Thursday, October 15, 2020

Waking Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed in the ADX Control Unit

By Edgar “G.Bam Shango” Pitts 

I wake up every morning in an ADX cell on a one-sided bed. As I lay in the bed before I reluctantly get up to prepare myself for the day, my mind is bombarded with all the worries that are unique to prison life and are all too common in the ADX Control Unit. I wonder, how many more mornings will I have to wake up on this one-sided bed? But this question is quickly answered by the reality of my life sentence. At times I also wonder, is it even worth getting up to contend with the issues I’m confronted with? These issues include disrespectful inmates and guards, who are emboldened by the protective custody nature of solitary confinement. 

I’ve been waking up on the wrong side of the bed for the entire 25 years of my imprisonment. The ADX cell that I’m confined to is a perfect metaphor for that reality. The bed in this cell is made of concrete and fixed to the wall, which makes it one-sided. This wall prevents me from waking up on the right side of the bed. This concrete wall is symbolic of the psychological wall that robs me daily of peace of mind, it is symbolic of the bigotry of the guards who utilize their official capacity as correctional officers to settle personal scores against inmates they don’t like, and it is emblematic of the maze of laws, policies, rules, and customs that prison officials use to keep us down. 

I’m one of the 75 inmates housed in the Control Unit at ADX. The Control Unit is one of ADX’s most restrictive units. It is reserved for inmates who have been accused of committing serious offenses while incarcerated. I’m in the Control Unit for killing my cellmate in the general population unit at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater, California. 

“Control Unit” means just that, control. To be moved from our cell to anywhere else in the prison, we must first submit to restraints: our hands must be cuffed and feet shackled while being escorted by three guards. Restraints are removed when we are placed in the law library and the recreation room, then replaced when we are done and returned to our cell. These restraints condition the mind to get used to being physically restrained. I remember how strange and awkward I felt after being under this type of condition for a prolonged period of time, then placed in a less restrictive environment where I was able to interact and socialize with others freely and without any restraints. 

Conditioning of the mind isn’t only done by physical means alone. The treatment we receive by prison officials and fellow prisoners can be just as detrimental to the mind as being physically abused and tortured. Most often when mental health professionals study these types of restrictive housing conditions they mainly focus on the isolation. But they ignore the treatment prisoners receive. Basic observation reveals that if a person is harassed, taunted and bullied, that poses as harm to target such campaigns. This harm is significantly increased if that person becomes the victim of such treatment while also isolated and encaged with no way of preventing or avoiding such abuse. 

Food as a Weapon of Control

Food, more than any other thing, is essential to life. When you are a prisoner and you’re isolated and encaged, and your only source of food comes from those who have been carrying out a campaign of harassment against you, then the food becomes a source of stress and psychological pain. We are fed three times a day by various guards, some of whom can’t be trusted with our food, and some we simply don’t know if we can trust or not. 

There are certain guards who use the food to engage in psychological warfare against inmates they don’t like, like spitting in our food. When they serve us food, they make us believe our food isn’t safe to eat; they serve us the food trays with mischievous grins on their faces, then say “enjoy” to arouse suspicions in our minds about the food, which is just as effective psychologically as if they were to spit in our food right in front of us. These antics begin at breakfast, thus setting a bad mood for the entire day. 

In a lockdown prison like ADX, the food is prepared in the kitchen by food service officials. Then it is delivered to various units, including the Control Unit, for assigned guards to serve. When food service is derelict in their duties, by serving us inadequate food portions, unsanitary food trays or poor nutrition, and we complain about such inadequacies, food service retaliates against us by making the food worse. So, there is no escaping the weaponry of food by prison officials, thus making the food a source of constant stress and worry. Food is one of the most effective ways of exerting control over prisoners. Our emotions, our health, and our psychological well-being can easily be manipulated by food. This fact is made apparent by the vindictive and manipulative nature of some of the prison officials that have been given control over us. 

