It was a day like any other day. I woke up and rolled out of my too-thin metal bunk bed and took a shower. I mentally went over my plans for the day- lunch, workout in the yard, watch a soccer game on the Spanish TV, mail call, read and write, call my girl, watch a little TV. Just another day in the big house. Trying to stay busy to make the time go by. Another day, week, month, year to mark off the calendar. After I put on my khaki prison uniform and my beige prison issue boots I checked the menu- fried chicken. The chowhall would be crowded today, I thought. Everybody would make it to chicken day. In prison fried chicken is one of the only things the chowhall can’t fuck up and “getting that bird” as they say is a big deal to most prisoners. And the staff presence is high as the c/o’s know that dudes will be trying to take that bird back to the block and eat it later. And in the eyes of staff that is a big no-no. No food exited the chowhall. Well, in theory, at least, but try patting down 1700 prisoners as they duck and doge their way out of the chowhall.
I was standing in the line with my man, Big Troy, a big 300 pound DC brother bullshitting when somebody said, “Dude just hit the Lt. in the face with his tray.” I looked over to see a commotion at the far end of the chowhall. A struggle ensued as the prisoner, a Mexican, continued to beat on the Lt., who was knocked the fuck out, while simultaneously being tackled by five or six other staff members who were standing in the area. A bunch of dudes sitting at the surrounding tables stood up to watch the spectacle. The prisoner appeared to be a little dude, but he was holding his own against several c/o’s who were trying to restrain him. I didn’t recognize him, but he was putting up one hell of a fight as more staff ran to assist.
I saw my unit manger, a big fat gutted dude rolling around on top of the Mexican as several other staff members fought to restrain him. The c/o’s finally got him up, but he was still struggling. I couldn’t see much more because too many prisoners were standing up and crowding around to watch. The c/o’s finally secured the prisoner, cuffed him and marched him out. As I was served my food I heard them call out on the PA that the compound was secure. “Secure the compound. Secure the compound.” The PA echoed. About 10 cops escorted the Mexican out of the chow hall and another five or so helped up the Lt. who got punished. I saw him holding his hand to his head and there looked to be some blood too. I was on the other end of the chowhall though and my view was obscured by all the prisoners standing up and trying to see the outcome.
As I took my seat with my tray in hand I purposely sat with my back to the area where the action had occurred. A lot of prisoners were making their way toward the doors trying to get out, but the compound was secure as the Mexican was escorted to the hole. He would probably get the shit beat out of him, I thought. Because assaults on staff members are not taken lightly. There was a lot of talk in the chowhall about, “That motherfucking Lt. getting his.” I didn’t even know what Lt. it was, but a lot of dudes were saying he had a smart ass mouth and that was why he got punished. But who knows for real. There was a lot of fronting and posturing about how, “They’d respect us now.” But mostly it was empty rhetoric, because most of these dudes in here won’t bust a grape.
In prison they always say that the Mexicans got “mucho corazon” and the little vato did, because he put up a fierce battle. I just wonder what happened to set it off. I figured that the Lt. probably said some greasy shit to dude, because some of the staff here like to talk out the sides of their mouth to prisoners like we’re some lesser sub-species or something. And some dudes like the little vato won’t put up with that bullshit. When I was at another prison a couple of years back this crazy ex-marine whiteboy was beefing with his unit c/o, who kept shaking his cell down and harassing him, trying to make the dudes life unpleasant. Finally the dude got drunk on the yard and just snapped he went back to his unit on the move and beat the shit out of the c/o. From what I heard it wasn’t pretty. After that the cops on the pound gave most prisoners a wide berth and afforded them an extra measure of respect that wasn’t there before.
It will probably be the same here, but you never know. The problem is that most of the staff are straight rednecks, country boys you know and with a prison population dominated by Latinos and blacks there is a certain lack of communication. They just don’t speak the same language. Especially the ese’s. Not very many c/o’s here speak Spanish and that is a major problem and can lead to misunderstandings. I figured they would lock up the prisoner and then resume normal operations. It was a pretty open and shut case. A prisoner assaulted a staff member in the middle of the chowhall surrounded by other staff members. It was an isolated event. There was no need for a lockdown or investigation. You got ten staff members who can give eyewitness accounts. The ese was definitely looking at an additional-sentence for punishing the Lt. It was an open and shut case.
