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29th August 2014

On or about August 14, 2014 at approximately 4 am, Defendant Jeffrey Patrick Frye did wilfully and intentionally, and under the cover of darkness, flee the United States Penitentiary located in Atlanta, Georgia. Unfortunately, I was chained when this happened. Then I was muscled up onto a bus for a trip to the next stop on this ride.

Once on the bus, I shuffled down the aisle with my hands cuffed in front of me, and I grabbed a window seat. A minute later, a well-groomed little Mexican man with slicked back gray hair, and a pencil-thin moustache, slid into the seat next to me. He introduced himself as Miguel, and after a little conversation I learned that his former vocation was as a kidnapper for the Sinaloa cartel down in Mexico. He spoke extremely broken English and I could only understand about every fourth word, so I spent a lot of time nodding when he nodded, and saying "Si...si" even though I couldn't see what he was saying. International people-pleasing is an art that comes naturally to me...especially when I just want the conversation to end. However, that just wasn't meant to be with Senor Miguel, because he talked and talked and talked. He talked about everything from the World Cup and Katie Perry, to The Pope's collaboration with Hitler during WW II. An hour into the ride, I felt like I was the one who'd been kidnapped.

Two and a half months, and 20 topics later, the bus pulled up to a medium custody Federal Correctional Institution located in the woods of some backwater county in South Carolina. I was promptly extracted from the bus, and then dragged into the facility and unchained. I was then culled from the herd and put by myself in a small holding cell. When I asked why, I was told that I would have to speak to the Captain of the institution before I would be allowed into general population. I shrugged, and said, "Okay. I'll wait here." The cop slammed the cell door and took a big brass key off his belt and locked it.

An hour later, I was taken into a tiny room the size of a closet and I sat down across the table from a high-level prison official wearing a suit that did not come from Saville Row. He looked down at some papers in his hand, and then shuffled them, and shook his head before looking at me and saying, "What are you doing here at this institution?" It's no secret that, on occasion, I have a tiny issue with authority, and I replied, "What am I doing here? Twenty years. How 'bout you?" He dodged that one-liner, then asked, "Who do you run with?" I looked him in the eye and said, "Do I look like a member of the Crips? I run to the microwave with whoever I'm making pizzas with. THAT'S who I run with." The guy was still looking stony as Mount Rushmore, so I folded my hands on the table in front of me and leaned into him and said, "I'm not sure what's going on here, but I've never had to talk my way into a prison before." Then I added, "I used to rob banks and was caught; then I pled guilty. I did my part. I feel certain that I've earned the right to be here." My closet nemesis went on to explain to me that an FCI does not run like a USP, and that being that this is the first FCI that I've been to, and given my history, that I will be watched closely. Then he told me, "There's cameras in the pods" and added, "So I can see everything." I asked, "What's a pod?" He replied, "It's your housing unit." In a grudging manner, he finally told me, "I'm clearing you to go to the yard. I thought to myself, "Yippee" but that thought came out of my mouth as, "Thank you. I just want to do better, sir." He actually smirked at that one.

Next, I met a low level officer who handed me a 9 x 6 card and a small pencil that looked like it had been liberated from a putt putt golf course. He said, "Write down the size of your pants, shirt, and boots for me." Then he squinted his eyes at me in an accusing manner, and added, "And don't lie and put down sizes that are larger than you wear because you want to 'Bust a sag', because I'll know. I've been working in the laundry here for 16 years and I've seen and heard everything." I thought to myself, You've been at this joint for 16 years and you're still in the laundry??? Hell, I went from shoplifting to bank robbery in just four years. You don't need my sizes; you need a career counselor. But all of those thoughts translated to, "Yes sir. I just want to wear clothes that fit. My sag-busting days are behind me now."

I was unleashed unto the compound via a thick steel door located in the back of the R&D area wearing a white tee shirt, tan pants with an elastic waistband and no pockets, and a pair of blue bo-bos like you buy at Wal Mart for $3.97. My whole ensemble screamed of "I AM A FISH WHO JUST GOT HERE." I wouldn't get my clothing issue till the next day.

