I Used to Smuggle in Contraband

by NY prison inmate Jon Fontaine

I use to regularly smuggle contraband into prison. It wasn’t hard and would only take up a small amount of my day. Cargo pants were the most important part.

Before driving to the prison, I’d head to my local connection and get a bag of the goods. I’d transfer it into the pockets of my cargo pants.

A few minutes later, I’d be at the prison watching prisoners pace the yard. Then, I’d walk straight through the front door and nod at whoever was sitting at the reception counter.

No one ever asked why my pants pockets were bulging. There were no searches.

After walking through the second door, I could clearly hear all the inmates in their cells making noise like animals. They had nothing to do all day but sleep, eat and make noise. I knew the prison well and would make my way down the cell block, and I’d look for a block that didn’t have anyone else in it.

I’d slip into the block as inconspicuously as I could. At each cell, I’d slip something through the bars – simple as that.

Sometimes the prisoners would take it right out of my hand. Other times, they wouldn’t come near me, and I’d have to drop it on the floor. Every prisoner on every cell block would get a visit from me.

I brought my nephew to help me once. Two people can carry more contraband for each prisoner.

One day, I asked my then-girlfriend if she’d help me. She looked at me like I was nuts, and asked, “You want me to help you smuggle stuff in there?”

“It’s easy. Just stick a bag in your purse and we’ll walk right in.”

“But don’t they have a jar on the counter?” she asked. “Can’t we just take treats out of that?”

“It’s not the same,” I told her. “It’s a better rush if we smuggle it in. Plus, those dogs eat the same treats from everyone using the jar. This gives them a little variety.”

Despite thinking I’d lost my mind, she agreed to go with me. We stopped at the grocery store before heading to the animal shelter.

I knew what it was like to be locked in a cage. The least I could do is spend a little cash and 30 minutes of my time smuggling in contraband for the dogs.

Those dogs and I have a lot in common.

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What I Dream About in Prison

By NY prison inmate Jon Fontaine

Most of my dreams are about people, places and things from age 17 and before. Is it my subconscious recognizing that everything after that period is when my life went off the rails? When I stop and think about it, I feel like I went from high school to jail at age 17, jail to prison a few months later at 18, and I’m just starting to come up for air at 34. Everything in between is a blur.

Everything before jail and prison comes back to me at night.

Last night, I dreamt about a cat we had when I was growing up. I told the cat (in my dream), “Damn, you must be 25 years old.”

The night before, I dreamt about my brother and me having bunk beds in the late 80’s. It’s something I don’t think I’ve thought of in 25 years.

I dream about people I knew in middle school and high school. I wake up thinking – I forgot all about so-n-so.

Does Meghan remember we “went out” for a week or two in 7th grade? I remember, but only because of my dreams.

Does Colin remember catching fireflies behind his house? Does Jennifer remember hanging out at my house after school?

It all comes back to me when I sleep – people, places and things.

There’s no stimulation for my mind in here. I guess my mind makes up for it in my dreams. So long ago, but so vivid in my dreams; I wake up feeling like I just returned from traveling back in time.

If it was only that easy…

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How Prison Guards Really Behave

by inmate Jon Fontaine [keep scrolling for interesting screen shots]

Play your position.

That’s a euphemism that gets kicked around in prison. It means to be who you really are. If you’re soft, a coward, don’t try to act tough. Play your position. If you’re a sex offender or snitch, play your position.

The Livingston County News ran a story about my lawsuits against New York State, and about Susan’s book. One of the “shares” of the online article was a Facebook post by a New York State Corrections Officer. Other officers commented in other threads. Their comments were attacks against me.

I’m happy they’re attacking me, attempting to degrade and dehumanize me. Those officers are “playing their position” in a public forum. They’re showing they are exactly who I’ve been writing about; exactly who other inmates complain about; exactly who they are cast as in lawsuits and in state and federal criminal cases.

These officers (public servants) think nothing of attacking– in a public forum where all can see – someone who attempted suicide and was tortured by other public servants. What actions are they taking when their bosses (the public) cannot observe their behavior with their own eyes?

