Monday, June 27, 2011

Life on Florida's Death Row

Florida currently has three hundred ninety something inmates condemned to die in Florida’s death chamber.  These inmates are split unequally between two prisons.  One being Union correctional Institution (UCI) P-Dorm death row housing that was built back in the early 90s.  P-Dorm was built to hold 335 death row inmates.  Due to the 14 cells designated to house Disciplinary Confinement, known as (DC), we only have approximately 320 death row inmates assigned to death row here at UCI.  FSP (Florida State Prison) is where the death chamber is located and houses the other 70 something inmates.  Mainly new arrivals are house there until space is available at UCI.  FSP also houses inmates who have had problems for one reason or another at UCI.  These prisons are located on the Union, Bradford county lines on State Road 16 located between Gainesville, Lake City and Jacksonville up in Florida’s Northern Region.  Inmates on Florida’s death row are classified as Administrative Confinement (A/C) under a new rule Chapter 33-601.830.  Before this time, there were no rules governing death row.  We are not classified into groups.  The sane and insane are housed together.  When you house a sane person around a mentally ill individual, it begins to take a toll on the sanity of the sane person.  This is not something they care about in the least little bit.  Your comfort, your sanity is not an issue.  We have white supremacist, Muslims, gang bangers all mixes together.  UCI has six wings with two floors on each wing and each wing has two sides, 14  9x7.. 63 square foot cells per side.  Each wing upstairs and downstairs has 56 cells.  We are permitted to have a TV, radio, fan and a battery operated razor which you must be able to afford to purchase off an overpriced canteen from funds that family or friends send.  We have a desk, TV stand, a solid metal bunk and a toilet and sink combination all mounted securely to the wall.  We are permitted two foot lockers.  One is for personal property and one for legal work.  Some guys spend 24 hours a day in these cells only coming out for three 5 minute showers a week.  There are two showers located at the front of each wing.  We are always handcuffed behind our backs before our cell doors are opened.  We are then escorted to the shower… the shower door is closed, locked and secured.  The handcuffs are then removed and we have approximately 5 to 7 minutes to shower and dry off.  We are then escorted back in the same manner and placed in our cells.  We get six hours of recreation a week.  It is currently being broken down into two three hour periods… which I am trying to change to get three two hour recreation periods because the yard officers can run us on Monday and Tuesday and then the next five days we are stuck in our cells.  Five straight days without a break is hell!!
We can also go to the law library once a week for two hours.  There we are locked in a secure 4x4 foot cell with a glass patrician.  On the other side is the law clerk who is from population.  They will bring us the legal material we request and slide it through a slot.  When you are finished, you return it in the same manner.

Anytime we leave our cells for what we call, “call outs” whether it is to the law library, medical, mental health, legal phone calls or visits we have to go through a strip search.  Most officers say “I don’t want to see it, get dressed”.

When we go to the recreation yard, hand cuffs are placed on until we get out there.  Then they are removed in a secure area between two gates.  The officer, after removing the handcuffs, opens the second gate that allows us on the yard where we can interact with one another by playing basket ball, volley ball, exercising on the dip and pull up bar or run or walk around.  They recently cut back on the numbers they put us out there in.  We were being put out there with between 30 and 40 other inmates which that yard is far to small for that many men.  Now there are maybe 20 of us out there at a time.
The only other time we don’t have handcuffs on is when we get a visit.  Our visiting park, call (VP) is a large room about 30 feet wide and 100 to 120 feet long that has 26 metal tables that has 4 attached metal stools.  An officer’s desk is up front.  There are four bathrooms, one male, one female for the visitors and two inmate bathrooms.  There are two soda machines, Pepsi products and a snack machine as well as a canteen window that you can order drinks, sandwiches, chips and microwavable foods.  There are three microwaves in the V.P.  We have to go through a dress out room and change from orange pants to white pants and orange shirts.  We then walk out into the VP, go to the sgt’s desk to check in and they tell you what table you are at.   Each table is marked with a number 1 through 26.  We usually already know for our visitor is already there.  We walk over, give our visitor a hug and kiss and then we decide what to do.  We can sit and talk, walk around the room or go order food and get a game to play.  Visits are on Saturday and Sunday from 9 am until 3 pm – six hours of freedom.  The one time you actually feel free.  You feel as if you are treated like a human being.  Very few people are lucky enough to get visits and even fewer get visits every week from wives, girlfriends or family.   Some guys have been here 20, 30 years and never got a visit.  Sad but true.

