“A Tale of an American Political Prisoner”

Part 18.3: The DC Gulag; Washington, DC

–Life in the Gulag Supermax Part 3–

by: Jessica Watkins (X: @J6ssicaWatkins)

A True Story; 100% verifiable with BodyCam Footage, CCTV Surveillance Camera Footage, and Testimony.

I know this has all sounded pretty crazy so far; just seeing it in writing makes ME see how crazy it was. But it’s impossible to explain exactly how Solitary Confinement in the Supermax changed me and the damage it did to my mental health. Lieutenant Hines saw the change, often remarking “Watkins, I’ve never seen you like this. It’s not like you at all…” And she was right of course. There were moments when I was able to scratch out some semblance of a normal life there; like playing Magic the Gathering with a few of the people that were interested (or lots of times by myself), writing letters, drawing cartoons or doing artwork for folks. After the “laundry incident”, Lieutenant Hines and the Captain came down to talk to me and she had the US Marshals with her. They sat me down and started asking me questions. I told them, “You don’t understand. I don’t do well in Solitary as it is. But YOUR Officers keep picking on me. They don’t do that with the other inmates, they just come to my cell and treat me like s***. They think it’s funny, and it makes me go crazy! Back when I was in E2B, before you dragged us up here to the Supermax, it was different. I was different. I had friends, I had a social life, I was writing my book, I was … you know, normal. Well, normal-ish, for jail anyway. Now it’s like your Officers got me penned up, and they’ve got the greenlight to pick on me. And what am I gonna do, right? I’m trapped in a concrete box. I can’t go anywhere, and I can’t do anything about it. Look, I had a rough childhood, OK? I got bullied by the kids at school, I got bullied by the teachers a lot too. The principle used to beat us with a 2×4 that he turned into a paddle, my parents used to beat me like a red-headed step child. My mom hit me in the mouth so hard once, that I flew across the room and hit my head. So believe me when I say that I have issues with bullying and abuse. Like, I get self destructive when I get depressed and angry, OK? I don’t hurt other people, I hurt myself. Why? Because I feel like I deserve it. Is it crazy? Yes. But I can’t help it. No, It’s not good. But I don’t do this normally. Your cops have been pushing me to a point where I snap. I see red, and before you know it… *BAM* … something like this happens. You can’t understand. Until you’re trapped in a box, alone, being bullied by people with authority… you’ll never understand.”

I didn’t finish there. I went on to give a dissertation about ALL the mistreatment of the CO’s and Staff in the DC Gulag, to ALL the J6 Political Prisoners. I told the Marshals about how this had been going on since the day I came to the DC Jail. It was nothing new for the CO’s to target the J6 people. I told them about how Corporal Armstrong humiliated me during a strip search, about how I was denied the right to a female Officer being present. I told them about the Grievance Forms being denied, despite the OBVIOUS abuses in C2B. I told them how the CO’s came onto our unit and said “…I hope they stab you in prison…” or how Corporal Lee called us “terrorists” and left us in our cells all weekend without showers, because he didn’t feel like “…dealing with their s*** today”. I told them about the time that Corporal Holmes came up to C2B screaming “F*** AMERICA!” and he and the other Officers turned off their BodyCams and threatened to “gang-stomp” a J6er in his cell. I told them about how I was ACTUALLY supposed to be a “Level 1 Minimum Security Inmate”, but because Warden Landerkin hated J6 people, how she turned me into a “12-Max” with a flick of her pen. It was why I was in the Supermax, and not in the Medium Security wing with Frenchie (who tried to kill Donald Trump with a biotoxin). That fun fact probably surprised them. I told them about how I was found NOT GUILTY of Seditious Conspiracy and Destruction of Government Property, and the jail REFUSED (for 8 months by then) to honor the verdict by the Jury; again, under the direct orders of Warden Landerkin. I told them about how Lieutenant Lancaster had Pauline and I thrown in The Hole for no reason. I told them about how Pauline was abused in the hospital; spread-eagled and handcuffed at the wrists and ankles and left writhing in her own feces and urine. I told them about how Warden Landerkin had been going on Twitter and saying nasty things about Trump and the J6 people. I told them about when Congress exposed her Tweets, that she sent Lieutenant Lancaster down to our cell block to “do shakedowns”, where she seized our Discovery, mail, pictures of our pets/family, and stepped on our food. I told them about how Landerkin had been giving her Officers “top cover” for picking on us, about how she’d been protecting her Officers for their abuses. I told the Marshals about the beatings of Ryan Samsel and of Jake Lang. That got the Marshals attention BIG-TIME. They asked a LOT of questions about that.

