, an inmate was wheeled out in our improvised ambulance; a wheelbarrow, apparently the sick lad forgot his BB in his pocket, his driver had to leave him half-way and bring back his handy. He was a lucky fella. Like always, nothing was done to him, spent hours waiting for transportation and nothing happened; he was brought back; Negligence!

Sitting upstairs for hours now and a Jamaican sick inmate been having bouts of epileptic seizures; the man is the tallest, sick with hypertension, Diabetes, high cholesterol and epilepsy……that’s too much for one man to bear. And worst of all, no consular visit or assistance as his country hasn’t got an embassy or consulate in Panama. And his compatriots are all distancing themselves from him, can’t flippin believe that none of them came up, despite the man sleeping on the top of their cell; they all heard him screaming, struggling and none came; sometimes, it’s what the long-term effect of being locked up might cause on some humans; lost of sympathy for others, have seen on many occasions how inmates are encouraged to get into fights even when both parties wouldn’t want to.

Unlike most prisons; within our pavilion many among the Latinos are related in one way or another; Father and son, in-laws, Cousins, uncles and Nephews, childhood friends, brothers and those from same villages, towns and cities. Unlike us; Europeans, one binding factor amongst us are our nationalities or languages we speak; majority of us had never met each other before, bond may be forged after our time together; that if we choose to keep contacts when all these is over.

For the third time and it’s 02:50:01, his been hit by the seizure again, I’m at my wits end, don’t know what to do again; cleaned all he vomited, I’m scared of him getting choked in his vomit. It’s pathetic that the man was taken away to the clinic on Sunday and nothing was done. Brought back on Monday morning. Like all our dead inmates; they were sick, but neglected by the authorities. And same is happening to this old man, he is sick and gravely sick; but negligence is what might lead to his demise. I hope it wouldn’t lead to that.

It’s time to hit my bed, can’t keep watch over the man. I hope he survives the night. Life has battered us much that we are becoming like salvage animals, and everyone struggling for his survival. Care barely exist amongst us, the norm has become; “Everyman to himself and God for us all”

Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable. – Theodore N. Vail

Evil; the social dimension by Clare Carlisle
“Does contemporary society give rise to conditions more conducive to evil than in the past”? (A beautifully written article)

Give thanks for sorrow that teaches you pity; for pain that teaches you courage — and give exceeding thanks for the mystery which remains a mystery still – the veil that hides you from the infinite, which makes it possible for you to believe in what you cannot see.” ~ Robert Nathan (1894-1985, American novelist)

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The Failing System!!!

Posted in Behind Bars in Panama on November 8, 2012 by doingtimeabroad

Within the walls and amongst the inmates in the centre, many things seems to go unnoticed, but not when you keep your ears to the walls and also your back; they say, “Walls have ears”!

One will want to sweep and shove things under the carpet, but not from prying eyes and curious inmates who’re filled with fear; safety, food, health, the unknown and even the roaches; apparently they’re outnumbering us as they flippin breed like the roaches they are.

The other deadly things that are silently creeping among us; viruses and bacteria; those unseen lethal forces. They’re breaking down our morals and sanity, we don’t shake hands as men anymore, instead we do the knuckle-Yo kinda greetings; now I see why ex-inmates when they get back to the society, they developed paranoia and becomes unstable, can’t fit in. Sometimes you want to reach out and shake hands like men, but then, not many will wash their hands after using toilets; no water and no soaps, skin infections are on the rise; some look like rough patches from a botched medical experiment. The white skinned ones are terrible; pink skin patches and the medical staffs ain’t doing anything in the way of help.

We’re doing all our possibles to keep the centre running; Cleaning, electricity (wiring and repairs), paint jobs, all these without help from the prison authorities.

Those with infectious diseases that should’ve been isolated or quarantined are left to roam around in an eye-sore state. Just found out that, our Dracula #Tuberculosis-Diseased buddy wasn’t taken to the hospital; he is locked up where the prison housed all the Locals Real-Sick with life-threatening sickness or diseases; #HIV #AIDS, #Tuberculosis, #CrazyOnes, #Schizophrenia!

