My name is Christopher Trotter. I’m calling from inside the belly of the beast at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.
I served 20 years in solitary confinement. And I just wanted to share something with you so to give you an idea of what it’s like. And I want everybody to imagine. Imagine, for 20 years of your life being entombed in a windowless cell and held up under sensory deprivation and isolation from human contact. And the only human touch you feel is the unwanted touch of prison guards. The conditions are very dehumanizing, demoralizing, and every day is a struggle just to keep your mental liberty and self-respect, which are the last two things that you have.
Everywhere you go, you are- you are- you are escorted- escorted on a dog leash like an animal in a cage. This was my life in solitary confinement. How long- how long are you going to imagine that I don’t exist. I’m strong, but human. They tried to turn me into a monster, and I used to ask myself, “Who’s the real monster?” And I wrote this poem called “Frankenstein.” And it goes like this:
Frankenstein. The moment you created me, you crucified and despised me, abandoned me emotionally. Unleashed the very hell in me. You treated me like I had committed a felony. I feel unfairly judged, looked upon as an ugly being, frightful and aghast. No one has ever stopped to notice that my movements are poetic. My stride is determined, my spirit is free. For those who claim to recognize beauty for all its worth: look at me and see nothing to love. I am not a monster. I am you. The tragedy of life is what dies inside of a human being while he lives. How long are you going to imagine that I don’t exist?
Prisoners’ lives matter too. My name is Christopher Trotter. I am inside the belly at the beast at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Thank you for listening to me.
(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.