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Matthew Davis                                  Stateville Correctional Center                                   Crest Hill, IL In the mir...

Monday, February 20, 2017

Condition of Human

I am struggling. This hope is causing me to question everything. I think back to when I was sentenced to spend the rest of my life in prison. The prosecutor said something to the effect that my victim had no hope so why should I have any? I wonder if those were the words of Rachel's family, or something the prosecutor has said over and over to have a desired impact. I wonder if I agree. To an extent I think I do. I feel extremely guilty for having  a website, for posting blogs, for feeling even an ounce of hope. I have to look at things from a certain angle to justify my posts.

On one hand, I feel it is extremely disrespectful for me to try so hard to have my voice heard outside these prison walls. I feel like every time I dare to reach beyond these walls, or feel an ounce of of joy, or hope, its a slap in the face of the very people I've wronged. I know I caused an  entire family pain, an enormous amount of pain, and if I was in their shoes I'm not sure I'd want me to do anything but sit and think on what I did. Suffer. But that's the catch 22 for me. The remorse I feel for my reckless actions is so deep, so all consuming, that words cant even begin to describe how I feel. The fact that I do have such remorse and not only see, but FEEL , the consequences of my actions let me know that I am more than this sentence. That knowledge is what allows me to push through the feelings of guilt and remorse to feel that ounce of hope, to strive to have my voice heard. Because I know I can't bring Rachel back. I SHOULD think about what I did. I SHOULD suffer in the knowledge of what I've done. But the reality is that being in prison for life does not cause me to feel that guilt or remorse. I will feel that every day for the rest of my life no matter where I'm at. And knowing that I CAN give back to society, knowing that I can somehow atone for what I've done is what allows me to deal with any feelings of guilt I have...it does not alleviate that guilt, however. I just had to make a choice. Do I choose to atone for my mistake by adhering to the prosecutor and possibly the family of the victims wishes for me to rot, hopeless, in a box, contributing nothing to society, to become a number while millions are spent in tax dollars to keep me alive.~or~ Do I try to atone by living the rest of my life trying to make up for my mistake. Trying to somehow make a positive impact on society. There was a tine when I would have chosen the former. There was a time in my mid twenties when I couldn't see past the present. My immaturity only allowed me to consider my own selfish goals, I didn't care about myself or anyone around me. That immaturity led me down a dark path that affected everyone around me and only time, wisdom and maturity has let me begin to see myself clearly. Those things lead me to a lighter path where I am able to love myself and those around me unselfishly. It has been a long and painful journey, but I've learned countless lessons and in the process I've transformed from a child to a man.

Please listen to my next words very carefully. These words are for all of society and shouldn't be discounted easily. I am not rotting. I am alive. I am living. I am living everyday with the mission of helping anyone around me be a better person, I am living by trying to show the world how to have and feel compassion. I am present in the life of my child. I am striving to be a better man. I am striving to make a positive impact on the world. I am striving to be a productive part of the society that cast me aside. And I am STILL drowning in remorse. I STILL wake up everyday thinking about the life I took. The mother I took. The sister I took. The daughter I took. I STILL feel the full weight of the pain I caused. Prison does not stop or enhance any of these feelings. I do not feel more remorse because I'm in prison. No prison or person can force me to feel empathy. I feel empathy because I am human. I. AM. HUMAN.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Matthew Davis                                             Stateville CC                                                 Crest Hill, IL

I have been back in isolation for 5 months now. In March I was caught tattooing and received 6 months punitive segregation. It has taken me a while to adjust back to the mentality of isolation...confined to my cell 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, surrounded by madness. We go to yard 5 hours on Saturday and Sunday. There are moments when I feel my sanity slipping and I have to fight to get it back. Some people aren't so lucky. Not everyone is built for this. I've spent a total of 12 months out of the last three years in isolation. In March of 2014, I got 6 months for 3 1/2 bottles of homemade alcohol, which was later proven to be kool-aid. (But not before I served all of those 6 months in isolation.) Most recently for tattooing "smile now, cry later" on a guy's hand. These last two times are nothing compared to my first 2 years in isolation. At least this time I have clothes, a toilet, running water, a mattress and other basic items, I am, however, thankful for those first 2 years because if not for that I may not handle my current situation quite as well. That's the scariest part for me, that I could have been part of this madness.

