Oscar Stilley further refines his juice fasting technique. The BOP reneges on its recent promise of soap in the bathrooms of the housing units. Stilley includes information about the human and economic costs of this misguided policy, and also provides an account of his contemplations in the dish room…

Day 14: Thursday, November 4, 2010

We had grapefruit in the morning, as per the menu. The guards had locked the door by the good dish window, and left open the door by the one under construction. I went outside to ask that the doors be switched. The guard said he’d check with the supervising guard, who had left for a moment.

I pulled a couple of grapefruits off the busy side, (it didn’t work well) then went to the other side. I pulled glasses and grapefruits for the rest of the shift. I don’t think our door ever was opened, since our side never got busy.

I got just the quantity I needed. I felt in my spirit a message from God to the effect “Don’t worry, I’ll have what you need when you need it. And even if you don’t get anything, I’ll work that very lack into a blessing to you.” It was a comforting message, encouraging me to trust and not be anxious about my needs.

I figured out a refinement of the juicing process. I use a hair net to strain out the seeds and pulp. The remaining juice as absolutely deluxe, it’s first class. Furthermore, the pulp that remains when the juicing is done can be squeezed for a nice additional quantity of juice, which is just as clear and clean as the main part. Volume loss is minimal.

Regional is still here, I cleaned up early and stashed nothing for lunch.

The menu called for oranges for lunch, but they served bananas. I got a couple glasses of carrot juice. I was shocked at how good it was. It was better than the carrots, as I remember them.

There was oil on top, much more than just a sheen. I tried soaking it off the top with paper, that didn’t work well. Dipping it off with a spoon worked ok. A straw might be the most effective means of avoiding virtually all of the oil. Of course, on a larger scale the best way would be to either skim the oil off, or drain the clear juice from below, leaving the oil on the residue.

I’m sure I got some oil, but it didn’t make me feel bad. I felt good, and I was happy to get some vegetable juice, even if it was cooked. I want to get that every time it is served. I’d stash some if I could.

I got collard green juice in the evening, two full glasses. It was great, I should have gotten seconds.

I weighed in at 155 this Thursday evening, after two weeks of juice fasting. That implies a caloric shortfall perhaps a bit over 1,000 per day, not extreme by any means.

Ms. Norman, Assistant Warden for Programs, spoke to us at a meeting in the TV room. She said that the prison was adding medical staff, and also that improvements were in the works with respect to getting inmates’ affairs ordered so that they could get halfway house as soon as possible. Both of these items are critically needed here. I respected and appreciated both the content and the delivery of her presentation.

Day 15: Friday, November 5, 2010

The menu called for a banana, but grapefruit and apples were served. I got over a glass of grapefruit juice, and about a glass and a half of apple juice.

Collard greens were served for lunch. I drank 4 glasses full. I used 2 glasses to get it, and one to strain the juice into, using a beard guard.

I talked to Roy L. Smith, Safety Manager, during the lunch hour. He has no intention of allowing the bathrooms in the housing units to be stocked with soap and paper towels. He hadn’t read my email from early this morning, hadn’t heard from Mr. StuffedSuit from Regional, and was altogether unimpressed that Mr. StuffedSuit promised to get soap and paper towels in the housing units. We had a short but spirited exchange, which concluded with me saying that I understood his position, however much I disagreed with it.

Here’s what Smith’s position gets the taxpayers. Inmates get drug resistant staph infections. Medical’s policy is to deny antibiotic ointment, because it’s sold on commissary, for about $4, never mind the fact that commissary day for the inmate may be several days away. Medical then stalls and delays treatment.

Just recently they stalled a fellow Food Service worker from getting basic topical treatment of a staph infection on his leg, telling him to “come back tomorrow” for 3 days in a row. On the 4th day, they made him wait from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM, and then took him to the hospital. The hospital gave put him on an antibiotic IV for 7 straight days. It’s expensive enough to have a hospital stay, even more so when the cost includes not one but two round the clock security guards for each inmate.

According to the guards there were three other inmates in the hospital, at the same time, for staph infections. Four inmates times two guards times four 42 hour weeks (for 24/7 coverage) equals 32 full time personnel, just to guard inmates with drug resistant staph infections. If these numbers are typical, with a $50,000 annual total cost of a guard (probably low) that’s $1.6 million tax dollars. A tiny fraction of this expense would provide the most lavish supplies of the best soap and paper towels.

