Whitey’s Woes: No Time For Reflection

Whitey SketchWriting about South Boston (Southie) brings Whitey back to mind.  He was born on September 3, 1929 which makes him just about a dozen years short of 100. I was wondering whether doing time in prison shortens or lengthens the average life span of a person. There is the lack of stress of having to earn a living since the government provides you with three hots and a cot (although under the new president Mr. Tweeter I’m told that there may soon be a work requirement for prisoners if they want to eat) but up against that there’s the lack of freedom and the usual tension of being bossed around by brutes in uniform both prisoners and guards.

I wrote to Whitey asking for a visit but he never got back to me. The last I heard a little less than a year ago is he is in wheel chair so that has to be a real bummer to a guy who liked to keep himself in shape. I wonder if they let him turn the lights off at night?

For me, the worst part of being in prison would be the idea that I was with the people who society believed were the worst among us coupled with the constant noise and being bossed around by guys who were little different from the guys who I was incarcerated with.

A long time ago I was a clerk of court working in Norfolk County. I happened to be handling the first criminal session where the prisoners who were involved in the Walpole prison riot were being tried. At one time there were 16 of them. Unlike in Suffolk County at the time we had to work on St. Patrick’s Day. The judge handling the trial was Judge Edward J. DeSaulnier who had a refreshing approach to sitting on the bench. He recognized that handling a trial with 16 defendants and 16 lawyers was a little unwieldy. He called me into the lobby and told me he was going to have a St. Patrick’s Day special today. Any defendant who wore green and wanted to plead guilty would get a slap on the hand. Before the day was out half of the defendants had pieces of green blotters fastened to their prison garb and bailed out of the case.

I recalled that because when there were eight remaining defendants behind each one in the courtroom stood a prison officer or a police officer.  One of the lawyers commented to me that you could swap the guys who are standing for those who are sitting and it would not make a difference to society. Perhaps, I thought. I knew people as bad as the prisoners but they had not been caught. That makes all the difference in the world.

It is hard to see how Whitey would see his time on earth extended by his prison experience. Although I did know a guy from my neighborhood named Henri who seemed to prefer prison over the street. He like the structure it gave him but mostly having been in prison most of his life his friends were there. But that would not be the case with Whitey. He is so old that behind the bars he won’t find any old-time friends. He’s with the young gangsters which cannot be very pleasant unless perhaps he thinks of them as the grand kids he never had.

We’ve often heard how Whitey was on the lam for 16 years but most of that time the way he was living was hardly different from what he is now experiencing. Sure he had Stand-up Catherine with him but he lived in constant fear of being caught. He no longer has to worry about that so maybe his earthly time is extended. Is his night sleep any better now that he does not have to peek out between the shade and the sides of the window to see if anyone is lurking in the area?

I wonder if Whitey ever reflects upon what a mess he made of his life. Remember Whitey lived over forty years as far as we know before he committed his first murder.  I don’t suppose being in prison with no chance of freedom is the position most people would want to go over to the great unknown side from. What a thought never to be able to walk where one wants, to bend over freely to pick up a piece of grass or to smell a rose, or to wade through the ocean waves.

We’ll never know if he thought it was all worth it. I have to guess we’ll soon be reading more about him. Those articles will be in the Irish sport pages.

13 thoughts on “Whitey’s Woes: No Time For Reflection

  1. You are not far from making an argument for the death penalty. Put him out of his misery. Sallust, in The Jugurthine War, justified the death penalty by opining that it was beneath the dignity of a Roman to be imprisoned. Perhaps the grave after a funeral mass will restore some modicum of dignity to Whitey.

    1. Tadzio:

      There was a young woman in her teens working one evening in a grocery store in central Massachusetts who was kidnapped from her work, raped and murdered. If the person who did that was captured I would have no problem with him receiving the death penalty. There are other incidents which demand the death penalty as the only true result for a horrible crime. As for Whitey, I’ve not thought he should be executed as long as those with him who did more outrageous murders and testified against him were not subject to the same penalty. Whitey mostly murdered other criminals (he was not the primary force behind the murder of the two women) and those type killings are deeds done among people who take the risk that when they involve themselves with other criminals the results may be deadly.

  2. Too broad a brush. Some of the hacks were OK (Jeff Auger). JB is a celebrity in any BOP facility he’s at. All the older guys, doing forever, pretty much go light on each other. Once a guy is banked, none of the old feuds and internecine competition in the “world”apply any more. Tree jumpers are the only inmates who don’t get a pass. There’s so many rats in the system these days even the grasses get a by. JB may be fading, but, he’s still respected by his peers, and, the younger cons. Everybody’s in the same shape on the inside.

  3. If you can recall the physical condition of some of the people we convicted, the leader of that check-cashing ring Stearns tried come to mind, a stint in prison probably saved some lives. I used to think how terribly sad the long walk from Rte 1A to MCI Norfolk was for the visitors..watching women hauling babies down that God forsaken trail would melt a heart of stone. I understand the “Not In My Back Yard” thinking, but placing urban inmates in such out of the way settings doesn’t enhance any chance of rehabilitation built on family connections…and, other than corruption, building that facility in New Braintree was incomprehensible. Consider the huge and ever growing “Inmate Constitution” or the outcome of the Inmate Canteen, operated on the ‘honor system,’ at MCI Norfolk, as examples of the inmates having too much time on their hands and the DOC in Boston having too little cells in their brains! Remember how Peter Casey fumed at inmates getting paid? He also posited that within the prison community, resided every talent to conduct a successful corporation. The schemers as salesmen and the murderers as bookkeepers, because while they would kill, they would not rob, and would keep the sales force in check! Finally, did you ever REALLY trust the furniture we received at the DA’s office from Prison Industries? I always suspected there was some payback built into those wobbly tables and chairs!

  4. If Trump has a sense of humor he will pardon JB. Then appoint a lawyer from Texas as the U S Attorney in Boston and drain the swamp. O’Brien the probation chief had his conviction overturned in December. Is that the final result in the case?

  5. Hi Matt,
    Whitey might well contemplate the damage he’s done to his own family over the years. Your post got me to thinking about John Connolly, who’s doing hard time in a Florida prjson at age 76! Anything new on his possible parole?

  6. When murderer Gary Gilmore demanded that he be killed, I was pissed off. He just wanted to end it rather than spend the rest of his life waiting. He never gave his victims a choice. If he did they all would have chosen life. Why the hell should he have a choice?

    Whitey has to spend the rest of his life behind bars. It has been decided that that is the only fair way for him to die. I have had four friends murdered. I would rather their killers rotted away in a cell.

      1. More likely than ADX Florence would be a Federal Medical Center. Doubt that he’ll be dining with Tsarnaev soon.

        1. Henry: It’s hard to say what the BOP will do. The Fed system is its’ own world. Bureaucratic jealousy often effects situations in the the inmate population. Sometimes, they run a guy around because the BOP honchos are irritated by congressional interference.

  7. The fact that John Martorano, Kevin Weeks, and countless others are walking the street shows that justice has not been accomplished. I am pretty sure Steve Flemmi is out there in the streets too. He’s probably in Arizona in the house where Sammy the Bull used to live. All these people got a pass because they pointed a finger at Whitey. They should all be in jail with him.

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