The Control Unit, at a cellular level, represents the masquerade of prison life in general. Here you can find confidential informants masquerading as honorable men, sex offenders professing to be morally decent, the exposed and discredited attempting to rescue their reputation from shame by trying to shame others to make themselves relevant to a prison culture that is not worthy of respect, and white supremacist inmates with Nazi insignia (police badges) tattooed on their bodies that display their identification with a police state like Nazi Germany, yet they expect to be taken seriously when they pay lip service to a mythical convict code that they most only selectively abide by. 

One day a white inmate got into an argument with a guard. After a back and forth of some heated words, I heard the inmate say to the white guard quite assertively, “You’re not going to treat me like a nigger.” That same day when I was using the law library, which is directly facing the white inmate’s cell, he slid a note from his cell into the law library. In the note he apologized for using that racial slur by saying it was a figure of speech and he didn’t mean any disrespect. I acknowledged receiving the note and promptly returned to using the law library. His apology was a futile attempt to obscure the obvious. It is generally understood by any observant inmate that white inmates can leverage their racist views with guards of similar beliefs to get their way. This is demonstrated during cell rotations which occur once a month. The very same inmate who demanded not to be “treated like a nigger” also told the guards that he didn’t want to be rotated to a cell after a “nigger.” He was accommodated by his uniformed ideological cohorts. 

Guards with white supremacist beliefs are authorized by their official capacities to strip search inmates, give us orders, and use force against us. They are given these controls over black inmates that they would otherwise be without had they not been employed as correctional officers. 

So, the prison setting is the ideal place for white supremacists to practice their defunct and racist beliefs over black inmates and receive a salary for doing so. Prisons are therefore their cathedrals, their Notre Dame. And I wake up every day in this world on the wrong side of the bed. 

One day I witnessed the spectacle of a team of mainly white guards use force to extract a black inmate named Womback from his cell. They had all sorts of use of force gadgets like gas tanks, shields, and less than lethal weapons. They appeared to be in a festive but aggressive mood that displayed their eagerness to use force and not to resolve the conflict with any other means other than force. 

Womback was housed several cells away from mine. Since the use of force was imminent, I started to prepare myself for the impending gas by using my towel as a gas mask. As the gas was discharged into his cell, it traveled through the range causing me to cough and gasp for clean air. 

Then I heard the team storming the cell while screaming their demands that muffled Womback’s defiant screams of his own. He was outnumbered and eventually overpowered, restrained, and controlled. Then they marched him naked past my cell and down the range. 

The racial dynamic was obvious to see. The white guards triumphantly marching a naked black inmate down the range like a prized body. This was designed to demean and humiliate, not only him, but all black inmates. He was unnecessarily stripped naked by the guards in his cell, then given the walk of shame. Later on, when the orderly for the range came out, I heard him talking to another inmate about the incident. He said that Womback was a sex offender and a rat. He obviously approved of the way the guards handled the extraction and may even have been cheerleading the assault by giving them a thumbs up. 

I wasn’t surprised by their jubilation because these inmates are white supremacists. They enjoy seeing black inmates being mistreated by the guards. When they do try to act sympathetically, it is just that, a pathetic act to deceive. They vicariously associate themselves with the guards’ injustice against black inmates, which fuels their false sense of superiority, a superiority that is believed by the condition. 

So, when I overheard them labeling Womback a sex offender and a rat, I was not convinced. I was suspicious of the source of their information. One day I heard a guard making the same accusation against Womback. Then I wondered, who was influencing who? Was it the white inmates influencing the guards, or were the guards the ones influencing the inmates? It was a moot point because it was obvious they were cohorts. 

Campaign of Harassment as a Weapon of Control

When the guards use force to extract black inmates from their cells, like they did to Womback, it is usually preceded by a campaign of harassment that includes: (1) spitting in our food; (2) taunting us by name calling; (3) labeling inmates as rats, bugs, sex offenders, etc.; (4) messing with our mail; (5) fabricating incident reports against us; and (6) turning black inmates against each other. 

