It has been a month since George and I were arrested for the shooting death of a police officer, and we have become sharply aware of the difference in treatment of those charged in the death of a citizen and those charged with the death of an officer. George and I were both placed in solitary confinement, which was fine with us. At least in solitary we can read and write in peace. The night that we were arrested, after we were given our cell basics, the jailers then came back and took our sheets, blanket, washcloth, towel and toothbrush with no explanation. For over a week I lay on a bare mattress cot, because they keep the temperature cold and I am very susceptible to cold, I had trouble sleeping. I would awaken after two hours and have to pace my cell to keep warm. Often I would awaken, shivering so badly that my ribs ached. One night I awoke to find not only my body was completely cold outside, but I felt cold inside. I began shivering, uncontrollably, and I managed to crawl to the bars. Because I was being checked every hour they soon discovered me laying on the floor trying to raise myself up on the bars. The jailers, countermanding orders from on high, quickly got me a blanket. I spent the next eighteen hours in my cot, wrapped in a blanket, before I finally felt normal.
They wouldn"t allow George or I to shower for a week. Without a towel and washcloth, with only soap and toothpaste, I tried to keep clean the best I could. I managed to wash my hair in the small sink, and when my jail whites got soiled I had to spot clean them and wear them wet. When two police officers returned to interview me later that week, I asked them why we were being treated this way. They said it was because they thought we might attempt suicide. I asked them, how does treating us this way make us feel less inclined to commit suicide? They looked at each other in embarrassment. They returned the missing items.
They had left George"s wound unattended for that same week after that initial treatment at the hospital, and he began to worry when he felt infection start in. He was supposed to be given antibiotics, on doctor"s orders, but he never received any. Only after that first week did they finally treat it with hydrogen peroxide. After a week they began to let us correspond back and forth. If I leave a letter for him, the jailer will carry it to him, and vice-versa. The envelope must be left open so the officer in charge can read it. George and I write, every day, of our love for each other, and remind each other of our most intimate moments. We know the jailers are also sneaking peeks at our letters because the smile, broadly, as they hand them to us. We suspect that our daily mail to each other is their high point of the day, as well as ours.
Whenever we make an appearance in court we must wear handcuffs and leg irons. There is no purpose for the leg irons other than pure punishment. Where are we to escape in a labyrinth of locked doors while being escorted by two guards? The leg irons are brutal on your skin. If you walk too fast and pull on them, the leg irons automatically tighten, cutting into your skin. After wearing them twice, I developed deep sores on my ankles.
Although some of the deputies are no longer so harsh toward us, most of them either glare at us or look away if we look into their face. Though we have not caused any trouble or disobeyed any commands, some order us about in the typical monotone of someone commanding a slave. The cells we are in are dirty. The one I am in hadn"t been used for a long time. I had asked for cleaning materials twice so I could clean my cell myself, but I received no response. I finally told the jailer that it was wrong to force someone to live in a germ infested environment. Within two hours I was given cleaning materials.
All our mail going out and coming in is examined, photocopied and put aside until they get around to delivering it. We had mail from friends that had been delivered up to two weeks after the post marked date. We suspected that our outgoing mail was being held. It was only after we had been assigned lawyers that our mail was finally released, confirmed by the several days difference between the dates of our letters and the post marks.
The food is the only good thing here. It is home cooking typical of Alabama and they are generous with their portions as well.
They keep the lights on twenty-four hours, at least in my cell and George"s. We don"t complain however. It allows us to read in light whenever we wish. It also helps keep the cockroaches at bay.
Since we"ve been appointed lawyers things started loosening up . We finally received all the bedding and linen etc. We were let out for a couple of hours each day to shower and make phone calls. George finally got to shave. It was obvious we were receiving selective treatment. Every time the shift changed, the rules changed. One day they would put me back in my cage at exactly two hours, other times they would let me stay out until 10:00 PM at lock up. Now they let us both stay out all the time.
When word finally did get out through Gary Hunt and the fax network of our situation here a flurry of fares reached the Sheriff concerning our shabby treatment, particularly the lack of medical treatment George was getting and that we were not getting our glasses. The next day George was taken immediately to a doctor who looked at his arm and prescribed the antibiotic he should of received three weeks earlier. They sent student nurses over to interview not only George and me but other inmates here to get medical histories and to give physical exams, a procedure that apparently hadn"t been done in some time. I saw one female inmate being taken to the hospital to be treated for some ailments. The nurses came back to my cell to draw blood so my thyroid medicine could be prescribed. That night I even received new sheets to replace the thin shabby ones I"d been given. The DA finally relented and said if our lawyers would file the motion to release our glasses he wouldn"t fight it anymore. I have mine now.
As a result of the faxes and phone calls the Patriot community sent out, a whole group of neglected inmates were given improved care and treatment. George and I are proud and grateful that indirectly, anyway, the help we received benefited many others. Despite these improvements we are always reminded that we are in jail at the total control of others. There are still the loud echoing sounds of the clank of iron doors. There is the monotone gray and beige bare surroundings. There is a total aloneness of enforced solitude. When you enter the booking area of this jail you can"t miss the sign posted at the window.
This is not Burger King.
This is the county jail.
We don"t do it your way.
We always do it our way.
So sums up very accurately life in a jail. George and I are determined to endure this patiently, in the hope that it will end our way, not guilty!
/s/ Lynda Lyon
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