by Wayne Henderson


"Every person, and every class and description of persons, who were at the time of the adoption of the Constitution recognized as citizens in the several States, became also citizens of this new political body; but none other..."
-Dred Scott v. Sanford 19 How. 393 @405-06 (U.S. 1857)

"We think it as competent and necessary for a state to provide precautionary measures against the moral pest of paupers, vagabonds, and possibly convicts, as it is to guard against the physical pestilence which may arise from unsound and infectious articles imported."
--N.Y. v. Miln 11 Pet. 102 @142 (U.S. 1837)

"The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several states."
--Articles of Confederation, Article IV (1778) [the Articles are subsumed by the Constitution, and Constitutional questions are resolved by reference to the Articles]

It has been nearly a decade since I penned the original Hotel Kalifornia; the article has seen three revisions and five reprintings, two of them overseas, and at least one of the revelations therein - of guard-instigated gladiatorial contests among prisoners - has been verified by the mainstream media, albeit eight years after I first broke the story (& do I get credited? No way) the interim, much has happened, most of it bad, and as this extended visit of mine to the depths of hell nears the seventeen year mark, I felt it was time for a bit of an update.

I need hardly pontificate at any length about the psychological underpinnings of the police state; Gestapo control of our lives depends upon Gestapo control of our minds - who controls the terms of the argument controls the argument itself, and the Gestapo controls the mental viral agents ('memes') that act as substitute for actual thought: prisoners always (falsely) claim to be innocent, the accused must have done something or he/she wouldn't have been arrested, there's only a few bad cops who tarnish the rest unfairly, it's rare that the innocent are convicted,let alone executed), and ours is the best of all possible systems of criminal justice ... these assumptions are, I assure you, all lies, pathetic emotional shields for a population of frightened sheep who desperately cling to illusions of "freedom". I began this update with three quotes from the 'law of the land', something quite alien even to the better-educated among us: unless ancestors were wealthy landholders/slaveowners in the Colonies, you - yes, YOU - are one of those damned "paupers and vagabonds". You have no rights. You are not free.

"Hitler was merely the expression of the tragic-contradiction between the longing for freedom and actual fear of freedom."
- Wilhelm Reich

"Our logic is at fault if we ignore the fact that right is founded on brute force, and even today needs violence to maintain it."
- Sigmund Freud

The recent release of four more prisoners from Illinois' death row has received but scant mention in the mainstream media; they had been locked up about as long as I have, and, as in my own case they were convicted on the strength of lies and subterfuge by the prosecutors - a state of affairs more common than you could imagine in your worst nightmares. As with them, mine is an uphill battle: after seventeen years' incarceration, I am only now in the venue of the Federal courts, where it is theoretically possible that I might finally receive some small measure of 'justice'. It is frightening, indeed, to reflect that - if we assume a modest, conservative estimate of 5% wrongful conviction a number far too low, I assure you - I am but one of roughly 8,000 innocent people incarcerated in Kalifornia alone.

Kalifornia has recently instituted a "Mentally Disordered Sexual Predator" law, which purports to give the state the power to detain pathological rapists and child molesters beyond their release date, "for the good of the community". Hardly a law with which a reasonable person would disagree, right? Except that, buried deep in the legalese of the text, there is a provision allowing the state to apply this power to any prisoner, even those who have never even been charged with a sex offense. Am I being paranoid? I know, personally, of one case in which this law has been so used; just six weeks ago, a friend - on the day he was to be paroled and return to his family, was taken to the front gate and gaffled up into a state van, transported to a state 'hospital' for detention and observation/"treatment", which detainment, being a 'civil commitment', is of indefinite duration with no right to have an attorney or file for writ of habeas corpus; the state has ninety days to drug him into a stupor before presenting him to a "tame" judge for a "competency hearing" at which time his Thorazine-induced incoherence will be 'evidence' that he needs to be kept in the hospital for his own good, and that of the community. Worse yet, the state of Kalifornia has made it illegal for prisoners to have direct contact with the media (no telling, yet what they'll do with me, an accredited journalist), so informing the public of this might just cost me my life ... as the mainstream media can attest, this state has killed prisoners for far less. I ask again, am I being paranoid?

