“A Tale of an American Political Prisoner”

Part 19.1: The Oklahoma Transfer Center; Oklahoma City, OK

–Welcome to the BoP–

by: Jessica Watkins (X: @J6ssicaWatkins)

A True Story; you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Once I had arrived at the Oklahoma Transfer Center for the Bureau of Prisons (BoP), I was booked and immediately escorted up to the SHU. The Standard Housing Unit is the BoP version of “The Hole”. There’s no communication with the outside world, no phones, no computers, nada. There’s no commissary. There’s also nothing to do, and so you sit there in the same clothes for as long as they feel, bored out of your mind. They give you a single envelope that contains all your hygiene items; 2 single serving packets of shower gel, 2 single serving packets of some kind of lotion deodorant stuff, 2 single serving packets of tooth gel (not to be mistaken with toothpaste), and a toothbrush the size of your pinky. Also in the envelope is 2 pieces of paper, and another prepaid postage envelope. This is (presumably) so you could write home, and how kind of them to offer that! If only they had given you a writing utensil (a “security flex pen”or a golf pencil). But nope. Nothing to write with. If you’re LUCKY they let you out on Recreation for an hour per day, into a cage inside of a cage, behind a 40ft wall. But sunlight comes in, and the August heat bakes your skin sweaty. And you only get that if you’re lucky… and I mean LUCKY! Most of the time they don’t. All the CO’s are super strict, and they refuse to talk to the inmates. So all day and night, the inmates SCREAM through the doors at each other. I tried to sleep my time away as best I could. When I was brought up to the SHU I was being escorted with gangbangers and cholo types; all tattooed from head to toe. It was clear that these were the most hardcore of the hardcore criminals. When they escort you, the Officers grab you by your bicep and forcibly move you from location to location, and you’re forced to keep your head down as you walk. You feel like you’re in Guantanamo Bay. It’s the most strict Solitary Confinement, and under the worst conditions that I’ve ever been in. But at least it was clean and the food was pretty good. It’s NOT an enjoyable experience. I was taken through the hallways and put into a cell where I would remain until I was transferred out.

That wouldn’t take long. Two days later, I was told to “Pack up, you’re shipping out”. There wasn’t a lot to pack, but the one thing I FORGOT to bring (I mean, what else WAS there to bring?!) were my glasses. I was (and still am) pretty pissed off about that. I am blind as hell, and I NEEDED those. Like BAD. They were the same glasses I wore on January 6th actually, and although they were kinda beat up and not my correct prescription anymore… they were all I had, and they had gotten kinda sentimental. But nope. My dumbass left them behind. I would be blind until this very day. The BoP isn’t very quick at providing for “Eyecare” (an ironic name because the BoP should call it I-Don’t-Care.) I was shackled and loaded onto the plane. But today was not any ole day. It was Wednesday, August 16th, 2023. It was my birthday, and my government wanted to take me on a mini-vacation. I was loaded onto Con-Air and flown to Memphis, TN. It was quite nice, it’s a pretty town. Looked fun. After dropping off some s***heads, we then drove all over the damned place. I got to see the Mississippi River, and a bunch of countryside. It was a nice road-trip. Such a nice trip for my birthday, (Aww, my Government shouldn’t have!) Then I was booked into a place called the Tallahatchie County Jail, Mississippi and put into THEIR version of The Hole. I won’t lie, I kinda liked Tallahatchie. The facility was a total s***hole, don’t mistake me. That place was… freakin’ NOT good. But! The food was pretty great, and the staff were SUPER nice. Like, almost uncomfortably nice. I didn’t even care that the place was a total dump. It was a weight off my mind to be treated like a human being again. Better yet, I found out that Warden Landerkin had been fired. I wrote an exuberant Gulag This! about her termination.

During my stay in the DC Gulag, I had begged to see a psychologist… a counsellor… really ANY kind of Mental Health specialist. I desperately needed a therapist, and didn’t receive one until AFTER the “laundry incident”. Even then, it was only for 2 sessions, so it was completely ineffective. During my week-long stay in Tallahatchie, I received 2 therapy sessions… in just that WEEK! It was pretty incredible really, and the therapist was a total sweetheart. I told her about my GRIEVOUS concerns about being shipped to the men’s facility in Elkton. She too had the same concerns. The Wardens and staff held a panel to discuss my needs. They were VERY accommodating. It was pretty impressive. During that week, i sent out a barrage of messages; imploring all of you to help me get reclassified. You did, and an amazing job at that! But, that week I stayed in my cell, and made frantic calls. Serena, Jenn Baker, Don & Donna… I called as much as I could, partnering with Montana and beating the drum to get me reassigned. After a week, I was packed back out, taken BACK to the airport, put BACK on ConAir, and flown BACK to the Oklahoma Transfer Center. I was put back in the “fat guy coffin”, put back through intake, had my picture taken again, and “stripped out by the exact same CO”. It was like the Twilight Zone. But this time was different. The CO looked more closely at… me… and we had a little discussion about my gender issues. He said “Well, don’t get your hopes up, but you’re listed as ‘Unknown’ and not ‘M’ anymore. That’s why you’re back, to see if you can be reclassified.” I was ECSTATIC! It wasn’t a definitive, but it was a chance! I was checked BACK into the SHU, where I would rot for the next 10 days.

It sucked, don’t get me wrong. It sucked BAD. But, this time I was filled with hope. Y’all out there must have been doing one HELL of a job! After 5-6 days, the Warden and a bunch of Captains and stuff came to my cell and woke me up. They said (and I quote) “PLEASE tell people to stop calling us! PLEASE! We’re reclassifying you, OK? But you have to make them stop! Our phone lines are so busy, that we can’t even get any other incoming calls! We can’t take it! Tell them to stop!” I looked at the Warden and I told her, “I mean, I would… but how am I going to do that? I haven’t had access to a phone since I got here! How am I going to do that?!” Two days later, after my bloodwork proved I was “normal for a woman my age”, I was told to pack up. I was getting transferred to Women’s General Population! I was brought down, dressed in a Women’s Uniform and put with the rest of the girls. I had a cell to myself that first night, and I won’t lie… I cried a good long while. YOU… all of YOU! YOU RESCUED ME! Thanks to Jenn Baker, to Serena, to Don & Donna… but ESPECIALLY to all of YOU! YOU saved me! I would have been RAPED if it weren’t for all of you… for calling the Marshals and the BoP. You drove the Warden crazy. And in so doing… you saved me!

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. To all of you. Thank you. <3