Recently I was interviewed by John Clemens, SAL Audio, on my most recent book, “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals.” Please check it out.
Recently I was interviewed by John Clemens, SAL Audio, on my most recent book, “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals.” Please check it out.
It was an earlier time, many decades ago, when the love between my father and I first appeared. My parents had ended their dysfunctional marriage, leaving my older brother, Keith, to live with our father while I was sent away with my mother and a dog named Nippy. Keith was 13 and I was 7. I was later told that Keith and I had to be separated; he did bad things to me.
Two months later, after the spring plow and the crops had been planted, I returned to the two-story farmhouse for a one-week visit with Keith and my father. On this summer day, my grandfather and mother were in the front seat of his 1951 Chevy while I peered over the back seat looking for the house where I had spent my earlier years. No sooner had we turned off highway 16 and headed north on the DeLand blacktop than I saw my father driving our way. The two cars pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. I cautiously stepped out of the car while my grandfather opened the trunk of his car and, without looking up, quietly passed the suitcase to my father. There was no, “How are you doing?” “Think it will rain?” “Your beans look good.” in the exchange. My mother opened her door, stood up, and faced my father. The car stood between the two of them. “We’ll be back in a week to pick him up,” she said.
“I’ll have him ready,” my father replied.
As we drove to the farm, I wondered what was next. My father and I had never spent much time together. He was either working in the fields or nowhere to be found. We turned right on the lane leading to the house which sported a chilling look on a 90 degree day. The front screen door swung open and slammed shut as Keith swaggered across the porch, stood at the edge, looked to the left, to the right, and focused his eyes on me. Fear surged through me, causing me to wonder if coming here was a mistake. Without speaking, Keith conveyed the feeling that this was his house and that I was not welcome.
While my father and I walked up the steps, I latched onto my father’s right hip, keeping my father between Keith and I. While Keith never said a word, his eyes made contact with mine. After dropping the suitcase, my father said, “Hey, Larry, how about you and me go to town for a cold bottle of soda pop?” It all seemed so strange, since I didn’t remember being asked before. Keith was the one my father took to town. But this time, Keith stayed home.
We climbed into the pickup and headed south toward the local bar and grill. My right arm hung out the window as the wind blew hard against my skin causing the tiny hairs to stand upward. Minutes later we arrived at the bar and grill where farmers hung out when it was raining or the crops were all in, or to watch the winter months pass by. There was a long bar with several stools that swiveled each time a butt moved from side to side. Dad rested his feet on a long silver pipe at the base of the bar. Mine hung in the air like Monday’s wash. Behind us were a few booths with bright-red plastic seats and silver-gray tabletops spotted with the occasional cigarette burns. My father ordered a tall, dark bottle of beer and a half-frozen bottle of Coke for me. Sitting next to the Coke was a saucer holding two cake donuts covered with white powdered sugar that stuck to my lips each time I took a bite. Men stopped by the table to talk with my Dad about the need for a slow-summer rain, his stock car racing last Friday night, and asked if this was his boy. My father drove in stock-car races at the fairgrounds on Friday nights. He knew how to drive a car fast, especially around the corners.
Sue, the woman my Dad was dating, was a waitresses at the bar and grill. She dried off her wet hands with a dish towel and walked our way. She was a good ten years younger than my father and, unlike my mother, brought an excitement to a conversation even if it was meant just to pass the time of day. Sue was of the opinion that there was more to life than cooking, sewing, and doing the chores. It was no secret that my father liked her.
“This is Larry, my younger boy,” my father said as he looked my way. Sue commented on how cute I was, and how I looked like my father. All I could managed was a “hi” and my biggest smile while I swung side to side on the metal stool. Sue had an easiness about her; the way she moved, her soft but steady voice, and the way she looked at me, not passed me. She had rich auburn hair, soft eyes, and a shapely figure. It was obvious why a man would be taken by her. My father and Sue talked in near-whispered tones like most couples do. I turned, listened to the farmers laugh, and watched them drink coffee and then sit back and take deep pulls from their cigarettes. Tall tales, politics, and farming consumed their conversation.
On this particular day, or any day for that matter, a farmer might have talked about the long winter months and how he looked forward to the spring plow. The tractor seemed rested, he probably said, when he drove into the field pulling a four-bottom plow. He drew back the hydraulic lever, steel blades cut in the rich, black soil; just the right amount of moisture, not so wet as to be like mud, or so dry as to be like cement. The temperature was 70 degrees with a slight southwesterly breeze coming in at 10 miles per hour. Looking over his shoulder, he saw the soil turn and churn like freshly kneaded bread. Worms awoke from their long winter’s nap, and robins flew down from the sky, looking to be fed. The aroma of freshly turned soil mixed with gasoline fumes, and the puffs of smoke exhaled when the tractor pulled through a patch of wet soil, produced scents of spring. Taking another sip of coffee, the farmer probably gazed out the window with a smile across his face. “That’s when life is pretty much near perfect,” he said.
