Happy Memorial Day weekend, Folks! It was a tough week here at the De Freitas Homestead. First K fell ill, then Zoe. And judging by how I’ve been feeling for the better part of the last 18 hours, my body is waging war to stop the bug from pulling me down.
So, let’s just get right to the links, shall we? First this absolutely unbelievable story out of Bodymore, on how one prisoner ran an entire jail. I don’t think David Simon could’ve conjured up such madness for “The Wire”. From the Washington Post:
Inside a gray brick fortress, past a barbed-wire fence, two women in prison guard uniforms traded words about their pregnancies.
“Did he tell you we was having a son?” Tiffany Linder asked, according to court documents recounting the conversation. “Did you know about our baby?”
Chania Brooks said she didn’t care about that baby. That was their child, not hers.
“We having one, too,” she said. “So what?”
The two 27-year-old corrections officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center were sparring over an inmate who prosecutors said left both women with a permanent reminder of their allegiance to him.
To investigators, Tavon White is a thug who has been in and out of jail since he was 18, most recently on charges that he shot a fellow drug dealer four times. He is allegedly a high-ranking “bushman” in the Black Guerilla Family, a gang with a reputation for not just killing its enemies but also burning down their homes.
But during his three years at the state-run detention center, White, 36, was allegedly a figure who commanded respect, not only from fellow inmates in jumpsuits but also from many of the women in blue collared shirts and pressed slacks guarding him. Thirteen of them allegedly smuggled cellphones and drugs inside their hair, lunches and underwear for the man they called “Bulldog” or “Tay.” One tattooed his name on her neck, another on her wrist. Four have carried his children.
Through court documents, an affidavit from an FBI agent that contains transcripts of wiretapped conversations, and interviews with people familiar with White, the 13 officers indicted in April and the jail, a portrait emerges of a place where sex and drugs were swapped with stunning casualness, where thousands of dollars flowed in and out each week, and where one man’s power was, by all accounts, no match for a badge.
Just weeks before the two pregnant guards talked about the children they were expecting, a third allegedly pondered possible names for her son.
“What if I name the baby King?” Katera Stevenson, 24, asked in a wiretapped call to her sister recounted in the affidavit. “I like the name King. King Tavon White.”
“It has its own government. It has its own rules. It has its own understanding,” said James McEachin, a former detention center corrections officer turned pastor. As a guard, he said, “once you go behind that door, it closes for you, too.”
It was here, in this troubled place, that White seized an opportunity. He used the jail’s lax security, its female guards and his unusually long three-year stay at the facility to build what prosecutors described as a lucrative drug-trafficking and money-laundering operation, complete with a “minister of finance.”
Some of the guards who allegedly conspired with White said they were in it solely for the cash.
“I am just about my money,” 25-year-old corrections officer Adrena Rice told White during a wiretapped call Feb. 10. She had no interest in relationships with inmates, who would want a cut of what she was earning by working for him. “Nah. I love money, Tay. I want my own money.”
The corruption extends far beyond the 13 women charged, the affidavit suggested, with one inmate estimating that as many as 70 percent of the corrections officers were compromised.
Gang members have long manipulated guards at Maryland’s prisons. Since 2010, 89 officers across the state, including five at the Baltimore detention center, have been terminated or forced to resign for fraternization or contraband, said state corrections spokesman Rick Binetti.
Gary D. Maynard, who was appointed head of the state’s troubled prison system by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in 2007, acknowledged how deeply rooted the problems at the jail are. “The collusion, corruption, riots were part of this system for a long, long time,” he said. “We have exposed it now.”
And boy, there is a whole exposed there. If you got the time, read up. Crazy stuff.
CBS’ 48 Hours stepped away from their usual tabloid style coverage of murdered girlfriends and cheating husbands to take a look at the violence occuring in Chicago. I’m half a country away in Jersey, and for some reason, my heart is breaking for this city. I find it bizarre that while thousands are caught up in this war, so many people around the nation are
more concerned with conspiracy theories on violence that may occur if [fill in the blank]. Smh.
This story from the Wall Street Journal delves in to the health dangers of too much running:
Endurance athletes have long enjoyed a made-of-iron image. But amid mounting evidence that extraordinary doses of exercise may diminish the benefits of modest amounts, that image is being smudged. That extra six years of longevity running has been shown to confer? That benefit may disappear beyond 30 miles of running a week, suggest recent research.
The improved blood pressure, cholesterol levels and robust cardiac health that exercise has been proven to bestow? Among extreme exercisers, those blessings may be offset partially by an increased vulnerability to atrial fibrillation and coronary-artery plaque, suggest other recent studies.
In the face of this research, long-standing skepticism about the possibility of “exercise overdose” is softening among many sports physicians. “The lesson I’ve learned from 40 years of cardiology is that when there’s this much smoke, there’s often some fire,” said Paul Thompson, a sports-medicine specialist and veteran marathoner who is chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut.
Anecdotal concerns about endurance athletics have been building for years. Cardiac conditions that required surgery have forced into retirement two winners of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship. In 2011, Ironman winner Normann Stadler underwent emergency surgery to repair an enormous aortic aneurysm, a condition not caused but very possibly aggravated by endurance athletics. Research shows an association between endurance athletics and enlarged aortic roots.
Other recent studies suggest the significant mortality benefits of running may diminish or disappear at mileage exceeding 30 miles a week and other, very small studies have shown elevated levels of coronary plaque in serial marathoners—a problem that rigorous exercise theoretically could cause.
“Heart disease comes from inflammation and if you’re constantly, chronically inflaming yourself, never letting your body heal, why wouldn’t there be a relationship between over exercise and heart disease?” said John Mandrola, a cardiac electrophysiologist and columnist for TheHeart.org.
Looks like moderation is key. Since I’ve got Chicago and urban hazards on my mind, I’m going to say a prayer for those affected, and listen to Lupe Fiasco’s excellent “Hood Now”. Black folks have gone through a whole lot of struggle, but we’ve been able to take that, and spin it into strength. Have an awesome weekend, thank any soldiers or vets in your life for their service, and be blessed.