A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO SEX IN PRISON – Daniel Genis

Found this wonderful piece of journalism and thought I would share it with you. It focuses on the much talked about subject on life behind prison walls and the ability of those incarcerated to adapt to ensure one of life’s simple pleasures remains untouched and maintained.

A Gentleman's Guide To Sex In Prison

When I tell people that I recently finished serving a 10-year prison sentence for armed robbery, mostly in maximum-security facilities, I often feel a question lingering in the air. The moment I sense it, I try to respond to the awkward silence in some offhanded way, though it is hard to be blithe and whimsical when you’re telling people you were never raped in prison.

I can speak only for myself, but in my own time in the New York State system, I rarely saw or even heard about non-consensual sex between men. Perhaps I was just very lucky. Maybe I’d been incarcerated only in the “softer” corners of the penal system. Rape does happen, and all over any prison there are signs with a number to call to anonymously report it, which I always thought was less a matter of sodomy than of legal liability.

But more common, from what I could see, was an older prisoner taking a young and inexperienced kid under his wing. Most often, this kid has no money and likes to get high; there are many such people in prison, and they tend to burn their bridges early and totally. And so the older man, who has usually already served major time, feeds the kid, and gets him a little something to smoke or snort. Now the kid has become a “fish.” They start working out together, then showering together, then there is a massage, and finally, the kid is asked to “help” the older guy out. He’s “no homo,” but he has needs ….

These predators are called “booty bandits” in English, which sounds ridiculous, but in Spanish, the word is much more picturesque and of an older etymology: bugaron. The literal translation would be “buggerer,” but most people stick with the Spanish. In any case, very few bugarons—at least not the ones I personally came across or heard about—operate by force. The ones who do have nicknames that ring bells all across the state system: Mother Dearest and Pissy Black are the two most famous ones, both big guys who don’t take no for an answer. The latter, with a physique honed by two decades of prison weightlifting, was known for using shower-room fog to facilitate his surprise attacks, though it was said that he could be warded off with a knife, as he feared scarring his handsome face. The former, on the other hand, already had a cross-hatched mug, so keeping one’s distance was the only solution.

The potential “fish” are warned immediately, usually by a member of his own race, as prison is still as segregated as it was in the ’50s. However, those inside for sex crimes are fair game to the booty bandits, and everyone knows that. In the through-the-looking-glass moral universe of incarceration, the bugarons are applauded for teaching the rapos a lesson, never mind the fact that they too are rapists.

The butt pirates—another actual, commonplace term—do not consider themselves gay in the least; sometimes they have wives and children, who may become victims themselves, if there are any diseases to be passed on. (AIDS testing is suggested but not mandatory in prison, and, statistically, the incarcerated population has a much higher rate of infection.) In any case, it is only the receiver in the act who is considered gay.

But the hunger for touch does not always involve sex. Men in prison slap each other on the back and rub each other’s necks and hug and give elaborate handshakes and do strange exercises in which the men use each other’s body weight. It is all an excuse for touch. The condition of being a prisoner, in a point made by Foucault in his brilliant Discipline and Punish, is that of a sexless thing, and much of the experience of incarceration is the prisoner’s reflexive effort, as a human being, to resist that state.

Consensual sex between incarcerated men happens all the time. There are rules against it, as it is considered an “unhygienic act,” and you can go to the Special Housing Unit (aka the Box) for it. Which is ironic, because then you will be locked in a room with another man for 24 hours of the day, with barely any supervision. Solitary, at least in New York State, is not solitary at all butá deux, as it is cheaper to house men this way. If ever there was a venue for either forcible or consensual sex between men, it is therein provided.


Openly gay men are not as oppressed as one might fear. The feminine ones are often desired, and there is quite a bit of prostitution going on. I once saw oral sex performed in exchange for two cigarettes and a honey bun, a bargain offered by Dirty Tommy, who told people he had “the AIDS” as soon as they met him. There are many transsexuals (still called “shemales” in the system), especially in the maxes, for some reason. Some truly look like women, and as a consequence they are well taken care of by their admirers. Others just look like men with breast implants. There was one called Grandma who was quite a fright, but apparently had customers anyway, because his dentures came out. The old-timers call these guys “lizards” and have nothing to do with them, but the younger guys who grew up with Will and Grace and so forth are more easygoing about it.

It was my understanding that if you declared yourself to be out upon arrival at the clearinghouse called Downstate, they’d send you somewhere safe (unless you yourself were not actually very safe, according to your record). I spent two years in a place like that, called Groveland Correctional Facility. It was a beautiful campus of a prison with a huge gay population. They had to cut the bushes down to discourage some of the activities taking place around them. There were even competing gay gangs. The most established one was led by Becky, who had been in for 35 years and who, it was said, had cut out his lover’s heart back when he, Becky, was a teenage girl in a boy’s body. There were also plenty of young twinks sunning themselves and plotting evening escapades.

But where could they do it? The guards used this quiet and safe prison as a nice place to spend their last few years before retirement, so they knew all the tricks of the trade. The showers were monitored, the bathroom stalls had no locks, and with every year, the vegetation was further reduced. I may never have learned the secret had I not had the pleasure and misfortune of being a library clerk. I remember working on reclassifying the James Pattersons in the Young Adult section one day when I noticed a rhythmic movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned around and there was Dirty Tommy, hard at work with his hand under a table and another fellow with his eyes rolled up to the ceiling. This was too much; they were so close that I was practically a participant. I told Tommy he couldn’t ply his trade here, and that I wouldn’t let him into the library if this was how he intended to use it, but he was just worried about a certain Aryan Brotherhood member finding out. Apparently Tommy had sworn fidelity to this dangerous, and apparently jealous, fellow. I kept his secret.