I'm currently housed in F-house at the Stateville CC. F-house is the last functioning "round" house in America. The round house is just that, a circular building with 4 levels of cells around the outer ring with a central tower, allowing, by the use of backlighting, a single observer to watch over an entire cell house. This is a great source of pride for Stateville officials, not so much for those of us housed within. A round house is an architectural figure called a panopticon. The panopticon was designed by J. Bentham in 1791, and its design is based on the idea of mental as opposed to physical subjugation. Bentham himself described the panopticon as "a millstone to ground upon the criminal mind." Later in Michel Foucault's book "Discipline and Punish", the panopticon is described as a tool "to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power." I, myself, have come to understand the function of the panopticon as one of self-policing. By placing the tower in the center with unseen guards inside, who can peer into any cell at any time, one will unconsciously, or consciously, follow the rules. While we do not know if we are being observed, we do know we COULD be observed.  This form of mental subjugation and oppression have been proven more harmful than helpful and the use of round houses has been discontinued in America~except in Stateville.

Because the building is round, not only can the tower man see every cell~every cell can almost see every cell. This allows me to observe first hand the madness brought on by lengthy stays in isolation combined by the mental pressure of the panopticon. I will look out upon the cell house right now and describe what I see...

Imagine the mouse cages in a laboratory stacked 4 high and 60 long. I see about 100 men just standing in their doors watching. There are about 20 or so guys "texting" each other by using a rudimentary sign language. I count 10 cells on suicide watch. That means the hospital and x-house are full, so there's probably 20-30 guys on suicide watch. There are so many guys kicking their doors it is hard to count~or concentrate. It's a constant BANG BANG BANG BANG...so loud and constant. I must have tuned it out because I'm just becoming aware of it. There are nearly 500 men over here, most yelling about something. It sounds like the dull roar of a football stadium. There is movement everywhere. I just noticed what most of the commotion is about. Four cells to my right, in 146, there is a puddle of blood slowly oozing under the door and out onto the gallery, Three police are standing outside the cell watching. I can only assume the guy is cutting himself...orange crush will most likely be here soon to do a cell extraction on him. Cutting is a very common thing back here. Mental health people come around once a week to ask if we are okay. If we say we're not, they schedule an appointment with mental health~usually in three weeks. (Uuuh, Im not okay right now, dummy!) Here comes orange crush. There are 7 of them dressed in bright orange riot gear. They just sprayed, I'm guessing, an entire canister of mace into the cell and all 7 ran inside. It took them a long 5 minutes to subdue the guy. Now they are marching him~ naked and backwards~ down the gallery. He's bleeding from a self inflicted cut on his arm and a fresh gash on his head that was most likely not self inflicted. He is taken out of the building. Maybe he will be back, maybe not, This has really set the building off, Probably 100 doors are being kicked. Trash is raining down. Insults fly. It's not even noon yet. Welcome to the round house.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


I've been in isolation for six or seven months. I'm still naked. I've been developing callouses on my hips, knees, elbows and shoulders, so I'm sleeping on concrete a little easier. I pass time by pacing the cell~ two steps, turn~ two steps, turn~ two steps, turn. Back and forth. As I do this my mind drifts and I'm suddenly watching myself pace the floor. Back and forth. Back and forth. I watch myself as I begin to sing some old 90's grunge tune...Stone Temple Pilots "Creep" and then Soundgarden "Fell on Black Days". I watch as my feet begin to bleed leaving a bloody trail of footprints. Back and forth. Back and forth. Suddenly the walls start to close in around me. I'm screaming at myself to stop pacing and get help. I need help. But I keep pacing. I keep singing. Back and forth. I start to panic and find it hard to catch my breath as the walls begin to squeeze in tighter and I feel the cold hand of death on my skin. That's when I blink my eyes and realize I'm not pacing. I'm "back" in my body, standing at the door. I look down at a huge pile of paint chips I've picked off the door...."How long have I been standing here?" I ask myself. I turn and start pacing again. Back and forth. Back and forth. I still go through that daily, but I'm not naked in a box and I don't have paint to chip. 