The one guard who personifies this rogue agenda is Ankastor, who, despite many complaints being filed against him for this sort of misconduct, remains the number one officer in the Control Unit. This demonstrates that the agenda may not be so rogue after all, but the unofficial policy of ADX. 

Ankastor is a tattooed white boy, reminiscent of the Percy character in the movie The Green Mile. Like that character, he is a mischievous, vindictive, clueless fool. I’ve witnessed him spit in an inmate’s food, he has fabricated an incident report against me, he is actively working to turn black inmates against each other, and he taunts inmates that he doesn’t like by calling us disrespectful names. 

My problems with Ankastor first started not because of what he did to me, but because of what I witnessed him do to another inmate. He is one of the main guards who use food as a weapon against inmates. Another example of how this is done is when guards put our food in our cells, out of view of the camera, while we’re at rec. Thus, leaving our food in our cell to get cold and exposed to germs. Also, when the guards are out of view of the camera, they are free to tamper with our food. However, to complain about these antics is to risk retaliation. 

One day when I was at rec, Ankastor and another guard, Rose, were serving food. I saw them enter inmate Bell’s cell with his food trays, which gave them cover from the camera. I had an obstructed view into the cell from the rec room. Ankastor carried the food trays while Rose stood by nervously. My suspicion that something was amiss was quickly realized when I saw Ankastor lift the lid on one of the trays and spit in it, then place the trays on Bell’s cell desk. Then they exited the cell and continued to serve food to other cells. 

To have witnessed this cowardly act for myself confirmed all of my suspicions. It was evident that when certain guards would mischievously tell us to “enjoy” our food with silly grins on their faces, they were playing more than just mind games. They were actually spitting in our food. 

When I was returned to my cell, which faced the rec room, they looked at me suspiciously as they gave me my food trays. It was obvious that they knew I had witnessed what they did with Bell’s food. This moment, more than any, is responsible for my problem with Ankastor. He knew I was a witness to his mischief. As they left my cell, I inspected my food for any signs of contamination. They didn’t have a chance to be alone in my cell out of the view of the camera to be able to mess with my food, but my paranoia was justified. 

As I was eating my food, I heard them return Bell to his cell from rec. I then heard him complaining about his food. An argument that lasted for several minutes ensued, then it was over. 

When I had the opportunity to talk to Bell, he said that when he was returned to his cell one of the guards told him quite treacherously to “enjoy” his food, which made him suspicious as they intended. He then inspected his food, which was cold and looked tampered with, so he didn’t eat. 

He was the target of a harassment campaign that had the approval of the executive staff. This became apparent to me one day when the executive staff was making their rounds. The warden walked by my cell, then soon thereafter I heard a guard yelling, “Stop resisting!” I heard Bell answer emphatically, “I’m not resisting.” This immediately made me suspicious because guards usually yell “stop resisting” to inmates they are assaulting to cover up and justify such assaults. The same laws that are supposed to protect us from abusive and sadistic guards, also tell them how to abuse and kill us and get away with it. This explains why they felt the need to scream “stop resisting” when they knew Bell was not resisting. 

My suspicions were validated when I next talked to Bell. He said that the warden entered the vestibule of his cell with several other guards, who demanded Bell show respect to the warden or he would be made an example of. Bell was taken aback because he didn’t even know the warden. He asked, “What are you talking about?” His question was taken as defiance. The warden told him not to “bitch out” and then exited the vestibule of the cell, leaving his goons to make an example out of Bell. 

They told him to cuff up, and as soon as he submitted to restraints and was in the process of being removed from the cell he was assaulted by a guard who yelled, “Stop resisting!” He was then taken out of the cell, off the range, and placed in four-point restraints; not because he was unruly or a threat to the safety and security of the institution, but to be made an example of. 

