Deplorable and despicable individuals do not exclusively reside behind penitentiary walls. Some of these individuals do not reside behind penitentiary walls, but can be found in penitentiary parking lots at shift change. After spending the lion’s share of my pathetic life dwelling in some of the most detestable human cesspools throughout this country, I believe that I am more than qualified to make this indubitable claim, which the following little story, unequivocally, brings to bear.
Some years ago, while serving time at Kansas State Penitentiary, I was assigned a job as an orderly in Lower C Cellhouse, which housed about a hundred mental health inmates. Buffing the main floor of Lower C one morning, I witnessed an inmate, Jake, in a confrontation with a cop at the bar/box at the front of the range. Both were irate, and the cop repeatedly told Jake to go lockdown. After a couple of sarcastic remarks from Jake, who was in his mid-fifties and truly not playing with a full deck, he locked-down.
A short time later, a Lieutenant and three cops showed up at Jake’s cell, telling him to get cuffed up. I was only a few feet from Jake’s cell, and it was obvious he was scared and did not want to come out of his cell. Lieutenant Lemon again told Jake to cuff-up and, when Jake refused, he ordered the cell door be opened. Two of the cops entered Jake’s little 5x8 cell, handcuffed him, and literally dragged him out. Jake was pleading with them, “I haven’t done anything. Why are you doing this to me?” But this was an act of futility. His pleas fell upon deaf ears. Stepping up to Jake, Lieutenant Lemon repeatedly hit him in the face, and continued to do so, even after Jake had collapsed. The two cops continued to hold Jake up. When I hollered, telling them, “He’s had enough. Stop!” Lemon looked at me and told me to, “Shut the f—k up, Purkey, and get the hell out of here.” Jake was bleeding profusely. But Lemon got in his face again and said, “If you ever threaten another one of my staff, I will kill your punk ass. You hear me?” With that, Jake was thrown back in his cell, and left lying on the concrete floor. Walking by me at the front of the range, Lemon sternly looked at me and said, “You didn’t see anything, Purkey. Just mind your own business. You hear me?” “You are right,” I responded.
Biding my time the following day, until an opportune moment came about, beyond prying eyes and meddlesome ears of both staff and inmates alike, I talked with Jake. I found him in devastating pain and despair in his cell. After asking how he was doing, he told me, “No one will help me. I need to see medical, but they will not call them. They will not allow me out of my cell to go to the dining room or to the yard for recreation. In fact, they brought me a disciplinary report last night for assault on Lemon. What can I do?” It was heart-wrenching to see the state he was in. His face was pulverized, swollen beyond recognition. His left eye had swelled completely shut, and he said that two of his teeth were cracked. Devastation and dire fear resonated in his voice, almost begging for help. “Tomorrow, when I come to work,” I told him, “I will bring you a grievance and I will keep a copy, so you can submit it to the Unit Team in redress of these issues. I saw the assault from start to finish, and we will include the fabricated disciplinary action Lemon issued you to cover up the assault, as well as the denied medical treatment and the other punitive actions being taken against you.” I promised, “Don’t worry, I will not leave you hanging after witnessing what they subjected you to. I will see you tomorrow!” Walking back up the range, I glanced over my shoulder and saw one of the cellblock cops walking up to Jake’s cell. He started speaking with him in a low voice. I pretty much knew what that meant, and knew that adversity was about to come my way. How severe that adversity would be was the pertinent question…
Arriving for work the following morning, I was informed by staff, without any reason given, that I had been reassigned and no longer worked in Lower C, and told that I needed to return to my own cellblock. Arriving back in A Block, I found my cell had been ransacked and left in total disarray and, shortly thereafter, I was placed in handcuffs and escorted to the A & T Building – better known as the White House. I was told that marijuana had been found during the cell shakedown, and that I was being placed in pre-hearing detention. The real deal was palpable, that I was being subject to retaliation for trying to help Jake with his issues against Lemon, and this reality was soon brought to bear.
A few days later, I was escorted to the Lieutenant’s Office in the A & T Building, where I was met by Lieutenant Lemon and a couple of his cronies. “I’ll make this short and sweet, Purkey,” Lemon told me. “You continue to help that mentally retarded inmate and cause me problems about something that is absolutely none of your business, and you die down in this son-of-a-bitch. Do you hear me?” I told Lemon, “I’ve been wanting to die since I was nine-years-old, and now you are saying that you can help me with this dream? You do whatever it is that you need to do, because I am not going to be intimidated by your ass. Do you hear me?” With that said, Lemon’s cronies yanked me out of my chair, where I was handcuffed behind my back, and slammed me, face-first, into the wall. Lemon grabbed me by the hair on the back of my head and slammed me, face-first, into the wall three more times. He then sternly told me, “You heard what I told you, Purkey, and if you keep up your defiant b-ll sh-t you are going to have a real bad day”.
It was almost a month later that I was, again, taken to the Lieutenant’s Office. However, this time I was being seen by one of the facility’s counselors, with whom I had a decent rapport. With a deep sigh, he told me, “We all know that this is b-ll sh-t why you’re down here, and I want to try and get you out of here today. So, please hear me out. Look here, Jake has been transferred to the State Hospital, where he can get both medical and mental health treatment, and Lemon no longer works here.” “What do you mean, Lemon no longer works here?” I bewilderedly asked him. “Two weeks ago, Lemon went home after his shift was over and, when he arrived home, his fourteen-year-old son was waiting for him in their garage. When he drove his car in the garage, his son shot him three times with a twelve-gauge shotgun, killing him. His son said that his dad had been molesting him for years, since he was a child. So, Jake is in the hospital, and Lemon is no longer here. Therefore, I am letting you out of here today, dismissing these bogus charges, and returning you to your job in Lower C Block. I am sorry this b-ll sh-t. happened,” he told me. “I am glad that Jake is receiving the treatment he needs, and I do appreciate your help.” I told Mr. Bolden, the counselor, before leaving the A & T Office.
|Wesley I. Purkey 14679-045|
United States Penitentiary
P.O. Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808