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Mental Warfare

Matt Davis                                               Stateville CC                                       Crest Hill, Illinois

Matt is currently spending six months in segregation. He was taken March 25th and will be released September 25th. He is having a hard time concentrating on anything long enough to complete another blog. I told him I could help him out. Out of the mass of letters I have there is a lot of substance in them. The below is taken from a letter Matt wrote me August 15, 2014. He was six weeks from finishing a six month stint in segregation.~~Krista

“You wouldn't believe the absolute lunacy I am exposed to on a daily basis. I've been consumed by the thoughts I talked about a few letters ago...could a normal "sound" mind actually withstand the pressure of prison or is it normal to go crazy and abnormal to deal with it and NOT go crazy. My ideas, thoughts and realizations go so deep that I'm sure you wouldn't want me to go into details...5 pages in, you'd give up! But check this out...almost every cellie I've ever had no matter how "sane" or cool they were, everyone has some weird shit going on. They might not be cutting on themselves or playing in their poop but the constant stress we are under will always manifest in some form. Most common is OCD. I'm constantly giving myself a "self-examination" to be on guard for weird shit. I don't have any "common" weird shit~ for instance the OCD~ but my thing is my routine. I do the same shit every day and if my routine is thrown off my whole day is ruined. I get so mad especially if my cellie is the reason my routine is interrupted...I mean I'm not going to beat somebody up, but I will hold resentments about it. It's insane! I said before how I wished I had a voice...the main difference between me and a lot of the guys in here is that I can recognize the psychological games the prison plays, therefore it doesn't affect me as profoundly. I'd like to write a book exposing the penal system for what it is. I feel like I've got a very clear and accurate view of what is going on. I guess youre wondering why I'm going H.A.M right now...Ready for some REAL crazy shit? Yesterday on the yard I had a long conversation with a young guy who eats himself. Yes, you read that correctly. He eats himself. Actually takes bites out of his arms and legs and eats it. The scars are horrific, complete with teeth prints. My question to him was, what events in your life led you to think it was a good idea to eat yourself? The answer was not completely informative, but highly enlightening. This fucking guy came to prison for burglary, with a 4 year sentence…that’s 18 months after good time. He was in a minimum security prison, got into an argument with an officer and allegedly slammed a door in the officer’s face. The door hit the officer in the shoulder. The inmate was issued and IDR (inmate disciplinary report) for staff assault, given one year in seg and transferred to the Pontiac CC. Pontiac is a seg only prison, where the absolute most incorrigibles are sent. People are literally rotting in seg for decades there. In Pontiac, the most bazaar things go on as normal day to day. A few examples… guys fill their mouths with shit, piss and semen and spit it into other people’s faces…or shit directly in their hands to throw at people…guys use a STAPLE, a fucking staple, to cut their penis off. One guy cut his ball sack open, pulled his nuts OUT and tied them to the cell door so the police wouldn’t open his door…something becoming more common is guys cutting their stomach open and pulling their intestines out. I could go on for days. So they sent this young man there, someone threw shit on him. He made a shank, got caught with said shank, then another shank and another…now he eats himself and doesn’t get out of prison until 2021…He is out of Pontiac, but doesn’t get out of seg until 2016…so they are going to expose him to the above mentioned things for basically a decade~ day in, day out~ then release him. How do you think it will turn out? Some days I’m glad I don’t have a TV because I’m more aware of what’s going on, and some days I wish I had one to just tune this madness out....” 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Forgive Me For I Know Not What I Do...