To be four-pointed is to be rendered helpless; to be four-pointed for no reason is to be rendered hopeless. It is the ultimate enforcement of the power of those who have been given control over us. In this case, it was a clear abuse of power that amounted to torture. To be four-pointed is to be strapped by the hands and feet to a bed, then left in that helpless condition to think and hear your thoughts reverberate in your head, to worry and to turn your worries into a reality, to get angry and to be consumed by your anger, to feel sorrow and to feel cornered by your sorrow, to urinate and defecate on yourself, and to be rendered hopeless. This is more than a time-out for adults. This is a method to break and control the human spirit. Not too long ago an inmate committed suicide soon after being taken out of the four-point restraints. 

Bell was left in the four-point restraints for about 24 hours. He was then returned to an empty cell. His personal property and the government-issued TV were confiscated. An empty cell is a lonely and desolate place, one that causes the mind to worry and venture off to a maze of anxiety. It is devoid of books and other amenities that prisoners usually use to interrupt the harmful effects of being isolated. And, to compound the litany of abuse that he had already suffered at the hands of the guards, Bell was also served with a falsified incident report by the guard who assaulted him. 

Bell was placed in this wretched condition after being assaulted, four-pointed, and falsely accused of assault, to be provoked by further harassment into taking matters into his own hands, which would then have justified their use of force to extract him from his cell by gassing him, then marching him naked down the range to be four-pointed again. This is trapping him in this cycle of being abused, gassed, and four-pointed. 

Bell may not have known the warden, but I did. As a matter of fact, not only did I know him, but I knew him as “the defendant”. I was the plaintiff in a lawsuit who sued him, in the case Pitts v Matevousian. His name is Andre Matevousian. He is a vindictive and sick person. He was previously the warden at the United States Penitentiary, where I spent about five years in the Segregation Housing Unit (SHU) waiting to be indicted, tried, and sentenced for the killing of my cellmate in a mutual combat situation. 

After I plead guilty and was sentenced to 12 years for voluntary manslaughter, I was referred to ADX for placement, but the psychologist rendered a report that precluded me from ADX placement. Warden Matevousian didn’t agree with the psychologist's assessment, so he intervened and pulled some strings and got me sent to ADX after I had already spent about five years in the SHU. Hence, my lawsuit against him. 

He became the warden of ADX about a year after my arrival. He showed up with a “there’s a new sheriff in town” attitude – which explains why Bell was made an example of. But Bell wasn’t the only victim of the warden’s grand entrance to ADX. Another inmate had a similar experience, and he was also black. So, it was obvious that the warden was just another racist, or he might have been trying to impress those who he knew to be racist by targeting black inmates to “be made an example of.” 

The Complicity of SIS

I filed a complaint on Bell’s behalf. It was referred to Special Investigative Services (SIS). However, this was an empty formality because the misconduct of the guards is a mere reflection of what SIS condones. So, most often SIS conducts mock investigations; not to uncover the truth, but to cover up the crimes of prison officials against inmates. Thus, setting the tone where guards feel free to spit in our food, assault us while we’re in restraints, destroy our personal/legal property, and fabricate incident reports against us. 

Wardens come and go every two years or less. The SIS staff remains for prolonged periods of time to preserve the institutional memory of previous wardens. Judging by their blatant disregard of fairness and professionalism, that memory is informed by cruelness, bigotry, lies, which make up the rogue agenda they must cover up. 

I’m now the target.

Whenever I speak on behalf of other inmates, I’m always told that I should mind my own business, and most often they’re right. I have spoken up for certain inmates who didn’t deserve it, not because they don’t deserve to be free from abuse, but due to their own failures. I’m not sure if Womback is a sex offender or a rat, nor am I vouching for the character of Bell. I’m merely standing up for what is right.

At times it is hard to ignore the blatant injustice that pervades the Control Unit. One day lunch was delayed. Then I smelled the toxic scent of gas. It was obvious someone was getting cell extracted. I figured it must have been Bell, he was moved to a different range, so I couldn’t see or hear what was taking place. I could only smell the gas and guess who their target was. 