We have very little to look forward to in here.  We get mail five days a week Monday through Friday and it arrives any where from 6 to 9 pm.  It is a very sick feeling to see that mail man pass your cell without stopping.  I know because I’ve experienced it a lot these days.  Other than mail, visits and recreation, the only thing else to look forward to is canteen and if you have no family or friends then you have no canteen.  No deodorant, shampoo, lotions, powders, etc much less food.  We can order canteen once a week.  We turn the order in on Thursday and that order is scanned on Monday morning and delivered to us by Wednesday or Thursday.  When you have no money and you watch them roll past your cell, you can smell the food and they look in at you, look at your cell number and keep rolling.  It’s a very bad feeling, for not only do you feel unloved and abandoned but you know the canteen man is probably thinking, sorry man but no one loves you or cares…yes.. it’s not a good feeling.  If I have canteen and I’m around someone that doesn’t have anything then I share a little something.  You just have to have some type of compassion for you fellow human beings.  The food that we are served is “God awfull”.  That means terrible.  Most everything is processed to death and soybean patties are hard to eat.  The food here in the FDOC has really gone down hill in the past 5 to 10 years.  A lot of guys are getting cancer.  We don’t know if it’s the water or the food.  We’ve heard this place is built on a dump.  One thing is certain UCI is a multi million dollar unit that is only 20 years old and is falling apart.  The foundation is pulling away from the walls, there are cracks in the ceilings some of some of the cells big enough to stick your finger in.  There is mold and mildew in the ventilation system.  The plumbing is a mess.  Hundreds of gallons of fresh water are wasted every day here in P-Dorm because water buttons will get stuck and they don’t have the parts to fit it.  There are probably half a dozen to a dozen sinks running at any given time.  There is no air conditioning and in the summer time it’s 100 plus degrees in these cells.  It is like walking into an oven.  If dogs were treated like this in America, there would be an uprising of the people.  I guess they see us a less than animals.

Let me emphasize we do have some good professional officers in here.  But we also have those of the criminal element who commit assaults, steal, introduce drugs and contraband for financial gain.  We also have inmates who act like officers.  These inmates come over from population and some of the officers treat them as an equal.  The inmate then starts running the damn prison.  It’s really mind blowing.
We need a lot of serious changes in here and we are hoping that Mr. Edwin G. Buss is going to bring about these positive changes.  This is our life on Florida’s death row and I would like to thank you for allowing me to share this with you.

In Peace and Love,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Extreme Torture

This administration at Union Correctional Institution (U.C.I) used torture tactics on me for 5 days straight and this is how it happened.  On Wednesday, June 8, 2011 while I was housed in R-Dorm medical cell R-1-202S at approximately 1:30 PM a lieutenant, a sergeant and two COs showed up.  I was ordered to strip down to my boxer shorts.  I complied and was then handcuffed and placed in the hallway.  All of this can be seen on R-Dorm video, which I'm requesting to be held as evidence.  All of my property, clothing and bedding was removed.  For 5 days I was kept in this ice-cold cell with the air conditioning running with inadequate clothing to stay warm and nothing to sleep on but a steel plate or concrete floor.  Because of the cold I had to continuously walk all night!  I would lay down 5 or 10 minutes shivering before having to walk again to warm up a little.  This was extreme torture!  Because of the hunger strike and not eating in over 19 days and walking to exhaustion, I fell numerous times getting a cut over my right eye and bruising in my right knee.  As well as other bangs and bruises.  I would lie on the floor shivering eventually falling asleep only minutes at time from pure exhaustion.  My joints were hurting extremely, extremely bad from lying on the cold floor!  I was in pain like I have never felt before.  Late that Wednesday night I began throwing up which lasted three days nothing but bile and stomach acid.  I'm surprised I didn't get pneumonia from being held in those extreme temperatures lying on concrete.  These were the worst 5 days of my life.  I came very close to committing suicide to escape those torturous conditions.  I was sleep deprived, hurting and within 24 hours I was not thinking rationally.

I did nothing to deserve this.  I'm going to be calling for the Inspector General (IG) to give me a lie detector test as well as the Lt. That caused this.  I was told my property was taken because I had told the Lt that I was going to flood my cell.  The video will substantiate that this is a lie.  One of the CO’s came in after they took my property and said “I'm sorry, I tried to talk them out of it.”  I had a right under Article one Section 23 of the Florida Constitution to conduct this peaceful protest hunger strike without retaliation.  The Lt. Violated this constitutional right as well as my sixth, eighth and fourteenth amendment constitution rights by denying me due process and putting me through measures of extreme torture in order to break me.  Even when I broke, the administration continued their acts of torturous treatment until Monday at approximately 10:00 am when CO’s can be seen on video returning my mattress and clothes.  During those five days I was also denied access to my attorney and I was denied access to not only my mail, paper, pens and envelopes but to grievance forms as well.  This is a violation of 42 UCS 1997 (e).  All of which I'm going to have substantiated through a lie detector test.  A lawsuit is going to be filed to insure that no one else is tortured in this manner that they tortured me those 5 days.  That was 5 days of pure and total hell that I wouldn't put my worse enemy through.

Please download this essay and take it to Amnesty International, the ACLU or anyone else that will listen.  This was a brutal act of torture through sleep deprivation, inadequate clothing, extreme temperatures and pain from lying on concrete.  The concrete was better than the steel bed with no bedding.  Please help me prevent this from ever happening to anyone else.

In peace and love,


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hunger Strike Update

On behalf of Ronnie, thank you to everyone for their support during his hunger strike.  It has meant everything to him and he is beyond grateful.  According to his mother, Ronnie ended his hunger strike after 3 weeks, on Friday June 10.  He is in the medical unit and has been taking water, and although he initially had trouble keeping food down, he is beginning the journey to recovery.