Matthew Davis                                                                         Stateville Correctional Center

This is a strange time of year for me. February 29th marked the 12th anniversary of my arrest for murder. Something strange happens to me around this time every year and for the longest time I didn't even know it was happening. What happens is that I lose interest in almost everything positive in my life and I fall into melancholy. In these weeks I feel the full weight of my guilt, I feel like, due to my unforgivable mistake, I do not deserve to have anything good in my life so I unconsciously become lax in anything positive I've got going on. My loved ones usually suffer the effects the most by my unexplained distance.
It's only been the last couple of years that  I've actually been able to put a label on what I feel. Guilt. I don't like feeling this way even though I know I SHOULD. Guilt. Shame. Overwhelming sadness. Confusion. Regret above all. I think about all I've gone through these past twelve years...the torture, beatings, and other indignities at the hands of the police...The years of isolation... My child knowing another man as "dad"... The pain I see on my families face...The horrible things I've witnessed... It's all taken a toll. I know that to some people all of that is not enough pain or punishment and in fact, NO amount of pain or punishment will ever be enough. I wonder what's the point? If no amount of suffering is enough to atone, will anything be enough?
I wonder... If I had not been caught... If I had been so affected by what happened that I spent the next 50 years, the rest of my life, working with children, the homeless, at risk youths, anything, just giving of myself without gain or expectation, would that be enough? If I then confessed on my deathbed, would I be viewed as evil, unworthy of love or happiness?
I say all of this because I am surrounded by wasted human lives. I live in a cesspool of suffering and NO GOOD COMES FROM IT! Longer, tougher sentences do not deter or reduce crime. Making someone suffer every indignity known does not bring anyone back to life. It does not make society better or safer. It does not make anyone truly feel better. BUT what if I was given the opportunity to actually serve society?
I'm not suggesting that I be let out of prison tomorrow or even ten years from now. I need to be punished for my reckless actions. I abused drugs and alcohol and the worst happened. I took a life. I SHOULD be punished. I SHOULD suffer. I SHOULD feel guilt and shame. But I should feel all of that for a PURPOSE. My purpose in life has become to use all I've suffered to keep the next person from making the same mistakes.
That is the future I dream of when my guilt and shame force me into submission. That thought gives me the hope to push through and FIGHT towards my purpose.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Matthew Davis                                       Stateville CC                                      Crest Hill, Illinois

The question I'm asked most often by people not in prison is “what is it like in there?”. My answer is usually “it sucks.” While that answer is totally accurate it does nothing to describe what its really like in here. The truth of the matter is that inmates are victimized and dehumanized nearly every second of every day. I'm not talking about the victimization sensationalized on every prison movie or show on TV where we are depicted as this cancerous society destroying ourselves. You've all been conditioned to believe that violence, rape, theft and extortion are prevalent amongst the inmate population. Yes those things do happen but it is mostly done to us by prison staff. Any violence, real violence,  is promoted and facilitated by prison staff. Confused? Let me put it this way. Prison is like high school nearly everyone knows everyone. Everyone, including staff, knows who the troublemakers and bugs are. Troublemakers are tolerable, but bugs are not. In case you're wondering, a bug is someone who is basically crazy in the weirdest ways. They exhibit any of the following behaviors... cut themselves, talk to imaginary people, do not wash their bodies, scream and holler, have major OCD, and just do weird shit in general. I know that doesn't sound bad, but imagine being locked in a 10x12 box with one 24 hours a day. But I digress. My point is that staff knows who these guys are and in order to create unease and unrest they force those of us who can cope and deal with this situation to live with those guys. Right this very instant my cellmate is sitting three feet away from me arguing with an imaginary person. I have been locked in this box with him for almost a year for nearly 24 hours a day. Do you think the stress is hurting or helping me? I have to sleep in here with a guy who quite obviously hear voices or some shit and, oh did I mention he is a convicted murderer. There are enough bugs to house them together but they would rather put them with us. So, the violence, the real violence, comes when you had back to back bug ass cellies for years and one of them finally crosses generous line you’ve drawn. You are forced to beat, mame or even kill that person because let's face it no one’s coming to help you. You’re in a  small ass concrete box with a murderer and well shit happens.
So that's what it's like inside your cell. Once you leave your cell for 20 or 30 minutes, maybe a couple hours if you're lucky, you got a deal with the officers bullshit. Everyday is met with a new, unexpected, irrational rule. Today you can wear a ball cap but are told to take your hands out of your pocket. Tomorrow, you can put your hands in your pockets, but can't wear hats. The next day you can do both but have to stop 50 times in the hundred feet it takes to get to the dining room. It's insane, but effective for mental domination.
At times it seems like the only relief you can find is with a friend or family outside of here. There's a few catches, though. If you want to call someone it's nearly five bucks for a 30 minute call. If you want to write a letter, the mail room is nearly a month behind so while my letter will get to you and 3 or 4 days your response won’t reach me for about a month. If I am blessed to have someone willing to visit me they will be forced to endure rude, overbearing officers in the visiting room with blasting AC in the winter. I might get one visit, but the chances of another are slim.
It may seem like I'm complaining. I guess I am. But my complaint does not stem from my treatment. My complaint comes from the fact that my treatment is in direct contradiction to the mission statement of prison. Just go to IDOC.com and tell me if my treatment, my environment is conducive to the goals of allegedly set forth by the prison system.
After this rant, you can see now why I always stick to the simple answer of “it sucks”.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Acid Chronicles~~Volume 1

