“A Tale of an American Political Prisoner”

Part 6.9: The DC Gulag; Washington, DC

–It’s the Little Things–

by: Jessica Watkins (X: @J6ssicaWatkins)

A True Story; 100% verifiable with Text Messages, Emails, Video/Audio, Court Documents and Testimony.

While life in C2B was dismal, it was not entirely without merit. There were little moments where we were able to claw back some semblance of normalcy; to live as comfortably as possible, and with as much dignity as we could muster. It began the day we started getting letters in the mail. Someone had rebooted a charity group called The Patriot Mail Project, and soon a FLOOD of letters began to arrive. Folks from all around the country wrote to us, sending us Bible verses, prayers, news, and telling us that we were Patriots and heroes. They thanked us for standing up for America. Suddenly, we weren’t alone anymore. We had people who cared about us. It changed EVERYTHING! Morale spiked bigtime. Serena, Lydia, AJ & Suzie, Lori, and so many many many more. The letters were our lifeline, and soon we were writing as many folks as we could. We told them of our mistreatment, of our innocence, of the TRUTH behind January 6th. I wrote letters every day. By this point, we were still in Solitary Confinement, but we were on a 22 and 2 rotation now rather than a 23 and 1. I still had a LOT of time on my hands, so I spent it writing. Soon I was writing to folks that will likely become friends for the rest of my life.

Another instance of joy I was able to eke out from the literal dirt was my “Potted Plants”. I had a window that had sunlight that came through every day, and I have a bit of a green thumb. I love to care for living things. So one day, I decided to bring a plant into my cell. Twice per week we were taken outside for an hour of Recreation, and we were given paper cups for water. We threw the cups in the trash upstairs in the unit, so I used that as an opportunity to smuggle dirt inside. I took a peanut butter jar and after a few trips I had filled it with dirt. Once it was full to my comfort, I ripped out a hunk of crab grass and smuggled it upstairs with me. I named him Ziggy, I wrote the moniker in bright green script and affixed it to his jar. At first, he was a little shocked, and he wilted a bit. But, I nursed Ziggy back to health. I talked to him (plants like that) and said stuff like “I get it Ziggy, jail sucks for all of us. But I love you. It will be OK buddy.” Soon, he was thriving on my top bunk. It became an obsession. By mid-summer 2021, I had 8 different plants growing in my cell: Clovers that tracked the sunlight and closed up at night, wild strawberries, little “Zen Gardens” in cereal bowls with moss growing over rocks, a hanging plant of Snow Thistle. It was amazing. I even adopted a cricket that I (unoriginally) named Jiminy. I fed him grass by hand (prunings from Ziggy), watching as his little mandibles munched it happily. The plants were a lifeline for me, and I spent inordinate amounts of time caring for them. My new pen-pals heard all about it, and I drew little sketches of the plants to help them see what I’d been up to.

Another instance of positivity was was what we called “The Hopium Den”. First, let me preface by saying that we were desperate for good news. We got a surge of endorphins when we got a dose of hope. Hence the term “hopium”. The typical hopium news came from trailblazers like Julie Kelly, news about Ray Epps, Dan Bongino doing entire segments on the pipe bomber hoax, the dirt on Christopher Wray with the Whitmer Kidnapping Hoax, the votes were being recounted in Arizona. It seemed that a LOT was coming out; about January 6th, about the fraudulent election, about the corruption between the FBI/DOJ and the Democrats. It was all hopium, and we toked that pipe pretty hard. Ok. That’s the groundwork for the term Hopium. Now, nearly half of C2B was made up of veterans. In the Army, we used to do what are known as “Company Skits”, usually making fun of our NCO’s and Officers. They’re fun, goofy, and irreverent on purpose. Well, (I think) Robert Morss came up with the idea to do a version of Company Skits that we dubbed “The Hopium Den”. They were HILARIOUS. We came together to donate Commissary items like popcorn, granola bars, chips, little candies. Stuff like that. Then I set up a table like a Concession Stand, and passed out the goodies. Then we’d arrange the “couches” (uncomfortable rubber chair things) and watch the show. We were all part of one skit or another. We went all out; making costumes, rehearsing lines, making props. Most were funny, making fun of each other. There was some poetry. I did a rap song about January 6th once. Another time I did an impression of Jeff Mackillop writing a “Grievance Form” that is too raunchy to be shared. The Hopium Dens were a big hit. We did them once every month or two, and they were always great for morale. The Hopium Dens are one my best memories from C2B, I still get a chuckle about them today.

Another instance of normalcy that I was able to maintain was my Affinity (pun intended for MtG players) to play a customizable card game known as Magic the Gathering. I’ve been playing Magic for 21 years now, it was how my husband @MontanaSiniff and I met actually. I play Magic and build Magic decks compulsively. Montana sent me a set of Magic cards, which were delivered. I was SOOOO excited. But that excitement was short lived. I’d never get another card – the jail decided that I couldn’t get any more. So, I did what anyone would do. I found a loophole. I had Montana start sending me images of Magic cards on photographs. Each picture had 2 cards on it, which I would tear in half and would MAKE 2 cards from. Montana kept sending me decks, and before long we had a collection! I preferred a game type called “Commander” and I built decks in a flurry. It was AWESOME! My play group consisted of me, Guy Reffitt, Garrett Miller, Jeff Sabol, Cleveland. We played almost every day. It became our routine. It was moments like these that we lived for. The months of abuse, Solitary Confinement, malnourishment, fear, anxiety, isolation… it beat us down hard. It was moments like these that helped to keep me afloat, but I was barely treading water. Our captors hated us; they looked for opportunities to make our lives miserable. And what was worse, they knew they could get away with it. They had “top cover”; both from the Deputy Warden Landerkin and Lieutenant Lancaster.