Over the past four years, I’ve communicated with a few dozen people by mail, most wanting to know what prison is like. I’d tell them if they’ve seen any “reality” shows about prison, New York prisons are nothing like that. There is no professionalism, no respect. I’d write them, “They literally put unconvicted criminals in charge and let them do anything they want. It’s legal organized crime.”

I’d go on and list all the things officers do, from singular assault to gang assault, murder, rape, planting weapons and drugs, selling weapons and drugs, extortion, and more.

Some believe me, some don’t.

If the public isn’t convinced by the criminal prosecutions now that the Office of Special Investigations was formed to replace the Inspector General’s Office (which was made up of former corrections officers);

If they’re not convinced by the federal charges brought by the US Attorney General’s Office, which stated brutality in New York’s prisons has reached critical levels;

If they’re not convinced by the tens of millions of dollars New York pays out each year to settle lawsuits brought by inmates;

Just look at the corrections officers’ own public statements. They’re playing their positions.

Many thanks to those officers for contributing to my credibility. 

_________________________________________

[screen shots from Susan Ashline]

Here is one of the threads before it was deleted. Some comments were deleted and do not appear in the screen shot.

Royce Burdick – Groveland prison corrections officer, salary $63,043

Marty Waight – Groveland prison corrections officer, salary $69,821

John Simpson – Groveland corrections officer trainee, salary $42,695

Brett Flaitz is a former Hornell police officer who ran a myspace account under username “chase tail.”

Shelly Marie, mocking a story of suicide, is a nurse

_________________________________________

Here, corrections officer Shawn Howe brags about being named in an inmate lawsuit [note my yellow highlights – at bottom, there appears to be an admission of wrongdoing].

First, see how Howe brags about being unlawful, and about being a damaged individual (and the irony there).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melie Flemming and Colleen Herrick’s comment: Inmates shouldn’t have a right to sue? Imagine how much damage corrections officers would be inflicting then.

Mark Taylor is so proud of how much money his actions have cost you. (Reminder: only lawsuits with merit go forward). He might be the Mark Taylor who was named in Amy Fisher’s (the Long Island Lolita) lawsuit.

Jim Overhiser appears to be naming a real incident of wrongdoing, and Shawn Howe admitting to it.

You are paying the salaries of these fine, upstanding state employees, and for the lawsuits arising from their continued bad acts.

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Livingston County News: Jon’s Story

Read the Livingston County News cover story on Jon Fontaine’s lawsuit and A Jacket off the Gorge.

Former Groveland inmate claims torturous treatment in lawsuit against state

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Dying Inmate Scrawls Message in Blood

[written by Susan Ashline; as told by inmate Jon Fontaine]

A huge crash awakened me in my cell at Mid-State prison. It was early – 5 a.m. – and all the lights were on. It was August 2014.

I ran to the door, joining the other inmates who’d craned their necks to the hallway, trying to figure out what was happening.

Mid-State used to be a mental hospital, so the cell was a room with no toilet or sink, and no actual door.

The corrections officer working the overnight shift on my unit only left his office for two things: the midnight and 6 a.m. head counts. He did not make the required half-hour rounds. Instead, he would sleep in his office.

I saw a guard we called “Dirty Red” standing in the hallway, just outside another inmate’s door. Dirty Red was notorious for mistreating prisoners. But one act got him beaten senseless by another guard. Dirty Red would piss in the inmate ice machine. Each housing unit had one, like the kind you’d find in a hotel. But he failed to consider that officers used those ice machines, too. And then, one found out about it.

Dirty Red wasn’t even supposed to be on our unit that night. That, along with his reputation and the crashing locker led me to one conclusion.

“They’re fucking up Shadow!” I yelled.

More inmates rushed to their doors.

Shadow was a white guy with a long, black pony tail. He was super quiet and played guitar. We talked every day.

He’d been battling the prison administration and the Office of Mental Health (OMH). He wanted – needed – his bi-polar medication. He’d taken it his whole life, he told me. But the administration wouldn’t let him have it. He felt fine, they insisted. They argued he’d been cured of his mental illness.

And he’d mock them. “Miraculously cured,” he would say.

Knowing he wasn’t cured, and riding an emotional roller coaster, Shadow started filing grievances and writing letters. Everything was getting denied. Their reasoning? Shadow shouldn’t be granted “special treatment.”  By that, I suppose they meant expecting to be able to continue taking medication he’d been taking for years.

His cries for help denied by Mid-State administrators and OMH staff, Shadow resorted to filing an Article 78. It’s a form of lawsuit used to challenge an administrative decision, action or policy. You can’t get money from an Article 78. The most you can win is the administrative action you’re seeking.

In this case, Shadow wanted his mental health medications. He’d been feeling ill for so long.

I knew Shadow had just filed the Article 78. I’d surmised this was just another retaliatory beating in typical prison guard Gestapo fashion. I figured a couple of officers – certainly Dirty Red – waited until the early morning hours to storm Shadow’s room in a gang assault to teach him a lesson about challenging the administration. Of course my mind would go there. That stuff happens epidemically in the prisons.

I heard bangs and thuds and a mix of voices – shrieks and hollers. I saw more officers rushing the scene, some carrying medical bags; one with a defibrillator.

I read the panic on Dirty Red’s face. I saw it in his hands. They shook so violently that he dropped a package of gauze pads and another officer snatched them.

Shadow’s locker came sliding out of the room into the hallway, creating a smeared trail of blood.

I heard the AED beep its warning. An electronic voice spoke commands on how to restart a heart.  Then, a voice crackled over the two-way radio, “The ambulance is here.”

Guards picked out four inmates standing in their doorways. A folding canvas stretcher opened and then disappeared into Shadow’s room. It came out moments later, carried by the inmates.

As it passed through the doorway, I saw Shadow’s feet. Then, I saw his arm dangling from it, like his locker, cold and gray.

“Look at how bruised he is!” someone shouted.

He wasn’t bruised. He was dead. I knew it, and I hollered it back.

The stretcher gone, we were allowed to make our way to the bathroom one at a time. We would have to walk past Shadow’s room, squeezing by the metal locker splattered with blood.

When I got to Shadow’s room, I gawked.

Blood spray ran down the wall where the locker used to be, leaving a blank outline.  Shadow’s chair was in the far corner. A huge pool of blood was on the floor and leading from it, trails of bloody footprints.

I moved on to the bathroom, but stopped again on my way back. This time, I looked at the locker blocking my way. On the side that would’ve been closest to Shadow’s chair, was a message written in blood:

“Now how do I feel?”

Later, we learned what happened. In the early morning hours, an inmate on his way to the bathroom passed Shadow’s room and saw him slumped on the floor in blood. The inmate ran to the officer on duty and found him sleeping in his office, so he woke him.

Shadow, who’d been miraculously cured of bi-polar disorder and no longer needed medication to control his mood swings, had sat in the chair in the corner of his room and, with his state-issued shaving razor, cut his wrists and used the blood to ink a final argument for treatment.

Now, how do you feel?

 

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Sitting in a Pool of Blood, Piss and Shit

[Jon is writing while in Monroe County jail awaiting a hearing, transferred from Mid-State prison. He sent me a personal note and later gave me permission to post it publicly]

I was going to send this other one [story], but it says bad things about DOCCS [Dep’t of Corrections] and I realized they can just open my locker and give all my shit away.

I go back and my razor is missing, and I go to the box. I say, “It came up missing when I was gone.” And they go, “No. You sold it before you left.”

And I lose.

(Yes, they give you a razor to keep.)

Or, they put a weapon/drugs in my locker (hide it) and 5 minutes after I’m back… “Search!”… and I get a new charge.

Nothing will stop any of it. My shit will be gone, or I’ll be in the box. They lock guys up for months and go – sorry, we’re expunging this from your inmate record. “What about the 4 months in the box I did and all my stuff being gone?”

They do whatever they want.

Google “Renfrow.” He was my bunky. IG/OSI [Inspector General/Office of Special Investigations] showed up. His 3rd day hog tied and bleeding in the box and they didn’t make anyone un-hog tie him or get him medical attention for 3 more days – “Oh, he’s still in there? You should take him to a doctor.”

