Thursday, March 3, 2016

HELL IS A VERY SMALL PLACE: VOICES FROM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

WHAT IS THIS CALLED?

EPIEDENDRUM AKA BAMBOO ORCHID
 

CAMELLIAS

KUMQUAT TREE


[Editor's note]

Brian Nelson, fifty, was born in Chicago and went to prison for murder in 1982 when he was sixteen years old. Nelson was later transferred to Tamms supermax prison after which he spent a total of twenty-three years in solitary confinement in various facilities. Although Nelson was never given a reason for the more than two decades he spent in isolation, he believes it was in retaliation for a lawsuit he won in 1989, Brian Nelson v. Ronald Haws, which forced the Department of Corrections to build law libraries in every segregation unit in Illinois. 

[As of 2016], Nelson has been out of prison for five years He currently works with the Uptown People's Law Center in Chicago and is known as a tireless advocate and organizer against the use of solitary confinement." 

"Nobody gets it. Every day I cry. I'm afraid of people, really scared of people. Twenty-three years with no TV, no radio. Touched hands once with my mother in court. I'm not a human being everybody wants to try drugs on me. I was in minimum security. I used to make guards' uniforms. I was the warden's fucking trustee. Then twenty-four hours later I'm at Tamms, two pairs of chains on my hands and feet. I can taste it. I can smell it. I can see it every single day. I like being away from people, I am so afraid of people. I used to love hangin' out, even my Mom--how do I tell my mother I'm afraid of her? The woman I love? How do I walk down the street with the prison mentality? No one knows what to do with me. What did they do to me? I went in at sixteen. I'll be fifty next month. I hate it out here. I'm afraid every fucking day.

I love going to work at 5:00 a.m. I'm the only one there and all I do is read letters from prisoners. I try to help them. My office is almost the exact same size of my cell. I need this space. I need a place to go where I can't see the fear in my mother's eyes, her terror at what's left of her son...

I tried to kill myself; the rope broke. I have so much survivor's guilt. I've never spent the night with a woman. I've been been involved with a woman, ever! I'm so screwed up, I don't think I can ever have a normal relationship. I'm your next door neighbor. I'm your next door neighbor! I didn't bomb anyone. I was a kid, a stupid kid that did a crime. I'm working my ass off, I'm fighting...What my brain did to me is not right. I flogged myself daily. I physically created pain in order to feel something They used to find my back ripped open.

One guy I knew at Tamms comes over and we sit in the dark together That's what we like to do. Just sit. There were years when I was the only person in the pod. If I lay down in my cell, I could see grass through the window at the end of the hall. When they found out I could see it, they put a plate over it."

--Brain Nelson, from an essay entitled "Weak as Motherfuckers" in Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement, edited by Jean Casella, James Ridgeway and Sarah Shroud



LET'S LOVE AND PRAISE THE GREEN IN OUR WORLD FOR ALL THOSE WHO WE
LOCK IN CAGES AND CAN'T. 





8 comments:

  1. No words... Except, I think it's a Kalanchoe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Sasha, a Kalanchoe it is!! Thank you.

      Delete
  2. I think we need prison reform. There are people who I do believe need to be in prison if they are seriously character disordered- like not having a conscience but it makes you wonder just how many people are in prison and shouldn't be. I'm not excusing his behavior in any way but as a society we also can't be afraid to see what leads other people to commit acts of crime. He was a boy at the time so that should also be taken into consideration. I just think prisons need reform as does so much of our society. Poverty is a big factor I think and if others had more of their basic needs met for happiness from a young age we would see the crime rate go down. As an American who lives very close to a poor urban area I think our physical surroundings have so much to do with our behavior. If we spent more money in creating more beautiful and safer healthy neighborhoods with affordable housing and beauty, culture and opportunity around we wouldn't need so many prisons. Why is that so difficult?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for sharing this voice.

    God bless you, Heather.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for sharing this voice.

    God bless you, Heather.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm glad others were disturbed and moved as I was. It's difficult to imagine the mind that would cover up a tiny view of grass in order to further deprive a prisoner in solitary confinement. I know I have been saved from despair and desolation many times simply by training my gaze upon one of my plants..

    ReplyDelete

I WELCOME your comments!!!