Marc Emery: U.S. federal prison blog #15—Letter to Jodie

(Marc Emery's U.S. federal prison blog #15 originally ran here on the Cannabis Culture Web site on September 23, 2010.)

Oh Sweet Wife O' Mine! The Marc Emery Support Day on Saturday was thrilling to know was going on, what little I knew about behind these bars. Some staff at the FDC here however, are have taken a hostile turn against me, I think, as a consequence of all this support and media surrounding my sentencing and my work.

In yesterday's mail, the Facebook pages I have been regularly receiving since May – printouts of the Marc Emery fan page, and your personal page – were seized by the mailroom staff here at FDC, and I am barred from receiving them further. Plus my 8 pages of photocopies from (DRCNet) that Vanessa Nelson sends each week were looted too, along with two letters from Ken Holland in Michigan. Ken usually sends me a letter everyday which included a newspaper clipping all annotated by Ken's pithy observations, and a few other cartoons he's photocopied from newspapers, and some other photocopies of articles Ken thinks are pertinent. So both Ken's two envelopes were empty with a notice that Ken's clippings and ephemera have been seized as "contraband". Vanessa's letter was still there, but the excellent material from DRCNet were gone because, according to Big Brother in the mailroom, they were from a publication, and any publication has to come from the publisher. Of course, I have been receiving weekly photocopies of these drug war articles since May.

I immediately put in a complaint to the mailroom, the woman came down to speak to me about it this morning. She said I can't get the Facebook pages any longer because they constitute third party messaging. I asked why that is a rule, and if it’s a rule, why isn't it in the rulebook? She didn't really have a good explanation of how me getting Facebook pages constitutes any harm, and she said when the rule book was written, Facebook didn't exist. My rulebook was updated in January 2010, Facebook started in 2006. So there is a rule that they invented for the occasion of busting my balls. She did confirm that the mailroom let me have them for 14 weeks leading up to yesterday.

On Friday I was called into a Lieutenant's office and given a charge, or "shot" as its called, a 328, because you sent my cellie JD $75 because he's poor and you felt sorry for him. This was 4 weeks ago you did that on your own. I was told to report to the Disciplinary office and the man there was quite hostile to me. He mocked me as the FDC's famous inmate, spent the whole time intimidating me. It’s not against the rules for you to give an inmate money, my dear, for you are such a sweet woman, you've given newspaper subscriptions, books, and small amounts of money to fellow inmates of mine before, back at North Fraser Pre-Trial – and as part of Cannabis Culture Magazine, we corresponded with prisoners, printed their artwork and letters in CC, such as prisoner Jimmy Rasta in Texas who even sent you that wonderful oil painting of you that is in the Lounge. You're the Policing & Corrections critic for the BC Green Party and you talk with prisoner wives on, so this was hardly out of the ordinary for you.

The rule forbids me from giving money to other inmates, but I don't have any money, nor is cash allowed (or possible) here. The angry man in the Lt's office told me he reads all my emails and listens to all my calls, including, he added with a disgusted emphasis, "your personal ones", implying my intimate talks that I get to occasionally have with you or my sign offs on my emails to you. Nothing at all out of the ordinary, considering I'm your husband! But he was contemptible towards me.

Then he said what I write in my emails is lies, and he specifically said my chapter I wrote for Barry Cooper's book on life here at Sea-Tac FDC was, and I quote, "bullshit". He further asked me why I felt qualified to write about life here, and I added, though he wasn't interested in my point of view, "because I'm here." Then he went on sarcastically saying "You said we tortured you in the Special Housing Unit". I said "Solitary was a form of torture as far as I'm concerned." He sneered. In fact, most C.O.'s here have told me I was sent to solitary (SHU) for 21 grueling days in June simply because I was "high-profile" and "famous" and for no other reason at all. Certainly not the stated reason that you recorded my phone call, Miss, that was just their excuse, as there is no rule against recording my phone calls. They brought out that "3rd party" rule which I see they use just to mess with me when they feel like it.

Then his cohort asked how long in was in the solitary confinement, I said "21 days". "And you feel that qualifies you to write about SHU?" I thought one day in there qualifies an inmate to write about it authoritatively because every day is the same in there, but I said nothing, they weren't listening. Then this cohort said, "well maybe you ought to spend more time in SHU and see what you think about that." I felt that was sinister intimidation trying to suppress and silence my writing here, which is protected speech. Especially the Lt boasting he reads all my emails and listens to all my phone calls, including my "personal ones", like he's trying to cow me. Notably, he obviously didn't have any emails or phone calls that provided any support for this charge that I somehow gave my cellie money.

