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The Real Con Air by Mark Anthony Given


Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. 
Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed- no escape. 
Nothing was your own except the fewcubic centimeters in your skull.
George Orwell, 1984

             THE BIG WHITE GOVERNMENT VAN picked me up at four in the morning with five or six other Lucky bastards.  You could have felt Lucky going to Death Row from that place.  Drove us to Talladega FCI probably five hours due north from Mobile.  Maybe a week there, then driven to the Airport in an obvious government prison bus, looks like a normal Greyhound bus except the windows have strips of metal and cages over the windows. Just like in the movies, taken to a isolated part of a regular large airport, surround the bus and a huge commercial airliner with at least a dozen SWAT and US Marshal Transport Squad, and the infamous United States Marshal’s Con-Air who all roll out of bed every day as close to Movie Stars as you’re going to get as a federal employee.

          I HAD SEEN THE SAME routine at Moisant International in New Orleans and at El Reno, Oklahoma before they built the new Federal Transfer Center so the planes literally pulled right up to the building, and just like at the airport a walkway extended out to the plane and were inside the building without leaving the plane. The first few times I was there we caravanned several giant Greyhound bus size loads of mostly fresh convicts, maybe ten percent going back to court, or “On Writ’s,” and then there are the Administrative Transfers. Bad Boy’s and Girl’s being relocated, you could tell them by the manic look in their eye like they were starved for Love or any human interaction, and would never see any.  Five inch Black Box’s over their standard Belly Chains used so you could not Jimmy with the handcuffs without taking the “Black Box” off. It was a sure sign of a High-Security Inmate.
       THE GRAND CENTRAL STATION of the US Bureau of Prison’s is the Federal Transfer Center, the United States Marshal’s Service Con Air, This from Wikipedia:
     The Federal Transfer Center (FTC), Oklahoma City is a United States federal prison facility for male and female inmates in Oklahoma.  It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice, and houses holdover offenders and parole violators who have yet to be assigned to a permanent prison facility.  Most inmates who enter the federal prison system come through the facility. This is where you get designated.
         AFTER FOUR TO SIX WEEKS of wonder and wait, you will see your Name and Number, mine, Reg. No. 01863-055, posted on a Notice of Transfer, posted by the Telephone bank, informing you were departing at 4AM the following morning, and your phone privileges are suspended. They don’t want you calling anyone telling them you were your being transferred. I’ve said it a Million Times: The Fed’s Don’t Play!
      I WAS IN TRANSIT for 24 straight hours and finally outside the Receiving and Discharge of El Reno, United States Penitentiary at four in the morning, tired and entering the second US penitentiaries’ I have been in, I have been in Lewisburg, too in transit from upstate New York. You are not going to believe this, but there were three full buses waiting to unload. Same as when I left several weeks later, this place looked like UPS or FEDEX of human cargo!
        AFTER CHANGING CLOTHES for the third or fourth time that day, cheap Orange “Bob Barker’s”, everything the government used was made by “Bob Barker Manufacturing, out of the Carolina’s, if you have ever heard that prison slang. Entered a human zoo of four stories, fifty two cells on each side, back to prison cells with the hidden catwalk and little glasses in the back of the cells where they might be watching and listening and they did… Old cloth mattresses and army blanket’s, cell were kept open all day, bank of phones and newspaper machines in the center where the doors were onto the Compound.
       I GOT WOKE UP AT four in the morning a few days after I got there to go work in the Kitchen. I have been a Line Cook in the French Quarter and a Chef at Montana resort, and learned to cook on an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, but I wasn’t cooking for these folks. Middle of the winter in dust bowl Oklahoma, it’s a windy and barren place with the worst vibe of any joint I ever been in. Soon as we got into the Chow hall, which could have seated six-hundred convicts easy...  Soup and salad bar and fountain drink stations, all you want Milk and real Coca-Cola and all the other drinks, I’m not kidding you. The ten or twelve of us New Jack’s or Fish, whatever their term was, were told to sit at these tables by the door. After fifteen minutes a fat prison guard assigned to the kitchen shows up with a clipboard and starts reading off names, we're all here;  he starts telling people to start doing this and start doing that.   When he got to me, I told him I couldn’t work in the Kitchen, I had Hepatitis. 

