First Draft, Summary
Introduction: What is "custody"? One big paper game invented by word magicians. Many fathers I have personally talked to, who lost in custody, rationalize the process to make excuses for their own lack of understanding. Even with testimonies on the Internet, "You can't win so why even try", or the popular, "You can't fight city hall". If you see a connection about custody in this story, or not, depends on your shame.
Yes, I'm sure you heard that familiar saying, "You can't fight city hall". Hear it enough, think it enough, chant it enough and...this is a story of my one experiment many years ago. Initially, back in 1985, I begin writing a thesis called Psychographics, The Paper Game. (I didn't invent the game, I wrote about it. A game that is intrinsic within bureaucracy, no matter what department or agency.)
I spent 7 1/2 years in a bureaucratic university (aka "prison"). Writing the thesis was an arduous task. The first two years were spent observing, gathering material and taking notes. Regretfully, I have to give credit to one man who was instrumental in vastly accelerating my understanding of the process. He was, besides being a fellow convict, both a retired school principle and army officer: personification of the ultimate bureaucrat. (More about him later.)
In prison there is a black market. Virtually anything is obtainable for the right price. (e.g. I saw MORE drugs in jail than I ever did on the street.) I took full advantage of the market. What was I after? Information. After all, knowledge is power. I was able to get a complete copy of the Operation Manuals for the Department of Correction, prefixed with "OM-" and a select amount of sensitive memos. (Several reams of paper in all.) Best way to describe it was like reading the diary of a loose woman, who by day displays herself as a lady of social standing and pedigree; by night, a creature of diabolical enterprise. (No wonder they wanted to hide this information.)
Breaking sequence for a moment, a contact was made, price negotiated, and I was informed as to what was in my "jacket" (inmate file). At that time I had over three more years before I reached my minimum. What was in my jacket? In part, letters from several "government" officials who did not want me released on my minimum. Why? I will attempt to cover that in a different section of this web site. Click Here to review Case 506 of 1981 Revisited.
So a question presented itself, how do I get out on my minimum? (As for my prison record, clean. Perfect conduct.) The way things looked it wouldn't matter. After spending several months reading and digesting the manuals, which included the Security Manual, a catch twenty-two presented itself. At first glance useless information. Use it, comment from it and you disclose it. Then everyone starts asking questions where you got the information. ("Security" is religious cult word in prison. The slightest hint that it has been breached or compromised, wow. The administration goes into panic mode.)
I began my career, so to speak, as a professional critic of both religion and politics while in prison. The man of many letters. Interaction between staff and inmates is perfunctory at best; like the enthusiasm one would take sorting recyclables. (Example: if you would fill out a request slip to a case worker, you're lucky if they read past the first sentence. Burn out is chronic and epidemic. They just don't care.) From reading the manuals, even if they don't read it, they have to file it. Second, rest assure they didn't want to read my letters. I was able to use that to my advantage.
Having a theory is one thing, but like any theory, you must see if it works. Conduct a few experiments to check the results. After many months of preparation is was time to begin. A few manuals, on the front page, were rubber stamped "confidential". (Just because someone uses a stamper doesn't make it a valid classification. I checked the legal standing of the status.)
Back then I penned the phrase, "Testing the waters". I first wrote a letter to my case worker and quoted from one section of the Treatment Manual. Nothing. I waited a week and then wrote a letter to the deputy superintendent quoting from a different manual. Nothing. I wrote to the superintendent. Nothing. Sure enough, they aren't reading the letters. Repeated this for several weeks back and forth to various personnel. Nothing. (Before I began this test, I saturated the office with one complaint after another. What happened? The superintendent gets a letter, sees that a copy went to the caseworker, so his letter went right in the trash because the caseworker, by internal policy, had to time stamp the correspondence and place it in the file. Perfect.
The next phase was writing to Correction's main office in Camp Hill. (By this time I had already previously saturated them with letters.) What happened? Nothing. (During this time I used a "blue slip" on a prison guard. What is a blue slip? Not only do inmates have a case file, but so do the staff. A blue slip is the most sinister of three classes of misconducts: the invisible misconduct report. (In theory, if a guard sees an inmate doing something strange, that is not actually a violation of the rules, outside issuing a "misconduct", they are to document the matter and it is placed in the inmate's file. The inmate has no idea that it ever happened or what was written. So, the "blue slip" becomes an instrument of poison. The symbolic impact of the blue color, as the file is opened by some third party reviewer, years later during parole consideration, instantly prejudices the reader without them even having to read what was documented.
After several months it was time to stand on thin ice. Prior to this, all notification that I was in possession of the manuals, was contained within the loop of corrections. The next phase was writing to congressmen, senators and other personnel of other departments. Sent out the letters and waited.
