Saturday, August 27, 2011

Doing Right.....

Welcome to my blog once again. Hopefully you have had a chance to read the first one and you will know this is being written from a prison cell.  Not all prisoners are bad - just most of them! (my point of view....)
Okay onto today's topic.  In my first blog I spoke about how difficult it is to change and "do right" in prison.  The following is one of my experiences and consequences of "doing the right thing."
One year ago today in 2010 I was on my unit in this maximum security penitentiary. It was about 6:20 a.m. I was drinking my wake up coffee in the day room.  I noticed a black inmate acting out of his normal behavior. (I am always aware of my surroundings because I never know when something will go "down" here. I watch inmates and guards alike.  This is how I knew this inmate was out of normal character.  He had a sharpened pencil held tightly in his hand.
That particular morning we had a 90 lb. Hispanic female officer working the Unit.  Not many people (inmates) were awake yet.  As I looked up at the televisions and heard a loud thud....looking around I didn't see anything out of the ordinary until I hear a mix between a cream and a whimper of a female tone....It clicked and I knew!!
I jumped up and ran to the female officers office.  The particle board desk was collapsed.  She was in her overturned chair. Her walkie talkie had come off her belt, that meant she could not push the panic button to summon help from other officers. The inmate who jumped her had a pencil to her neck and was trying to put his hand down her pants.  All the while he was saying, "I'm not going to hurt her!"  I get his attention off her and onto me.  As I am doing this two black guys jump past me and start to beat the raper up.  The officer is obviously dazed and somewhat confused.  I hold my hand out to her while yelling for her to get out of the office.
We get outside the office and another inmate hands her the walkie talkie. She pushes the panic button so all other officers will respond.  She is looking around like she doesn't know what to do. I tell her to get outside the building, because there are many sex offenders here and I was worried they might do something more and worse. I knew it was safe for her outside.  And the other officers were coming with mace and guns drawn....she got outside and the first officer came in through the corridor yelling "Where is she? WHERE IS SHE?"   I replied, "Outside, she is safe." And I pointed to the office.  The new officer locked the perpetrator in the office..
Now, I know a lot of officers are coming and I know they spray mace first and ask questions later.  So I retreat to my cell out of harms way.
We are now locked down in our cells and were about to be shook down and our property tore up. (Everyone gets punished when an officer is harmed. They say it sends a message) Luckily the female officer asked them, not based on the fact we (some of us) helped her. (We went against the unwritten prison against them-never help an officer) Somehow that just didn't feel right to me.  This girl needed help. I am not a bad person-just make some stupid choices while heavily under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
About two days later after this attempted rape of the female officer, my ex cellie, also an ex marine with two life sentences decided I needed to be punished for helping the officer.  He is an angry man angry at the system for life sentences. Classic cant accept responsibility and misery loves company. So he and two other inmates decide they will rob me.  They took my food and $1,500.00 worth of art materials that my family saved to help me purchase. Then they sold my property to other inmates.  And they ate my food in front of me.  This was not a simple robbery, it was at knife point.  I'd probably fought if it were not for the knives. I had two choices afterward.  Both choices a no win situation. 
I could have put a couple combination locks on a belt and went to beating on anyone of them when there were not expecting it....but that was the old way. I am not a chump and I know how to fight. Herein lies the problem....I made a conscious decision to be a different person. There was no positive for going after them violently.
The second choice I had was to "tell" prison staff.  After all they are supposed to be responsible for my safety and sell being, "Right?"  Wrong as I found out.  Will I wrestled with this decision and decided I had nothing to lose. Boy was I WRONG. 
I informed my counselor who informed me that others had already told  him (meanwhile the main marine robber went to SHU for having a knife)  I continually requested a "seperatee" be placed on us. Meaning myself and the knife toting thieves cannot walk the same compound together for safety reasons.  It didn't happen.  In fact the authorities let him out of SHU twice where he could get to me. No one wanted him for a cellie after the incident so he had to go back to SHU....  which ended up my fault of course.  I continually went from staff member to staff member trying to get them to do their job, no one would.
It took eight months and eight staff members  and calls from my family before any attention was given to my dangerous situation and stolen art supplies.  I requested over and over that staff retrieve my stolen property.  They never did, and they had opportunity to do so.  After eight months they decided to separate us. So no violent confrontation could occur and that was all they did.  My thanks for doing the right thing and saving a staff member.
Now I live daily with the harsh consequences of breaking inmate unwritten laws.....  as I will discuss next

PRISON, is not what you think it is.....

