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The New York State Gladiator School by Mark Anthony Given


When the door swings you swing......

          THE NEW YORK STATE Gladiator School for young criminals and miscreants was located and an hour north of New York City, or "Up the River," i.e., the Hudson River in mountainous upstate New York in the Town of Coxsackie.  After getting busted burglarizing new car dealerships in Rochester, Monroe County, see Getting Busted by Mark Anthony Given here on my blog.  It was the third of September, "That day I'll always remember..." a lyric of a popular song at the time too.  1973 according to my FBI Rapsheet here on this blog too, I was sixteen and sentenced to four years per a plea agreement.  As soon as I got arrested I started reading law books immediately and because they tried to clear their books on me.  hang me for unsolved burglaries, etc., and just to know the rules of the road, and I saw that the State of New York only had Forty-five days to Indict by Grand Jury in felony matters or release immediately.  The rub was you had to invoke this statute and demand release past forty-five days.  There was a guy in there ninety days for burglary without being indicted.  I prepared him a petition for Habeas Corpus  (Produce the body), setting forth the law and demanded relief.  Except I waited until the forty-fifth day of my case and we filed them at the same time.  The following Monday morning the brought us both before a state judge.  They released him on the spot and told me I had to refile because they could not photocopy the handwritten motion in written in pencil and ordered the jail to provide me an Ink pen.  They indicted me the next day.  My Public Pretender came and seen me for the first time to serve me with the Indictment himself.   I remember him asking me who taught me to write motions and I told him I read a couple law books and figured it out.  "Kid, you can't read a couple books on brain surgery and start operating on people...."

          THE NEW YORK GLADIATOR SCHOOL alumni are long and illustrious. 
''We were the original juvenile delinquents,'' said Mr. LaMotta. ''Always in fights. Stealing stuff. In fact, we both ended up in the reform school in Coxsackie, N.Y., at the same time. I remember Rocky was in quarantine, so I'd set him up with comic books and candy and cigarettes.'' Rocky Graziano, Ex-Ring Champion, Dead at 71By PHIL BERGER  Published: May 23, 1990,

            THIS PLACE WAS HUGE, two stories small city with 1,000 inmates built in the early 1800's set way back off the main highway on the outskirts of town surrounded by real mountains.  I remember they had a rocking radio station out of nearby Poughkeepsie.  They kept the highly polished marble floors for miles spotless with teams of inmates polishing and shining day and night.  I was on a Mop Crew after a week on pots and pans in the kitchen.  Probably the worst job in any joint.  For a week or so I thought it would be great mopping long hallways in the middle of the night with five or six other guys.  Backing up long hallways swinging wide to touch both sides of this gleaming highly polished hallway from years of midnight polishing.  It got old real fast.  When you line up in the cavernous hall before entering the Chow Hall you could see a small line of tables with two giant doors at each end leading into the Main Yard directly across from the chow hall.  With their back to the yard facing the chow hall was the Captain's Table with two Lieutenants at his side, a couple of Sargent's always busy tabulating inmates.  That's all they did, count inmates day and night every couple hours an old thirty-year veteran capitulated the entire inmate population with a pencil and paper, I watched them do it.  At the end of the line of rich dark polished ancient oaks and swivel chairs was a slighter smaller desk for me, the Captain's Clerk.  The most trusted inmate job in the prison. 
           ABOUT THE THIRD WEEK of swinging these giant-ass mops I had to find a better job, quick.  After studying their operation procedure like James Bond and the Man of U.N.C.L.E. all in one, I noticed that every one of the top brass in every correctional institution, police department, and Fire Department are aging Irish men, I knew I could talk to them and the Captains Clerk job is nearly always vacant because somebodies going home soon or, they go to hole all the time, and they put the word out for applicants.  With a Captain's Pass, you can go anywhere in the institution but outside and it's easy to get into trouble.  I come out of the chow hall one day and I know when the count has capitulated, they all loosen up and a crew change makes everyone happy.  I walk right up in the middle of all of them and wait politely staring at the floor to let them finish their tomfoolery and the Captain says's, 
"Can we do something for you?"
           "Yes, Sir, I'm here for the Captain's Clerk job."
            The Captain laughed so they all followed suit. 
           "Well, we don't just hand out Captain Clerk jobs here.  How long you been here?"  
"I just got here, I have four-year 'YO Sentence 
(Youthful Offender and under NYS Law at the time they take it off your record if you don't get into any more trouble.  Mines still there.)  I give him my spiel, i.e., non-violent burglary, Irish last name, I'm good, right?  Not so fast:  While we were talking he was fumbling around in drawers looking for something and finally comes out with a three-page math exam and hands it to me.
                "You can bring it back tomorrow."
               I glanced through it and told him I was going out in the yard and would be right back with it.  They all looked at each other quickly like someone just farted...
               I COME BACK in fifteen minutes with it and they all got quiet when I walked up.  This old thirty-year veteran New York State Correction Officer who calculated reams of numbers every day for years studied twice and signed it and handed to one of his Lieutenants to look over it real quick making me stand there in silence.  Smack in the middle of the big oak and-and wrought iron and shiny floors where everything smelled either like cleaning supplies or fresh bread they made every afternoon and morning.  They all looked me up and down with suspicion and contempt waiting for the Captain and when no one said anything he said to me,
 "You know you have an almost free reign of the institution and if you mess this up it's my ass right?" 
                I DIDN'T KNOW all the answers but most of them; it was basic math as far as I was concerned.  I wish I could have explained to them how Fermat's Last Theorem would be solved in the 1990's by computers but he would have asked me what are computers? 
                THE CAPTAIN'S CLERK in a maximum security New York State Correctional Facility in the 1970's must be congenial, easy on the eyes, smell good, be smarter than the average bear and of course, fleet of foot.  You know how they have the results but have to wait on the "Final Results"?  All the housing units and kitchen and wood shop etc. could call in their "Count," but it wasn't final, and no one could leave at four pm until they had a hard copy confirming the number told over the phone.  When the hard copies added up to the known Inmate Population, the Count was "Capitulated," and the day shift could go home and that's where I come in.  I had to fly around that entire institution on foot and gather all these single pieces of paper identifying its department and number of inmates present.  Almost every day there was some delay or another.  Emergency after emergency when the count doesn't add up.  I remember days when it would be forty-five minutes or even over an hour late and all the guards standing around with their lunch boxes, doors standing wide open when they saw me coming, hauling ass on them shiny marble floors with my sneakers squeaking,  like a real go-getter.....
                                                        To be continued:
           12:50 PM 5/29/2015


Copyright 2015 by Mark Anthony Given All Rights Reserved 28 USC 1746, Invoking 90 Stat. 2541 and Article 2(4) of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

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