I like to think that, (spoiler alert) when Landerkin was finally fired, that my interview with the US Marshals had something to do with her termination; that they investigated her and found her in contempt. There’s no way to know for sure, but she was fired less than a month later. So… possibly? This was more or less a verbatim recitation. They sat there in silence and listened patiently, and I think they DID understand. They were being nice to me, and the cops in the DC Jail were almost NEVER nice to me. Maybe it was because the US Marshals were there? It could be that, sure. It could also be that, by hearing the events from the “other side”, of the constant abuses… and the human cost… maybe that had something to do with it too? It wasn’t like I woke up one day, and said… meh… I think I will punch myself in the face. There was no rationality to it. It was a reaction to being abused so consistently and pervasively over the span of those 2.5 years, that it finally culminated with me losing my mind and doing something extremely self destructive. When I finally finished… and I talked to them for well over an hour… Lieutenant Hines wanted to help me. Lieutenant Hines was always strict, very strict… but she was fair. I had a good rapport with her. She was loud, she was bossy… but she was a professional, and so I appreciated that. After hearing me out, I think it dawned on her. She knew that I didn’t belong there in the Supermax. It was an arbitrary decision. She knew I was only a 12-Max, because Warden Landerkin said so. She knew I had migraines because I didn’t sleep well, and that I wasn’t sleeping well because the Officers like Corporal Allen kept waking me up (sleep deprivation) to pick on me (that didn’t end… in fact it got worse, but more on that later). As a 12-Max, I was denied the rights (because Landerkin ordered it) to take classes. The DC Gulag had college courses, culinary courses, all sorts of programs! But the direct order from Landerkin is that “No J6er would ever get access to ‘Educational Opportunities’ in the facility.” I told Lieutenant Hines, “Look, I just rot in a cell all day. If I could DO something, ANYTHING productive… like when I wrote my book… if I had something to occupy my time… if the Officers would just stop picking on me, and if I could spend my time productively… then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad”.

It was like a light clicked on in her head. She pulled out her cell phone, and made a few phone calls. A few minutes later, she ensured that I was enrolled in the “ServSafe Class” for Monday morning! I was ecstatic! I thanked her profusely and thanked the Marshals and the Captain for their time. When I went back to my cell, I was filled with hope, that maybe things would change. They wouldn’t change much, but having a creative outlet like a CLASS! That changed everything for me. I am a very intelligent person. I crave knowledge, I love learning. It’s probably why I am a Conservative. I love History, and unravelling our nation’s messy past was practically an obsessive hobby. Republicans have the Elephant as our mascot – because we are strong as f***, and we have a long memory. The Democrats have the donkey for their mascot, because they’re reactionary jackasses that don’t remember s***. Digging into the history of America, of how the Democrats were methodically turning America into a Socialist/Communist country occupied a LOT of my time. Sure, it was a rabbit hole, but it was one where I could invest my intellect. I crave learning, so even though it was a little silly class like ServSafe, it was a productive use of my time. It was a chance to leave the Unit, to go into a classroom, to interact with a teacher and fellow students. It was like a weight was lifted off me. I know it sounds stupid, but again, until you’re in jail and facing conditions like mine, you will never understand. When Monday morning came around, I jumped up, did my hair and makeup (regular colored pencils dipped in water can be used to make eyeliner/mascara/lip liner), and got ready for class. It was only an hour long, 3 days per week. I had already missed out on a weeks worth of class, so the instructor made me “catch up”. When I got back to my cell, I read the entire ServSafe manual (like 300+ pages of it) and did the make-up tests. I invested myself, memorized the curriculum. It was as if I had been granted a fresh lease on life. Again, I know it sounds dumb, but it was a lifeline for me. Better yet, I noticed the staff had eased up somewhat. Corporal Allen was still a stone cold b****, but I noticed she avoided me where possible. But even this would not last long. Not all the CO’s had gotten the memo that the J6ers should be left alone.