I have heard countless myths about female correctional officers being unable to resist the enormous sexual appeal of a prisoner and pulling him into a broom closet, but in my 10 years, though it was discussed endlessly, I knew for certain of only two such couplings. The first beneficiary was a guy called Willy, a handsome bodybuilder-type who was in for steroids and a gun. Apparently he had a brief affair with a farm-girl-turned-cop dazzled by his big-city appeal, though the rumor afterward was that she gave him herpes. When I asked about that, he denied it.

Then there was Nikos, a Greek murderer who left his wife for a prison nurse. I knew the nurse: She was not a young woman, but she was well preserved. Obviously such liaisons are frowned on by the authorities, who technically deem any relationships between prisoners and staff as statutory rape. After one of the many informants hoping for any kind of break made the relationship public, the nurse chose to keep her job rather than her prisoner boyfriend. He wound up getting transferred as far upstate as it’s possible to go.


Meanwhile, almost all of the sex that prisoners have with women is done through the Family Reunion Program (FRP), which was a direct result of the prison reforms instituted after the Attica Riot in 1971. I am grateful that I got sentenced into a kinder, gentler incarcerated world. Also, I’m glad I was in New York: Conjugal visits are available in only three states out of 50. (California and Washington are the others.)

As a result, most of the maximum-security prisons in New York, except for the ones considered disciplinary, have modules called “trailers” built into them. These are later additions constructed in the past 30 years, so they look like six-unit motels jammed into the corners of Victorian fortresses. Each of the units has two bedrooms, as most wives come for their visits with children in tow. I once accidentally stepped on a child and was heckled as “Bigfoot” by a gaggle of kids who had surprisingly little apprehension of their bizarre circumstances. There are toys, video games, and a swing set.

The second bedroom is obviously for sex. To go on a trailer visit, which is possible about four times a year in prisons close to New York City and much more frequently in the ones near Canada, you have to be a good boy. No serious disciplinary infractions, and do your programs. (Depending on one’s crime, there are mandatory classes. I had to take one about substance abuse and another on violence; there are others for parenting and sex abuse. Refusing a mandatory program forecloses any possibility of a trailer visit.) Then come the urine checks—the authorities are aghast at the idea of couples doing drugs together on these visits. The first test comes two days before the visit, then another the morning of your trailer, and once more the second you depart. The middle urine check is so that if the final urine turns up dirty, you can’t argue that you did the drugs before going out to see your family.

In fact, I did know one couple who spent their trailers shooting dope together; she brought the needles and heroin, and he was on morphine anyway because of cancer, so they got away with it. But most people are more eager for different physical pleasures. I witnessed a little boy locked out of his trailer the moment the wife arrived. The unattended child soon slipped on some ice and gashed his forehead open. When the cops arrived, the prisoner suggested his son be sent to get stitched up in the prison clinic, where they had plenty of experience with this sort of thing. His trailer visit was immediately terminated.

My wife and I had no children to worry about; we’d been married only six months at the time I was incarcerated, so we had a lot of making up to do. The trailer visits last up to 44 hours, though it’s harder to schedule weekends. Considering the need for at least a bit of sleep, plus the nice outside food that wives are permitted to bring with them (mine brought me lamb and trout and sushi and filet mignon), the big question was always: How many times? The guys in the prison yard who went on trailer visits and had the youth and stamina to really give it a go were endlessly competing. In 44 hours, we all professed to hit double digits; if you removed the obvious braggarts’ numbers, it left an average of 14. I found this to be accurate.

For the wives, coming to prison to make love to their husbands is not, I would imagine, the ideal vacation. Some have been doing it for 20 years and simply consider it a part of their marriage; my wife always thought of it as a temporary workaround and cried at the end. I also used to return to the cell hollow and depressed. During those 44 hours, you sleep with a woman on a mattress and not a cot with a howling neighbor nearby, and you eat unprocessed food with a loved one, slowly, no cop staring at you because you’re dawdling over corn flakes. Forty-four hours is just enough time to feel normal again and then, when they’re up, to remind you just how far from normal the rest of your week is.

The sex itself … well, the first time is always awkward. I’ll be candid here. After years of masturbation, regular sex feels … different. But the feel and smell and love of a woman is an indescribable luxury in prison. Touch is something most human beings require, and most touch in prison comes in the form of a frisk or a smack.

The FRP was the best thing prison had to offer. Even the men who were not married used to go so they could go eat a steak with their mothers. By the way, “sisters” and “cousins” and “daughters” were technically allowed to visit, but rigorously vetted. There once was big business in sending working girls up to clever guys for trailer visits. My own friend Dmitry boasted of having dozens of “sisters” visit over 20 years. It helped that his mother was a madame, but in any case, those days are over, as all attractive, young female visitors are double-ID’d. The trailers are technically part of the Family Reunion Program, so no girlfriends or “girlfriends” are allowed: only wives with a marriage certificate on record, along with parents and children. (Cousins, too, but those were checked out extra-thoroughly.)

There was some sex outside of trailers, of course: I was told tall tales of the female guards at Sing Sing moonlighting in the world’s oldest profession back in the ’90s (and then being protected by their union when the ring got busted). This is purely anecdotal—I never saw such a thing myself. But I did witness many furtive sexual acts in the jailhouse visiting rooms. Handjobs under the plastic table are de rigueur; if there are children nearby, their eyes stay fixed on the vending machines. Women in skirts sit in men’s laps, and in the little yards built for the visitors and prisoners to smoke in, there is a lot of very dirty dancing. Apparently holes are cut in pant pockets for this.

But the most extreme case I personally witnessed was with Nikos, the Greek murderer. He had a charming “666” tattooed on his head, but his girlfriend didn’t seem to mind. She was no beauty, but she was a real, live woman. They’d begun as pen-pals, and then she started to visit. Unfortunately, he’d already killed one woman to come to prison, so Nikos had no access to trailers. Their courtship took place entirely on the visiting floor (where my wife and I could watch it all unfold), and it culminated in a marriage. Prisons don’t like marriages but are obligated by the courts to allow them. If a woman wants to marry a prisoner, the Department of Corrections will make them wait, and take endless HIV tests, and throw all kinds of obstacles in their way, but eventually there will be a wedding (of sorts), and the couple will be officially married. Nikos and his wife managed it, but the consummation of their union required a soda machine.

The couple had already done everything possible with hands and even feet (she was a nimble woman), but eventually they realized there was just enough room behind a Pepsi machine for them to hump for a few minutes while the guards gorged on their lunches. My wife and I played lookout, though once they’d gotten started, there really was no stopping them. Unlikely as it may seem, a child was born of this unorthodox and rapid union. They had either the humor or perversity to call the little girl Pepsi.

Much later, when Nikos informed his wife about his affair with the nurse, she threw a bottle of breast milk in his face. Sex behind bars comes with enough complications that many prisoners avoid the whole mess altogether.


Instead, they masturbate. A friend of mine once made me visualize the rivers of semen that have been flushed away down prison toilets. Not all states allow pornography, somehow getting around the First Amendment, and sex offenders are not allowed to possess it, but there is nevertheless a lot of porn in prison. I have to assume that the publishers of magazines like Foxand Big Black Ass exist purely for the incarcerated market. When the hardest porn around is only a click away, at least in the unincarcerated world, who needs to go to Times Square to buy Screw?

Onanism is not usually a spectator sport, so convicts find various ways of establishing the privacy necessary to rub one out. In medium-security prisons, where men live in dormitories, the last toilet stall is usually reserved for masturbation. If a towel is draped over the top, that’s the sign to back off. In maxes, where men live in cells with open bars, usually a sheet is fixed up, covering the view. That is theoretically for defecatory modesty, but the cops know what it really means and love knocking the sheet down with their sticks to embarrass a prisoner. Sometimes they don’t succeed—the guys who have decades in possess little shame and don’t even hang up a sheet, preferring instead to work out in the open. That is how dehumanization is achieved.

There is also a separate anti-masturbation subculture, like a temperance league or a bowling team. These are usually also men who are either very religious or very exercise-oriented—while some believe jerking off is a great sin (notwithstanding their present address), others believe that the release involved results in a lower bench-press weight. The exercisers were usually respected for their self-control, while the hypocrites had porn stuck to their lockers when they were away.

As for the rest of us, most men in prison collect pornography with great aplomb and sometimes become completists. A Hasidic Jew I knew had every Buttman ever printed, and Buttman has been coming out for 20 years and costs as much as $20 per issue, new. Obviously, there is a resale market: “Bookmen” in the yard are not guys with the cart from Fiddler on the Roofoffering old copies of How to Win Friends and Influence People. (Actually, that book is popular in prison.) Instead, they sneak around the compound with porn hidden in their belts and under their shirts, selling “books” for about a pack of cigarettes each. They sell out, and usually the bookman knows his clientele: He buys up the porn in stacks from those about to go home or die, and picks out what his clients like.

A Gentleman's Guide To Sex In Prison

Lotions are also in demand, for exactly what you think, but for some, nothing beats the “fifi.” It’s called a “Suzy” in other prison systems, but it amounts to the same thing: a handmade vaginal substitute. This is accomplished by inserting a bag or glove into a tightly rolled-up towel and filling it with lotion. Then it is tightened up. This leaves a rather unwieldy cylinder for humping, but apparently it works. For extra verisimilitude, an open tuna can is left around. I never used fifis myself, but I know men who swear by them. As you read this, there is someone in a jail cell, staring at an issue of Buttman and bouncing a fifi on himself.

This is always a tense subject simply because prison was intended, like the Garden of Eden, to be a place without sex. Sex in prison has not been stamped out; it’s still there , whether via the reunion program or illicit visiting-room sex, whether with a “fish” or merely a fifi. It’s all sex of one kind or another, but forced into the crooked shapes of incarcerated life. I think it must demonstrate something about human nature. We’ll fuck whether you want us to or not. We’ll fuck even if all we’re fucking is a rolled-up towel filled with lotion, with no more mood in the air than what an open can of chunk light can provide. There’s no stopping sex, no locking it away. Organized religion hasn’t managed, and neither has the Department of Corrections.


Daniel Genis is working on a memoir of his incarcerated reading life for Penguin/Viking, titled 1,046 for the number of books he read while in prison. You can also follow him on Twitter here and read his other work here.

Image by Sam Woolley.