When the guards eventually started to serve the food I asked them, “You all gassing another black inmate?” He laughed surprisingly as he told the other guards what I said. Then they all started to laugh and said, “How do you know he is black?” Considering the racial tension that lingers in the Control Unit, the question was obviously rhetorical. I answered it anyway by stating the obvious, “Whenever I smell gas, I know that somebody black is being gassed. It’s not hard to figure out. And since Bell has been the target of your harassment campaign, I know that he is the one getting gassed.” When I mentioned Bell’s name they laughed even more and admitted it was him being cell extracted.

One day when I was being escorted back to my cell from rec, Ankastor threatened me by warning, “If you continue to ask about Bell, you will have a lot to worry about.” I laughed dismissively and said, “What’s that supposed to mean?” He said, “You will see.” 

On December 3, 2019 I woke up at 4:00 AM to prepare myself for rec. As I did my daily cell rituals of brushing my teeth, washing my face, then drinking a cup of coffee as I watched the news, I thought about my exercise routine for the day. When I was served breakfast, I told the guy to sign me up for rec, as required. 

When the time came for rec, instead I was presented with an ultimatum: rec or the barber. I couldn’t get both. Knowing that if I chose rec they would just cancel it, I chose to see the barber instead. Rec for me, and certain inmates, is very important, not only because it helps me maintain good physical health, but more importantly it helps me to stay away from the many psychological issues that are triggered by solitary confinement in this sedentary lifestyle. I have experienced depression, suicidal ideations, and seen flashbacks of some of the most traumatic experiences of my life that are reflected by my many physical scars. Even though the ultimatum was wrong, I decided to turn the other cheek to avoid creating a stressful situation. I decided to forego rec to shave instead, thus swallowing my pride. 

I heard other inmates being taken to see the barber as I waited my turn. Then the inmate in the cell next to me was taken. After he returned, I waited and waited but my turn never came. Then I realized I was played out of my rec and my opportunity to shave. This realization was compounded by the fact that all of the white inmates who chose to see the barber did. This had Ankastor’s handprints written all over it. 

These issues taken alone may seem trivial, but when experienced as part of a campaign, it can be just as psychologically damaging as being attacked by a swarm of bees. One bee can be dealt with, but a swarm can make you scream. The swarm of harassments was building up. 

When I was served lunch by Ankastor, I asked him why I was overlooked for the barber. He had a bewildered look on his face and searched his mind for an answer. Being unable to tell the truth, he became angry and blurted out, “If you continue to complain, I will move you to C-Range. You can’t be on A-Range and complain.” 

C-Range is portrayed as purgatory by the guards. Most inmates buy into this portrayal. To be banished to C-Range was supposed to be dreaded by inmates. Bell and Womback were housed on C-Range behind plexiglass partitions in cells that have designs of dunk booths, which was the intended culmination of their harassment campaign: to provoke inmates to commit acts that would justify being placed in such cells. 

It was a foregone conclusion: both my rec and barber time was gone. I was merely asserting my right to complain, hoping to prevent any further antics to deprive me of my rights. I insisted on getting an explanation for being denied what other inmates were granted. He continued with his threats to banish me to C-Range. I realized it was useless to try and reason with him, so I ended the exchange by turning my back and walking away with my food trays. 

I was warned. It was specific and explicit. Knowing his vindictive and mischievous nature, I took his threat to banish me to C-Range seriously. Not because C-Range was a deterrence, but because it was just another antic in his campaign of harassment that includes unforeseen threats beyond C-Range. 

For this looming issue, the next day began just like any other day. As usual, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. However, I was not in a bad mood. In the mornings before I get out of bed to prepare myself for the day, I use these moments to reflect, ponder my challenges, assess my advantages, and think about possible solutions to my problems. I decided to put the finishing touches on a lawsuit I spent about two years researching to develop. It was an achievement that I was proud of. The lawsuit was against the Bureau of Prisons and its food service officials. I was in the process of filing it with the court. 

