Another Letter From Prison

[This letter is undated, but it seems to have been written in late February 2002. Bee didn't send it when he wrote it, because he felt it was too dark and too self-pitying. But we told him we wanted to see it anyway. We finally received it on 4/13/02, and he gave permission to put it on this web site a few days later.]

Bernard Baran
30 Administration Road
Bridgewater MA 02324

Dear Jim and Bob,

I’m sorry it has taken me once again so long to write, but if the truth be told, I just have not had the energy to do much of anything.

The last time I wrote to you about the tapes we won in court of the children’s interviews and how Maggie Bruck has agreed to view them. Well, since we won the court order the DA has yet to turn the videos over to us. [Note: The court order was issued on 10/24/01. As of this writing (04/15/02) the Berkshire County is still stonewalling and refusing to co-operate with our attempts to get the material.] The DA’s office has not even made an attempt to give us the material. So we might have to back to court to get the judge to order them again, this time with a time limit. It’s unbelievable how when this started it did not look like the DA’s office was going to give us a hard time. Now I just don’t know what to think. I guess some are just scared of the truth. So as you might imagine this has made me feel a little depressed. It’s a little disheartening that the guilty get out a lot easier than the men who are innocent. It’s really hard to swallow at times and it really gets me down when I think about it.

This just hasn’t been a good month for me and I’m having a real hard time keeping my hope up. I would like to tell you so you can get a better idea what I’m talking about and what I’ve been going through.

I was locked-up this month in segregation because a very disturbed man made a false accusation against me. It was later proven by the Inner Perimeter Security police (I.P.S.) that I had nothing to do with this, and the man later told the police that he lied and did it just because he didn’t like me. We recently had an argument and it embarrassed him. When your door swings open at 7:00 a.m. and there are 8 police rushing in on you telling you you’re going to be locked up, and you don’t know why, and you don’t understand because you know that you have done nothing wrong, it’s very, very scary. I’ve done close to 18 years for something I didn’t do, and I was having real bad flashbacks.

I had to beg the officers to let me get dressed, so on top of everything else — fear, confusion, distrust — you at least don’t want to be completely humiliated. Then you’re handcuffed and walked through the whole institution for everyone to see. You’re brought back to lock up, stripped of all your clothing while you have 8 cops watching you, going through all your clothing, dropping them on the floor, kicking your sneakers. You’re watching all of your clothes being thrown in a bag and told that you have no choice but to put on this gray jump suit, shut your mouth, and get tossed into a cold cell. You’re locked up with nothing but a mattress and you still have no clue why you are there, but the one thing you know is how it’s going to be. It’s a very ugly feeling to have and to be put through. No one tells you anything and you got nothing — no book, no pen, no paper, just cold emptiness. That really bad hurt that lives inside you comes to the surface, a hurt that lives deep within your soul. Then it hits you so hard you feel like you were punched in the gut. You get this gut feeling why you were put here on this earth. Your sole purpose is to see how much you can suffer, how much you can endure before you break. Sometimes I can feel something breaking inside me, not completely, but I can hear it creaking almost like an old branch scraping against your window on a windy fall night. Even though I’ve been cleared of all wrongdoing. [Baran is here referring to the false accusation against him that occurred on February 19, 2002.] I’m still affected by this. I’m having a hard time sleeping. I’m waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking and believing they’re coming to get me.

I’m writing this letter now from waking at 1:30 a.m. It’s now going on 2:37. I can’t go back to sleep and I just needed to talk to someone to help keep the darkness away. I guess you could say I need the company. My TV goes on the blink (no picture) and it cost me $65 just to have them look at it plus another $52.52 for the part to get it fixed. I know TV’s not a big thing in life, but my TV helps keep me company. Being locked in your cell from 11:00 to 12:00 p.m., 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m. until the next day — it sometimes can get very lonely. It can get heartbeat lonely. That’s when you hear your own heart beating in your chest. It seems to me sometimes it gets so loud it seems like your room is beating. It’s almost a haunted feeling. Sometimes it’s nice just to turn on your TV to hear something other than your own heart telling you that your life is ticking away.

It even helps me sleep at night. The comfort of another voice in the room helps me keep the dark thoughts at bay. So to you just a TV — to me it’s so much more. I guess it’s going to take some time to get used to. I’ve moved to another unit (my choice), so I lost my unit job. I know $7.00 a week for seven days work does not seem like a lot of money, but at the end of the month it’s $28.00. So I guess it’s all in how you look at it. Not having my job is a very hard adjustment for me.

So as you see — I have not had a good month so far and I’m stretched to my limits. How much can one man take before he has had too much? I’m afraid of finding out the answer. Maybe I already know it. I just think it creeps up on you in so many ways. I don’t know if I ever told you this before, but I’ve tried to commit suicide before, more than once, and I know that darkness. I know about shutting down your hope. The first time was a little while after coming to prison. I was in Walpole [the nastiest prison in Massachusetts' very nasty prison system], confused, in a state of shock from just being sentenced for crimes I did not commit. It made me sick just hearing myself. I was in the hospital lockup. The administration did not want me in population because there were smokes on my head. That’s where cigarettes are put on your head and the first one to stab you and throw you off the top tier gets them. So hearing this, I’m scared to death. Then one day while taking a shower the runner (a trustee) walks in the shower room and tells me my meal is in the cell. I thank him, but I feel very uncomfortable with him standing there. Then a fear starts building. At an alarming pace it tells me to run, but I’m scared to run. It’s from what I see in his eyes. He walks away and my whole body shakes. I believe he walks away only to see where the cop is. He comes back in and says something to me. But I don’t hear him and he startles me, so I jump and I scream. It was the wrong thing to do. He punches me in the face so hard that the inside of my mouth rips from ear lobe to the middle of my front teeth. At the same time, from the impact of the punch, my head hits the wall with a force that makes a bright painful light flash inside my head. I can clearly hear him saying, “You know what’s going to happen to you.” As he pulls me from the shower, he must have punched me what seemed like a hundred times in the stomach. He picked me up, slammed me against the shower wall, help me up with his elbow under the back of my neck and raped me. I could tell you every last detail all these years later. It’s something I will never forget and always be forced to live with, forever changed. I will always live with that darkness chasing me. Always around the corner to remind me.

After this assault, for the first time, I tried to end my own pain, my own life — if that’s what you could call my new existence. To this day, that and other things that have happened to me haunt me, always trying to catch up to me like ghosts. And I’m scared that one day my legs and body and mind are just going to tire and I’m just going to stop running and allow myself to be caught by the darkness. It most likely is a little thing in other’s eyes, but to me it will be enough in my eyes. To stop running, stop fighting, and allowing all the bad that’s in the darkness to take me.

I’m sorry about this letter. It’s not fair to you as my friends not to allow you to see all of me. I always try to only share the good things that are going on in my life — school, computers, gym — but there’s a side of me that lives with so much pain, so much doubt, so much hurt that I have to talk to someone I can share with. Sometimes just writing helps keep the darkness at bay.

Thank you for allowing me to be your friend. But at the same time I feel guilty because now I’ve burdened you with my sorrow and for that I apologize. Your support, my friends, is like a bright light and in that light the darkness stays at bay.

Your friend Bee.