The room is impossibly small. Four bare blindingly bright white walls and a couch. The light from the bare fluorescent bulb in the ceiling is enough to burn my retinas right out of my eyes. I'm crammed onto the couch with 5 other teenagers. All our eyes are bulging, dilated and wondering. Our teeth grind loudly, involuntarily. There were more of us, where they went I couldn't fathom a guess. I feel my insides flip as I ride the peak wave of the LSD saturating my mind. About 45 minutes earlier I had taken a four way of some extremely potent acid called Charlie Brown. About 15 minutes ago I couldn't stop giggling. Now I just wish the damn light wasn't so bright. I wouldn't mind if the walls would stop wiggling like jello and I really wish I wasn't crammed on this little ass couch like a sardine. I really need to get up. I can hear my mind telling my legs to move. I can feel the message travel from nerve ending to nerve ending all the way down my spine. My legs don't move. Far from panic, I am intrigued by the sensation. I close my eyes and concentrate. I feel the sensation, feel it reach my feet. I open my eyes I see my feet moving. Why can't I get up? Then I notice the closed in feeling. I'm sandwiched, wedged really, between a cute redhead staring intently at the palms of her hands on my left and a heavy set kid with acne frantically picking at his clothes on my right. I realize I can also feel their energy. Like vibrations from a speaker. It's too much. Too much energy. Too much to process. I gotta get up. Near panic I shoulder them aside and jumped to my feet. Free of the confines of the overcrowded couch I feel very large and expanding. Like if I don't hold myself together I will fly apart. I look up and the ceiling is almost touching my head. A piece drops onto my shoulder. I taste it. It's sour, but good. I reach for the ceiling only to have it retract from my touch. The energy changes. The room hates me. The light is blinding. I shouldn't have tasted it. I'm filled with regret. Blind I stumble into a kitchen. Everything is white, blinding lights. I find my way to a bathroom. My eyes close in relief as I open the door, slide inside, and close it behind me. I open my eyes to see a tiny bathroom full of people. I found the rest of us. They don't even notice when I enter, as they are staring intently at the wall. As my eyes adjust I can't believe what I see. Black ink swirling around the walls. I reach out to touch it and it sticks to my finger, covers it quickly and begins to crawl up my arm. Shit! I shake my arm slinging black ink all over. It splatters on the wall and resumes its lazy swirl. I stumble from the bathroom. I can feel it creeping up on me. A bad trip. Once the thought invades my mind it quickly consumes me. I'm not new to this. Acid trips are good or bad depending on your mood and mindset. I needed to leave the place, these crazy people and quickly. I wander back to the hateful sour room with the tiny body filled couch. I see a face I recognize and feel a little relief. “Bro, you gotta take me home, please.” I beg him. He looks at me like he doesn't recognize me and says “we are home.” Shit!! I gotta get home. I need to be in a place I know. A place I'm comfortable. A safe place. And I need to get there soon or this is gonna suck real bad. I notice that the ceiling is drooping again and I want to sit down. The couch is uninviting, just a pink blob with arms and legs sticking out at impossible angles. So I sit on the floor. I can feel the crowded energy from the mass of bodies on the couch and suddenly my clothes are extremely tight. I can barely breathe or move. I need to take them off. I quickly strip down to my boxers only to find the very air oppressing. No matter how I move or position myself the constriction is suffocating. I lay still, trying to breathe. The carpet is like a bed of nails on my flesh. The ceiling pressing me into it. I'm going to explode. I open my eyes and see clearly. I see my friend on the couch. “Bro I'm about to have a bad one. I gotta go home. Take me now.” It must have been the look on my face, or the fact that he just watched my skinny, twitching body flop around on the floor for thirty minutes, or maybe he needed a break too. At any rate, he agreed to take me home. I don't remember the ride home. All I know is that once in my home and in my room and in comfortable