After I was done working on the lawsuit, I ate breakfast. To keep my mind focused on things beyond the wall, after breakfast I started to exercise. The mind can go astray when you’re confined to a cell for 24 hours a day. For me, exercise has been a lifesaver, without it I would have been dead. I take refuge in its mind-boosting qualities to lift me out of my psychological slumps. 

Despite my best intentions, there were those with bad intentions who were thieves, who were out to steal my peace of mind. On this day, like many other days, the thieves were Ankastor, Rose and Flandersen. Rose is a white female. I used to believe that she was just a follower who succumbed to the corrupting influences of her male colleagues. I was wrong. Instead, she was and is the corrupting influence. This was made evident by her disrespectful treatment of mainly black inmates. Her behavior was so blatantly racist that it prompted a white racist inmate (her ideological cohort) to tell her in the heat of an argument, “You’re not going to treat me like a nigger.” Yes, this was the guard I mentioned before. She took pride in her mischief. So, when I heard Ankastor, Rose and Flandersen serving lunch, I took precautionary measures by engaging myself in positive self-talk to avoid being drawn into a verbal conflict that would make my situation worse than it already was. 

Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t ready for their vindictive and mischievous maneuvering against me. As I listened to the food cart approaching my cell, I recited the lyrics to one of Bob Marley’s songs, “So while they fight you down, stand firm and give Jah thanks and praises.” The door to the vestibule to my cell opened. Ankastor entered with my food trays. He proceeded to hand them to me and said loudly in an antagonizing manner, “Put your fucking shirt on.” I ignored him as I got my trays and placed them on the desk. He then repeated his demand loud enough for the entire range to hear, “I said, put your fucking shirt on.” 

After realizing he was using me to show off, I looked at this coward with a deep and durable disgust. Against my better judgement, I told him, “Shut the fuck up.” He exited the vestibule of the cell as the doors closed behind him. After he served food to the last cell, he returned to mine. I was in the process of getting ready to eat as the door opened once again. Both Ankastor and Rose entered the cell with mace drawn and screaming, “Put your fucking shirt on or we will mace you!” If this was an attempt to intimidate me, it didn’t work. Instead it was clearly insulting. They were emboldened by the design of the cell, which kept us separated by bars as they stood in the vestibule screaming their threats to mace me. I looked at the cowards and challenged them to mace me. I screamed to them, “Mace me. Mace me.” I then realized they were bluffing. So, in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, I asked them if they wanted to search the cell. They answered by telling me to submit to restraints. I put my shirt on and allowed my hands and feet to be cuffed and shackled. I was removed from the cell and placed in the law library as they searched my cell. 

I knew this wasn’t about me being shirtless. At any given moment, inmates exercise shirtless in their cells as well as the recreation areas. This was merely a pretext to move me to C-Range as they threatened the day before. 

I had an unobstructed view into my cell from the law library. They used my ability to see into the cell to further taunt and harass me. Ankastor took my two bags of coffee and dumped them into the toilet while grinning at me mischievously. Then Flandersen took a bottle of my shampoo and body wash and flushed it down the toilet. Rose took my food trays that I didn’t get a chance to eat and placed them on the floor in front of my cell. To render them contaminated, she took the toilet brush and placed it on top of the food trays. To make sure I got the message of her bigoted and disgusting act, she looked at me and laughed. 

My demons were in an uproar. How could they not be? They were screaming loudly in my mind in very separate and distinct voices from my own urging me, “Say something. Do something. Do anything. Let that bitch know how you feel. Fuck the police. Fuck that racist bitch. Fuck Ankastor. Fuck Flandersen. They are disrespecting you, man. You don’t deserve to be disrespected like that. You’re getting soft.” 

But I took a deep breath and calmed my demons. I started to think beyond that moment by convincing myself that their actions had everything to do with them and nothing to do with me. 

