Keep On Keepin’ On
My name is Ben [last name omitted] and I’m at the Downeast Correctional Facility. Otherwise known as Bucks Harbor. I’m serving a 7-year sentence and I’ve got about 2 years left. I was shipped here from Charleston [specifics omitted] 2009. There was no feasable [sic] reason I was shipped. The fact is that administration there doesn’t like it when you stand up for yourself. They want inmates there that will let them talk down to them and make idle threats. Staff members are very disrespectful to inmates but expect inmates to bow their head when spoken to.
Maybe you think I’m another “whiner” but don’t be mistaken. I’ve done a lot of time and I know how to play the “Game”. Here’s an overview of my then-current status at Charleston: I was Level 3 (highest level achievable). I worked on an off-grounds crew (that mostly worked on-grounds busting our asses overtime nights and weekends to get the facility in condition to pass the ACA inspection), and I was helping to teach one of their highly regarded Thinking For A Change classes. Yes, I was going above and beyond what is required of an inmate. During this time I was threatened to be fired, written up, and shipped because I didn’t want to work one Saturday. I knew I was in the right but I worked anyway. I put up with their cover-ups of mold and asbestos. They made a group shower room downstairs in one of the dorms and the previous showers (2 on each walk, 4 walks) were moldy and rotten. Instead of removing them they were covered up with 2×4 framing and sheetrock and painted to look like the regular walls. The kitchen buildings outside walls are asbestos material and were covered with tongue-and-groove boards instead of being removed. These are just a couple of examples of crooked cover-ups I’ve seen throughout D.O.C. I’ve done time in SMU, Windham, MSP, BCF, DCF, and Charleston.
Anyway, I put in for a D.O.T. job at Charleston and they denied me. They said I had a negative attitude. So I showed them negative attitude. Every staff member who talked down to me like I was a nobody I fired right back at them. Not enough to get a write-up but enough to let them know I wasn’t going to be disrespected. I was then placed on workhold [sic]. I asked Captain Starbird why. Some of you know him as the previous Unit Manager for the Supermax. Well 3 days later I was being shackled up for transport. He told me plain and simple administration doesn’t like me and no matter how good I did they would never give me a fair chance so he decided to ship me here to DCF where I’d have a fair chance. So I get here and lose my minimum. No write-up or anything thing.
I talked to [name omitted by Sophie] who is the mental health worker for DCF and Charleston. He told me Charleston was undecided on whether to ship me to the Farm or DCF. Well if the Farm was an option why did I lose my minimum. Well, I got sight of my transfer paper and Charleston wrote a lot of negative things like untrustworthy, disrespectful of officers. Well, I wouldn’t have been disrespectful to the officers if they didn’t talk to me like a scumbag. And if I was so untrustworthy why was I on the off-grounds crew and why was I helping teach a crew and why was I helping teach a Thinking For A Change class? A class that focuses on thinking before you react. So I lost my minimum for no reason. Charleston’s administration will actually tell you they try to push your buttons to “get you ready for the streets”. What kind of twisted method are these people taught? I thought minimum security was supposed to help us not drive us to even more stress and anger. After so much of that most inmates want to go back to MSP.
So after I got here I’m reading the Bangor Daily one morning and I come across my grandfather’s obituary. Yeah, quite a shock. I hadn’t talked to anybody in my family for 3 ½ years so it was all a lot to deal with. Now most of them keep in touch with me. A week and a half after I buried my grandfather (I got to go to his funeral) I divorced my wife. So between family issues, wife issues, facility issues, inmate drama and whatever other stress factors come into play we inmates have a lot on our plates.
I’ve been pushed past mental limits that I never knew I had and I’m still here chillin’ with no goodtime lost. Of all the people who know me they should know if someone of my temperament can make it through the wars within these walls, anybody can. It’s not easy but that’s what makes us soldiers on this battle field. They cannot break us if we look within ourselves and grab that resolve.
Most C/Os [sic] and administration thrive on our hate and anger. I see now we’re making a stronger stand than we ever have. “United we Stand, divided we Fall.” There’s so much truth in that statement.
To all my boys in Supermax, stay strong and keep fightin’ the good fight. To all inmates: We must face our problems, not run from them. The more problems we face, the stronger we become. One step at a time, always moving forward. Keep on keepin’ on.