Moving to the Federal Penn

by Jay Goodman

After two months sitting in this federal correctional center in Youngstown, Ohio, I was told one morning to be ready about 4:00 in the morning the next day, because I was being shipped out to another prison. I went back inside myself walking called my cousin Debbie and my daughter Jenny, and inform them I was being moved the next day. Both of them asked me where I was going? But they never tell you until you were on the bus. They say security reasons. I packed up afterwards and told a few people I knew. I am not a man who likes change, especially in prison. But what made this change even worse, was the fact I would have to go to quarantine all over again. I also knew it would be the last chance to talk to my family and friends.

So, I spent a good portion of that day talking to everyone over and over again. In fact, I talked all the way up until it was time to get locked up that night. When I went inside my cell, I started getting everything ready that I was going to leave a friend of mine. I met a guy from California, who was good people, so I decided to leave him all of my commissary that I had. I just got a new cellie that day, we talked a little but he was too busy smoking K-2 to really talk much. I was hoping he would flip out and I’d have to get into a fight with him. But after he got high, he passed out. After I got my bag ready, I laid down and tried to rest; which is damn near impossible. As I always say, “prison is a stressful place as it is, but when you are getting moved the stress level goes up a lot because we don’t know what kind of present will be sent to.” We could end up at a place where there’s a gang war, or it’s on total lockdown because someone was murdered. You could be put in a cell with someone who’s crazy, or who is blown out of their mind on drugs, especially K-2 now you are locked in a cell fighting for your life.

Another thing with the feds, you never know what prison you might go. There is a federal prison in every state. I have seen people here in Youngstown, Ohio from New York, California, Texas and other states. So naturally everyone hopes to be put closer to home. I laid in my bed reflecting on my past two months. The fights, the stabbings, the drug overdoses, the corruption at this place was high. It seemed if this place was a picture of what was to come, I would have a long road ahead. I said a prayer and slept for what seemed only a few minutes. The guard said get up and start getting ready. I hurried up and brushed my teeth and washed my face. I made me a cup of coffee then went to my friends’ cell to give him my commissary. By 4:00 I was sitting in booking getting dressed out in a jumpsuit and waiting for the United States Marshal service to come get me. They didn’t make me wait long by 5 they were there to get me. The bus they put me on was big, it had four different sections with doors to separate each section. That way if something was to happen, they didn’t have to worry about a full-blown riot. The Marshals put a chain around my waist, handcuffed me, and put what is called a black box between the handcuffs, this is to keep us from moving our hands, and let’s not forget the tig irons. Saying it’s a bit uncomfortable is an understatement.

For the next six or seven hours we drove from Ohio way up to the Pennsylvania countryside. There was a lot of farmlands to see. After three hours people started asking to use the restroom, and to my surprise they said, “no.” That I didn’t understand because there’s a restroom on the bus. But as I said this bus was big, and at the front of the bus, the guards have sleepers, where they could go inside and lay in a bed. By the time we reach the landing strip in Pennsylvania, everyone on the bus was needing to use the restroom. It was a sorry ass thing to do, but the way they look at it is the hell with them. Now at this airport there’s probably 50 different buses, every single one of them had prisoners. And a huge jet, of course named Connor. Yes, just like the movie. Now every prisoner is going someplace different.

So, over the next three hours to marshals move prisoners from bus to bus, and onto Conair. There were prisoners who were in wheelchairs, the marshals had to carry them up the stairs into the jet. I saw prisoners who were so sick they had oxygen mask because they were unable to breathe on their own. Eventually they came for me, I was moved on to another bus and told I’d be transferred to West Virginia. After hours of waiting, everyone was finally on board and slowly the buses lined up to leave. It was a blistering cold November day and as we left the farmland of Pennsylvania, we started driving higher and higher into the West Virginia mountains. Even though there was snow everywhere the guy driving seem to be blind to it because he was driving like he was in a sports car. Plus, even though it was freezing outside he would not turn on the heat. The cold air coming from the vents was taking a toll on everyone. No one has a jacket, or a long sleeve shirt. Everyone is in a jumpsuit with nothing on under it. We drove way into the night, finally after another six or seven hours we arrived at Hazelton Federal Penitentiary. As happy as everyone was to be there, we all knew that this was one of the worst prisons you could end up at. They took us through the gates to the back of the prison, the ranking officer came on the bus to give everyone a COVID-19 test. There was 20 of us, it took another hour or more before we all were taken off the bus. Once inside we were put inside a holding cell, they called us out one at a time for fingerprints and to take our mug shots. Afterwards, we were taken to a small office to talk with a gang intelligence officer about our background. His first question was, “are you in a gang?” I answered, “no.” He also asked, “is there any reason you cannot walk the yard?” Meaning several things. One is you an X, that is an ex-gang member? Because if you are one of these two and the inmates find out they will kill you on the spot. After our interrogation we were taken to get our next jumpsuit, which was more like a medical jumpsuit. The prisoner working there looked at me and smiled, he said, “Well Mr. Goodman, you are a bank robber, what size jumpsuit do you need?” I never saw this guy in my life, yet he knew my name and why I was there. I understood why he did this; it was his way of letting each of us know that he already knew everything about us. I told him I need a large jumpsuit. Afterwards, I went back to my holding cell. I talked to a couple guys who rode there with me, one had been there for a long time, he was telling us how bad this prison was. It was probably close to 10:00 by now. There was probably 20 of us that rode there together. I noticed that a lot of these guys were missing, out of 20 there was only 12 of us in this cell. I asked a man where is the other eight? He told me, “They are in isolation.” I asked why? He answered, “if they would’ve went to population someone would have more than likely killed them.” Right before they were ready to take us to our cell block, the gang intelligence officer said to us, “okay, listen up everyone. If I’ve missed something in your file, now is the time to tell me. Because once I take it to your cell block and leave, I won’t be able to help you.” These men were so quiet at this moment, you could hear our breathing. I looked around the room and you could feel the tension, everyone understood that they would be killed. No one said anything, so the big guard said, “all right, let’s go.” This prison was big and it seem like we walked forever before we got to our cell block. By now every one of us were ready to get some sleep. I was put into a cell with a guy who rode there with me. He went by the name Red. We made our bed and talked for a few minutes; we already knew each other from Youngstown. He asked me if I thought this place was as bad as everyone talked about? I said, “let’s hope not.” We both laughed. We said our good night and went to bed. As I laid there thinking About Red’s question, I wondered myself if it was as bad as we heard? Of course, it wouldn’t take long to find out the truth.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez