The above titled words, from the song by the legendary rock band “Queen,” had a resounding echo in the Nottoway Corr. Ctr., in Virginia, today (Dec. 28th, 2018), because a fellow prisoner chose to take his own life, rather than continue existing in this cesspool bereft of any real meaning.
We called him “Pac-Man.” I am not certain of any of the details concerning his overall life, or why he was incarcerated. All I knew about the man was he’d do plumbing repair jobs when the occasional toilet or sink needed it. What I do know is this: I’ve been in these confines for four decades and during that timeframe I’ve known quite a few men have chosen to end the pain and suffering. The worst was probably during the early period of my incarceration, in 1983, at the then State Pen, “The Walls,” in Richmond, Va. This young kid, maybe not too much younger than me, didn’t know how to ‘carry himself’ (a phrase used to denote how one conducted themselves in prison), and this led to him being ‘set up’ by a bunch of guys to rape him. I listened to this poor kid scream, day and night, for three days, as they repeatedly brutalized him. The only thing that finally stopped the screaming was the kid couldn’t take it anymore and he killed himself.
As I now ponder about his wretched ending, and all the others who have died in pain and suffering in here, I wonder at the words from Virginia’s newest Parole Board Chair Lady, on my most recent “rejection for parole.” One of her reasonings, in her opinion, was that I “haven’t done enough time.” I’ve been caged for 37 years. I recall “Pac-Man” being at the “Walls.” So I reckon he’s been caged close to, if not more years than me. Basically, Ms. Bennett is alluding to the old saying that we ain’t got our “JUST DESSERTS” yet. She didn’t phrase it that way. Well, Ms. Bennett, did Pac-Man finally get his “JUST DESSERTS?” Did he do enough time to satisfy you?
Or how about the thousands who have died in here of ‘natural causes,’ or that have been murdered even. Yes, I have been charged in the death of one of my fellowmen in here. She brought that up, as well, as a reason to reject my parole. Along with that, everything she rejected me for was past history of more than 33 years ago. Not a single thing about ANY RECENT history. I have been, in essence, a “model prisoner” since.
Also, in the last week there have been two articles, in the Richmond Times Dispatch, about prisons and inmates and doing time. One was by an Attorney in St. Paul, Virginia, named Kilgore. He rightly suggested we find a way to get the nonviolent offenders out of prison so that it’d be less of a burden on taxpaying citizens. Then he suggested they be enslaved to the Commonwealth, performing public services for no pay, for 40 hours a week, and then he said these men would be able to pay any fines or court costs or bills or raise their kids, etc.? Pardon me for being the Devils’ Advocate (so-to-speak), but if men are working for nothing, slaving away for the Commonwealth for forty hours a week, just how does Mr. Kilgore propose that these men then find time for a regular job with pay, to address all of those financial issues? But then he suggested that all of us violent offenders should “die in here!” Is this the leading consensus of all of our ‘free world’ fellowmen? I have the sinking feeling inside that it is! I am reminded of a line from a piece of poetry by the famous author T. S. Eliot: “…remember us not as lost, violent souls; but only as the hollow men.”
What society labels as “criminal behavior,” is, more likely than not, “failed development and maturity.” For the most part, and I testify to this from personal experience, we aren’t — IN REALITY — criminals. Somewhere along the way of our childhood development, something went awry. Being labled “criminal minded” literal requires (legally) a certain INTENT. That’s a fact! That’s not some wishy-washy, psyco-babble bullshit out of a psychology textbook. It’s in LAWBOOKS! but whenever someone is arrested for what is called “criminal behavior,” they are then charged with an actual CRIME and prosecuted as a criminal. Now, while I understand that “Murder” and “Armed Robbery” and “Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony” are indeed crimes, in the strictest of definitions, we don’t always see the real picture.
Take my case, for instance? I was charged with all of those crimes, and for murder and robbery again while in prison. I have received a total of 2 life sentences, plus 67 years. My original charges stem from an incident in 1982. I first met Todd Michael Spicer when he was an escapee from drug charges in Pennsylvania. He had robbed a drug dealer, himself, in Norfolk, Virginia, and this drug dealer, named Phil, had hired someone to seek satisfaction outta Todd’s body, by beating the crap outta Todd. I stopped it, promised the guy that Todd could pay him later by selling drugs to make the debt good. As time went by, Todd lived and partied with us. We fed him, clothed him, let him live in our dwellings, and treated him as a friend. Todd then began stealing from us. Twice we caught him, and forgave him, and assured him he didn’t have to do this, because we were already GIVING him anything he needed.
Then I thought Todd stole something else. Only this time it was something owned by my sister, and it was irreplaceable because it was one of only 3 items she had left of her late husband, Robert, who was killed in a motorcycle accident. When it came up missing, and Todd was gone, I concluded he’d taken it. I made a couple of calls, found out that Todd was at “The Brass Lantern” pub, buying the house drinks, and felt my conclusions were now founded, and went after him to find out where the item was. We caught up with Todd, asked him about it, and he denied he had taken it.
(See Pt. II)
Mark Blain, #1154225
Nottoway Corr. Ctr., LOE-108
Burkeville, Va 23922
Categories: Mark Blain