Editor’s Note: In March 2010, we began posting the work of Enceno Macy, an inmate in a US prison. Enceno’s articles are sent handwritten, then typed and edited by a trusted editor. Comments typed into the response area will be sent directly to Enceno. Thanks for reading and for the warm response he’s received each time. –efc & ajp
By Enceno Macy
“Many men are so amazed and astonished with fear, they know not where they are, what they say, what they do.
“…They that live in fear are never free, resolute, secure, never merry, but in continual pain: … no greater misery, no rack, nor torture like unto it, ever suspicious, anxious, solicitous, they are childishly drooping without reason, without judgment. … It causeth oftentimes sudden madness, and almost all manner of diseases. … Fear makes our imagination conceive what it list, invites the devil to come to us… and tyranniseth over our phantasy more than all other affections, especially in the dark. We see this verified in most men: what they fear they conceive, and feign unto themselves; they think they see goblins, hags, devils. … Augustus Caesar durst not sit in the dark, nisi aliquo assidente, saith Suetonius, nunquam tenebris exigilavit.”
– Robert Burton (1577-1640), “Anatomy of Melancholy,” 1621
Here I am writing from seg (solitary), as described in previous posts. I have been moved once again to another prison, cutting short the welding and college classes I was doing so well in. It is enough to make you wonder if the system simply cannot tolerate a prisoner doing well. Without a single record of violence, I can now claim the dubious accomplishment of having been in every major prison in the state.
Where I have been moved to is as far from my home and family — 500 miles — as you can get without leaving the state, and indeed if we could see out in that direction we’d be looking into the next state. The first thing you learn on coming here is that this place is huge. I mean really big. It’s got the equivalent of four different prisons in one. When the bus brought us here, it took staff two hours to come get us — every other prison it takes ten minutes — and everything is so far away they bring a golf cart to get us. There are three different sections, each with its own rec yard, gym and chow hall. The place has over 3,300 inmates, three mainline units, a four section hole (solitary): a Disciplinary Unit (DU), a Special Management Unit (SMU) for nutcases, an Intensive Management Unit (IMU) for long-term solitary, and a Special Housing Unit (SHU) for really bad guys who do five years there at a time. Oh, and a Protective Custody Unit. That’s a lot of bed space, so things take a long time to happen.
This place has a mixed reputation for racism and violence, but supposedly is not so bad as others I’ve been in. Right now I am focused on trying to clean a horridly filthy cell. The main negative I’ll face when I go mainline in a few days is that there are a lot more politics here, so it will be hard at first to fit in. My full concentration will be on staying out of fights. Since I am new here, I will once again have to go through the usual tests. Facing that ordeal confronts me once more with fears I hoped not to experience again.
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