Breaking sequence for a moment, as for the
manuals, copies of the juicy stuff were made and distributed to two
inmates I could trust. I had to make sure the bulk of the manuals
were in my cell. (During the time I had the manuals, part of routine,
cells are randomly searched by the block guards. I was able to make
the manuals invisible and the guards didn't even see them. How? Using
the magic label, "Legal Material". An inmate, who worked in
the print shop, was able to make the professional looking labels. As
a species, esp. in that kind of environment, they are so conditioned
with labels and the subliminal impact of color identification.
Perfect.) The prison knew I wasn't into the drug scene, gambling or
other vice operations. From time to time, I made sure they
"found" something to focus their attention on, like having
too many pictures on the wall; so they had something to enter into
the search report, so it looked like they did their job.
Then came the day: I was called to Control. I walked into the office and there were no less than seven guards in the room. As I sat down, the lieutenant, with a mixture of a question and "it has come to our attention", he asked me were did I get copies of the manuals. I told him that it is documented in my file that I do not make oral statements and that I was more than willing to cooperate with his investigation on the condition that he send me a written interrogatory and allow me to answer in writing. (He turned beat red and started yelling to no end.) After reading the manuals, when ever such an investigation is conducted, all those present had to sign the report. Mixed with the memos I read, the usual event is an inmate says one thing and the report documents another. With so many signatures on the report, who's version would be believed?
Next, I was escorted to my cell by the shake-down crew. After they gathered up the manuals, seen how much was there, the look on their face is still beyond words to describe. I was immediately placed on "house arrest". The next day I received a first class misconduct for "possession of contraband". (If found guilty meant at least 90 days in restricted housing and at least a year hit when I came up for parole. Was I taking a chance provoking an encounter?
A hearing was scheduled before a packed audience. I already had my brief done weeks in advance. Hearing Examiner? Mr. Kane. When the hearing began I presented my brief and said nothing. I was summarily found guilty and sentenced to 90 days in the hole. As for routine, they place handcuffs on you and you're escorted to the small lobby inside Control waiting to be taken to the hole. (Usually, before such a bane hearing a cell is already prepared and immediately after being found "guilty" taken away.)
The gamble was afoot. After waiting in the lobby for almost an hour, I knew they blinked. Sure enough, the captain approached me, with a sullen look, and said your sentenced has been changed to 90 days cell restriction. I appealed to the three panel review board. Two weeks later my sentence was reduced to time served. I appealed to the next phase, the superintendent. I was exonerated. The last phase was getting the misconduct expunged from my record.
Legal argument: In short, I argued the only reason the administration found out I had the manuals is that I told them over two months prior. I focused on the poorly written Inmate Manual, issued to inmates that read "if you come across contraband you are to report it" and that the definition of "contraband" was vague. I argued, that is exactly what I did and complied with their "rules". Within my many letters, I asked questions about the manuals being "confidential". It seems the administration wanted to keep the matter an in-house secret. The next two phases of misconduct appeal is Correction's main office then the Commonwealth Court. (From reading the manuals I discovered that two "records" are kept.) After reading the manuals, plain as day, everybody is lying to somebody else. One report is kept for in-house purposes and another is sent to the mother hen in Camp Hill. The superintendent, for his own ass, had to whitewash the mess. Perfect.
I then immediately filed a petition in Luzerne County Court for return of property. A hearing was scheduled. The gamble part 2. I lost, but it didn't matter for I obtained the secondary benefit. They tried so hard to keep this embarrassment inside their loop and I spread it before the county bar. What happened? The superintendent had enough of me. They wasted no time in transferring me to a minimum security facility. To do that they had to change the security status in my file and to do that, make a few letters in my file disappear. Perfect.
Moral of the story: I was released on my minimum. Maybe I beat them at their own paper game.
As for the manuals, if the public got a hold of them, read what the heck was going on, what a joke. Prison is big business. (Back in 1986, cigarette sales averaged over $35,000 dollars a month.) Favorite pastime? Using the misconduct procedure to artificially generate statistics to gain federal funding and for promotions. One big paper game. How prison "disturbances" were deliberately provoked to boost up statistics and continue the propaganda hype of the "criminal element". The psychology manual was extremely sinister; impacted my selection for a title to the thesis. (These professionals don't "lie", they invent alternative explanations. Word magicians.)
I have plans to publish my thesis, over 600 pages, maybe as the ultimate act of revenge against bureaucracy. Bureaucrats think this paper game is some esoteric trade secret; carefully guarded by political druids. To expose it you nullify it, primarily within bureaucracy itself for they lose the mystique, the magic goes poof.
Stay tuned for an update.
Footnote: Attorney Jackman is trying to make the argument that I am some sort of physical threat. He is so foolish. Inside the two-dimensional, virtual reality of the board game, that is all he has for argument.