No matter how paranoid I am, I'm afraid I'll never be paranoid enough.

Consider: of all the criminal convictions overturned - generally at the Federal level - for criminal misconduct by the police & prosecution, just how often are these reversals followed by prosecutions of the police/ prosecutors responsible?

Consider: a partial list of those who will never be allowed to serve on a jury in a criminal trial includes the likes of Rodney King, Abner Louima, Geronimo Pratt, and myself. Why is it that any person who might see the Gestapo for what they are - an occupying army - is automatically excluded from jury duty by the prosecution - or the judge, if the prosecutor doesn't notice in time?

Consider: if just 5% - a measly 5% - of all convictions, nationwide, are tainted, then the United States currently has at least 75,000 innocent people incarcerated. You do the math. I've lived in thriving communities with smaller populations. In the face of such a national disgrace, why is it that no one so much as raises an eyebrow, yet the entire country can be paralyzed by the thought that Bill Clinton got a blowjob in the oval office?

Consider: the powers-that-be are currently involved in a feverish effort to draft legally-binding new statutes that would allow the Gestapo to take (by force, if necessary) DNA samples from everyone who is merely arrested (even if the 'charges' are dismissed the next day) and to catalog all these DNA samples into a national database, ostensibly to be used as "a tool to fight crime"... of course, much as with fingerprints, once the Gestapo have this information on file, they and their tame crimelabs can "prove" our involvement in any crime, any time, may it please the court. And remember, frightened parents practically trample each other to have their children fingerprinted and sampled, without a second thought. I hardly need illustrate the connection to the fact that our "Miranda rights" are no longer mandatory. You'll find this happening everywhere, but most particularly in Kalifornia, where an ignorant population (50th in adult literacy in the U.S., which now ranks a pathetic 47th worldwide) provides the perfect crucible for tests in social engineering, to see if fascistic new laws can be made to 'fly'. And yet, with such blatant assaults against our few remaining protections, why is it that the most spirited debate in the media in recent weeks involve Monica Lewinsky's lipstick?

It's not one damned thing after another; it's the same damned thing over and over and over again ...

Consider: John & Patsy Ramsey sexually abuse and murder their own daughter, and may dictate to the Gestapo the conditions under which they might be willing to answer a few, unthreatening questions - but not before they return from their vacation in Spain and have a chance to move across the country. Matthew Eappen's parents can abuse the poor infant - leaving many telltale injuries - and generally neglect him (what sort of parent won't feed their child, or even change the baby's diaper, before handing him off to an au pair?) - and then, when the poor tyke finally succumbs to his injuries, they have the full cooperation of the Gestapo & the prosecutor's office in blaming the tiny English slave they brought over to do their scutwork. John DuPont can murder a former national amateur wrestling champion on a whim, & is such a good friend to the Philadelphia area Gestapo that, in the face of public outcry, the worst they can think to do to him is confine him to a cushy private insane asylum, just until the heat blows over & people are focussed on another scandal-of-the-week. And yet, yours truly - able to prove that I was not even in the state of kalifornia when the crime occurred, am summarily arrested on the perjured affidavit of a pathological liar (excuse me, a brave & noble member of the Gestapo), not allowed to even present a defense, convicted & nearly sentenced to death (it was very, very close) & must spend seventeen years fighting my way upstream to prove my innocence; not only this, but when I present evidence of the crimes of the Gestapo & prosecutors to the court, I'm summarily dismissed as one of those 'frivolous prisoner lawsuits' - let the editor of Steamshovel Press be my Judge; a cop of said "frivolous lawsuit" is in his possession. Do I seem bitter? A whiner, a complainer? I have reason - as do the other 75,000 innocents incarcerated in the Fascist States of Amerika.