I made it to my pod, which turned out to be just another cell house. It's two stories with 23 concrete cells, on the bottom and top, that have gray metal doors on them. There's five computers in the middle of the rock (the bottom concrete floor), and there's about 10 flat screen TVs mounted up and hanging off the second floor tier that point down onto the rock. These TVs are whacked up by us according to race.

The recreation yard is at the far end of the compound and it's huge. You pass thru a metal detector at the entrance and it's broken up into areas according to sports. There's softball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, handball and bocce ball courts. There's also a large pavilion with metal picnic tables underneath it that people play cards and dominoes on. This is where I found my amico and long time partner in crime, Don Corleone. I hadn't seen him since I was evicted from the prison we were at almost two years ago.

When I walked under the pavilion, Don Corleone was at the poker table playing Texas Hold Em and trying to hit to an inside straight. In the middle of the table was a 3,4,6, and a king. I reached over his shoulder and took a peek at his hole cards. They were a 7 and a Jack. I told him, "You know better than that. Fold that garbage." He looked up at me and said, "There you are!!! Where you been?!" like I hadn't seen him in a half hour or so. Then he pulled my head down to his ear and whispered, "I've got this "thing" I'm putting together that I'll let you in on that you can triple your money on in a week. Maybe less!!!" Then he got to the meat of his proposal and said, "I charged everybody else twenty bucks, but since it's you, I'll let you in for ten." Then he said, "But I'll need the stamps right now." My buddy Don Corleone. No one will ever accuse me of not having the best friends money can buy.

After he lost the hand, he got up and we walked around the track that surrounds the perimeter of the rec yard. He pointed to a guy on crutches that was missing a foot and told me, "That poor bastard just lost his appeal." I asked, "How come?" The Don replied, "His lawyer told him that he didn't have a leg to stand on." I groaned and said, "I walked right into that one." He responded, "Of course you did; you've got feet." I noticed that The Don was pretty tan, so I asked him if he had any lotion in the bag he'd brought out to the yard. We stopped by the table where it was located, and he fished out a bottle of olive oil and handed it to me. I looked at it, and told him, "You're such a Dago" then I put about four tablespoons on my arms and face. One hour later I looked like a fried clam.

We continued to walk the track in silence for a while. I finally said, "So it's come to this, huh? We live in pods now?" He shrugged and said, "Whaddya gonna do?" I said, "I guess that that makes you The Podfather, huh?" He punched me in the jaw (hard) and said, "There you go getting cute again," but I could tell that he liked his new moniker.

He gave me the lay of the land and told me a million things not to do, or I'd be run off. All this from a guy who used to stuff people in the trunks of cars. I'd been roughed-up enough for one day, and I didn't want to hear it, so I said, "You want my uniforms sizes too?" He stopped and faced me and cupped his hands together in front of him like he was holding a big fat tomato, and he shook them as he said, "We just wanna stay under the radar and keep the peace here." I gave up one last shrug and said, "Fair enough." I guess that it's sound advice. Besides, who am I to go against my Podfather?

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

23rd August 2014

It's around 1 pm and I just got back from the store. What a mad house! There's three booths where you go to get your groceries that have a bullet-proof window with an opening. Underneath of them, there's a chute that's big enough for your stuff to slide out of, but not big enough to climb back into the store through. Every time I go to the window, I get flashbacks and want to arch my left eyebrow, drop my voice an octave, and tell the guy running the register, "Put your hands flat on the counter and DO NOT make any sudden movements." I should probably see a shrink, huh?