News will be posted as it's received.

Thank you.

Hunger Strike Update Day 16

June 5, 2011 I’m taking Zantac now so the stomach acid is under control and the stomach and abdominal pains have lessened.  Friday I was authorized a 3 minute phone call with my mom, which is unheard of.  They allowed it hoping she would talk me out of this.  I did agree to fight for medical issues only.  Since the administration has already agreed to give me the Hepatitis A & B vaccine, I’m fighting now primarily for a liver biopsy to be able to determine the damage that HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) has done to my liver.  I’m also fighting for proper diet that consists of no processed foods or sugars.  Doctors who specialize in HCV recommend that I eat fresh fruits and vegetables and lean low fat meats such as fish and white-meat chicken and turkey.  None of these items are provided on the regular FDOC diet.  Fruit is only served every 4 weeks  and nothing but processed meats are served to Death Row, which contain numerous chemicals that my already damaged liver has to work harder to filter out.  I’ve filed a grievance that will be going out in the morning.  I’ll post their response here on my blog.

I hope to end my hunger strike in the next week.  I hate to drop other issues but I’m doing this for my mom.  Thank you for you time and for those of you who have supported me.

In peace and love,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hungar Strike Update Day 10

Violence breeds violence, intolerance breeds division.  I’m currently on day 10 of this hunger strike and a lot has come to my mind.  I seem to be able to see more clearer as each day rolls by.  Many people do not support what I’m doing and although it’s disappointing, I also understand.  No two people will agree on everything – so in some cases when you can’t see the other individual’s side… it’s best to just agree to disagree.

I am fighting the only way I have to fight, by doing a peaceful non-violent protest to raise awareness to issues that are not only affecting me, but that are affecting others as well.  I have however, decided to stop allowing the anger to eat me up.  I’ve had a lot of anger in my heart towards Warden Reddish and I’ve been way harsher with him than I should have been.  As you know my writings are on pure raw emotions.  I’ve decided some of that needs to change and hopefully it will.  I did meet with Mr. Reddish on Friday May 27, 2011 and discussed several of these issues.

1. I really do want the following changes to take place either through Mr. Reddish or Mr. Buss.
It was a bogus Disciplinary Report (DR).  I did not attempt to do business with a staff member or volunteer and for what reason alone the DR needs to be thrown out.
2. I want all reprisals to end.  I’ll bring the grievances to an end.  If I have an issue, I’ll write a request or letter.
3. I’d like my contact visits restores.  The rule I’m being held under contact visits with immediate family only does not exist.
4. The cell moves that are causing all this friction among the inmates on death row needs to be stopped.  Not everyone likes each other and not everyone can live around each other.
5. We need light switches place in the A/C, D/C cells so the lights cannot be used as a form of punishment causing sleep deprivation.  Cell lights are on for 18 to 19 hours a day.
6. Prisoners on Disciplinary Confinement (DC) need to be permitted books, magazines and newspapers, Chapter 33-FAC does not prohibit it and the American Correctional Association (ACA) standards for adult corrections facilities also recommends it.
7. DC prisoners need to be given the same 6 hours recreation per week.  Please see Exhibit (A) 33.601.830 Death Row F.A.C. (7) (i) and (7)(i)2.  Recreation is only to be denied if there is a “Major” rule violation, and only for 15 days.  D.C. inmates are denied recreation for the first 30 days which goes against the rules.
8. It is also recommended by the A.C.A. that D.C. prisoners be allowed to order food items from the canteen which needs to be considered due to the lack of food we are served.
9. When placed on Administrative Confinement (A/C) the visitation should not be denied, unless there is a “Major” rule violation.  This is hurting our family and friends who travel hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles and spend hundreds and thousands of dollars usually months in advance for the visits.  Sometimes visits are being taken away for minor rule violations that could take place at the last minute.  This is a very serious issue the needs to be addressed.  If nothing else, non-contacts visits should be permitted because this is punishing both family and friends.
10. I have a liver disease Hepatitis C which I’m not getting treatment for.  I need the following:
     a) The Hepatitis A and B vaccine.
     b) A diet consisting of no processed foods or sugar.
     c) A liver biopsy which is the only way to know the true conditions of the liver.

All I’m asking for is to be treated fair and equally.  I’m not asking for any more than that.  Mr. Buss and Mr. Reddish are Christians.  I ask them both to please consider Hebrews 13:33 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisons and those who are mistreated as if you yourself were suffering.
I’m asking for the mercy and compassion of these men to consider the above needed changes in order to reduce our suffering.  Thank you for your time and consideration and for bringing this to the attention of Mr. Berry V. Reddish and Mr. Edwin G. Buss.

Respectfully submitted in Love and Peace
Ronald W. Clark, Jr.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Request for Support

At the request of Ronnie's mom, I am posting this information.  

Please consider contacting the following people in support of Ronnie:

Mr. Edwin Buss  850/488-7480
Warden Reddish  386/431-2000
Regional director  386/693-6000