Gross, Reggie - Ex-Professional Boxer, Turns H...

My Interview with Reggie About His Life in Prison, Including His Views on the Medical Treatment Prisoners Receive

Dee,Yahoo! Contributor Network
Feb 13, 2008

Reggie Gross was a professional boxer in the 80's. His involvement with drugs landed him 2 life sentences for 3 murders that Gross alleges he did not do. He was an enforcer for a drug gang. Reggie has rehabilitated himself in prison and has numerous certificates from programs he has finished. Reggie goes up for parole in 2014, and was told that if he stays on the right path that he has been taking, staying out of trouble and programming, he will have a good chance. Reggie stated in a letter to me "survival is in my blood, being an ex-professional fighter in the ring. Sometimes you only get to go one round, I want to make it to the second round. Doing time in prison going on twenty years has been a challenge, all things you hear about prison, most are true, it's a world within a world."

From his cell in West Virginia here is my interview with Reggie Gross

Reggie can you tell us about your ex boxing career?

I'm an ex-professional boxer from Baltimore. I fought in three divisions, lightweight, cruiser weight, and heavyweight. I had two fights in South America, Brazil, and Spain, also around the United States. Some of the fighters I fought were, Prince Charles Williams, Bert Cooper, Frank Bruno, Mike Tyson, and the list goes on. A few of my fights were on Cable, ESPN., and HBO.

Most of the stories are the same about people in my situation, misguided, hanging around with the wrong crowd of people that meant me no-good, the drugs, partying, women, and later came violence, which I really do regret to this day.

What were you convicted of and what is your sentence?

I'm convicted for murder in the aid of racketeering, and serving a life sentence.

Do you feel you had adequate lawyers and a fair trial?

No! I was charged with these crimes in 1986 and in 1987 I was acquitted of all charges with the state. A year later I was re-arrested by the Feds and given more charges along with the charge that I was already acquitted of. The lawyer I had in the first case didn't represent me, because he was representing one of my CO defendants, but gave me advice on what to do with a court appointed lawyer, Paul Weiss. 

This information shows Reggie's 6th amendment was violated.

Do you have any health problems or take any medications?

As for my health I take three medications for high blood pressure. I hurt my right knee in 1994. I tore ligaments while in USP Atlanta. All they gave me was some Tylenol and told me that, "I'll be all right." I kept complaining for years. In 1999 I was transferred to F. C. I. Edgefield. I kept complaining again about me knee, so I was put in to get my knee fixed. I thought they fixed my knee when they took me to the outside hospital but all they did was clean my knee cap. In 2003 I transferred to USP Pollock, still complaining about my knee they gave me an x-ray and told me that I need a new knee, that all I have is bone rubbing on bone, and that they waited so long that the calcium build up has gotten so hard that I cannot straighten out my leg.

By my right knee hurting I had to put pressure on my right toe and my left leg, and now they are getting bad. I still complain about the operation, and the hospital here at USP Hazelton say that they had a board meeting about me and that I didn't need the operation and that my situation can be treated here. When I walk, I sometimes lose my balance in my right leg. The medical treatment here is very poor. They have a program that they follow. If your not bleeding, having a seizure or heart attack, everything else is not important. The staff quits all the time. Some of the staff really cares about the treatment of the inmates. If your not with the program, your out of here. There is always new medical staff like every three months. Now you are charged to be seen by medical. You have to pay $2.00 to be seen and have to fill out a request slip and put it in a medical box, and wait three to five days to be seen.

Do you feel the prison is understaffed?

Yes, the prison is understaffed, under trained, under budgeted, medically and very dis-functional. They have a radio announcement that states "If you need a job in law enforcement were hiring at USP Hazelton." So you have people who are looking for more money with benefits. The prison guards here are mostly W.Va. University grads, supermarkets youth centers etc. Because of this situation the prison stays on lock down. I have been here 24 months, if not every month, every other month were on lock down for two weeks.

What about the mentally ill and terminally ill do they receive the proper treatment?

As for the mentally ill they put them on suicide watch for less then 24 hours, then let them back out on the compound. That's the treatment they get. The terminally ill are allowed to go home if they have family that will take care of them. Disease and infections are widespread in prison.

Do you feel it's the state and federal Governments obligation to ensure the best medical treatment for prisoners that is possible?

I feel that the Government, State and Federal have an obligation to ensure the best medical treatment possible. When your sentenced to the State, it states that you are sentenced to the State for a certain amount of time. When your sentenced in Federal Court it says, "you are sentenced to the custody of The United States Attorney General for this time to be served. Prison is a billion dollar business. Everyone wants to work for the Feds because of the money and benefits. In every town around the USA people are asking "when are you going to build a prison around here so we can have a job."

What could be some of the solutions to ensure a better health system?

As for a solution to ensure a better health system, pressure the people at the top in Washington D.C..They're more concerned about funding the war than the medical treatment of prisoners. They cut the budget on the medical and food. They feed us enough and treat us enough just to keep us alive. All you need is 700 calories to survive, though you know we need 2000 calories to maintain health. It's all about politics. I think part of the situations we're in is because of the war. A war, the United States can't win. We all know that the oil is a major part and not just 911 it's about the power and taking care of self, AKA "Greed."

What about mail, do you receive it in a reasonable time?

As far as the mail room, there completely out of order. The USA Today newspaper comes five days a week, but if you don't get your news paper on Monday or Tuesday, you'll get three on Wednesday. Also Friday's paper you'll get on Monday. Some letter sent from home you get a month later.

What about education?

When it comes to education, seeing your unit team, that's when the mind games begin. Some benefit, but most don't. This is what is happening in society now. They're giving students incentives to go to school. If they do good and pass their grades, they get money, twenty dollars. far as I know it, they have been doing this in prison since 1991. A lot of inmates were not going to school or interested in going, then they came up with a solution, by telling you that you can't transfer to another prison to be close to your family, so that you can get visits or get your time cut by six months unless you get your GED. Also in prison in order to get a higher paying job you have to have your GED. The prison pay starts at 12cents, 26 cents, 50 cents, 92 cents, $1.15, and finally $1.45 for hard labor per hour. If you don't get your GED the highest pay you will get will be 50 cents an hour.

Reggie ended his interview by saying:

"I am truly regretful for my past, I can't change the past, I can better the future for me and my family. When I make parole, I'm not going back to Baltimore, I'm moving to the South for the better. I am and have been preparing myself for this day."

Reginald R. Gross #26215-037
P.O.Box 2000
USP Hazelton
Bruceton Mills
W. Va. 26525


Letters, documents, papers sent to me with permission to use by Reginald R. Gross