A bad aftertaste

By Stanley L. (Shomari) Huff, prisoner of the drug war

To live and spend the twilight, declining years of my life in a federal prison has been and continues to be marked by a wracking and torturous pain - piercing, sharp and leaving a daily aftertaste. The acute suffering wrought by prison life continues to eat away at the very electrons of my soul. The only antidote, something I ponder daily, for this bitter and unsavory taste would be the elimination of this murderous war on drugs. It's a war against our families, and most of all a real shooting war against our children dying from gang gunplay in the streets.

Now into my 7th year of confinement, I hold a caustic and malicious feeling for those who design and carry out this unjust war on drugs. I can't help it, even as I trouble and eat myself with this bitter pain.

To legislate and fund the wholesale destruction of an entire generation couldn't have been what Congressional reformers had in mind over the last 30 years when they began passing laws demonizing drugs and condemning more of us to prison. It seems few in Congress even now see this historical fallacy for what it is, nothing but a deceitful and misleading façade, a sham, and the long con. Maybe I'm just naïve about the motivations of some reform leaders.

The candidate for office must con the voters into believing it's impossible to be too tough on criminals, and especially off-the-scale tough on drug law violators. For those who see this plot for what it is, well, that is also to live in fear and have cold feet when the subject of drugs is broached. The drug war 'snitch culture' means some things can't even be talked about truthfully because fear paralyzes thought, conned out of one's brain.

This drug war is a social plague, like an epidemic of viral disease bringing affliction and massive pain to the bowels of our wretched, dying communities. Another unwinnable war has pitted brother against brother, father against son, mother against daughter, all this encouraged and crafted by our own government for reasons of power preservation only.

Federal Prison no longer belongs to the bank robbers and kidnappers. It now includes the dispossessed, the trash, and the 'surplus people' from many walks of life. Federal prison is home to the wretched, the forlorn, and the downtrodden homeys of our bitterly divided society. Prison now belongs to the 18-year-old street dealer arrested while standing on a corner selling $5.00 worth of so-called 'crack cocaine'. He's now serving 18 years, at 18 years of age.

Prison now belongs to the 64-year-old African American set up to buy 'crack'. He's doing 15 years 8 months. Federal prison now belongs to the man caught growing 3 marijuana plants in the basement of his house. The government took the house, but it belongs to the mother whose son dealt drugs, and who can no longer make a down payment on a house for her. Yes, federal prison now belongs to the man sleeping in the back of his truck in a National Park because he was too drunk to drive. He got 14 months for this terrible act.

A few months ago I watched a fellow convict die. I watched untrained staff members render woeful and miserable aid characterized by customary, official, heartless and vile perceptions towards prisoners in general. After this man died, it seemed business was as usual for the BOP. The cold hearted and callous fact is that this man, this human being, complained to medical staff for two days regarding pain in his chest. Each day he was told to return to his job. Staff just didn't care, uniformed public servants fast becoming victims of their callous regard toward right and wrong.