Teeth gone, skull fractured. Hog tied, sitting in a pool of blood, piss and shit, and the investigators didn’t care for three days. And after, when he got out of the hospital with an open investigation, COs [corrections officers] would come to his unit at 3 a.m. and fuck him up in his sleep, run up behind him on the walkway and punch him in his head; removed all the numbers from his phone list so he couldn’t call anyone, would tell his attorney he couldn’t come to a visit, stalked him in uniform when he got out, twice framed him with weapons – all with an open investigation.

 

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Try Getting a Job as a 19-Year-Old Felon

[by Jon Fontaine, a NYS prison inmate]

READ Part 1: From Math Class to Prison

December 26, 2016

No one would hire me. 

When I finally found a job, my family threw a fit about who I was working for: an ex-con.

No one would hire me, but to an ex-con involved in organized crime, I looked like a prodigal son. That’s what he’d call me: his prodigal son.

Through him, I was passed off to two other ex-cons with legitimate businesses as fronts for organized crime. I was 19 years old, sitting around a bar full of a real-life “Goodfellas” cast, themselves each having done 15, 20, 25 years in prison.

To them, I was a “stand-up guy.” I had potential. I was useful. Did I want to take a trip to Chicago? Could I take their Lincoln to get waxed?

It was my first day working for my third boss, and he sat me down and told me,”This is a mob joint. You’ll fit right in.”

Barely into my teens and I’d hit the big leagues in the crime world.

I was kind of a mascot, because I had the same name as a main character in the mobster Bible, The Godfather: Johnny Fontaine.

Dropping my boss’ name got me in places and got me favors. I remember one day, at a local hardware store, I came up short on cash when I was buying stuff for my boss. I was pissed because I thought I’d have to drive across town to pick up more money and come back. In the middle of my cursing, I said my boss’ name and the owner of the store stopped me and asked who I worked for. I told him, and he told me not to worry, that what I had was enough.

I met football players, TV people, a writer for an auto magazine, and even a federal judge; people who wanted to say they rubbed elbows with convicted murderers and mobsters. In my head, it wasn’t a bad life. But I also knew I couldn’t tell my girlfriend what sort of place I really worked for. I wasn’t totally committed to the criminal lifestyle. The line was thin and I was straddling it.

When my six-month waiting period to go to college passed, I again attempted to enroll. I filled out forms and took placement tests. The college gave me forms my parole officer had to fill out by a certain date to be admitted for the fall semester. I gave the forms to my PO and followed up weekly.

He never filled them out.

My admission was denied because of the missing forms.

Where could my life possibly lead? I was a kid with a bunch of criminal role models who all treated me like a son.

I’m now a 34-year-old three-time felon with three parole violations and more than 10 years in state prison under my belt. Now, I preach to the young guys that they don’t want to wind up like me: no wife, no kids, half my family gone, everything I’ve worked for, earned, or treasured – gone.

I went from and 18-year-old freshman in prison to a 34-year-old with a PhD in criminal behavior.

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Prison Worker Steals Inmate’s Money Order

 

New York prison worker admits stealing inmate’s money order

 December 15, 2016
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Reverse Bird Cage

[by New York State prison inmate Jon Fontaine]

June 6, 2016

For about 3 or 4 days, I’ve had a chipmunk eating out of my hand. I can even put my hand down now with nothing in it, and she’ll come check it for food. If I have food, I just hold it in my hand. It’ll eat and fill its cheeks while I pet it with a finger. It’ll empty my hand. I’ll refill my hand and it’ll eat. I’ll refill until its cheeks are full. Then, it takes off for about 15 minutes, unloads and returns. It’ll do 3 or 4 fill-ups. No fear.

All these guys are like, “Holy shit!” When they come out and see me with a chipmunk eating out of my hand, they can’t get it to do it because they don’t have the patience.

My next goal is to get it to come up in my lap for food. Got two squirrels that come around now. One will get food (I toss it to it), eat it, then lay out flat – legs spread out like a starfish. And I can act like I’m throwing air and it’ll sit up on its back, legs just like a dog, to catch it. It’ll look around – no food – and lay back down staring at me.

Birds come now, too. You go out on our porch and its two squirrels running around, a chipmunk eating out of my hand, and birds hopping in and out of the cages.

It’s like a reverse bird cage. We’re in the cage and the birds come and check us out.

 

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