The question remained unanswered: How do I fight this abuse? The Administrative Remedy Process is a sham that only emboldens unprofessional guards to be more unprofessional and abusive. 

As I was engaged in this internal debate, I watched them ransack my cell, then throw my property into bags and load them on a cart and roll it off the range. Throughout the duration of this ordeal I was kept in restraints with my hands cuffed behind my back and my feet in shackles. Not only were my demons in an uproar, but my stomach was having a protest of its own. I was hungry. As I watched the toilet brush prominently placed on top of my food trays, my hunger instantly fueled my anger and that aggravated the voices of my demons even more. 

Then they returned to take me to C-Range. Before I was removed from the law library they made sure that my hands and feet were still in restraints. I was then escorted to C-Range by the same three guards who had just ransacked my cell, poured my coffee and hygiene products down the toilet, and contaminated my food with the toilet brush. They were in a jubilant mood. 

Their sadistic yearnings were not satisfied by the psychological abuse they had just inflicted on me. As soon as the gate to C-Range opened, Ankastor made a loud announcement that was intended for all inmates there to hear, “You’ve been run off every range for owing people and not paying your debts.” 

This was a blatant lie. But this announcement coming from a pathological liar like Ankastor was intended to bring me harm. To be ran off another range for not paying debts is to be rendered dishonorable and labeled a “PC” (protective custody inmate), which would have put a target on my back. This was his intention. 

I am known by other inmates to be a man of my word who stands up for others, especially for those who can’t stand up for themselves. For those that didn’t know me, they had heard about me. They also knew Ankastor to be a slanderous coward who gossips like Wendy Williams. His announcement was intended to give his inmate informants something to talk about. 

Property Rape

I was placed in an empty cell without my property. I asked Ankastor for my legal materials. His 

response revealed their true intention. He said in a cold and prankish manner, “You won’t be getting your legal property because you’re filing lawsuits.” At that very instant I realized there were no limits to their campaign of harassment. Their delinquency was bold and provocative, as if they were following orders of their superiors, thus making them immune to any legal consequence, which deprived me of the protection that the law was and is supposed to provide. 

I was left in this solitary cell with this reality that confounded my mind. The more I thought about my legal property and my already prepared lawsuit I was in the process of filing with the court, I became angry, then sad, then depressed. I had spent about two years researching for it by filing Freedom of Information Act requests,  making copies of cases which caused me to spend my last funds to prepare for it. Now everything was confiscated by these corrupt and unprofessional cowards. 

Judging from what they already did to the property in my cell, I had more than enough reasons to be concerned about the way my other property was being handled out of my presence. When I received what was left of my property about a week later, my fears were justified. My property had been raped. 

Most of my legal work was missing. My already prepared lawsuit was gone, my legal notes were gone, and my legal books were confiscated. To further demonstrate their malicious and racist intent, my black history books were altered by using magic markers to conceal my name to justify confiscation. Their bigoted assault had no limits because they even altered my religious property (a Rastafarian crown) by tearing it apart to justify its confiscation. 

I only received several items of my hygiene products that they didn’t pour down the toilet. Since I was indigent, I wasn’t able to buy the lotion from the commissary. This lack of lotion caused me to develop a skin condition which is extremely irritating. 

It doesn’t give me any solace to say that I am not the only one who has experienced the rape of property by Ankastor and Rose. There are several other inmates who have experienced the same thing: three are black and one is Native American. 

Stanley O’Banion (a black prisoner) had his cell searched by Ankastor, Rose, and Edwina. During the search they laughed and boasted about taking and destroying O’Banion’s property. When he returned to his cell, he noticed his legal work and books were missing. Rose was heard boasting that, “He has no legal papers now.” O’Banion said, “Ankastor and Rose engage in this dangerous action of telling prisoners that other specific prisoners are filing civil actions that are causing those prisoners to experience hardship like continual cell searches, extreme small portions on food trays, as tactics to divide the prisoners against those who are practicing a constitutional right. Thereby placing my life, and those who exercise this right, in jeopardy.” 