But I was wrong. It seems here at this prison we got this asinine captain who doesn’t know how to run a prison. This fucking idiot ordered a lockdown. Everyone was called back to their unit and those in the chowhall were videotaped as they came out having to provide their name and number. For what I don’t know. I realize assaulting a staff member is a serious offence, but they got the guy that did bang to rights. Everybody else in the chowhall were just trying to get their eat on. We weren’t doing anything wrong.
But I guess the captain of the institution wanted to send a message to the entire population. Like don’t fuck with the staff. We were locked down and brought bag lunches for the rest of the day. The TV’s in the common area were turned off. The whole compound was being punished for the actions of one man. A serious offence, yes. I’m not denying that, but at the same time an isolated event that was a clear, cut and dried case. No need for an investigation.
Normally in prison when the whole compound is locked down it is because an investigation is being conducted to find out who the perpetrators in a stabbing were, or a gang fight, or a drug bust, or an escape concern. They lock the compound down to secure all prisoners and do interviews to try and identify what happened, or to send sort teams to the perpetrators cells, cuff them and take them to the hole. But in this case they knew what happened, so I didn’t see any reason for an investigation. It seemed to me that we were being kept on lockdown out of spite. Like we’ll teach them a lesson. Fuck with one of ours and we’ll lock you the fuck down. But that is some kid shit for real. I’m not here to be held accountable for the actions of some other man. As I walked back to the block I figured the lockdown wouldn’t be that long. I also overheard some staff members talking about, “We shall not trespass against those who trespass against us.” But I could see the hate in their eyes. Like I personally did something to them.
I was wrong too about not being locked down long. They kept us in all afternoon, evening and night. They slid our mail under the door and didn’t even pick up any outgoing mail. No phone, no TV’s, no showers. We were being held under the same conditions as prisoners on disciplinary status. And I kept thinking why? Why are we being punished for something one man did? I understand if the prison has to lock down for an investigation or security measures, because they think something is going to jump off, but there was no buzz about a riot or gang fight, or nothing. The assault was a completely isolated event. I’m sure the SIS Lt.- that is the prisons investigative team, kind of like an in house FBI- had their snitches reporting to them. So I wondered what were they hearing that would make them want to keep us locked down.
As I read some magazines and three books to keep my mind occupied I figured all would be back to normal in the morning. So I fell asleep with the belief that I would be able to use the phone in the morning and get back to my regular routine. Because in prison routine is everything. It makes the days and weeks and months and years go by. Whatever your routine is when it’s broken time slows down to a crawl.
I was awoken the next morning by what I thought was my door being unlocked, but was in reality the trap on my door being opened so the cop could throw in a bag lunch breakfast. Needless to say I was pissed off. I spent the rest of the morning trying to sleep it off and was awoken again at around 10 a.m. and told to get dressed for an interview by the cop. Usually when someone is stabbed or something they lock down the block where it happened and interview all the people assigned to the dorm. They just ask general questions like do you know what happened? Do you know who was involved? Would you tell us if you knew? To which the standard answers are no, no and no. As I walked down to the interview room I could only think how these idiots could of done this bullshit yesterday as if it was needed at all. Finally that afternoon around 3 p.m. after all their interviews were completed they unlocked us to go to chow. I figured finally it was all over, the investigation was complete, but I was wrong again. After the late lunch we were locked down again for count and we were kept locked in and served bag lunches for dinner. I didn’t go to the chowhall as I took the hour allotted to take a shower and try to get on the phone, but I couldn’t get through and of course the idiots only had one phone on in the whole motherfucking block.
The c/o who was working the block after count kept promising us that we were getting unlocked, but the hours ticked away. A dude next door to my cell told me that he heard on the local radio news that the assault and a continued disturbance was reported at the prison. But I knew that was a load of shit, because there was no continued disturbance. Due to one mans action, an isolated event this idiotic captain has kept the prison locked down going on two days. For what I keep asking myself? Because a staff member got assaulted? This is prison, dudes are doing multiple decades of their lives for selling drugs, what they fuck do they expect? And when they talk greasy to a dude with no hope do they really expect him to just take it? The prison administration is in for a rude awakening.