Drear Diary

10/1: Still no newspaper. My mom called the AZ Republic and they said the order was started Monday 9/30. They also said papers delivered to Estrella frequently are stolen by guards, and inmates rarely receive the paper consistently. I want my paper. Not sure how to proceed with a grievance.

10/2: Every bone and muscle in my body aches since they took my extra padding away. It's like sleeping on a metal slab. If I turn on my side, my shoulder and hip bones rest on the metal. I have bruises on all four areas. I've had no exercise for 14 days. When I get out of bed too quickly I almost pass out. I can feel my energy level and good health failing.

Suzie is back from the dungeon. She tells a story about a heroin addict in a fight over tobacco with a lesbian. The lesbian charged with attempted murder.

6 p.m. Canteen order arrives. Yes, a radio! Ben Gay for my aching muscles, deodorant, talcum, lotions. Hurray! I'm listening to 94.5 and Paul Revere and the Raiders. I don't think anyone here had heard of grievance forms before I came and began to use them and get some results--not all.

10/3: Awakened 4 a.m. for breakfast and then read my newspaper! God--media, contact with the outside world. Yes!

Sewer backs up from showers into dayroom. Black, odorous sludge covers the floor in our eating area. We notify guards and they wave us away. Finally we push emergency button and guards are furious. They shove a mop in the room. We suggest a plumber and after five hours a plumber is here. Several of the girls are ill. We were told earlier by guards, "Just don't flush your toilets."

10 a.m. Mail comes and Suzie is refused her sister's letter because her sister enclosed a magazine. Therefore, she is not even entitled to receive the actual letter. She is crying.

Noon. We are locked down so we won't take the plumber hostage. Maybe we will be able to flush soon.

I received [only part of my medication today]. It occurs to me, the way the prison works and the guards treat the inmates must be similar to how the viet cong treated the POWs--a psychological approach to wearing them down and gaining control of their minds. This is truly the cruelest of punishments. And when the inmates are released back into society what kind of behavior can we expect from them after this miserable treatment?

10/4: No paper.
Awakened for breakfast at 4 a.m. I have been accepted into the W.O.W. program which meets for three hours a day. It provides readiness training, career exploration and self-esteem building. It offers assistance finding employment after we are released, as well as other support services. Four week program with a graduation and a certificate of achievement.

Violence at dinner over a burrito. Burrito flies to the floor, owner of the burrito tries to retrieve it when the perpetrator assaults burrito owner. Results in lockdown for perpetrator and medical for burrito owner. Life is very simple here in Estrella jail.

Wanda got a visit and the place is going wild--must be tobacco. Don't understand how people can think of taking the risk of smuggling in contraband when the consequence is lockdown.

Mail comes. Still no paper. I ask guard where my paper is, and he says, "Oh, that's yours? It's in the tower." And then, "Come with me, I'm not your paperboy."

10/5: Today is passing so slowly. Nice guards today. Suzie and I have named several other inmates. For example: "Dolphin Lady." She has a tattoo of two dolphins having intercourse on her butt.

Reading travel magazines. Bored. Dinner here. No food fights.
7 p.m. Julie comes to our room. Very nice, articulate. Embezzlement, facing 3.5 to 10 years in state prison. Her attitude is very positive. Talked for two hours. She says she was sexually abused as a child and is currently enrolled in a program here. She is awaiting sentencing and has been here since February.

11 p.m. The natives are restless. There are four inmates here from federal prison. They were sent here for punishment. Estrella is considered "the hole." One is screaming "I want to go home!"

A good 75 percent of our population is black or Hispanic. "Yo, girlfriend, what ya'll up to?" There is a different language in here. I'm beginning to understand and speak it.

10/6: Fight at lunch over cornbread. Ann is accused of stealing lesbo's cornbread. Verbal assault ensues.

6 p.m. Two new fishes in the aquarium. We are full to capacity unless they put mattresses on the tables. The noise is unbelievable. Wish I was hiking in the Superstitions.

No mail today and no paper.
10/7: I go to my first W.O.W. class today. Julie says it's a great class. We pair up face to face and ask the following questions: Who are you? What do you want? Next is written test on employment.

8 p.m. The nurse tells me [I missed my medicine order]. I asked about receiving meds during W.O.W. class. Nurse says "I don't know, I only do night jails."

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