[This was originally published on Aviary Magazine and mirrored on attrition.org. It was written by Dale Coddington and myself.]
Recently, two of the Attrition Staff caught up with Kevin Mitnick and asked a few more questions about his living conditions. We presented him with an article by Kimberly Tracey (-1-) to establish a baseline for our talk and a reason for this follow-up.
Life as it REALLY stands
Here’s a little bit about Kevin Mitnick’s life at the Los Angeles Metro Detention Center (MDC), a bit more up to date:
At the MDC there IS a yard for exercising. It is called the “rec deck” (Recreation Deck), rather than a yard and offers fresh air and sunlight, through a protected metal grating. On this patio Kevin has the option of playing basketball, walking or using the universal weights.
The call for “lockup”(-1-) (known as ‘lockdown’ in most prisons including MDC) means that inmates must return to their cells. This is typically done for a count to ensure all inmates are still within the confines of the
prison, or if any of the individuals get out of control. The times when they are all rounded up on the balcony means they are ‘tossing cells’ or doing a ‘shakedown’ (looking for contraband items).
There are two ‘units’ per floor. Each unit has three TV’s giving a total of six per floor. However, inmates from one unit may not use the resources from (or visit) another unit. Short of personal or legal visits (or court appearances), they do not leave their unit.
As of May 24th, the vending machines were removed from the floors. Despite this, the microwaves (2 per unit) are still available. Along with the removal of vending, many items were added to the commissary.
"I never buy food from the guards. No inmates including me purchase food or any items from MDC staff. It's strictly forbidden" Kevin says.
The only source for Kevin to buy food is the commissary which offers a small variety of food (as well as toiletry items).
We learned that the MDC does offer a couple exercise bikes that still work. “I use them all the time” Kevin smiles.
While using one of the four phones in his unit, he often brings a stool from his cell to make the calls a bit more comfortable. Often times, the phones are turned on as early as 6am he says. The practice of ‘buying’ phone time is frowned upon by MDC staff.
"The MDC does not allow inmates to have any cash or change, money is contraband so it's impossible to buy phone time for a 'few extra dollars'" Kevin reports.
Since February, Kevin has been able to use the government approved laptop on weekdays, with appropriate supervision. This time is usually spent sorting through the many gigs of evidence in preparation for his case. Now that a plea has been entered, time is spent making a much more educated guess at the actual damage figures being leveled at him.
Unfortunately, the friendly advice about tapes and videos that was offered by Ms. Tracey is a bit inaccurate.
"I appreciate any tapes or CD's, however, I'll have to wait until I'm released before I can listen to them."
Kevin has no resource to play tapes or videos with or without his defense team present.
No Place Like Home
Each day that Kevin comes down to the visiting room, he carries a cardboard box overflowing with legal declarations, printed evidence, news articles and more. Ten minutes later, one of the MDC staff bring him the government approved laptop so that he can examine the bulk of the evidence. Outfitted with a locking device preventing floppy use, Kevin can only receive programs and evidence via CDROM. Dual booting into RedHat Linux and Windows 95, he is able access almost all of the evidence. To be more accurate, he can not access
any of the evidence from the VMS backup tapes, megs of logs from various CDs, and of course the evidence still not provided by the government.
After visiting his direct family or legal staff, Kevin returns to what he has been forced to call ‘home’ for four years, five months, and twenty one days. Not that he or anyone is counting. Home is a cell smaller than the
largest of private visitation rooms reserved for legal visits. Those rooms are perhaps 8×10, and yet still larger than Kevin’s cell (that he shares with one other inmate). Cell #626 sits off the ‘common area’ and is separated by a wooden door with a narrow glass window, offering less view than the narrow window that grants him a view of the Roybal Federal Building. Along with the other inmate, the tiny cell has two bunks, a toilet, sink, all acceptable personal possessions and a tendency to give people a cramped feeling.
The common area is available to inmates from 6:30 to 9:45 roughly. This area contains the bikes, microwaves, televisions and phones. Also provided are billiards and ping pong tables. While the common area may sound fun and recreational, it is not conducive to those trying to read or study legal briefs.
Kevin’s cell has a lovely view of the sixth floor of the Roybal Federal building. A building with more stringent metal detectors than the MDC even. Even from the sixth floor, he gets to view more federal offices.
A Day in the Life of..
With a better image of the material life surrounding Kevin, hopefully it will be easier to envision a typical day.
6:30 - wake up sign up for phone time (typically two 20 minute blocks) 7:00 - light breakfast (example: pastry and milk) 7:45 - head to patio, walk for half an hour 8:15 - weight lifting on patio 10:20 - use part of phone time 10:40 - grab lunch tray (example: eggs, burrito, potatoes, milk) lockdown for lunch 12:00 - "boring time" legal visits, phone calls, lay out in sun, read, socialize 3:45 - lockdown for count 4:45 - grab dinner tray for later use part of phone time 6:00 - ride bike, exercise 7:30 - shower eat dinner 9:45 - lockdown shave, read 11:00 - sleep
During most of his workouts, Kevin is able to listen to an AM/FM walkman. For those of you interested in his music selection, his radio is programmed with the following channels:
Memory Location Radio Station
#2 95.5 (KEZY)
#4 106.7 (KROQ)
#5 98.7 (STAR)
Drop Him A Line
The letters and comments he receives are an uplift to say the least. Continued support and cards are welcome and he sends his thanks to the many people who have written him. Kevin enjoyed his birthday on August 6th, especially when the State of California opted to drop the outstanding charges leveled at him some seven years prior. Despite his birthday passing, cards or words of encouragement would be a great gift. Federal judge M. Pfaelzer sentencing him to the defense proposed restitution and ‘time served’ would be the best gift though. 😉
If that is too much to ask, recommending his immediate release to a half way house would be acceptable.
As Ms. Tracey said, sending him money via postal money orders is appreciated so that he can enjoy it right away. Another way to support Kevin is to purchase ‘Free Kevin’ bumper stickers from http://www.freekevin.com as the profit goes toward his legal defense fund. For those not keeping up, Kevin is due to be sentenced on Monday, August 9th at 1:30pm. Judge Pfaelzer can be found at the US Court House (-2-), room 12.
P.O. Box 1500
Los Angeles, CA 90053
Both of us have spent long hours locked in a government SCIF on previous security contracts. We were paid to be in these small depressing rooms and hack military networks. I could barely stand 8 hours in those 10×10 rooms full of computers with no windows. Now, Kevin gets to sit in his less than 10×10 cell for allegedly hacking other networks. It’s sick and ironic.
1) “Mitnick’s Life – As It Stands Now” by Kimberly Tracey
7-2-99 (original article)
We refer to this article because of the errata contained within it, and our correcting it. Many of the facts presented here are included to refute material from the original article.
2) US Court House
312 N. Spring St
Court Room #12