While my cell mate was on his way to his conjugal visit; he heard his name from the dungeon, and it was our Dracula (called him that, as he’s always awake all night and sleeps during the day; busy serving the needs of those who wouldn’t like to be seen walking around to buy some medicine ;-)!

His physical state was awful and his mind has wondered and wandered far away from him. He needed a dollar from my mate. I had thought he was taken to the clinic where he will be attended to properly; but like always, the Panamanian authorities won’t spend money on a foreign scumbag; thus, he’s left to rot away, left at the mercy of tuberculosis and whatever bacteria or viruses are scavenging his withering body. Last time we had a face to face chat; when he stares at me, his eyes were hollow and empty. I knew the dude was real sick and need real proper medical attention and counselling!

Who knows what will become of him, the only reason that made them sent for him; they knew, Tuberculosis unlike other deadly diseases savaging many here, this will spread like a summer-wild-fire and the result; will be devastating, when about 550+ inmates starts coughing blood. Won’t make a nice scene, probably will look like the Jones colony in the Guyana or a scene from evil dead!

My utmost fear; going home to discover that, there something vicious lurking in my body, like what one sees in sci-fi movies; a visit or an encounter with an alien specie and back to humanity with some evil virus. It might sound out of place, but that’s the truth. Many had left here with undiagnosed sicknesses, only to find out at home, they are in need of urgent medical treatment and attention.

Counselling:

Something every inmates are supposed to get, but that’s light years away from us. All that the system cares and worries about is the giant lock on the metal-entrance door to the pavilion; once that door is under lock, they don’t want to know about anything else; not the sanitary condition of the pavilion, our hygiene and health, and not even the infrastructure which is their property, we’re literally meant to help them (The Panamanian Government) take care and maintain the infrastructure; paint work, electrical wiring, the drainage system (can’t believe they allow inmates to do that also; tunnels pathways), and inmates are building more and more shanks on the top of the cells.

Guess, the only counselling available for many of us here are the indulgences which the generous ones amongst us provides and for a huge fee; Dope, Crack, Weed, our lethal brew and the pleasurable nightly service from our dark-side workers (for a huge fee) and who knows what else is passed on for free!

Since the general outbreak of flu and cold; with lots of coughing, I have stopped sharing my drinks, many will see that as been out of place; but a can of cola, malt-drink, or energy drink, someone want to have a sip. Make a tea to drink, someone wants a bit and from your cup. it’s a sticky difficult situation.

We’re meant to do time and we’re apparently doing it the hardest way. Many had shown interest to study; but not in the atmosphere we. Find ourselves in here. One spends each day busting and hustling for food and highs. The church are now holding their services outside as there’s no space inside the pavilion; the lads sleeping in the gym, ain’t ready to move their beddings, being on the top of the cells is seen as noise! Thus, they reached an accord with the cops on duty to let them out. Space; highly valuable in here.

So many things ain’t right; well nothing is right and nothing will ever be right in jail.

“Present fears are less than horrible imaginings.” #Macbeth #WilliamShakespeare | Only the fear of #TheUnknown send shivers through my spine.

“You gain strength, courage, & confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

The ill-fated Escape Attempts And The Doomsday Messenger!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2012 by doingtimeabroad

“Your final appeal has been denied, Mr. Cassidy”; just heard that from the film I got from a mate. What a coincidence, the embassy’s driver, drove in with 4 letters earlier in the day; chosen to be the bearer of the ill-fated news that is eventually sealing our destiny and fate to the four walls of La Joya Prison; #Panama.

The four of us who got the letters were as devastated as any man in our condition will be. It’s appalling, that the authorities in #DenHaag ain’t seeing even from official reports and first-hand witnesses of what we are going through. But through it all, we have resolved to fight on with any available legal channels we will find;  Laws were written by humans and for humans; and with anything human; there’s always an #HumanError and those unseen loopholes, which an eagle-eyed lawyer and his paralegal will find and use! Like the old banger Horse in my coming story, we’ll build blocks and bricks with any negativity thrown at us.

Give thanks for sorrow that teaches you pity; for pain that teaches you courage — and give exceeding thanks for the mystery which remains a mystery still – the veil that hides you from the infinite, which makes it possible for you to believe in what you cannot see.” ~ Robert Nathan (1894-1985, American novelist)

I’m more than courageous through my daily struggle and pains to survive the odds of living through each day in the joint!

