From The Intercept:
NOT LONG AGO I WAS LYING IN MY BUNK in the hole, just minding my own business as always and thinking about some of the video games I have known and loved over the years, when suddenly one of the guards shouted through the door grill that his fascist Bureau of Prisons overlords had just decreed that my custody level had been raised and that I was thus to be transferred to a medium security prison two days hence, all to the greater glory of the American Pig Empire, though I’m paraphrasing a little.
The transfer itself wasn’t terribly surprising, as the prison administration had good reason to want me gone. And the increase in my custody level is actually warranted, at least on paper. Federal prisons are divided into minimum, low, medium, and maximum security facilities, among which inmates are perpetually reshuffled as they either stay out of trouble, in which case their custody level is eventually reduced and they get to go somewhere less dangerous — or, like me, they get caught with hooch, go to the hole for two months, get out, fail a drug test a week later when it comes up positive for opiates, and go back to the hole, in which case one’s security designation is increased and he’s sent somewhere more dangerous, in this case on the grounds that the fact that I like to snort morphine and write epic poetry about Tamerlane makes me some kind of security risk, rather than simply an Orientalist.
(I don’t mean to be flippant about my on-again, off-again opiate problem, which has been chronicled in assorted magazine profiles and government documents with varying degrees of accuracy, and for which I’m slated to receive treatment upon release; meanwhile, I’m also working hard, one day at a time, to accept that the Middle East has a right to be understood on its own terms, and not simply as a convenient “Other” upon which to overlay Western sociological and aesthetic thought-products.)
What was really striking about all this was that I was to be transferred in a mere two days, whereas it usually takes inmates around three months to be shipped; two of my colleagues back there in the hole had been waiting for the better part of a year. The odds are that they wanted me out quickly because I’d just recently begun a promising new round of “Administrative Remedy” complaints over several suspicious incidents, including one in which a guard stopped me outside the law library and confiscated a notebook containing interviews I’d conducted on staff misconduct, deeming it “contraband”; they also may have hoped to complicate my ongoing complaint process with regard to the email access they took from me after I’d contacted a journalist about other misconduct, of which more later. But I like to think that the warden is simply a big Jonathan Franzen fan who’d become enraged over my recent review of Purity, which, come to think of it, really was a bit more…