I recall one time when the supervisor of the education dept at FCI Ray Brook, Lake Placid, NY, asked me, “Are you claiming you’re innocent?”
I was stumped for a moment. The question was a non sequitur, out of the blue. We had been discussing their withholding my grade-one pay at the prison factory for the requirement that I take a GED exam (I already had 3 yrs of university).
After the first couple of yrs of my 25-yr sentence, I had ceased arguing my conviction. What was the point? No one was listening, and the courts were not following their own law.
In my own experience, few prisoners claim innocence. Their argument, like my own, was often some form of mitigated circumstance, mischarging, over-charging, dirty deals with snitches, and outright manipulation and manufacturing of evidence.
“Actually,” I answered, “Yes. Of the crime charged (membership in a certain cocaine conspiracy), I am innocent.”
He startled the room by jumping up, clapping his hands, and gleefully laughing. Reaching out to me, he said, “Let me shake your hand. Every day for the past 16 yrs I’ve worked in the prison system, I’ve heard about convicts who claim that they’re innocent. You’re the first one I’ve actually met!” Clearly, he had a regular shtick… more…