[Steamshovel Debris: Copies of the legal case, clearly establishing the author's innocence, are available through Steamshovel Press at cost.]


[what is permitted to gods, is not permitted to oxen]

As a consequence of criminal conviction, the defendant has] not only forfeited his liberty, but all his personal rights, except those which the law in its humanity accords to him. He is, for the time being, the slave of the state.
-Ruffin v. Commonwealth 21 Gratt. 790 (Va. 1871)

"...shall not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law..."
-Amendment 14, U.S. Constitution; slavery is nowhere prohibited, only conditionally subject to "due process of law"

As stated in "Hotel Kalifornia," (Steamshovel Press #4; anthologized in Popular Alienation) amerikan prisons are the new plantation. Even with the lame, tame "unions" that spout pleasing rhetoric about protecting worker's rights from their warm, comfy position in the bosses' beds, imperial kapital demands that the 'wetware' - the drones - be less expensive, more cost-effective. Hence NAFTA, hence the rolling thunder of jobs stampeding to Third-World countries; but what about the smaller oppressors, the young, up-and-coming kapitalists? Those whose companies are not yet big enough to afford the move to friendly dictatorships where little brown people work in big brown factories? There is the domestic Third- World country the plantation: amerikan prisons. A prisoner assembles, and packages, computer components (you probably have several in your PC at work, if not at home); the bullet-resistant riot gear that the Gestapo wear when beating peaceful, unarmed protestors to a bloody pulp are made in Federal prisons by UNICOR; prisoners take your airline reservations over the phone & do telemarketing; and just recently here in kalifornia, several prisoners were transferred to the SHU at Pelican Bay - the "House Of Pain" - for revealing that they were being forced to sew "MADE IN USA" labels into sportswear trucked up from factories in Mexico. The state has no interest in "Justice"; the state's overriding interest is in profits - and prison slave labor is profitable for those who invest. Just ask former kalifornia governor Pete Wilson, part-owner in the company that provided the concrete that helped to build all the prisons he approved for construction; or ask his wife, co-owner of the company that holds the contract for producing the cheap, flimsy clothing that prisoners in this state must wear. Is it any wonder that, during a period when state workers' wages were frozen, if not declining, the powerful prison guards' union (CCPOA) was able to get juicy raises for the guards? Perhaps those millions the CCPOA donated to Wilson's political campaigns...

The horrors of which I speak are in evidence nationwide, but all stem from kalifornia, the crucible of such experiments in social conditioning & control. From the COINTELPRO experiments that produced the Manson Family, the Zebra killers, & Cinque DeFreeze of the SLA, to the social conditioning that has created the spate of gangs & serial rapists/murderers that now make up a statistically-relevant percentage of the population, kalifornia has proven to be the 'Behavioral Sink' of Skinner's theories & Calhoun's experiments; if you want to see your future, look no farther than Watts, South Central, or the gang turfs of Bakersfield and Frisco, Oakland, Fresno, and San Diego ... immense, filthy cities filled with frightened, psychotic people - all kept in their place by your friendly local Gestapo, cheerfully serving the interests of Fascism, Kapitalism, and the Amerikan Way.

Arbeit Macht Frei. Kalifornia Uber Alles.

I'm not just spouting theory, here, people; for the past seventeen years, I've been living in this hell, observing from the inside; I know the pattern of the hobnails on their boots, because I have seen their boots from underneath.

To me, the Gestapo and their machinations are all too real, all too personal. My petition for writ of habeas corpus [for those who are interested, Henderson v. Newland, docket #C.98-4837 :CW[PR], U.S. District Court, Northern District of Kalifornia and related criminal complaint against the Gestapo & prosecutors (a copy of which I've presented to Steamshovel Press) are currently winding their laborious way through the "criminal justice" system, the chips fall wheresoever they may; if there is any luck or injustice coming to me, I might find myself released sometime later this year. I will probably get to be the "scandal-of-the-week", albeit briefly, and then the majority of the population will change the channel stuff a few more potato chips in their mouths, and go back to their normal intellectual pursuits: Great Minds discuss ideas, admirable minds discuss events, lesser minds discuss other people, and most of the population is discussing Hulk Hogan's run for the presidency, but only during the commercials that interrupt the Jerry Springer show. The tabloidization of the Amerikan mind continues apace.

It would be nice if, just for once, the suffering of those of us who endure incarceration for crimes we didn't commit would be an impetus for broad social action, if not real change; but I will be happy to sue the state of kalifornia for everything I can get, a little something to add to my "freedom" (such as it) after seventeen years in hell. An acquaintance of mine, a fellow named Pitterman, won just such a release from incarceration; he filed suit, and the next anyone heard of him, the Gestapo "discovered" his body in an alley, a single gunshot wound to the back of his head. Naturally, the Gestapo ruled his death an "apparent suicide" (this is in San Mateo County, which is famous for such "suicides") and have closed the case, refusing to even put on a convincing show of further investigation. Not surprising in a state where prison guards can set up gladiatorial combat between prisoners, and use prisoners for target practice, with impunity.

Too many die for nothing. And of course, "it's just a few bad cops that unfairly tarnish the rest" - never mind that the rest know full well what's happening, & refuse to break the code of silence. I sometimes wonder if our species, so lacking in survival instincts, let alone enlightened self-interest, wouldn't perhaps be better off extinct; some other order of mammal could then move into our niche, and it's a safe bet that they couldn't do a worse than we have.

The most beautiful thing about us is that we are a bridge, not goal; the most frightening thing about us is that we are a bridge, not a goal. A bridge to where? I wonder; and of what shoddy manufacture? We cannot, as a species, believe that we should treat one another this way; and yet, we do ...

I hate to end an article on a negative note; so, as a personal aside to you, my gentle readers, I'd like to share: my current "job" here in prison is on what is called the "yard crew", picking up sputum-soaked cigarette butts & drippy used nosewipes without protective gear (rubber gloves are only available to staff, due to "budget constraints"), when not actively involved in the administration's laughable idea of 'landscaping' (have you ever seen Cool Hand Luke? It's not fiction). My current assignment, courtesy of a particularly ignorant and overbearing facility captain, is to kill all the grass growing in a small, out-of-the-way spot, about the size of a boxing ring, near the prisoners' entrance to the visiting room. No chemical defoliants (thankfully!) just a hoe, a rake, a shovel, & me. Naturally, no matter what I do, the grass keeps coming back, greener & more luxurious each time. Life will not be denied; Mother Nature will find a way. The facility captain, of course, is apoplectic, and has not the intellect to perceive the futility of this campaign against the conquering grass; I am the slave of the state, no better (in the captain's eyes) than the offensive greenery, and so dig I must. The grass, as grass will, merely takes a deep breath and returns, as glorious as ever. I feel a kinship with the grass, a deep, blood-level bond to this defiant patch of green. It mocks all efforts at eradication; I am proud to call the grass my sister, my hero. And to the aforementioned facility captain, my message is: long after the last of your descendants to remember your name is dust, long after your bloodlines have diluted and your genes have scattered to the winds, long after the last of your children's children's children are forgotten, their very existence not even a rumor in the musty corridors of time, long after the corrupt system you serve with such zeal has fallen, its ruins rediscovered by the farmer's spade and analyzed-by archaeologists who speak a tongue as yet unborn, long after all this has come to pass, captain, this grass will dance on your grave.

The grass laughs at you, captain, and frankly so do I.

You can muffle the drum, and you can cut the strings of the lyre, but you cannot command the mockingbird not to sing.
- Kahlil Gibran

Wayne Henderson 15 March 1999

Previous Latest Word Columns