Once I had the chance to taste freedom, my goal changed from maintaining my sanity to doing whatever it took to get out as soon as possible. There was an option to serve out the rest of my sentence with an earlier release based on earned good time. However, I had a parole board hearing coming up and that meant I could get out even earlier. The latter was more appealing to me. So I began putting my second packet together in order to get everything moving along.
Most of the packet was good from my previous attempt a year ago. It needed some updating mostly because I would not be going to my grandfather’s house in Connecticut, I would be going to stay with my parents in Nebraska. Because my goal was still to go to Cosmetology school, I needed to find one in Omaha. There were about five schools to choose from and so I sent off for some information from each of them. When I received the brochures from each of them I noticed that one school in particular mentioned that they took collect calls. This was my only form of communication and so I took advantage of the opportunity.
A woman answered the phone and I told her that I was interested in enrolling. She asked me when I thought I would be ready to start. My response was, “Well, I am not sure. Right now I am in prison.” There was some silence for a moment and I am sure that she was processing whether or not I was serious or pulling a prank. Further explaining, I told her that I was up for parole and that I needed to either have a job or be enrolled in school for my parole to be approved. She quickly said, “We’re going to need some paperwork from you and you will have to pay an enrollment fee.”
This was not a problem because I knew that my dad would go up to the school and pay the fee for me. It would be later that I’d find out that there was some serious discussion on whether or not to accept an application from an inmate calling collect to enroll from inside the prison. They later told me the only reason they actually enrolled me was because when my dad went in to pay the enrollment fee they thought he seemed like a good guy and therefore they figured I would be alright. So, once again, my father was willing to jump in on my behalf.
With that taken care of, my next problem was money. I knew I needed more than what I had saved up in my Prisoner Deposit Fund and the $25 that I would get upon my release. There were quite a few paying jobs that inmates and trustees could apply for. The pay structure was that some jobs paid two dollars a day and others paid four dollars a day. This wasn’t much but it was more than nothing.
Of course we still were not allowed to handle any cash. Inmates found with cash were charged immediately with attempted escape. All the money went into our PDF accounts. Most of these paid jobs were on Post. There were a few jobs in a work release program that allowed Trustees to work in the local community. One guy had a job at KFC and was paid minimum wage, but there were only a couple of those types of jobs and they were very hard to get.
The majority of the paid jobs were already at maximum capacity. The only one that had any openings was the Post Commissary. Trustees were paid to bag groceries and take them out to the car. Since it was my only option, I put in my application for this job. In the meantime, I would do what the Army loved to make us do, which was wait.
During this waiting period, I heard some disturbing news from inside the Castle. An inmate had been murdered in 3 Wing. I didn’t recognize the name of the inmate so I don’t think I knew him. Somehow three other inmates got him to meet them on the back side of the 8 Tier cell block. Inmates were forbidden to be back there because there was roof access and no security cameras.
Two of the inmates held him while he was stabbed multiple times with either a screw driver or a shank and then he was pushed through an opening in the chain link fence that enveloped the entire cell block. If he didn’t die from the stab wounds, he would have died from the impact of his head hitting the cement floor after the six-story fall.
It sounded like it was hard to tell who committed the murder but they sent three inmates to 4 Base or solitary confinement. Someone must have told the guards that these three had it out for the victim. One of the inmates charged was my old workout partner, Bill Weeks. It was a total shock to hear his name as one of the assailants. Not because I didn’t think he was capable but because we used to work out together and he had kept me out of harm’s way.
This made me think about the time that Weeks asked me to hold all of his tattoo drawings when they were investigating him for prohibited tattooing. Or when he asked me about being a “snitch” when I first got to the Disciplinary Barracks. In prison, no one actually knew each other very well unless they were crime partners. Even then you could never really trust anyone and this was proof.
Bill was never court-martialed for the murder. They couldn’t pin it on him due to a lack of evidence. As far as I know, they never were able to charge anyone for the crime. Weeks was very concerned about retaliation if placed back in general population. Regardless of guilt or no guilt, he was sure someone would take him out. The Army eventually granted him a rare transfer to a Federal Penitentiary in California.
Up until now I had only seen or heard of some small fights from time to time. The worse of which was the incident that put one inmate into a coma, (Click here to read about it) but this murder situation was surreal. Danger was present and I am sure that even though I was in a den of lions, I was being protected. Things could have and probably should have been worse for me.
It had been almost a year since I’d left 3 Wing behind and I am so glad that I made it out of there before this incident. I will never forget the darkness and the unsettled feeling from living there.