I was sitting across from Princess Little Feather but (s)he started licking his ice cream out of the container (like a cat) and it was just a little too porno for my tastes, so I moved. Call me old fashioned, but I like my porno to have some women in it. Unfortunately, I moved next to a black guy who had on his MP3 and was throwing his hands in the air (like he just don't care), who was trying to rap...but couldn't. He sounded like 40 Cent. Maybe even 30. I was locked in the noisy lobby of the store for about 30 minutes, until the next move. I sure miss Wal-Mart.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

16th August 2014

So I walk out of my cell this morning and standing there in a bright yellow jumpsuit is a pudgy little Japanese man. His hair is combed perfectly, and he has on glasses with thick, black frames. He puts his hands against the sides of his pants and bows ceremoniously, and says, "Hiyam Mistah Wong."

I looked at him for a second, then put my hands on the side of my pants, bowed deeply, then said, "Hiyam Not Believing This."

Turns out that Mistah Wong owned an electronics manufacturing company and sold electronic components to a country that the United States has an embargo against. What were the electronic components you wonder? Possibly drone or Stinger missile technology?

No. It was cheap watches and the sensor on toilets that lets it know when you leave and it's time to flush. For this transgression of trade, Mistah Wong got a trip up the federal river for 24 months. At least him and his customers know when it's time to shit or get off the pot.

When I asked Mistah Wong what country he sold the electronics too, he said, "Iwan." I assume that that's the country next to Iwack.

I've got sad Spanish ballads at night after lockdown; a Muslim guard serving me breakfast and greeting me in Arabic like I'm at the Denny's in Islamabad; and now I've got Mistah Wong. My adversity definitely has diversity. Ah so.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

7th August 2014

I'll be the first to admit I'm just a slope-headed Bank Blogger and not the brightest dye pack in the drawer but some days I look at my coterie of crooks and just shake my head. And just when I think I've seen the craziest thing imaginable, somebody comes along and tops it.

After the years of nearly continuous solitary confinement, my cellmate was released from prison a few days ago. After living in an 8x12 lockup cell with him for nearly four months, part of me felt like I was the one who got released. Something he did before he left got me to thinking about the term "institutionalized" and inspired this blog.

Two of the mantras that a lot of old timers back here like to chant are "I don't want to die in prison", and "I won't ever become institutionalized". My opinion on the former is that there is no good place to die; whether it be at McDonalds, at the pub drinking a cold one, or in prison, dead is dead. It would appear there is no good time or place to die. On the latter convict mantra though, I have a few opinions.

Successfully doing time is about surrendering to the rote. It's like the movie Groundhog Day, except with crack dealers. To successfully blend in you have to go along to get along. You have to adapt to the routine of whatever institution you live in, then adjust your personal routine accordingly. If a person doesn't do this, they will have problems. You can only move when they unlock a door and tell you that you can move. If they call breakfast at 6:30 AM, you're not going to have the option of strolling there at 7:30. But you do have the option of buying some liberated eggs and cheese from a convict who works in the kitchen to make yourself an omelet in the microwave in the cellblock. Adapting to your environment is just the prudent thing to do.

When I think of somebody who's institutionalized I think of a person who's been in prison so long that most of their thoughts and conversation derive from experiences they've had while they were incarcerated. It's the convict who looks at the biscuit on his tray and shakes his head and reminisces, "These biscuits ain't nothing compared to the ones we had back in Atlanta in the nineties". Instead of looking at the biscuit and thinking of the ones that his mom or his girl used to make.

People like this have surrendered their identity to their environment, and have forgotten that where they live is not who they are. People who become institutionalized like this also tend to become ultra afraid of change, like my former neighbor Wadoo Scary. They become attached to mundane prison jobs and dark cells, and become willing to engage in morally repugnant behavior (such as snitching) in order to keep them. If you show prison officials that something like a job or a cell is important to you, they will use it as leverage in order to get what they want.