Back to our lives behindbars:

Fridays; like every other, ushers us into the weekend, with inmates rounding up for the bash that the night will bring. Those with affection and passion for our lethal and potent brew had probably placed their orders for the night, others who preferred the weed and el rey de polvo are probably busy with negotiations to procure the best, but most on credit (later comes the punches and threatening with blades).

Ended up paying the dope-head who stitched my torn weight-lifting belt for the dope he bought on credit; he did a pretty job on the belt, but doubt if it will last as I keep lending it to others. Wouldn’t want to be seen as a tight-fisted mate. The Dude charged me 10 bucks, flippin expensive but he did a good work; apparently he’s our #Dracula….Dude doesn’t sleep till 4/5AM in the morning, always busy running around and serving the needs of others for a fee or a share of the goodies (mostly angel dust or weed)!

What we dreaded and feared Most; #Airborne #Infectious #Disease:

In addition to his addictions; many believe this call on the Dracula might be his final one, Dude rarely sleep; just like me! But I do compensate with short bouts of power-nap at intervals. And try to eat good; when vegetables and fruits are in, I buy as I can afford and eat them raw or steam them. But he doesn’t…….his dope, crack (talking of crack, there are group of Crack-head Spaniard who are dangerously addicted to that S#!T, daily they are on it, #Openl), and barely eat anything healthy, as the prison food from the cart is not anything close to healthy.

Lately, he’s been walking around looking lean and bony, always coughing blood-soaked phlegm; little did many know what was wrong with him was deadliest; #Tuberculosis. The ancient-old disease that shows no mercy; it’s been eating him from the inside, ravaged his immune system.

Was taken to clinic, only to be sent back the next day with a full surgeon gown; heard his clothes were too dirty; had to incinerate them. But why sent him back when they found what was wrong and the A**Hole Doctors knew very well that Tuberculosis is not transmitted by An*l sex or Blowjobs; but flippin #Airborne and we are literally breathing 2nd hand air from each other here.  I’m worried for my old Canadian friend who share the same cell with the Dracula; the old man is 60+  and with 25% of his lungs functioning, life of abuses after failed marriage almost killed him, but found redemption here. He reads more 20 books within a week, he’s my reading partner, he and Gringo loco (an American Veteran; charged for minor violation), are the only people who understands why I keep a library in my bunk.

The Dracula was finally taken away after concern was raised of our safety…well, we can manage and deal with other safety problems but not with #Tuberculosis, which I believe is old as mankind. Yet still, fear still hangs in the air. When I sit upstairs every night and hear inmates cough, it worries me as I don’t know what and why they cough.

Events in Panama and its dominoes-effect in the Prison:

If I had seen the Full Moon; would have probably believed that the full moon cycle had some influence on all the happenings and events of today; both in the prisons and on the streets of Panama. The masses are demonstrating for whatever cause they deemed fit for their purposes. The heart of the matter; Martinelli is selling the country to some phantom buyers (Himself and his henchmen)! Period! (Panama-guide.com; good source for #News, Tourism information in English and all about Panama)

Then the Prisons; doesn’t generate fund or incentives to the economy, instead draining the economy; that’s what majority will think.

Times are hard, but harder if you’re on the other side of the bars; #behindbars! Once in here, you are at your wits end and definitely between the devil and the deep blue sea. It’s like pushing a man to his back on the wall; literally we live, walk, and work with our backs against the wall. On that position, you have a 180 degree view of your environment. But sometimes, life can become cozy for some that they loses guard; then come nemesis and karma calling; retributions and pay-back-time!

This week has seen so much wrangling in the country, and inmates from the prisons saw it as the best time to play some #Houdini’s disappearing acts and make use of the lapses in the police strength as many were called up to handle situations in the city and #Colon.

In our prison, groups of about 100 inmates (The Locals) were running like herds of mad cows towards our side of the centre, when suddenly they realised the plan was all fcuked up; no crude implements or cutters to cut through the wire-fence and some were topless, without proper running shoes. Well, wasn’t long before they realised the mistake and started back from where they started.

Trust our cops, they started shooting right into the heart of the would-be escapees, as the lads made a U-turn and back to their pavilion. Many ran with blood running like rain-drops on their bodies.