That was a creepy enough experience. I will say, not all the C.O.'s here have this attitude, but enough of them have it, it would appear. I got my verdict after having a second meeting: two months of no commissary for me, and one month of no commissary for my cellie. That means no purchasing anything, like stamps, envelopes, soap, toothpaste, or the nuts, trail mix and other food items I bought that gave me protein and other vitamins I need. Clearly there is some institutional bias going on against me now; I can only conclude as a result of the media attention that has come to my situation in the last few weeks.

Even in the visiting room on Monday, I arrived at 2:45 pm. You didn't arrive until 3:10 pm, so I asked the C.O. if my 2-hour visitation time started at 2:45 when I arrived or 3:10 when you arrived. It was the C.O. who has reprimanded me twice before and threatened to give me a shot because on two occasions I was touching your arm instead of holding your hands, and it’s the one who also complained that I'm not allowed to kiss you in our photographs like we did once on photo day, and that he'd be watching me in photo days in future. You know whom I'm talking about, Miss, the one you refer to as "the mean guy". When I asked about this time question, politely as always, he got all over-sensitive and said "you've been here many times Mr. Emery, you know we never short-change your visit times." I commented that my rulebook, which I've memorized, says on page 22,"The time period will begin when the inmate arrives in the visitation room". Since I had to wait 25 minutes in the room before you were escorted in (you had been waiting 70 minutes in the other part of the building), and according to the rulebook, that would count against our time, and I wanted that clarified. So we got our two hours together, and it was wonderful, but the rules are obviously not very clear, which makes them difficult to follow.

You have my chapter for Barry Cooper's book, as you are going to be the editor of Barry's book, Mrs. Emery; a wise move by him, I'm sure. As I'm sure you agree, the "Life in a US Federal FDC" is very fair. It doesn't criticize any staff here nor even the institution itself, it's just the way it is. Of course I say the food is terrible, but who can disagree with that?

The rulebook doesn't prohibit these so-called 3rd party messages in a mailed letter. A 3rd party message could be "The kids want you to know they love you" or "Your mother asked me to pass on her love and her hope that you are eating well" or even "I'm supposed to remind you to call your lawyer, write your mother, etc". Why I can't receive my Facebook pages is not rationally explained. The rulebook just says "Unauthorized mail includes musical greeting cards, Polaroid photos, nude personal photos, plant material, non-inspectable items, etc." Typically, any 8.5 x 11 photocopies or 8.5 x 11 printed pages are considered a "letter" – or were, until yesterday. Today, the mailroom seized a one-page laminated chart for editing my own stories that a retired teacher sent along. Seized because it’s laminated.

I hired a lawyer to help me process my US application for the treaty transfer back to Canada. The process for the US side of things is more complicated so I think a lawyer who specializes in this transfer application business is a good idea. It's $8,500 and of course I don't have any money so I hope you can get some donations from our supporters to help me pay for this lawyer. I know you'll take some of your own pay and help me with this lawyer, but I already use up so much of your income being in here, where phone calls, emails, and everything else that costs money.

I know you received $350 in donations for me last month, so that helped. Loretta Nall is sending $100 to help too, probably just in time to pay the $100 fine I have to pay from the September 10 sentencing. The $8,500 for this new US lawyer will need to be paid soon, at least a good chunk of it, so you should ask our supporters to help out, because we just finished paying my sentencing lawyer Richard Troberman. I will say this for Richard, he is a terrific lawyer and he does great work and would definitely recommend him to anyone who needs a criminal lawyer in the Seattle area. I feel I've been fortunate getting excellent lawyers like Ian Donaldson in Vancouver and Richard Troberman here. But now yet another lawyer needs money and I'll need help to pay her that $8,500. I sure hope she can help with making my application for transfer successful.

I hope this week you can read my 15 stories of my autobiography and begin to edit them for the website, where all my writings will be going. I'd love to have those available to people by mid-October to read. These stories have never been read by any of my supporters before and it will provide insight as to how I became who I am. Plus they are so cute and full of nostalgia and I'm looking forward to the feedback. Tomorrow I'm going to write about Iboga Therapy House, and then the garbage strike in 1986, and then scenes from my travel adventures in India, Indonesia, my trip to the middle east in 1975. I'm going to try to finish a story every day starting tomorrow.