The Concourse is Deadspin’s home for culture/food/whatever coverage. Follow us on Twitter:@DSconcourse.

NO MISS HANNA, YOU STILL DON’T GET IT.

256px-Maleficent-SBPoliticians..they never fail to amaze me. They are tone deaf, people deaf, senseless and self opinionated creatures that exist on planet earth. Someone could be the nicest person , like the charming Miss Hanna, past Miss World and a toast of the nation but somehow when they become  a politician they are transformed into a political Maleficent, that evil and sinister character everyone loves to hate.

“Maleficent doesn’t know anything about love, or kindness, or the joy of helping others. You know, sometimes I don’t think she’s really very happy.”―Fauna about Maleficent

Miss Hanna seems to fit that description. How can a lady with such beauty and apparent intelligence, become such a terror and territorial  in such a short time? When a politician publicly responds to an opinion expressed by someone on how they see their government’s performance, a government  elected to eliminate bureaucracy, manage the economy efficiently, create jobs, and  manage investments and social programs , that politician is either scared of criticism, trying to cover there A** or quietly saying “help, I need some ideas.”  Responding is not the problem, it’s how they respond that matters and it is here that the lovely  Miss Hanna has erred once again. Instead of using the criticism as an advantage and use positive language to solicit a remedy, she has opted instead to throw  some of her colleagues under the bus when she says..“stop blaming and lumping all politicians together…’  and literally trying to start an argument on social media,  one that she will never win.  Here is the criticism and response.

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She ended by tweeting

      I think we should always be fair in our judgement of others.

You almost feel sorry for her, at least I do. Miss Hanna lesson # 1 as a Minister of Government . Use every criticism as a       positive. Take the high road. Politicians rarely win the cruel atmosphere of  social media. It is something they all need but so often fail as it amplifies their weaknesses. Miss Hanna here is how I expected you to respond.

Response 1 : “OK, so you’d like to see a better link with culture and tourism– what would you say is the main thing that ought to be different?”  Throw it right back at Chronixx and offer to meet him to discuss further.

Or if you must defend your pitiful ministry’s efforts then here is an appropriate response #2.  “I can see what you are saying, Let me tell you why I did it this way.”

Or if you can be someone who listens and intuitively discern the sense out of the criticism, then here is another response # 3 “I’ve thought about what you said and what I’m going to do is…”

Miss Hanna instead of using the usual way of dealing with everything in Jamaica as a personal vendetta  I and by extension the people of Jamaica, including your suffering supporters, expect you to turn your words into action to show that you can listen to feedback, respond in the correct way and still get the job done. Is that too difficult Miss Hanna? Apparently it is,

Let us get one thing straight Miss Hanna. The only reason why you and your government is in power is  the fact that good and sensible people did not vote. Let me remind you of the figures Miss Hanna. The last local government election the projected turnout was 28% of the electorate the lowest in history. Nobody cares Miss Hanna, not even your party faithful. They see local government as the biggest ponzi scheme since taxes were invented. It is not working and no one is trying to fix it.

The national election was no better. In 2011, 1.8 million people reached the age of eligibility to vote (Voting Age Population) 1.6 million people registered to vote. Usually its the younger generation that decide to forego their rights, a difference of over 250,000.  Of that 1.6 million only 46% actually cast a vote or in real numbers just over 870,000. (Data:The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance)

This government, like the other previous idiots on the other side, has achieved what every politician is very good at – demotivating an entire nation with so much political hogwash that the best form of protest by the voters is not to vote.  Our politicians are blind to this protest. Call it what you will  Miss Hanna, but politicians  use this as their opportunity to use the national resources to take care of party faithfuls, that number of people that actually vote for them. Sista P, by her actions only speak to her faithful, even more recently at her convention when she said “Jamaica is in a better place.” Her interest as leader of the country is only for ‘poor people’ for which she is always working, working, working. So Miss Hanna your kind is not popular in Jamaica right now and as Chronixx subtly puts it he is laughing at the Jamaican Government and the poor people who wave their flags and living on captured land, and yet you do not see behind  what he is saying.

chronixx

Chronixx

Miss Hanna, Chronixx is talking beef and you pork. What Chronixx is saying  is with the exception of  your suffering supporters, he is laughing, like everybody else in a sensible world,  at a clueless government that continues to fool themselves and their faithful that ‘Jamaica is in a better place.” What Chronixx is saying Miss Hanna is as far your Ministry is concerned, it does not have the foresight or the creativity to use our culture, not just reggae music,to create, promote and establish cultural tourism where there is a large market, and move away from the old , mundane 80s way of marketing this country, like the rest of your millionaire friends in tourism, as a cheap all inclusive destination offering second class entertainment, sun, sand and beach. Our tourism product Miss Hanna is as old as the constitution, outdated and irrelevant. What has your Ministry done for tourism lately? What new innovative cultural event  has taken place in the last 12 months that has brought  in thousands of visitors to the island organized and/or endorsed by your Ministry?

What Chronixx is saying Miss Hanna is our Reggae is not just music that our artist create for people’s listening pleasure on Ipods, but like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland and other European and countries to which he has travelled, have used Reggae music to boost their economy creating jobs and other industries, something your Ministry as he as mentioned, has not  even erected a state of the art venue for live reggae performances.