While the cops and the Local inmates were busy here, somewhere in the city, the female prisoners were busy with another mass escape; lately there had been series of low and high profile escapes, both in the feminino (female Prison and Ours). A woman serving a long term sentence for murder dressed up as a guard and walked out under the sun! And on the day of mass escape, heard couple of inmates did escaped. There’re many inmates in my pavilion with female accomplices in the feminino, thus, we get first-hand information on what’s what over there.

The high-profile escape from our centre, was of a Colombian; one of the last would-be escapees, tried and failed, and was sent away to live among the locals. And the lad was in the same case with the Dead Hulk. So much Hush-Hush talking around as to how, who and what must have slain the incredible incorrigible Hulk.

The lad that escape, was on his routine visit to the hospital as he has been very sick, in the city; like what will see in movies, the bus was forced to make an unusual stop and his police escort was ambushed; seized along with the inmate and was later dumped unharmed. Within hours, the lad has crossed the border and we heard of Hulk’s assassination; they said, he was a #Sapo (a turn-coat, snitch, he grassed on his mates); neither cops nor thieves like Sapos #Frogs! ;-)!

Papers and documents had been arranged for his ghostly movement, before the system could get to work, the lad was home, free home! Hope he last on the streets a free man, as I have seen many released and within months, they are back in.

And one of such is my good mate, he was like a big brother, training partner and since he had his woman around, he gets regular visit. He’s been released for barely 13 Months, then the news came in, that he’s in the transitional jail, waiting to be transferred here, couldn’t believe what I heard, and didn’t want to believe it. But the day  came as it is every day; with new inmates hauled in. He was hauled in, along with others; new faces! Many couldn’t believe but it was him. Back in the dungeon, but he was lucky, he left a good legacy in the cell; one of the young lad left his bed for him and is now hanging on my hammock just above my bunk…well, kinda infringed into my privacy, but it’s all about helping each other. He didn’t just came back alone, he came with Diabetes and high cholesterol; what a place to have such sicknesses! Hope he doesn’t stay long this time around as he spent 2yrs plus then before his first release.

The pavilion is so full and the mood is pretty high. But thank God for our leader who would have made a good motivational speaker if he wasn’t doing Angel Dust;

Daily; he gets on the PA system, after the morning greeting, he wakes us up with words of admonition, uplifting and inspiration to keep us on the positive mood. And the one that thrills and always gets us cheering and catcalling is:
A particular tale of an old battered Horse that fell into a pit, and the villagers decided it of no use        getting it out, instead, it should be buried, but at every scope of earth to cover up and bury the horse; our old banger horse will climb on the earth and get closer to the top of the pit. The earth was heaped into the pit until our don’t-want-die horse summoned all her strength, mount on the heap of earth and jump out into her freedom.

The moral of the story; nothing thrown at us in this pit should kill us, but we should use those bricks and build on it. And come out stronger. Such are the type of encouraging words one need here, not what I hear from some inmates of how life is battering them from all sides, forgetting we’re all in the predicaments, none is better off.

It’s like the prisoners problem of #Overcrowding is becoming a world epidemic, after reading this article on the daily mail of the staggering congestion problems in America’s Prisons. Then we ain’t alone in this S#!T, if the biggest economy in the world can’t afford to housed their scums of the societies (largely due to bureaucracy and #HumanError), then Panama is trying as they tend to copy America in everything.

#Prisons in #America at breaking point with more than two million citizens behind bars | Mail Online:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2223626/Prisons-America-breaking-point-million-citizens-bars.html

Sooner or later, we the foreign inmates will find out we can’t take it any longer, the local has got no fret, as they have enough pavilions to accommodate all the scumbags of Panama, but foreigners are cramped in a inhumane and deplorable condition ever; with no access to portable water, we live with our overflowed sewage around us, food and electricity and the worst-case of all; Overcrowding and Overcapacity, we walk shoulders to shoulders.

Remaining calm in adversity is a sign of great spiritual strength. No matter what’s going on in my life right now, “I’m always keeping my peace!

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering. ~ Paulo Coelho

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The Purpose of Past Experiences is not to limit us but rather to teach and instruct us” – Christopher Howard