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Wednesday, an old musician friend of mine is getting out of prison. He had been accused and convicted of intent to sell a controlled substance. It was bullshit. He actually was in possession of less than an ounce. But Keith had had a few other lesser charges, and that, combined with the fact that he was poor and something of an insolent smart ass, the judge sentenced him to three years. During the sting, the cops threw him to the ground and kicked him in his lower back, so as to keep him on the ground. This, in-and-of-itself, may not have caused lasting harm to the man. But given the fact that he has a congenital birth defect in his lumbar spine, the jack boot exacerbated an already deteriorating condition. It didn’t help that the bastards in the McConnell Unit refused him a simple orthopedic pillow. Luckily, with the cooperation of the district office where the prison sits, I was able to negotiate some basic care. But it’s apparently too late. Keith is now in a wheelchair.

State prisons are a crime. Underfunded and run by questionable creatures themselves, they are at best a petri dish of potential life-long, expensive health problems; at worst, a recruiting center for drug cartels and gangs.

The criminal justice system is never wrong. The Corrections Committee in the state legislature is apparently powerless. All they ever say is, “There’s nothing we can do.”

State prisons are a death sentence one way or another.

So I get a call from Jules as I’m driving down to Bellville.

“Mason, I’ve been looking into the ownership of that property.”

“And…?”

“It’s interesting, when I went down to the appraisal district they were really rude.”

“Big surprise, but you need to go to the county courthouse.”

“Yes, I figured that one out. But anyway, the Chief Appraiser came out and confronted me, asking me why I was inquiring about the land.”

“Yeah, that woman, she’s a liar and a cheat. That place blatantly violates the law and no one will do anything about it.”

“Sounds familiar.”

“Yeah right!” I confirm with a chuckle. “So what happened?”

“I went to the courthouse and I got the information, but it reveals very little.”

“Oh?”

“It’s in a company’s name: Bowers Power, Inc.”

“That’s catchy. Sounds like it has something to do with that power plant down there.”

“That’s what I was wondering, so I called the plant.”

“You called the plant? You love to entangle yourself in the web of bureaucracy, don’t you?”

“Ha, ha. Maybe so, Mason, maybe so.”

“And…?

“Oh, nothing yet. Left a message with some secretary. She was very nice, I must say. Had no idea what I was talking about.”

“Big surprise. The truth is, Jules, whoever this company is, they probably know nothing about this. That arena is so isolated that I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s being used unlawfully by someone who thinks they can just get away with it. If that’s the case, it’s worked so far.”

“Perhaps, but if someone were to bring it to their attention…”

“They might remove the dogs.”

“That’s right, Mason, they might remove the dogs.”

“I understand.”

“What troubles me is that no one who I have contacted in local government has researched this. I mean, regarding who owns this property.”

“I’m not surprised. That requires work, Jules. Look, the reality here is, this isn’t drugs, there’s nothing to be seized in this particular case that benefits the police or prosecutors. Dogs? They don’t care about a bunch of mutts. No benefit. They’ll just have to pay to put them down or have them sheltered!”

“You are cynical, sir. I hope that you are not right about that.”

“I hope not either, Jules. I hope not either.”

Continue reading The District Manager by Matt Minor!