Beyond Bars: Hard at Work

I am enslaved (pursuant to the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States) by commitment to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC).

Prisoners in the FDC are required by state statute and FDC rule (not more than 60 hours per week) to work, but few are compensated for the myriad of jobs performed that keep the system functioning. Few work assignments are personally meaningful or provide experience or training transferable to any free world work.

I have been assigned (Shanghaied for) work in food service, the laundry, for inside grounds (mowing, etc.), and as a houseman (cleaning living areas) – all unpaid work and, to me, thoughtless, boring tasks.

Also unpaid, but the only work assigned that was relevant, meaningful, and challenging to me, law clerk, was one that I performed for many years (on and off), starting when I came to prison in 1992 and the FCD was striving to resolve the Hooks v Wainwright (Secretary of Corrections) federal class action pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bounds v. Smith, having decided to opt for law libraries instead of attorneys for prisoner court access (as the less expensive option), working to understand and litigate my own criminal case (as well as the cases of others) and civil litigation (especially prisoner state law and civil rights) issues.

As a law clerk and especially in regard to my own grievance activity and pro se litigation, I was repeatedly subjected to retaliatory acts by FDC officials, including work reassignments, institutional transfers, and spending almost six cumulative years in confinement and close management, after being issued numerous fabricated disciplinary reports. During the past ten years or so, I was never allowed to work as a law clerk by officials at various institutions.

Nevertheless, I continue to be a jailhouse lawyer. In the last few years, I have become so disgusted and discouraged by costs (including about $20,000 in legal costs liens against my inmate account), the courts’ repeated failures to recognize legitimate issues and do the right thing, as well as oppressive (and to my mind, unjustified or illegal) court sanctioned that I as little legal work aside from some grievance activity and expressing my own opinions or giving directions where asked.

In 1995, when I was a law clerk at Florida State Prison, in response to questions I had been repeatedly asked, I wrote and registered a copyright for a legal treatise titled “Convicted in Florida, Now What?” (an introduction to state and federal post-conviction processes) which right to publish and use for fundraising I assigned to the then-published Florida Prison Legal Perspectives. I lacked the resources to update the treatise, so although at the time it was generally helpful and relevant, the law soon changed substantially (as law does) to make that publication outdated.

Many of my case opinions appear in Florida and federal reporters – both limited successes and disappointing failures.

Glenn Smith 880144

Dade Correctional Institution