When he got back from the hospital, they tried to put my friend straight back to work as a detailer on the serving line. What better way to spread a dangerous disease that just happens to create do-nothing jobs? Is this an intentional “Typhoid Mary” routine, or mere incompetence?

They had mixed vegetables in the evening, which principally amounts to peas and potatoes. I drank about a glass of juice off of that. The potatoes go into suspension, which means it’s harder to get a juice without solids. The flavor isn’t very good, and I’m not impressed with it as a source of juice.

Day 16, Saturday, November 6, 2010

Apples were served in the morning. I saved apples on one side, and my friend, who appreciates my help, saved on the other side. I got enough for about 4 glasses in the morning, and stashed a tray and a half for lunch. I gave a little shot of the juice to my friend Mark, and asked him if he wanted to juice any. He liked the juice, but chose to drink some milk rather than to make apple juice.

Mr. Scott, who previously dumped my apples in the trash, walked through the dishroom while my apples were sitting in plain sight, in two separate containers. I was as nervous as a cat in a dog pound. He didn’t say anything or take any of the apples, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

The spiritual benefits of the fast flowed freely this morning, as I juiced the apples. I felt peace about my place in life, as a prison inmate. It seemed that God was telling me to drink in this prison experience, to live life to the fullest, right here, right now, and trust God for deliverance in His own good time. Every day on this earth, regardless of the circumstances, is another day to serve and trust God.

It also seemed to be a challenge to not merely surrender everything to God, but to delight in it. When we actually revel in the fact that everything tangible or intangible that we own belongs to God, the burden of the property is lifted. God takes excellent care of His property.

I thought about all the stories in the Bible that inform us that giving nearly everything to God isn’t satisfactory at all. Jesus in the parables of the treasure in a field, and the pearl of great price, valued the prize at “everything.” How much the purchaser owned, and thus had to sell, wasn’t even discussed. The thief on the cross, possessing none of this world’s goods, found out that the price was nothing but a request that Jesus remember him when He came into His kingdom.

Jesus is said to have loved the rich young ruler. Think for a moment how ridiculous Jesus’ request was to a resident of Israel 2000 years ago. Sell everything you have. Don’t give it to Me directly, give it to the poor. Then, come and follow me.

What about his family? What about his social circle? He would be placing TOTAL reliance in Jesus Christ. Again I see no indication that Jesus promised that he and his family would always be fed, or would always have what they needed. In other passages I see time and again the promise of persecution. Even when Jesus promised 100 fold blessings in return, to those who gave up houses, lands, friends, relatives, etc., he included the short but powerful clause “with persecutions.”

I’m in prison. I don’t “have” to get out. I don’t “have” to wait until my liberty is restored to serve God, nor will I. This incarceration could be the turning point of my life, or I could die here. That’s not the issue. The fact is that I have days on this earth, each of which I shall entrust to God, for His purposes.

Please don’t think that Jesus is some sort of dour ascetic who hopes that we shall all suffer much. Suffering has often been a necessary predicate for transforming society according to the expressed will of Jesus Christ. The thief on the cross said that he was justly punished, an astonishing statement considering the relationship between the crime of theft and that horrible punishment. We don’t crucify anyone for any crime today, nor should we. Jesus’ message, lived out in the lives of His followers, has had a profound positive influence on civilization as a whole, not merely those who trust in His name.

The first miracle of Jesus was making the finest wine, from water. The very promise that Jesus holds out to us, who sell all and purchase the pearl of great price, is the marriage supper of the Lamb. When Jesus partook of the last supper, He said that He would not drink again of the cup until he came into His kingdom.

Think about that. He started His public ministry being the winemaker at a marriage feast. One might say that He concluded it with a promise of the same, for those who follow Him. It will be the party of all time. Don’t miss it. Respect His hospitality, don’t be late. Buy your ticket from the Authorized Dealer at the retail price.

I came back at lunch, saw collard greens, and drank two glasses of collard green juice. I helped out for a while, and juiced apples again. I offered my friend in the back first dibs, he took a couple of apples. He was very nice to me. I really like the arrangement. I had all the juice I wanted at lunch too. I finished at 1:20, and left Food Service at 1:55.

I went to Food Service in the evening, looking for some collard green juice, or some other suitable source of juice. They had the mixed vegetables, which was on the menu. One of the workers recognized me, came over, and asked if I wanted some of the mixed vegetable juice. I thanked him, but told him that I didn’t get much out of it. He agreed. He’s a very nice fellow.