MUST READ: Endless Nights Behind Bars – J6er’s Harrowing Tale of Sleepless Nights in the ‘DC Gulag’

Taylor James Johnatakis with his wife, Marie, and their five kids.

Taylor Johnatakis describes the relentless challenges and lack of rest faced by inmates, underscoring the harsh realities of life in detention.

J6 political prisoner Taylor James Johnatakis is a father of 5 and the sole breadwinner for his family. He went to the Capital on January 6th  “to get content for experiential storytelling, to see a major moment in history, win or lose.”

On November 21, Taylor was found guilty on seven charges, three of them felonies.  He is awaiting sentencing.

Taylor’s wife Marie shared her love for her husband in a statement on his fundraising page, “At this point, we have no idea how long it will be until we see him again (sentencing hasn’t been scheduled…maybe three to four months out for that). Taylor is a passionate guy and has always been one to ‘walk the walk’, that’s one of the things I have admired about him.  He went to the rally on January 6th to do just that.”

“He is everything to me and my five kids. We are not extremists, we are your friendly neighbor. We are involved in BSA Scouting, sports leagues, swim teams, home school groups, and lots of other things. Tay has always worked hard for our family and found his niche in working with people and the dirt, installing septic systems. He has always supported us in every way a father should. It’s devastating to have him gone.”

Taylor James Johnatakis

Taylor James Johnatakis wrote to The Gateway Pundit to share his story with all of you.

Many people know how long a dark night of the soil can be, wrapped in anxiety, loss of personal control over any given situation can rob a person of his rest. In the quiet of the night, one’s thoughts of deals can drive one deeper into the mental darkness.

The “federal contract” that jails like the “DC Gulag” have, I believe, contains a requirement that inmates receive 6 hours of undisturbed time for sleep. Yet in this facility that is rarely possible, let me describe a typical night for an inmate at the “DC Gulag”.

The ‘Pod’ has essentially acoustic dampening, voices, clanging keys, radio beeps, telephones ringing, guards talking to other staff on the phone (or occasionally a girlfriend), pod doors slamming as errands get run in and out of the pod, TV volumes, etc all echo and reverberate to a degree that unless you are ” locked in the box” of the cell is hard to appreciate.

On a typical night, with detail on cleaning duty till close to midnight, there is little chance of real sleep till then, often detail wraps hip at 11:30pm or thereabouts and the new on duty guard comes on duty each shift the guard yells “shift change!”

Allow me to describe the events of the endless nights along with challenges of the cell.

In the “DC Gulag” we have steel bunk beds, probably 28-30″ inches wide, with a 3 inch cot pad. There are two flat sheets provided which the typical inmate learns to knot onto the pad. The pad has a plastic liner so it sweats, it’s cold in the winter, hot in the summer.

Pillows are contraband, so MOST inmates use extra clothing to improvise a pillow. The blankets are a wool/synthetic fiber mix (we joke, but are half serious that the ‘synthetic fiber’ is dryer lint), in fairness to the DC DOC, most new pads have an elevated area for the head.

The pads are thin enough all the inmates complain with a single pad, their butts, hips, and sometimes shoulders push through to the metal cookie sheet tray we lay on top of. The length of the bed is 6’3″ (an estimate) our 6’4″ and 6’5″ inmates complain that they hang off because their feet climb the concrete wall. Getting comfortable except for the easiest sleepers is a challenge.

Every 1/2 hour the guards make their rounds, walk to the end of each hall with some contraption that they tap on a steel plate on the wall, it chirps loud enough to hear in EVERY cell. There are 6 chirps, for the 3 walls they touch, once on the lower tier, once on the higher tier.

There is never total darkness in the pod, and each door has 1/2 length window 4″ inches wide that keeps the cell fairly well lit. As the guard walks by once every 1/2 hour he casts a shadow into your cell. Often they linger, peering into the cell at night with a flashlight, they will tug on the door.

The steel doors have some play in them, they do this to get you to “stir” so they can see signs of life. On cold nights the outer concrete wall which our beds back up to is not insulated. It can get to be frigid to the touch and create a down draft of cold air across one side of your body.

On super cold nights, a strategy to stay warm is to hang a extra sheet, blanket or even all your shirts, pants and underwear across the open end of the bunk, to catch and hold what heat you can. If you do this, at some point it is likely a guard will unlock your cell, come in and pull the ‘drapes’aside and put a flashlight directly in your eyes.

Usually this is on their first or second round at 12:00am or 12:30am, but I have seen it happen at 3am. The guards also have a ‘night light’ switch outside the cell, the sound of the heavy switch clunks in the cell, and illuminates the cell pretty well.

Guards will regularly forget to turn them off when they use them. Last night, the inmate I share a wall with had the guard unlock the door (all this makes a lot of noise, waking me and myneighbor up) walk in and put a flashlight in his face. This was at 2am!

Then he forgot to turn the ‘nightlight’ off when he left. My neighbor waited 1/2 hour for the guard to come around at his window (he didn’t want to wake others banging on his door).

When the guard walked by at 2:30amwalked by so fast, he had to bang his door anyways, to get the guards attention, the guard came back and loudly and accusatively asked “what do you want?!” to which my neighbor replied “turn off the light!” Clunk, off went the light.

Many times a “white shirt” or other guard will come in during the night, the pod entrance doors can’t help but slam, you can literally feel this sound when laying in your bunk.

They don’t seem to possess volume control and greet the guard and carry on loud conversations, I often wonder if they know we can all hear them as if we were out there with them!

Sometimes the guards watch TV and turn the volume up, these are usually substitute guards, someone will inevitably bang a door and yell for the guard to turn the volume off.

Breakfast can be really early, it’s “room service” but can range from 5am to 8am, pray it’s later, but often isn’t. Some guys are so exhausted by the time breakfast comes they are finally sound asleep, I am always woken by the unlocking series of doors leading up to mine, I meet breakfast at the door. Little secret, breakfast isn’t usually EVER worth eating and inmates head right back to bed.

The guards have radios that chirp and have radio chatter literally all night long, and the phone can ring at any moment.

We have a couple large fans that create enough white noise that we leave on all night, this will usually make it so we can’t understand “what” the radio says, but we still hear it.

There had been multiple nights I wondered if I ever actually fell asleep, rather just dozed off over and over again as the noise made me stir. Some nights you pray and become almost desperate to lose yourself to sleep, only to have your mind return to thoughts of home as the guards’ heavy footsteps and clanking keys make their rounds.

Even though in theory there is plenty of time to sleep, few if any inmates ever feel the rejuvenation of real rest. It’s easy, at night alone with your thoughts, to sink into despair of the hopelessness of the full weight of the federal government bearing down on you, longing for home, feeling forgotten trapped in these walls.

We pray all night every night we won’t be forgotten trapped inside these walls. We pray all night every night we won’t be forgotten by history and our story ends well. It’s you “The People” who must end the endless nights.

-Taylor Johnatakis

Read more at www.PeasantsPerspective.com and help out at www.givesendgo.com/JohnatakisFamilyHelp

Taylor’s main thoughts on sleepless nights leave him wondering how his wife and five children, all at home, will carry on without him as their sole income earner. The Johnatakis have homeschooled their children for 17 years. His children’s ages are 17, 14, 11, 6 and 5.

 

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