I've been reading a lot at night until about 2:30 or 3 am. I finished two graphic novels by Alan Moore, Tom Gordon #2 and Top 10. Alan Moore is a fantastic story-teller. I finished the Cartoon History of the World, Books #1, #2, #4, and #3 just arrived today. Alas, most of the world's history is a depraved slaughter; militarism & enslavement with genocides, and it’s gotten wearying, since regardless of place (China, Rome, Egypt, India, South America, Europe) it’s the same predictable mass killing, stupid punishing religions, domination and conquest. Even me doing this 5-year sentence in this prison feels like an extension of this sordid history of domination over peaceful, largely powerless people by oppressive governments and institutions. I begin to read Nelson Mandela's autobiography tonight, on that note.

After writing over 300 letters from May to early September, I've gotten burned out writing letters to correspondents, Miss, so I hope they'll forgive me if I take a break. I spent 3 to 4 hours every day writing 5 or 6 letters to people but in the last two weeks I'm more wanting to spend that time writing stories that everyone will get to read at about my life up to now. The Life in Federal Prison piece for Barry Cooper's book, Robert's Vietnam story, my autobiography stories, my Canadian voter’s guide: these are the projects I want to focus on for now. I've still got the letters I've received stacked up, and I'm going to get to my regulars – Carol in Camino, Vanessa in Sacramento, Daniel in Vancouver, Arlette in Vancouver – but I've got to get my stories done while the muse is in me, Miss.

Loretta is sending me photos of her Marc Emery Support Day activity in Montgomery, up Dexter Avenue where Martin Luther King's church was. And I hope Jeremiah and you can send me photos of the activities you're aware of, especially since they won't let me receive copies of my Facebook page anymore.

I haven't been designated yet, but I'm going to be soon, then I expect I'll be moving out near the end of October or beginning of November.

I sure loved seeing you Monday in that pretty red dress. You had a great tan from Saturday, standing on the bridge over highway #5 with the FREE MARC EMERY signs and all the Seattle-area activists who were with you. You are the loveliest sight for my lonely eyes Miss. You know how I cry many times on the phone or when I write you, Jodie, and even when I see you, and I'm crying now. This is such a difficult challenge, and I won't lie, it’s disheartening to think I've got years to go. As of today I've spent over 194 days in jail, and with good time credit of 232 days on my 5-year sentence, I have no more than 3 years and 10 months to go if I spend every day of it in these United States of America prisons. That’s still very discouraging to think about, Jodie, it really is. I hope people are still contacting Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and the US Department of Justice, asking for them to let me serve my time in Canada.

I really hope people give some money to Proposition 19, and urge everyone in California to vote for it, because it needs 50% plus one of the voters to vote YES, not just enough votes to beat the No side. Lots of voters go to vote but don't vote on every initiative, and if you go to the polls but don't vote on Prop. 19, it's like a no vote. So it's more challenging than people think to win; it's not just a matter of getting more votes than the no side. That vote is in just 6 weeks. If it wins, it will be the most monumental thing to happen in North America this year, and it will really help end the marijuana prohibition so much sooner than if it fails. I'm so disappointed that Peter Lewis, MPP, the DPA and other well-financed groups have not contributed the big money they have access to on this great, great opportunity. If Prop. 19 fails, there will be people in our movement to blame for holding back when they should have committed.

I'm very pleased to hear that you have gotten Canadian city councillors, Mayors, MLA's, numerous Members of Parliament and a Senator so far to sign a letter to the Public Safety Minister urging my repatriation to Canada. That will be impressive. We will need a letter signed by American elected officials for the same purpose to be presented to the US Justice Department regarding my transfer. I'm hoping our supporters can urge Congressman Ron Paul and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson to sign a letter like that, along with any other elected official they know who is sympathetic to ending prohibition. These letters do not ask for my clemency, only that I be transferred in accordance with existing law in both Canada and the United States back to the Canadian Corrections system.

I can't wait, as always, to see you this weekend. Your visits are so precious to me. Since we don't know when and where I might be sent away to my designated prison, and how long it might be before you can visit me, or even know where I am, I savor these visits. I try to stay strong, sweetheart, and I'm always busy, but I feel I'm not very brave. I miss you tremendously and can get so sad thinking about my loneliness from you. I'm glad no one here razzes me when they see me crying when I write to you, it's considerate of them, because I am such a wuss. I'm so, so in love with you. Remember when you were sixteen, you predicted to one of your classmates that you would "marry Marc Emery or work for him, or both", as she reminded you about recently? How perfect that your destiny was fulfilled! You are the best thing that ever happened to me, Miss. We must be meant to be soul mates forever.

Your prince,
Wanting to come home,
Marc Emery