Miss Hanna, let me be frank. The few tourist that visit this ‘bankrupt country’ are suffering from an overdose of Dunn’s River falls, Rick’s Cafe  and jerk pork at Scotties. Where are our historical and national monuments in every parish , not just Kingston ? Do you know how many they are and why aren’t they protected by law? Have you taken a drive in any of the parishes and see the state of monuments or historical and cultural artifacts? You go to a city like Washington D.C USA and you see a city beaming with pride on its historical heritage. You visit the Sam Sharpe Square monument in Montego Bay or the Paul Bogle monument in St. Thomas and you wonder is this it? Is this what Jamaica has to offer? In every parish there is something to be proud about, something to sell, something to market, something for locals and visitors to see. Yet they are either left to decay or given to some wayward historical restoration committee that has no clue of restoration much less the economic value of these artifacts. And you wonder why Chronixx is laughing at the government Miss Hanna?

Miss Hanna, stop throwing the rest of the government under the bus and stop covering your A**  You can’t pick a petal from a rose and say that petal is beautiful but the rose is dangerous as it pricks you. If you are a part of it, you are in it.  Now is not the time to duck criticism but use it constructively and move forward.

The development of cultural tourism is increasingly important to the centrality of any modern society. We prefer to see you use $54 million dollars for the construction, exchange and movement of attractions to not only promote our heritage but create jobs and indexing Jamaica’s modernisation.  The 54 million dollars you wasted on the epic disaster called the Grand Gala would have been better spent if your ministry had  promoted and created the biggest Cultural Festival in Jamaica the world has ever seen from the Maroons to Chronixx , a festival like no other, a festival simultaneous in all 14 parishes on Independence day, covered by the large networks of the USA and Europe , showcasing our heritage, our music ,our food, our heroes, our people, an event so big, the Olympics opening will look like a summer picnic.

The pilgrimage called Tourism has changed Miss Hanna and your Ministry has not done anything in modern times to do something different. France has the Louvre, Britain has Big Ben. Egypt has the Pyramids. Japan, China, Switzerland all have their cultural masterpiece. We have, amongst other things, Reggae. Build on it. Transform it. Market it. Own it. Your ministry is at the centre of changing the perception of Jamaica’s existence as a modern island proud of its culture and using it at the centre of urban and rural development and image enhancement.  Work with the innovators in the industry and make Jamaica proud, not just your flag waving party supporters.  That is what Chronixx is saying. Now lets see you make the right move now, Madame Minister.

© 2014 Paul Tomlinson

“FIX IT JESUS”. Jesus replies…”I CAN’T..”

Less for mor

… the GDP has been reduced…..we are doing less with more money…..we have now stopped the 14 consecutive quarters  of negativity……PM Portia Simpson.

There is this particular video that is making its usual rounds on social media.  I tried to capture the video but I couldn’t as i wanted you to hear for yourselves., So I quoted the speaker with her words. The speaker was the PM of Jamaica.

I am not one  that usually seek gratification from people’s personal mistakes. We are not perfect but we can certainly be careful. Any speech by a Prime Minister or President of a country is I would image either written by the leader themselves or by their speech writers and vetted by other departments to ensure the message is not only concise but consistent with the aims and objectives of the  governing administration.. Then I would assume the leader would actually spend some time reading the gospel prepared for them to preach. Don’t really need to know the inner mechanism of these operatives. It is just common sense. But the unfortunate pronouncement made by the Prime Minister at her party conference is a shake your head moment at least or an inadvertent admission to the truth of  her government’s performance since their election.

There is not a day in this fair country that someone does not make the headlines as the Comedian of the Day. The recent high climbing tower act by a frustrated singer was the latest one in memory that made the disastrous 7pm news. No surprises here as stress make you do the craziest of things. But you do not expect this from a Prime Minister, not with all her aides and highly paid writers and secretaries and all the other overpaid civil servants on the taxpayer’s payroll.

Watching the conference on the pitiful TVJ news , you saw the high spirited PM running with a hoard of ‘security’ and her suffering supporters embracing her presence. She looked fit and well. If she could only communicate to the nation and her ministers to keep a healthy body , it would be one of the few things we could credit to her legacy. But that is another topic. I am accustomed to seeing the PM with her dark shades of spectacles , looking sinister and mysterious.  Indeed she reminded me in my younger days of a feared security officer who wore a similar dark glass everywhere he went, so much so he was called ‘Man behind the Glass.” But the PM sans her glass,  gave me reason to wonder, can she actually see to read her prepared script? She rubbed her face, she rubbed her eyes. She bucked, she stumbled through her speech. I knew she was in trouble. The speech moved no one, not her, not her ministers nor her supporters.

political-leader1

I may be giving away my age when upon seeing her reading the speech I reflected on the days of PM Michael Manley whose message you might not support or in agreement with but you certainly did not want to miss the delivery. No leader, before  or after his death has come close to his charisma or his innate talent of commanding a crowd’s attention.. You were mesmerised to hear him. He lighted up the crowd with his dramatic and inspiring speeches.  The world, CNN at the time,  carried his speeches live, not just the local TV. When he spoke , even the President of the  USA listened. I cannot stay the same thing for this PM or those before her.

The attendance to the conference seems paltry, even by some of the supporters standards. TV has a habit of selecting the most comical persons for soundbites and the persons selected all said the same thing, smiling with their gums devoid of teeth,in their heavy, colorful  rural Jamaican accent..