Decades later, I remember the one-week visit with my father, a time like no other I ever recalled. Maybe it was an illusion, a hint of how life should be between a father and his son. It remains as my most treasured memory, that one-week visit when life was pretty much near perfect, the day my father loved me.
A few months later when my mother and I were living with my grandparents and I was returning from school, my grandmother and mother were sitting at the kitchen table, gripping their coffee cups hard. Whispered words stopped as I entered the room. My mother rose from the table and led me into the bedroom. “Keith and your father were in a car wreck,” she said. “They were going to the Illinois state fair. Your father was driving fast and ran into a truck pulling a horse trailer. Your father and Keith were both killed but they didn’t feel a thing.”
My wife and I modernized our shopping strategy. We purchased an Alexis unit that sits in our kitchen waiting for our daily directions, “Hey Alexis, add peanut butter to the shopping list.” Alexis answers with a pleasant, “I’ve added peanut butter to your shopping list.” We installed the app on our iphones which allows each of us to access the grocery list. I go to the south end of the store while my wife heads north. Place an item in your grocery cart and delete it from your app. That’s the plan.
I’m in the south end of the store moving down the potato chip aisle looking for my favorite, “Cape Cod Whole Earth Collection 40% Reduced Fat Potato Chip.” And then it strikes me, “Where in the hell are my potato chips?” Standing in front of me is an entire aisle of different varieties of potato chips performing the “wave” as I walk by. Standing beside me are two women who reside in my age bracket. Okay, perhaps they’re younger than me. “What is going on?” I asked. “There used to be plain and ruffle chips, and then we added Barbecue Chips. This is insane.” They added words of encouragement accompanied by an affirmative nod to support my frustration. While they struggled to find their favorite chip, they finally grabbed a bag and moved on. I waited for my wife to come south and pull our favorite Cape Cod chips from the shelf.
A couple of days passed and I’m still wrestling with my potato chip concerns. Time to gain some perspective on this problem. Google time. Simply stated, a potato chip is a thin slice of potato deep fried or baked until crunchy. The basic chip is cooked and salted. Additional varieties are manufactured using various flavorings and ingredients including herbs, spices, cheeses, other natural and artificial flavors, and strange-sounding additives.
I remember when the early chips were challenged by the potato chips in a tube. While I never cared for them, they did fit one at a time on the top of my tongue. I admit it was a bit of an emotional rush to experience the disintegration of each chip as it dissolved in my mouth. Still, they never measured up to the plain and ruffle chips.
According to taquitos.net there are 1698 types of potato chips classified into 312 categories. We’ve got the Ruffles for the old folks like me, the Barbecue chips for anyone with a bounce in their step, and then we have so many flavors that I can never experience in my remaining lifetime. Have you tried Archer’s Famous Macaroni and Cheese Thick-cut Potato Chip, Herr’s Chickie”s and Pete’s Famous Crabfries Seasoned Potato Chip With White Creamy Cheese Sauce, and we even have one called the Potato Chip. If that’s not enough information, there were $7.5 billion spent on an assortment of potato chips in 2015.
Instead of protesting the evolution of my potato chips, I’ve decided to become a participant. What the hell? I’m retired. I have nothing else to do. It’s a known fact that I like to sip on an evening beer or two. With that in mind, I pledge to buy a different bag of chips each week to accompany my evening beer/beers. That’s 52 bags of chips each year with 52 to 104 evening beers in a year. At that rate I will have eaten the 1698 bags of chips in about 32 1/2 years. If modern medicine makes its anticipate strides I will accomplish my goal at age 106 1/2. And then my wife added, “What if there are more potato chips added to the market over the next 32 1/2 years?”
Several people have asked me about the release date for the printed version of “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals.” The release date has been moved to November 2017. I’m sorry for the delay, but it is what it is. However, I do have several advanced copies of the book that I use for book signings, etc… If interested, contact me at 618-521-5041 or my email address email@example.com, and we can make arrangements for you to have the paperback at a cost of $20.
Please check out the following link for information about a recent book celebration party.
Scheduled for release — ebook on August 1, 2017, printed book seven weeks later.
Advanced Reader Reviews:
Supermax Prison is so vivid that readers will feel as if they can hear the cell doors closing behind them. Larry L. Franklin and Dr. Rakesh Chandra have written a well-crafted and troubling book that raises important questions about the age old struggle between rehabilitation and retribution that a civil society faces when it encounters the so-called “worst of the worst.” A brilliant portrait of hell.
Pete Earley, author of The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison
As a member of the FBI Swat Team that put down the Atlanta prison riot in 1987, I recognized the need to separate the average inmate from the violent prisoners quick to instigate a prison uprising as the killing of a fellow inmate. Supermax Prison does a remarkable job of informing the reading public…
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(Blog written three years ago. Eddie Ray Routh was found guilty and sentence to life without parole.)