Safi Dona’t (another black inmate) said that Rose entered his cell when he was at rec and stole his personal property (stamps) and destroyed his books that did not align with her political views, and that she has thrown away his legal mail, books, stamps, personal commissary goods, and personal clothing. She also assaulted him by spraying him with mace, then falsified incident reports to justify her unprovoked assaults and to cover up her misconduct. He is aware of her racially motivated antics against black inmates, which also includes using racial slurs. 

It would be an understatement to say that the presence of Ankastor and Rose in the Control Unit is a nuisance. Instead, their presence presents an ominous element to an already stressful and volatile environment. The deliberate indifference of the executive staff to these racially motivated antics only encourage these fools to run amuck. 

Fabricated Incident Report

It is a crime to falsify incident reports, but it is routinely done in the Control Unit by Ankastor and Rose, mainly against black inmates. Prison officials are well aware of this fact. To justify the confiscation and rape of my property, Ankastor made the following blatantly false charge against me: 

“On December 4, 2019 at approximately 11:45 AM while feeding the noon meal, Inmate Pitts, Edgar, #04616-084 was wearing his clothes inappropriately and I addressed him to pull up his pants and put a shirt on. Specifically, he had his t-shirt off and his pants down far enough to expose his buttocks and genital areas. At that time he became very agitated and started arguing with me. I have talked to this inmate about this issue in the past and told him what I expect of him. I gave him a direct order to pull up his pants and put a shirt on. The inmate continued to argue with me. The inmate began to put his shirt on and pull his pants up and I left the cell. As the door closed the inmate stated to me, ‘I don’t give a fuck about you or anything.’ I told him to go back to watching TV. The inmate said, ‘fuck this TV’ and picked it up and slammed it on the desk twice. I gave him a direct order to stop destroying his TV. I opened up his door and told him to come to the grill so he could be restrained. The inmate then began to threaten me by telling me, ‘I am going to get you faggot’ and ‘when I come out I’m going to hit you.’ The inmate continued to argue but finally submitted to restraints. Operations Lieutenant was notified. In violation of Prohibited Act Codes 203 Threatening Bodily Harm. 307 Refusing to Obey an Order. 329 Destroying Property $100 or less.” 

Not only was Ankastor’s allegation against me false, but it was brazenly false. There was no evidence that this destruction of the government-issued TV ever occurred. Ankastor lied that I said, “Fuck this TV” as I “picked it up and slammed it on the desk twice.” If this had occurred, the TV would have been broken into pieces, because it is made of plastic and the desk is concrete. There was no documented evidence (i.e. a photo) of this destruction, nor was there any evidence that a destroyed TV was removed from my cell. Instead, the TV was removed from my cell intact. 

Ankastor’s false allegation was further contradicted by the fact that the very same TV that he alleged I destroyed on December 4, 2019 was again re-issued to me on December 13, 2019, nine days after its alleged destruction. The same TV – #17 – was intact and in good working condition, thus disproving his lies. 

Ankastor and his enablers then claimed that the reissued TV was a different TV. I challenged them to produce the TV that I was alleged to have destroyed. They couldn’t. 

His credibility was therefore undermined by the facts that have exposed him to be criminally fraudulent, thus contradicting the other false allegations he made against me. The Disciplinary Hearing Office did not find me guilty of any of these false allegations. I admitted to telling Ankastor to “Shut the fuck up” because that is the way I felt. And that is the way I still feel now. 

I asked the question, “How do I fight against this campaign of harassment?” My answer is, “I will write my wrongs and share them with the world.” But I need help. I need help from anyone and everyone. Jay Z has intervened on behalf of the prisoners in Mississippi, it is my hope he will do the same here at ADX. 

Edgar Pitts 04616-084
U.S. Penitentiary MAX
P.O. Box 8500
Florence, CO 81226-7000

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