” mi kinda worried bout the attendance…it look bigga a adda  conference..”

politicsThat may be true, after all one of them attended every conference since he knows himself. I am sure the political triumvirate may be worried as well but politicians are unable to tell the truth even when it hits them in the face like PM Simpson. They are too busy fooling the people all the time so they never listen to themselves. When i listen to the Jamaican politicians, something i seldom do, I believe that their interpretation when they speak about the ‘ people of Jamaica” are only referring to those people just beyond Cross Roads in Kingston and heading south. This government has done  nothing for the middle class in terms of enacting legislation and removing cumbersome bureaucratic cronyism to get that sector producing and creating jobs , which invariably affect their ‘people. The social and economic reality in Jamaica is the 1% of the upper class which includes the politicians are doing just fine. Money crosses from one table to the next, generating interest and foreign exchanges that are held overseas in bank accounts. The economy is set up to benefit them and the economic corruption of paying none or very little  taxes is left unchecked.The 90% or the lower class are either  struggling to find money to feed their family, or supported by overseas remittances from their families or working if they are lucky to get a job or they make up the many sellers of panties and bras on the streets. That leaves the 9% of the middle class that are the beating bag of the government , paying the heavy brunch of the taxes, paying the increased JPS bills and are yet to hear any member of government, including the PM, say on a public political stage..members of the middle class, i feel your pain!  Not one politician has ever done anything to support and promote their economic welfare. They  don’t need handouts, they just need an opportunity to grow their business and be a part of the jamaican economy. The PM publicly stated ‘‘she loves poor people..’. That is her mandate. To hell with the rest.

She is correct. Her government has done less with more money. Has she taken a walk in any of the supermarkets lately? Has the PM ever pulled up at the gas station one day and pay $138.00 for gas and the next day pay $142 for the same gas? Has she or any of her party stalwarts ever been to the hospital lately? Has she or her politicians been to a government office seeking assistance and face the gruelling sloppyness of a civil servant?  Has she or her government been to any tourist purveyor and see who controls the tourism market in terms of nationality?  Does the PM realise that investments are welcome but cannot be to the detriment of the people of Jamaica where total control is in the hands of the foreigner and the Jamaicans are left as second class citizens in their own country! The PM said her government is doing an excellent job and the economy is up, yet we spend IMF money to import red peas, red peas in this country! She is correct, the government is doing less for more money!

Seeing the video made me shake my head and pondered, not again. Not another politician publicly putting  themselves up to be a political sand bag . It brought me to a MEME I saw on the net that can easily  be applied to her statement and to Jamaica….

FIXIT

© 2014 Paul Tomlinson

WHEN THERE IS NO JUSTICE, REBELLION BECOMES LAW

“In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?”  St. Augustine

St. Augustine in Book IV of The City of God, relates the story about the pirate who had been seized and brought before Alexander the Great. The cheeky pirate asks the King what is the real difference between a pirate stealing with one ship  and an Emperor doing the same with a fleet of ships. The pirate argued that they were both thieves, one no different from the other , only by scale.  The pirate had a point. Whether done by a King or a pirate, looting people or denying them of justice are nothing but organised robbers.

This morning I looked in amazement  the headlines in the daily Gleaner and had to put my coffee down in order to really see if the caption represented the article in substance.  The caption read “Chief Justice Urges Offenders to Plead Guilty to Ease Backlog”.   My initial reaction was. you have got to be kidding me. The principal holder of the scale of Justice in this fair isle, is pleading for persons with allegations, to just call the Ministry of Justice and  say….

” ….this is John Brown. On that case what you have against me, I am actually pleading guilty so I hope that helps you with your backlog!”

chief_justiceI had to put the tablet down and continue to drink my coffee. I could not  believe the learned Chief Justice would be that bold to publicly state that the Judiciary, of which she is the head, is inadequate, understaffed, disorganised, under funded, and lack the skills or evidence to complete cases that are in their pending file for years.  The Hon. Chief Justice is in essence saying  the judicial system in Jamaica, has no intention of directing  justice to those who we know or assume is guilty. In some countries there would be calls for her immediate resignation. But  this is Jamaica, the land of mediocrity and political barbarism.  So a public official in her capacity can get away with stating that if she or the Courts had their way, they would  gathered all accused., declare them all guilty and off with their heads!

That to me is going back to the days of Alexander the Great when he was law, judge, jury and executioner. This announcement of the Chief Justice solidifies the quote that in the absence of justice , this sovereignty is nothing but a robber, denying those that are affected, their day in a court of their peers, and upon presentation of evidence and without reasonable doubt was found guilty or not guilty. It gets worse.

Defence lawyer Leroy Equiano expressed his concern at the opening of the new Michaelmas session of the Home Circuit Court on the amount of cases not tried. in the new session there are now 507 cases, of which 24 are new, including the apparent case of all cases,  Vybz Kartel.

In response to Equiano’s concerns, Chief Justice Zaila McCalla referred to the Vybz Kartel murder case which lasted for several weeks. “I am concerned with those cases where the matter had to be adjourned and the courtroom left empty because we could not proceed,” Equiano said. “I agree with you on this. It must not happen, and we are making strenuous effort for that not to happen,”

What in the name of justice does ‘strenuous efforts” mean? The only meaning I conjured up from this  rather uncomfortable description is as a result of the large backlog of cases, the justice department is constipated and undergoing a strenuous effort to purge themselves of the blockage. It is not a pretty sight for the imagination but what else could the learned chief Justice mean? But wait , there is more!

“Equiano said there were days when courts were adjourned for an entire day to look for a witness…”

I have a fairly active imagination and those words took me right back to the other headlines published about 2 days ago that one of the key witness in the much talked about murder case of Mario Deane , suddenly escaped from the confines of the security forces. The question is how many of those witnesses that Mr Equiano is looking for have also suddenly gone missing , never to be found? Frankly both Mr Equiano and the Judiciary  seem to be looking for ghosts witnesses. With no witness and clearly no admissible evidence , then like all cases void of these rules and legal principles that govern the proof of facts in a legal proceeding, the case has to be thrown out or at least adjourned sine die. What other mitigating circumstances exists to keep these persons accused locked up for years in our justice system?

The answers lie in a multitude of symptoms that affect the justice system. The lack of training and unlawful modus operandi of the JCF are the keys to this telling story.

1. Police Doctoring of Evidence :It is not uncommon for police criminal investigations to be inadequate. While there exist adequate guidelines and rules pertaining to the manner in which the Jamaica  Constabulary Force (JCF) should carry out murder investigations, it invariably is the  case that these guidelines are not followed properly, if at all.

2. Crime Scene Management: …..” One Detective testified that he had found
blood in a murder suspect  house, notably, on the floor, on a sofa and in the trunk of
the car. However, under cross-examination he conceded that despite being in
charge of the crime scene investigation, he never ordered photographs to be taken
of the locations exhibiting blood. Photos only were taken of the bodies and of the
spot at which the bodies were found. …..the police wilfully disturbed evidence found at the house by moving and  touching key items such as a blood stained glove, prior to the arrival of the forensic  scientists. …..

3. Intimidation of the accused by the JCF: It has been well documented by human rights organizations that that JCF  frequently inflict illegal violence on suspects of crime in order to elicit from them confessions.

4. Witness Protection: In Jamaica, where the police are chronically understaffed and underfunded it is much more difficult for the police to ensure around the clock protection for witnesses who fear for their safety.

Anthony Vaughan 13 – 21 Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, Jamaica

No wonder we have a backlog of over 500 cases yet to be tried. The courts in Jamaica  are  understandably stressed and cannot operate under the present structure and resources needed to administer justice. The DPP herself purported to this on the recent installation of the new Police Commissioner in her round about sort of way. The Justice Ministry , created in 2001 is working with a lot of atrocities and inadequacies the first of which is funding. We contribute close to $300 million to the Caribbean Court of Appeal,  and yet we cannot find enough resources for our own courts to be effective . Allocation is made to the JCF under the disguise of political fortitude for fighting crime , however these cases that  come before the courts that are understaffed  and ill equipped, result in cases suffering from the symptoms stated above. In other words, the Justice Ministry  and the Judiciary are the cesspit for  the sludge that flows down from the JCF, which they cannot seem to contain.

Ministry of Justice Jamaica Vision 2030 Justice Reform

We live in a country of robbers, robbers of justice and integrity.  Frankly the honourable Chief Justice has lost her credibility with her call for :…..”for persons who know they were guilty to plead guilty and stop wasting the court’s time..”  No Madame Justice that is not how we do this. Persons are considered innocent until proven guilty. It is incumbent on your team and the JCF to ensure that the necessary evidence are collected without contamination, that witnesses feel secure and safe. that cases are tried in a timely manner and that justice is administered fairly and without political influences. That Madame Justice is the mandate of the Justice Department.

Your call is unprofessional, inept and brings to question the entire judicial system of which you are the head. Yourself and the Minister ought to put pressure where pressure is needed. When everything else fails, as they usually do in Jamaica, the legs of Justice are the only ones we have to stand on. In case you need to be remind Madame Justice and Minister Golding we live in a democratic country, a country of laws, laws when fired by the bows and arrow of Lady Justice should hit 100% of their mark. Justice is a human right, regardless of how treacherous or murderous the alleged seem to be.

I challenge you to demand changes from these politicians who themselves are the pirates of corruption. Seek to ensure that your Ministry is free from political influences and skulduggery. Jamaicans have lost hope in the type of governance they have seen over the last 52 year. The only  hope they can hold on to is justice. When that lifeline is pulled, shortened by resources or threatened by careless remarks from the Chief Justice, then there is nothing left to live for in a country that despite chronic mismanagement and misguided decisions, still continue as a peaceful sovereignty. A country without Justice is but a sovereignty of robbers. When Injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.

© 2014 Paul Tomlinson

YOU GOT TIME TO WASTE? GO TO THE BANK!

 

need an account

Back in the 80’s I use to work in the Bank ,which shall be nameless for now,  but in our time our mission was one thing- making the customer happy. We did not have the pleasures of computers or instant balances or electronically matching signatures. We had to manually check for everything, balance on account which was on a mass of sheets we fondly referred to as ‘balance sheet’: we had the ability to remember signatures , especially from those check writers who paid hundreds of people, usually the construction  workers and if we did not recognize it , we had to manually check on signature cards that was filed in a cabinet miles away from your cashier post.

A Friday in the bank was  not a scene from Disney with everyone having a jolly old time. The 600 sq feet of bank hall, designed to accommodate no more than 80 people at any one time , had close to 200 scruffy looking, sun burnt, soiled stained, angry looking men just waiting hungrily to encash their checks. In those days those workers worked to live. They needed their cash to spend on family or pleasure so we had to ensure the process was free from banking bureaucracy, forget the ID required, excuse the signature as most could not sign their names anyway and just get them out the door in the quickest possible time.

