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The Odyssey of a Vermont Inmate

Brink 2

Our nightmare begins at 8 am when our “carry-on bags” were packed. We then spent the day in limbo. At about 11 pm the first group, one hundred nineteen of us, were taken to the gym where we saw who was transporting us. Kentucky DOC, 200 strong. We were then x-rayed, stripped, examined, and dressed in paper, orange two-pieced uniforms. Afterwards, we were shackled and told to sit and wait. At this time, we found out that KY DOC was told by ________________ who was dressed in combat fatigues, that we were “max custody inmates” and “the worst of the worst from Vermont”. We were finally placed on busses, or as I like to call them “torture transports.” These busses have fiberglass bench seats, which are designed to be as uncomfortable as possible. We were put on these busses at about 2:30 am. We actually left LAC at 3:30 am. The toilet was at the back of the bus. Just a hole over a chemical tank with a horrendous smell that made an outhouse smell like a bed of roses. Most of us were not willing to chance our health or our stomachs, to venture fourth. That is when the circus really began.

I was in the first bus, the “convoy” was led by two KY state police cars with lights flashing and a police helicopter above with search lights scanning the route ahead. Our convoy consisted of more than thirty vehicles, including three armored vehicles with machine guns mounted on top, one with and an armed turret. When we got to an intersection, we found that traffic had been stopped by armed police. I mean armed with assault weapons and body armor. It felt more like a convoy in Iraq or Afghanistan, than here in the United States of America. We continued this way all the way to the airport.  At which point we again sat on this health hazard of a bus, because the airplane crew wasn’t even there yet. The aircraft was Miami Air International 737, a nice older craft, well maintained and clean. After finally boarding, we were all given a nice flight and meal. On the aircraft most of us got to drink something for the first time in more than twenty four hours. A lot of us with experience in prison transports, stopped drinking a day before so we wouldn’t be forced to use the awful toilets and because when you’re handcuffed and chained on your ankles, it’s just too hard. I myself went at 10 pm on Sunday evening. The next time was about 2 pm Monday afternoon. We got to watch the sunrise, quite beautiful.

After landing in Michigan, a forty five minute flight, we were taken off the airplane, searched again and put back on “torture transports” for the two hour police escorted trip to North Lake Corrections in Baldwin. Then upon arriving, we were taken off the busses. We were herded into an outside holding area where we eventually got our handcuffs and shackles removed. Then we were x-rayed again and taken into the facility. We were placed into two large holding cells and waited for the processing to begin. This is the part where I started drinking water and got to use the toilet. Then we were taken to the dining room to get a meal and then placed in the cell blocks. This is when the real nightmare began.

Everything we had been told about this facility by CCA and Vermont caseworkers was a complete lie. 1. We would not stay placed with our former cellmates. 2. We would not get our old jobs back. 3. We would not be able to have anything like we had in Kentucky. You see North Lake facility is a “max” facility. The staff here had been told that we, the VT inmates, were all level three, four, and five custody, not the level one or two that we actually are. Some of the staff were told in training to refer to the TV show OZ or Hard Time to see what kind of inmates they would be dealing with.

So, now we are here with fewer jobs, and the ones lucky enough to get a job, get half the money that we made in Kentucky. To add insult to injury, we pay more than twice the prices in the Kentucky commissary. This requires stretching our very meager allowance and becoming a bigger burden on our families’ pocket books. Or more than likely, it’s going to have the strong inmates preying on the weaker and or older inmates. This seems to be exactly what __________ wants, so he can justify the increased security levels we all are now under. Regardless of what everyone is told, we inmates know the difference when we are escorted everywhere by staff, searched, and scanned at every turn we take.

So I leave you to ponder our existence here in purgatory, shipped faraway. Most forgotten and unhappy. And all doing “dead time,” no rehabilitation, and little to no education. KY wasn’t great it had its problems. But anyone who wanted to work, worked. We had church activities, education, sports, crafts, and things to keep inmates busy and active. We all knew medical sucked and the food even a pig wouldn’t eat. But now we sit with nothing. And most people know that idle hands are the devils playground. Maybe you should ask why.

Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform
PO Box 8753, Burlington, VT 05402
(802) 540-0440

Contact us:
tom@vcjr.org

Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform 
is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

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