"I am not refusing to work, but I got to tell you I shouldn’t be working around food, but I don’t mind giving it too you... "

He looked at me like I was too slick to work in the Kitchen, and said, “Go sit over there,” pointing to where I was sitting by the rear door. I set there until I seen my Unit Come to Breakfast a few hours later and left with them, and never worked a day in a prison kitchen, with that story.

        THE REAL CON-AIR WAS PACKED! If it was designed for 128 there were over a hundred belly chained up and ready to fly.  You know how in the CON AIR movie with Coppola, where the inside of the plane had been gutted to look like pens and individual holding cells with anxious bad men waiting to spring? I didn’t see any of that.  I was on it several times and it was pretty much what you would expect from the US Government, adequate, professional and well maintained.  It was four seats on each side just like a commercial air line, you set in the order you were in. The women sat up front and were already on the plane. Seven or eight all business US Marshal’s, a couple women all dressed in bloused Jump Boots and US Marshal dark Blue and White Lettering uniform and would just love someone to get out of line and they save the day and get booted up the line.  After we got going the atmosphere changed from Red Alert to 'we're almost home' and a few passed out Baloney sandwiches with Fruit and Granola Bars and bottled water. Then came by and offered Aspirin and extra Bottled water. I swear to you, I was on it several times between ’86 and ’98 when I maxed out, it was the same every time.  Flew to New York,  Miami,  New Orleans,  Dallas-Ft. Worth and back to El Reno, Oklahoma, its home base every day.  And if you upset their little program in any way,  you get left in some hillbilly jail in the middle of nowhere and your Paper Work would get there on time, but you were gonna be late.  Weeks, maybe months behind schedule.  And if they told the Judge you messed with the “Air Marshal’s,” that was your ass, your case was going to the bottom of the Docket, and they ignore your cries. Throw your Habeas Corpus Petition in the garbage!  
I’ll say it again: Do Not under any circumstances piss the government off at you.  You will rue the day
I can’t tell you the number of guys I see in jail who took on the government,
talked stupid to the Court, file motions just to be filing shit. It always ended the same way: Buried so deep in the Federal System it will take three months for your Mail to find you!!! Most people like me knew a day on this thing could save you weeks of cross country prison van nightmare stories I could tell you about....

                   WHEN I WAS SITTING IN THE CHOW HALL after the fat cop told me “Sit over there,” I set there several hours and was able to watch their whole operation for four hours.  You got to remember, I was only doing five years and I was encountering men who would never get out or many not for a long time.  Although it is naturally scary to be surrounded by hundreds of felons at all times, it’s interesting as Hell..  If I was with a hundred Men, probably 20-30 of their Cases were Published Opinions.  Some elaborate crimes, some hair brained and many just damn tragic….

       THE UNITED STATES PENITENTIARY at El Reno, Oklahoma was hands down, next to Lewisburg USP in Pennsylvania the scariest place I ever been.   Besides a massive High Security 2600 Inmates designated there, it is also a Federal Transfer Center.  Just felt like a cross between a haunted house and a live action horror movie, complete with novice actors and cheap production values.  And the looks on these Men’s faces was ever telling concern, desperation, hatred and Hope.  Many anxious, some completely out of place.  Every few minutes another group of Black Men would enter and set in a group while the fat hack with the clip board did a Roll Call and they would get up and go back into the kitchen to work.   You rarely ever saw White guys working in the Kitchen.  I spoke to one guy for a minute when he sat at my table and told him why I was sitting there.  I asked him what I should do.  He glanced over at his buddies he worked with everyday setting at other tables wondering what he was doing with this Honky and said 
“Get in where you fit in.”

This very first ever eBook created on Facebook, Twitter and Blogspot simultaneously!, “Real Men, Real Case's, Real Life Heist’s The Dope Feign Shuffle,” the entirely true story Cover to cover, Beginning to end, Word for word, Page to page, Edit to edit, right down to the very last One Wrong Word: Began April 27, 2013 to Present By Mark Anthony Given. 4/27/2013 7:26:07 AM Copyright 2013 All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014 by Mark Anthony Given
All Rights Reserved
28 USC 1746

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