By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Germaine Steudler was arrested on September 19 for a probation violation. What follows are excerpts from her journal.
9/26/96: Awakened at 1 a.m. and asked what size pants and shirt I needed for court. The guard returned a half an hour later . . . we were shackled together and loaded into vans . . . No seatbelts . . . Once at Madison we were taken to the dungeon and uncuffed. This facility used to be the old city morgue. It is filthy, and swarms of sewer roaches fill the darkened, shadowy corners. My life is surely at its lowest, most humiliating point.
At 7 a.m. we were recuffed, herded into a van and transported to Southeast Mesa justice court. On arriving, we were herded into a 10 by 10 foot room where we waited for our appearances, remaining handcuffed in a cell. We were taken from the cell and shackled together with a long heavy chain and taken into the courtroom. Once there the public defender explained court etiquette and handed out printed allegations. He began to speak with me about my charges and I stopped him, informing him that Brian Strong was my attorney and he would be here shortly.
We all rose noisily when the judge entered as we were instructed. Brian spoke on my behalf. The judge refused to release me. I was then returned to the cell to await transport back to Estrella. I had to use a restroom, as there is no toilet in the cell, and was allowed to use the one in the main area of the hall with no privacy from guards or male inmates.
While waiting in the cell to be trafficked back to Estrella, the guards were in close proximity. The following words and phrases were shouted by the guards: "Fuck" 21 times, "Cocksucker" 14 times, "Suck my dick" 8 times, "Get some pussy" 5 times. This list goes on but these were the most offending.
On the way back to Estrella four stops were made. The air conditioning was turned off for several minutes each time and the van became extremely uncomfortable. On three of these occasions we waited for the transport guard to drink a Pepsi and smoke a cigarette. Upon arriving at Estrella we were unloaded, lined up and patted down. I received no lunch and was refused my medication.
At 10 p.m. an inmate with a fractured foot was refused help by guards when she said her splint needed to be rewrapped. I rewrapped her splint and put an extra blanket under her foot and leg to elevate the injured extremity above the level of her heart.
I cry myself to sleep.
9/27: I just noticed a video camera is aimed directly at the shower stalls. This transmits to the tower where the guards view the video screens.
If someone could smuggle me some contraband, my first choice would be Correctol. I've not had a BM for 9 days. I am feverish, have a chronic abdominal distortion [?] and pain. The nausea is constant.
I sit in front of the TV watching cartoons and drawing a calendar for October with colored pencils on a Saturday evening. My downward spiral is continuing but on a different plane--an intellectual one. I exercise my mind as much as possible, my body as much as I am allowed. . . . If I have to listen to Mary Poppins on the Disney Channel tonight for the sixth night in a row I will end up hating her and everything she represents.
9/29: Mean guards today. More fighting. End Room is infested with ants and guards refuse insect spray or bleach to get rid of them. . . . New inmate at lunch. She was crying. She defended herself against her husband as he broke her arm. Because she was cutting chicken with a knife when he attacked her and she had a knife in her hand, police arrested her. She is crying for her kids who are 9, 8, 6, 5. She was taken to the hospital and her hand is in a cast. She has never been in jail and has no "priors." My prison vocabulary is increasing.
2 p.m. Sent to medical for reevaluation of my meningitis. In medical holding tank for four hours. Sent for evaluation to Psych counseling. Missed dinner. When extra was brought to tank for me another inmate who had just eaten grabbed my dinner. When a girl from my pod began to defend my right to the food, I told her to calm down, saying that starting trouble would just end badly for all of us.
Spoke with psych counselor. . . . I told her that medications (for meningitis) were brought here from home . . . she stated that she would get them from my personal belongings and recommend that they be given to me. . . . Prior to my leaving . . . the medical nurse came and gave me [the meningitis medicine.] The guard that accompanied her saw the four capsules in my hand and said "You really should get off of those pills." I told him I took them for a life-threatening disease--viral meningitis. He said "It's all in your head."
10 p.m. When I returned from medical I find we are on "lockdown" because some people were smoking. This seems unfair that we are all punished, even those of us that don't smoke (no phone, locked in cell, no shower, no talking, etc.). The guards are essentially causing us to police ourselves which would result in becoming "snitches," and subjecting ourselves to serious bodily harm.