In a matter of days, we will know the fate of Eddie Ray Routh who is on trial for the murder of Chris Kyle, an American war hero, and his friend, Chad Littlefield. The twelve jury members of Erath County located in Central Texas, will decide one of four verdicts: not guilty, guilty, guilty but mentally ill, not guilty by reason of insanity. While Routh admits to having killed Kyle and Littlefield, the defense attorney claims that Routh was insane at the time he committed the crime, and should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Less than one percent of defendants in criminal cases plead insanity, and only one-fourth of them are successful. The majority of those acquitted by reason of insanity are schizophrenic or suffer from bipolar disorder. The insanity…
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The ebook for Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals is available. The paperback will be released in late September 2017. Below is one of my favorite excerpts describing our imaginary prison of the future.
While science tells us how to operate the prison of the future, we still lack the will, the inner force that drives success. Nevertheless, we have our imagination and dreams, the incubators where ideas are born. Perhaps there is another chapter to our story; the birth, death, and resurrection of Tamms, our imaginary prison of the future.
A handful of inmates, 2 correctional officers, and a farmer stand in the middle of 236 acres of bottomland in the heart of southern Illinois. It’s mid-summer. A 50-acre stand of toast-colored wheat is about to be cut in early July. Some 150 acres of weed-free soybeans stretch across the horizon like waves of green swinging to and fro from the gentle push of a southernly breeze. Inmates stand silently, marveling at the spiritual alliance between Mother Nature and men willing to work; taking stock of themselves, realizing who they have become. Money from the bean and wheat harvests will be used to pay for inmate labor and equipment they might need.
The farmer and inmates begin playing catch with what we call “farmer talk.” One inmate picks up a clod of dirt and breaks it apart with his bare hand. “Beans look good, but we could sure use a slow summer rain.” Other inmates agree as they kick at the parched soil. Someone asked if it is time to harvest the beans. “Well, let’s take a look see” the farmer says. “If the color is yellow to green the beans are asking for more time.” He grabs a handful of beans and spits tobacco juice onto the ground. “We’re looking for a tan to brown color, and beans that rattle in the pod.” He pulls the pod apart and asks an inmate for his thoughts.
The inmate rolled the beans between his thumb and index finger. “Seems a little damp to me. Maybe need two or three more weeks. I guess Mother Nature has a say.”
“I think you’re right.” As they walk across the field, the farmer whispers to the correctional officer. “This guy is going to make a good farmer.” These inmates are gaining the skills and temperament to be real farmers. When they join the outside world, they might be hired hands on a farm, or perhaps they will own a piece of land someday….
I was reading a story from Rolling Stone about an old favorite of mine, Kris Kristofferson. While I don’t listen to him often, I’m drawn by his lyrics like a bee to honey. I sat at my computer and let his music help me write my imaginary song.
I ain’t no better than a dirty dime
I’ve got the writer’s itch,
when words flow from my mouth
like grease droppings on a dirty floor.
Thinking about days gone by
as they skip out the door.
Hey little buddy of mine,
you’re ain’t nothing but my little whore.
All my writing, singing, and therapy stuff,
don’t change you a little bit.
I own you, he whispered that night.
You ain’t no better than a dirty dime.
Hey, Kris Kristofferson,
you old buddy of mine.
I’m turning you off,
‘fore the dark fog moves in.
Best you go away,
before I begin…
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MThese are excerpts taken from my second book, “Cherry Blossoms & Barren Plains: A woman’s journey from mental illness to a prison cell.” I have drawn from the chapter called Fish heads in an open bag. Becca, the subject of my book was serving sixty years for allegedly killing her five-year-old stepdaughter.
I have listened to Becca for hours upon hours. In every season of each passing year, I have sat across from her in the visit room looking at her drawn and tired face, listening to her struggle to find ways of expressing her mental and emotional realities. What she says is not always cohesive, or narratively coherent, but over time, I have learned to piece together the fragments of her mental processes, and the images that she sees, in ways that blend with my imagination. If Becca hears “voices” or “racing thoughts,” it might now be…
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(Most likely a photo of group therapy in a supermax setting.)
Investigative journalism is to discover the unknown, the information that escapes the public eye. As adults, we seem to have lost the inquisitive nature of childhood — why this, why that, why not, why? Instead, we engage in the comforts of social media where like-minded individuals support our stationary beliefs. Perhaps we need to rediscover our scientific nature where we question, probe, and examine the meaning of “whatever.”
In the pursuit of my most recent book, “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals,” the available literature is focused on the negativity of the supermax prison. While there are stories of unimaginable violence, sadness, and injustice, there are hues of happiness and hope. But any piece of investigative journalism moves past the obvious and seeks the information hidden within the unfamiliar.
One cannot explore the history of the supermax without…
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