“Leroy Mann, I am giving you a direct order to push that buggy up the tunnel.”
It was June of 2002. Most of the Unit 2’s death row occupancy had been transported to the much heralded $20 million facility, known as Unit 3.
I was living on E-block at the time, and we were the last of the death row residency to be hauled into this pristine box of an existence.
For months I read about this “state of the art containment unit” in the newspapers. It drew such a high degree of media coverage; some inmates convinced themselves the state’s intentions worked in favor of the death row prisoner. Prior to the mass exodus from Unit 2, I overheard one inmate asking the unit manager, “how much longer before we go home?” Home? This is what it’s come to? The lair of your captors has subjugated your mental to conceive this unjustly placement as home.
This inquiry of defeatism tickled the unit manager similar to the way a skipper enjoys watching the fish jump out of the water and into his boat; if the fish are clueless to its new environment, it simply makes the skipper’s job that much easier. These times have been tempestuous, and have put me down like a George Foreman right hook, but I’ll never lay face down on the canvas, and call it home.
“I’m not pushing that buggy.” The sergeant squinted her frog-like eyes at my anticipated defiance. She knew this would be my responses before she volunteered me to push this trashcan dumpster – converted into a transport cart – for the personal property of the remaining E-block residents.
“Oh really?” Her tone indicated she took pleasure in my display of insubordination. You see, once an officer resort to the term, “I am giving you a direct order,” you either comply, or you pay the $10 penalty that comes with inevitable time in “the Bing.” My mind was already set on the latter.
Moving to this new facility meant more than having a larger dayroom. It means so much more than having our own canteen. To me, this building represents the feather in the hats of politicians that want the public to believe there is a drastic need for the death penalty in this state. This building is the embodiment of capital punishment weaving its way into acceptance.
The brief standoff between the sergeant and myself was interrupted by a male officer (the good cop). “C’mon Leroy, just push the buggy so you won’t get in no more trouble man.” Trouble? That was the last thing going through my mind. At that time, my thoughts were occupied with the retracing the steps of an 11 year old boy at Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia, standing stiff in the middle of a dark, dank jail cell – subjected to this same “good cop, bad cop” routine.
It was obvious the sergeant’s intent was to make an example of me. In the weeks prior, she made it known that our Unit 2 lifestyle would not be tolerated in this new building. She stressed boiling water or cooking our own food would trigger the fire alarm and sprinkler system. Then there was the oversold hype about the security cameras. Before the migration began, it was believed all movement was monitored; there was no privacy. A closed door meant nothing.
“I ain’t pushing shit!”
Nuff Said...for now,
Copyright © 2015 by Leroy Elwood Mann