Prison is definably not what you, the general public thinks it is, nor is it what I thought it would be.  It is confusing as "Hell" to say the least. I am currently doing twenty years. Every waking moment is like walking on egg shells while trying to better myself.  Believe me when I tell  you there is no rehabilitation in prison.  This is nothing more then a warehouse for troubled souls.
I spent most of my life growing up on a farm where we treated our animals better than I am being treated.....
The system, nor the inmates will allow a person to change.  I know.  As I have changed, I am no longer the person on drugs and alcohol who didn't care about anything. 
I made a conscious decision to be a better person, an honest, respectful,caring human being which in this setting is constantly being suppressed.  The system thinks a prisoner claiming to be changed (rehabilitated) is a con, a sham.  Therefore I have been permanently labeled, and because of that permanent label "bad guy con" I am denied, denied, denied every and anything I request. That is the systems perspective.
The inmates consider change, kindness, and caring a weakness and will prey upon said weakness (meaning myself) and will come at (me) in any way they can. 
Therefore a person wanting to change in prison, is basically forced by both sides to be a "bad guy." (Illiterate prisoner inmate terminology for someone trying to be a decent person.)
If you refuse to do drugs, alcohol, or fighting inside these walls you are ostracised, picked on, beat up, shoved around. 
I have lived inside these walls for eleven of the twenty years I was sentenced to. I can find no positive way to live in here.  I've made my decision not to use drugs or be violent in any way anymore. Yet inside these walls the system punishes for doing good.  This is a no win situation.
I hide in my cell as much as possible, so I am not forced to deal with all the negative attitudes and drama.  Most of the men in here have not been nor are taught manners, respect, understanding, compassion, or empathy. They are angry people and want everyone around them to be miserable also.  Having to hide in a cell is not only a miserable existence, but it makes me turn into an anti-social persons who doesn't like people because of what I am surrounded by.
Honestly, I wouldn't want most of these inmates released to my neighborhood.  I listen to their conversations and see their attitudes.  All negative and violent.  Robbing people, raping women, drugs and booze talk.  These are supposed to be grown men, yet they jump around like children shooting each other with their fingers as gun props.  All this is, is a warehouse for grown up little kids.  Long legged men, (boys) who haven't been taught how to deal with emotions so they react negatively with fighting, steeling and knocking others down anyway they can.
From listening to these angry men for so many years, I think I understand them some.  I went through "the change" and learned to humble myself.  They have not done that yet.  To them humbling is weakness. 
A person has two choices in here.  One is to admit they are a piece of shit (that they have burned most of their bridges,)  then find a way to rebuild their lives and regain honor and make their word worth something again. If your word is worthless, so are you.
Most of the men inside chose choice #2.  They lie by telling magnified stories about themselves.  They brag about drugs, women and robbing which gains them attention from other inmates who will listen. Unfortunately these actions give them their old drug "rushes" as well as they feel important.  With each new story being glorified more they climb higher on the prison inmate hierarchy ladder of lies and hate.  Those are the leaders who lead the lessors and pick on the inmates trying to better themselves.  The liars win in here.
The old saying, "Misery loves company," rings true inside the walls!!  Prison is an "all boys soap opera!"  They do not understand the basic fact that their own actions have put them in this situation!  It's all too easy for them to blame the government, or a jailhouse snitch for their misfortune as they are totally unable to take responsibility for their own actions.
These men have barely heard the word KARMA nor do they understand it. To highlight this, not long ago, an inmate I know was let out of S.H.U. (Special Housing Unit, a prison inside a prison for those who break the rules) He said to me, "I wouldn't of gone to SHU and got in trouble if ++++++ hadn't told on me."  I responded with, "Are you serious?"  He looked at me blankly and said, "Well yeah."  I told him the other guy didn't tell on him, he told on himself.  He said a few blankity blank words to me and I nervously responded  by telling him with controlled strength that HE WAS CONFUSED!  His response to that was, "Huh?"   This ignorance is what I live with twenty four hours a day.  I read book after book to learn and try to keep a part of myself on the outside and sane among the insane.