It was a pleasure for my team of cashiers. We would have mini competitions to see who would cash the fastest amount of heavily scented construction worker checks, not because of the rather pungent smell, but to see who would give the fastest service. We would know the winner when the construction workers all decide which cashier would get their checks to cash, as he was the one that was moving fastest.

In essence our team did not like lines. Lines meant a slow productive day, it meant slow cashiers , it meant you could not do your job efficiently, it meant the supervisors were watching whose line was moving the slowest, a line item you would see on your upcoming evaluation.

bank that cares

 

But have you been to the bank lately? It is as if the mode is dead slow bordering on STOP! No matter the day expect to spend the minimum of 30 minutes in a line at the teller that seems to take forever to count a single $100 bill!  In our days we had cashiers who was there to cash checks only. Depending on the day we would have 2 cashiers to do just lodgements or deposits. Now everybody does everything so you sit and wait in a line that moves slower than a turtle to encash one check. These days you have a card to swipe. Our days each customer had a book to manually check and record the transaction. And still we moved faster than the fastest cashier they currently have, if you could identify that person at all!

My point is service in banking is atrocious, the bottom of the barrel. The gimmick they all employ in their modern day version of  customer service is to have a bunch of  chairs for senior citizens to sit, bravo, and for the younguns , WATCH TV!  You know you are in for a long ride when you open the door and you see 10 people waiting in line and you say to yourself …My God, I only have 10 minutes . I will be fired if I stay here!.

Have you ever tried to speak to a banking agent whenever they decide to answer the telephone? Firstly when you actually get through to the bank you are having a good day. Your first choice of touch this and touch that menu is designed to get you confused so you forget what you were calling for in the first place. But when they do answer it is as if you are speaking to a wall, hello are you LISTENING to me? They NEVER listen. They are all TONE deaf and people deficient. They don’t know how to speak to an actual PERSON as the present millennials are all consumed in texting, whatsapping and pinging. And the banks don’t seem to care! They hire these over educated, over qualified nitwitts to surf the net. You only see a supervisor when you actually threaten to go see the manager and when you see these bulldogs they have the same message:

“I am sorry sir, but our policies state…..”

'We're happy to explain our fee structure to you as long as you understand that it will incur a fee.'

Yes those policies and laws that they have to maintain. To hell with your needs, as long as the bank’s policies are met, you have to pay. And charge they do. Little signs all over the banks, charge to cash a ‘foreign’ or another bank’s check, charge to get you balance, charge to get a statement on a single piece of paper, charge to hold you money in the bank, charge for keeping your balance at a minimum, charge to your credit card, charge to use your debit card.  Soon you will be charged to walk into the bank and oh yes that TV you are watching it will be a $1 per month !

Going to he bank these days is like going to your court  trial. It lasts forever and the outcome not on your side. If you think I am joking read this transcript of a customer and a nameless bank in Jamaica :

A lady died this past January, and the Nameless Bank billed her for February and March  for their annual service charges on her credit card, and then added late  fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00, now  is somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to the Nameless Bank

 Family Member: ‘I am calling to tell you that she died in January.

Nameless Bank: ‘The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.’

Family Member: ‘Maybe, you should turn it over to collections.

Nameless Bank: ‘Since it is two months past due, it already has been..’

Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?’

Nameless Bank PAC: ‘Either report her account to the  frauds division or report her to The credit bureau, maybe both!’

Family Member: ‘Do you think God will be mad at her?’

Nameless Bank: ‘Excuse me?’

Family Member: ‘Did you just get what I was telling you . . . The part about her Being dead?’

Nameless Bank: ‘Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.’

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: ‘I’m calling to tell you, she died in January.

Nameless Bank ‘The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.’

Family Member: ‘You mean you want to collect from her estate?’

Nameless Bank: (Stammer) ‘Are you her lawyer?’

Family Member: ‘No, I’m her great nephew.’ (Lawyer info  given)

Nameless Bank: ‘Could you fax us a certificate of death?’

Family Member: ‘Sure.’ ( fax number is given ) After they get the fax:

Nameless Bank: ‘Our system just isn’t set up for death. I don’t know what more I Can do to help.

Family Member: ‘Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing Her. I don’t think she will care.’

Nameless Bank: ‘Well, the late fees and charges do still apply.’

Family Member: ‘Would you like her new billing address?’

Nameless Bank: ‘That might help.’

Family Member: ‘ Dovecot  Memorial Park, #1249 , St. Johns Road,, Spanish Town,

Nameless Bank: ‘Sir, that’s a cemetery!’

Family Member: ‘Well, what the F—- do you do with dead people on your planet?’…….

Friends, I rest my case. Hope you have a great day and beware of tomorrow . It’s Black Friday in the banks.

© 2014. Paul Tomlinson

THE WORLD BEYOND HUMAN EYES

Many times unless we see things we do not believe. It is an understandable human emotion, making many of us doubters, even when the unseen is revealed. Movie maker Louis Schwartzberg has delved into the world of the unseen and brings to life the unseen. It is a fascinating look at the world beyond the human eyes, a world that grows, multiplies and hides itself from the frailties of mankind. In essence this hidden world is like a hidden nut and bolt,  needed for its completion of creation and necessary to sustain life.