Convicts who succumb to this type of thing are usually people who want the guards and the warden to like them, and think they're a good person. To me, if the warden likes you, you're doing something wrong. You're also doing something unnatural because the nature of the relationship between convicts and guards is an adversarial one. That's just how it is. I'm OK with the fact that the warden doesn't think I'm a good guy; he's not on my Christmas card list, either. That doesn't mean I think it's my responsibility to antagonize my keepers though, because I don't. That type of behavior is self-defeating and won't serve my purpose in getting through this experience. But conversely, it also doesn't mean I should become a lapdog for 'the man' and want to please him. This isn't a bank in Stockholm. I may presently be a hostage but I'm still the robber here and I intend to act accordingly.

My personal philosophy is that while I may call various cells my "house", none of them are my home. Cells are just cells and prisons are just prisons, no matter what acronym is placed in front of them. For a prison official to threaten to take away my concrete cell at Point A and replace it with another one at Point B, is no threat to me at all. I am Ford tough and will deal with whatever comes my way. Gas up the plane and let's ride. That's my mantra.

These thoughts of institutionalization were recently brought to the forefront on the day before my cellmate was due to be released. Here at the joint I'm currently corralled in, they distribute to each of us a baggie filled with condiments for our food. They pass them out once a week and it includes such things as salt and pepper, ketchup and mustard, and individual packets of salad dressing. But the crown jewels of the baggie are the packets of real mayonnaise. There are usually four or five of them and they are highly coveted, and even used to barter with for such items as batteries and stamps.

On the night before his release I caught my cellmate sitting on his bunk and staring down at something he was holding in his right hand. It was the packets of mayonnaise and he had a tight grip on them. I looked at him for a minute, then asked, "What in God's name are you doing, man?" He shot me a look like he'd been caught, and he wouldn't look me in the eyes. He stuttered as he said, "Uh...I think I'm going to take these with me in case the halfway house doesn't have any." My first thought was, "This guy is full blown". This was like biscuit reminiscing 2.0. He ended up taking them with him.

The morning that they released him, they gave him a bus ticket and a Visa debit card that was encoded with the balance left in his commissary account. They turned him loose at 9:00 AM and told him that he had until 5:00 PM to report to the halfway house. He told me that he planned to leave here and go straight to the liquor store and down a half pint of rum. Then he planned to make a stop at an Asian massage parlor he'd previously frequented, where for a hundred bucks, they would "love you long time". I can just picture him digging into his pocket for money to pay the Madame and coming out with the packets of mayo.

So there it is, from my cell to your screen. Raw and uncut. Someday they'll hand me a bus ticket and I'll get to take my ride to freedom too. It's still a long way off but on the morning that that day comes, I'll take the green Army duffel bag they give me, and sit in front of my locker and pack the meager possessions that I have accumulated at various joints throughout the years, and I will gladly accept the Visa debit card that I'll be able to use at WalMart, the liquor store, or even to be loved long time. I think I'll tell them to hold the mayo though. I'd prefer to get my own.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

--- UP THE RIVER ---
1st August 2014

The main purpose of giving an individual a prison sentence is not to punish them; nor is it to rehabilitate them because, by and large, the idea of rehabilitation in prison is a myth. Nor is the purpose in sending someone to the penitentiary to make them penitent. Although these words are listed next to each other in the dictionary, the latter of these two would seem to be in short supply back here. No, the primary reason for sending somebody up the river when they commit a crime is to separate them from the people on the river bank and to protect these people from the person who committed the crime. Being sent up the river is often referred to as "paying a debt to society" but paying that debt doesn't necessarily make that individual a better person after the debt is paid. Sometimes that individual comes back down the river worse, or more violent than they were when they were sent up.

Judges don't cure criminal behavior when they pronounce a sentence. Any more than they cure the addiction that was so often attached to the reason the person committed the crime. They merely hand out time and are one small cog in the large Karmic wheel of justice. And the same way it's unrealistic to expect a judge to change a person's character by giving them time, it is also an unrealistic expectation to incarcerate somebody who is violent and expect their violence to cease.

Nobody is really sure what makes a killer have the urge to kill. People often kill behind their passions or for money or power but sometimes people just kill to kill. There is no shortage of empirical data that leads to an opinion as to what makes a person violent. Some experts trace the impetus of violent behavior to the abuse the individual experienced as a child during their nurturing and formative years, while other research traces violent traits to head injuries experienced during childhood. While this research may be true, for whatever reason, some people just can't control their violent impulses.