clothes and Jim Morrison soothing me with talk of how strange people are, I felt at peace and the peak of the trip hit once again as I lay in bed bathed in the purple fluorescent glow of a black light. It all made sense. I have never felt more comfortable and one with the universe as I did in that moment. I could feel myself dissolve into particles and float like dust on the invisible currents of wind. I blended with all of the earth. Everything made sense. The only point to life is to be life and that was just fine with me. I had been listening to Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon on repeat for God only knows how long when the phone rang. It was my friends asking why I left the party and was I ok. I was feeling exceptional. So good in fact that I totally forgot about that evil apartment that tried to snuff me from existence, so naturally I agreed to return. It was about midnight and I had a good 3 or 4 hours left on this trip so why not go back to the party. Without asking for an address I quickly hung up, changed clothes and jumped into my Malibu without a care in the world.
I believe that my trip allowed me to become connected in some way with the universe enough so that I was able to exert my will upon my immediate surroundings. That may sound strange but it is the only way that the following events are possible and my only explanation for how I'm still alive.
As I pulled out of my driveway it began to rain. By the end of my street it was a downpour. I drove the next 10 miles in the pouring rain with only a vague idea of where I was going. Not that that mattered much. I pay little, if any, attention to the road. I was mesmerized by the rain on the windshield. The way the water whipped back and forth. The way the rivulets changed direction with my speed. I was jolted out of my hypnotic state as my car hit something and I was thrown against the steering wheel. I looked into a wall of water as my car died. After the wipers cleared my view I could see that I was sitting in the middle of the intersection leading directly into the apartment complex from earlier. I tried to no avail to start my car. I opened the door and water rushed into my car. I stepped out, knee deep in water, into the downpour. I looked around. Nothing. No one to be found. I thought I could push my car through the intersection but that didn't work. Dejected, I got back in and tried the ignition one more time. To my surprise the engine sputtered to life. I only had to drive about 30 feet into the entrance to the apartment complex. I was looking upon about 500 identical apartment. I had no idea which one held my friends, so I picked one at random. I knocked. Waited. Knocked again. The door swung open a couple seconds later and instead of a familiar face I was confronted with an angry old man in his dirty whitey tighties. Without saying a word I ran back to my car resigned to return home. Again the car wouldn't start. Sometimes when under the influence of LSD dumb ideas seem completely logical. So, I decided to walk home. Ten miles away. In the pouring rain at 1:30 in the morning. I only made it about 50 feet when a car pulled up next to me. As a window rolled down I saw a familiar face. I was a manager at a gas station and I had hired a 16 year old kid just 2 days ago. I got into his car and he asked me what was wrong with me. I offered the obvious lie that I was drunk and my car wouldn't start. He took me back to my car in awkward silence and told me I should try it one more time. I complied and to my amazement, it started. It even ran a little better. I thank him and hightailed it for home. I don't remember this ride home either. In fact I don't remember much else from that night.
The next afternoon I woke up feeling that “morning after an intense trip” feeling. Sore muscles, fuzzy head and a vague feeling of not rightness. I had to be at work at noon so I got myself together and headed out. Again my car wouldn't start. The events of the night before, while fuzzy, came slowly back. I popped the hood and saw the muddy water all over the engine. I pulled the cap off the distributor and water poured out. The distributor houses the electric points for the ignition. A drop of water will disable it. There was a pint of water. My car shouldn't have gotten me home. I wonder to this day how that car was running. Maybe I willed it to run.