Tag Archives: prison

Thought #40. Verdict: guilty 2/2.

I went to a library and asked for a copy of the newspapers that had been mentioning or examining any fact related to the crimes. I can still see legitimate fear in the face of the librarian when she saw me, it’s an image that I will never forget. I picked up the pile of papers and studied it carefully, taking notes in a little notebook: locations, names of the victims, times and dates. In short, I tried to gather as much information as I could, in an attempt to clear up my mind. My life was a real mess as I couldn’t foresee what would be my next movement. I couldn’t think clearly. When I handed out the material to the librarian I had a hunch that something didn’t dovetail.

For the next four weeks I visited the crime scenes and to my surprise, I couldn’t recall any of those places. People would run away from me as though I was a plague-ridden dog. Maybe I wasn’t doing myself any favours by wandering around like a madman. On one occasion, someone summoned the police and I was taken to the nearest police station, held in custody in a cell and then questioned. After 24 hours, they had to release me as they didn’t have any crime to pin on me.

Exhausted by the efforts expended in trying to shed light on the mysterious circumstances of those crimes, I had no option but to visit my old psychiatrist and friend. He received me at his office and we affectionately hugged each other. I needed therapy. During the following five months I did nothing but visit him. It took us more than twenty sessions to understand what was going on. Schizophrenia didn’t prevent me from bringing back my memories and I hadn’t tried to blot them out. Apparently, I could have been a victim of a misleading investigation and I could have been accused for want of any other potential suspect.

Unfortunately, society often attributes people who suffer from a mental illness with aggressive traits. Say the words disorder and crime and our brain would end up making a strong connection that would eventually make it impossible for us to see the forest for the trees. I’m unable to hurt anyone. But appearances, more often than not, are deceptive.

More by accident than design, the therapy helped me to remember how the trial procedure took place. The interrogation room where I was questioned before the trial was cold, lifeless and featureless. As if it were a film, a metal table with two chairs, a security door and a one way mirror. The man who conducted the questioning was the same that appeared along me in the front page of the newspaper I receive when I left prison. But it wasn’t a usual procedure. All I faced then was a brainwashing session. Well, not one but a series of sessions that undermined my confidence and my sense of reality. In less than 72 hours I admitted the crimes and signed a typewritten declaration.

I visited my doctor one more time. During the session I had the opportunity to tell him about those brainwashing sessions. 15 years in prison for a series of crimes I hadn’t been responsible for. My friend and doctor gave me a really useful piece of advice. I had to go on with my life. “Forget the past and try to recover your job.” were his final words.

I went to the hotel and had an interview with the director. A signed report from the doctor and a three-hour long meeting did the trick. I started working in the night shift, this time as a maintenance boy, giving a hand wherever I was needed. Two months later I received a telegram from an unknown source. “Only one more death. You paid for my sins. I’m no longer here.”

The morning newspaper showed a picture of a cordoned area near the police station. “The inspector in charge of the series of murderers that hit the city almost 16 years ago was found dead after committing suicide. Police sources say….”

Thought #39. Verdict: guilty 1/2.

After 15 years of prison, not only strangers, family or friends but also I despise myself for a series of brutal crimes I can barely remember. Leaving prison should have been the most exciting thing a convict could ever have dreamt. Ex-convicts used to say that it can also be terrifying. My exit wasn’t either intoxicating or scary, though. I felt empty, hopeless, more than lost, strayed. I was mental and that also goes back to when I was arrested on suspicion of murdering five young women.

I had been seeing a psychiatrist for years, since, at high school, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Until the trial took place I had been receiving a long-term psychiatric treatment that allowed me to live an almost normal life. For many years, I worked as a bellboy at a luxurious hotel in the city centre. After my morning shift, I even regularly attended classes of criminology at the Oxford University. My parents were well born and they encouraged me to study whatever I was keen on. It wasn’t after the verdict that they their hopes of seeing me as a perfectly sane person had definitely been wrecked. They died two years before I became a strayed destitute, before I got out of prison for crimes I can barely remember; before I was virtually and undeniably robbed of freedom and something more.

In prison, I never felt at home. The fact of being deprived of freedom of action wasn’t the worst part. In fact, I felt like a complete outsider since I arrived in prison. I never thought I belonged to their criminal kin. What can you expect from a madman? A crazy person cannot be trusted, can be? Undervalued and detested by my cell mate, I had to struggle to stay calm. Sometimes, I felt the urge to commit suicide, but soon I found myself soothed again. The doctor had augmented my dose of drugs. I took them religiously, it wasn’t necessary any kind of supervision. It saved my life countless times.

If I had to mention a friend, beyond doubt, it would be the doctor. I could see in her look a glimmer of understanding. She had the ability to penetrate deep inside me. It wasn’t her kindness. What I most appreciate was that she never mentioned the brutal crimes I was convicted for. Well, the only occasion she talked about it was when she read the admission report signed by the prison’s psychologist. Even then, she didn’t do it with a judgelike manner.

When I was released, I regained possession of my belongings. Among them, a newspaper from the day I was condemned splashed the story of an alleged psychopathic killer that was about to be judged. A picture of mine illustrates that front page article. The inspector in charge of the investigation stands in the background, almost blurred by the zoom lens focusing on me. I was roused and filled with mixed feelings. I couldn’t remember the face of any of the five women that appear below my picture. Now, six months after that precise moment, the truth could be revealed.