I believe that everybody is born with a certain amount of violence inside of them. Whether or not we turn this violence outward or inward is partly due to nature, and partly due to nurture. A lot of times the quality of a person's life turns on how they deal with the inner violence. People do it in healthy ways such as exercise or extreme sports, others drink and use prescription medication to excess, while still others cut themselves. Then there are some who release their violence the old-fashioned way - by beating, stabbing. Raping, and killing others. For these people this urge is just as real as the craving for food or sex, and when it comes upon them, they simply give into it. One such person did just this three days ago when he very methodically and brutally murdered two people within the span of five minutes here in prison.*

I live in an extremely volatile and violent world. While you live safely on a riverbank, I navigate the River Styx using my wits, my pen, and the occasional weapon. Prison officials expect the prisoners to not possess weapons, and while this is a perfectly logical and reasonable expectation, it is also an unrealistic one when you live on the river and not the riverbank. If you're caught with a knife you go to lockup and lose your privileges but when you live around people who can't control their violent urges, sometimes it's better to be caught with a knife than to be caught without one. I prefer losing my privileges to losing my life.

Violence is the native language spoken in a maximum security prison. It is the language that all understand and respond to when it's spoken to them. This language is what sometimes keeps people in check and gives them situational good character and manners. Sometimes even good hygiene. Although this is a second language for me, I am still able to speak it like a native. I learned this language to survive. The Federal penitentiary was my Rosetta Stone. I only speak this language out of self-preservation and the preservation of my friends. For a large portion of the men back here though, this is their primary language and the only one they know.

United States penitentiaries have a violent vetting process. The herd largely corrects itself. This is done in several ways, some of which are necessary and some that are fairly horrible. People who have cooperated with the government or have harmed a child are culled from the herd and cannot live in general population once this is discovered. There are no secrets in prison. What somebody did in the dark always makes its way to the light.

The way that people are vetted is that when they are new to a compound, and unknown, they have a finite number of days to produce their court records and transcripts that proves that they're not a rat or child molester. The value system in prison is inverse and violent behavior is looked upon with respect but we all have mothers, sisters, and children and we have absolutely no tolerance for the people who hurt them. If a person releases their violence unto a child and ruins their life merely for their own sexual gratification, they can expect to come to prison and never be safe. When I see one of these people on the ground getting beaten and stomped by a mob of people, I don't call that violence. I call it justice.

But the convict vetting system is far from perfect. In fact, most of the time it is pretty screwed up. The process usually involves somebody who's medicated trying to decipher a court transcript to determine if the guy is "OK." If it turns out they're not, then one or more people are appointed to beat him down and run him off the yard. Sometimes the people who vet the new people also go off of rumors and lies that have been spread to poison an individual. And a lot of time the guys who are doing the vetting -- and beating their chests about their good characters -- are the biggest scumbags in the prison and have a closet full of skeletons themselves. The process is really like any other political situation, whether it be Congressional or office politics - it's a popularity contest. The difference is when you are excluded from the club back here, it's done through violence. And sometimes the violence gets out of hand and goes to a whole other level as it did three days ago, when the two guys were killed.

The first guy was called into a cell on false pretenses. When he walked in and sat down in a chair, he was garroted from behind with a cord. After he was dead his body was stuffed underneath the bunk and hidden with clothes. Then the second guy was called to the cell. Word is that he walked in and made the comment, "It smells like s**t in here", then he was also garroted from behind. The smell he referred to was from the bowels of the first guy when they released as he was being choked to death.

Being sent up the river is a collateral consequence of robbing banks and I booked the ticket for this ride years ago. This river has rapids though, and if you're not careful, you can get caught in the current and drown. All I see is water right now but I just want to go back to the riverbank someday. I just want to go home.


Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog