There are so many small, seemingly insignificant things that happen in prison that can set off an eruption of violence. Everything behind these walls all boils down to two things. A persons routine, and what someone thinks is theirs.
The slightest infringement into one of these two categories can easily get you killed. Everyone has their own place that they sit in the chow hall, or their own time that they workout with certain exercise equipment.
Once it’s established that this is “theirs”, God help the pour soul who unknowingly trespasses on their turf. The first time it happens, they’ll as politely as possible be told to “get the fuck outta my spot.” Almost like a dog marking it’s territory.
But if it happens a second time, then no words will be said. It’s widely considered a sign of total disrespect for a second violation, an unspoken “You ain’t gonna do shit!” ultimatum to the title holder of said spot.
That’s when it’s “put up or shut up” time. Either the fury gets unleashed, or you head back down the line in the hierarchy. The second option not being the most recommended here in the penitentiary, where any sign of weakness is like throwing a kitten into a pool of piranhas…it’s not going to turn out well.
Another instigator of problems included into these two designations revolves around the television. Where everyone sits and what programs are watched all come down to how much respect you hold on the yard.
If you’re “fresh” to the system and haven’t put in any “work” yet, (which is smashing or stabbing a disreputable con or cop) then you pretty much don’t have anything coming to you. But if you’ve put in the years and proven your ruthlessness then you can watch all the swamp loggers you damn well please!
There are cons that have been sitting in the same spot, watching American Idol for over a decade. They will literally slit your throat if you make the slightest bit of encroachment on the button to turn the station while it’s on.
Every race has their own TV. the Whites and Spanish with one each. The Blacks usually with three or four, depending on how many TV’s are on the unit. One tuned into sports, the other on music video’s. The rest all depend on what groups have the biggest numbers. Whoever’s TV it is, everyone knows if you’re not in the car, don’t touch it.
Which brings us to the absolute grandest slight in prison, the ultimate “bitch slap” if you will. Changing the TV on someone in the middle of their program. You have to either be a stupid motherfucker or have a death wish, because there WILL be ramifications behind it.
The latter was the motive behind the move SK pulled shortly after arriving from the ADX.
SK was a stocky con in his mid forties from Washington DC. He had a shaved head and a slight beard. It was his first time hitting a yard in over a decade.
Prior to his time in the ADX he was involved in a stabbing that killed another inmate. The rumor floating about was the murder happened over an unpaid gambling debt. Whether that was true or not is anyone’s guess. What was entirely undisputed was the fact that he killed a man, which is something you always kept in the back of your mind when you saw him around.
The ADX is a twenty four lockdown facility in the Colorado mountains. You’re allowed one hour outside of your cell five days a week. Basically moving from a bathroom to an outdoor dog cage and a chance to stretch your legs. You live in a single cell where you have one small color TV as your only source for sanity.
Most people that come from the ADX are a bit shell shocked at first. Coming into a unit that is as loud as a subway station during rush hour is a sensory overload on anyone. Let alone someone that hasn’t had any contact with another human being for years at a time.
Almost everyone I’ve come across in my years in the system can’t wait to go back. The peace and quiet of your own cell, and not having to deal with the everyday prison politics is one component. The other reason I always hear is “you got your own TV”.
The said prize possession is a 13 inch color television. Which actually started out as a black and white, but through good old prison ingenuity, have now all been converted to modern times. On this box of dreams you receive fifteen of your standard bare bones cable stations.
Most of the freshly released ADXers at least try to spend a little time on their new yard. Walk around outside and breath some fresh air for a bit. But not SK, he was hell bent on getting back in time for the new season of basketball wives!
A week into his stay on the maximum security yard was more than enough time to cut a knife and plot his exit strategy.
“Yo, what the fuck are you doing!” Sparks yelled out. Sitting in his usual spot in front of the white TV.
“What?” SK said over his shoulder as he was pushing the button on the pole changing station.
“What are you fucking lost or something? You can’t touch this TV.” The twenty five year old Alabama native said back.
“Why not?” SK said as he turned around and put his hand in his pocket grabbing his knife.
“This is the white TV homes, and unless I’m colorblind, you ain’t white.”
“Oh that’s how it’s gonna be.”
“Motherfucking right.” Sparks said on his feet with his hand in his pocket on his blade.
“Wo, Wo, Wo.” Zoe yelled out as he came running over and got in front of SK.
Zoe was the middle aged shot caller for the DC Blacks. He’d been in the system for over twenty years and was down on a life bid. He held a lot of respect with not just his people, but with all the races on the yard.
“My bad Sparks.” He said. “He don’t know how things run here. Don’t worry, I got him.”
With that he grabbed SK and walked him back to his cell. Talking in his ear the whole time trying to calm him down.
“God damn.” Sparks said to the white dudes that congregated behind him in support. “You know damn well that nigger knows not to touch that TV.”
“Yeah, no shit.” Sparks celly Garth said. “He’s just trying to start some shit to get outta here. Zoe said he’s got him though.”
“What the fuck man.” Sparks sighed as he went to change the TV back to his program.
“Just make sure you guys all stay on point around that dude.” Garth said to everyone as they all settled back into their chairs.
Garth was a skinny Aryan Brotherhood of Texas member in his late twenties. He was seven years in on a ten year bid out of Texas. Just like his celly Sparks, they were both short timers compared to most of the dudes on the yard with decades to do.
Garth and Sparks were real tight after living together for over a year. They worked out together everyday and got drunk together whenever they could afford it. All and all two solid con’s to be around and do time with. They wouldn’t get you in trouble and would be there to back you up if you got into some shit.
The day passed and everyone went back to their cells for the night. Like a lot of things in prison, the incident got swept under the rug, but it’s always in the back of everyone’s minds.
The next morning when chow was called Sparks shot out of the cell just in time to make it before they closed the doors. Garth would usually be with him, but the new weekly meal rotation had their unit eating first. Which meant as soon as they opened the cells, it was time for chow.
Now, in the penitentiary as soon as the doors open, your ass is up! You might be slow in making it out of the cell, but you damn sure were awake. You do NOT want to be the one laying in bed when it’s go time.
Just after Garth put on his boots and made his coffee for the morning Sparks ripped open the door.
“That nigger stabbed me in the neck!” Sparks cried out as he held his hand to his neck trying to stop the gushing of blood.
SK had been laying in wait for his chance to strike. He caught Sparks coming into the block on his way back from chow. With his coffee cup in one hand and an apple in the other he was a sitting duck.
SK hit him with ferocious precision in his neck as soon as he entered the unit. Two lightning quick strikes to the jugular was more then enough to earn Sparks an immediate release from prison, in a body bag.
Sparks staggered to his cell with the last bit of life in him in search of help.
“Holy shit!” Garth yelled out as he jumped up off the bunk to his friend. “What the fuck happened?”
“SK.” Sparks muttered as he dropped to the floor.
Garth hastily ran out of the cell and right into a stalking SK.
SK proceeded to strike a stunned Garth in the upper arm and shoulder area. Trying his best to get another kill shot on his unarmed foe.
Garth stumbled on a pair of discarded shoes left outside a cell, and fell backwards onto the cement.
SK crouched over his defenseless prey and volleyed wild shots around Garths kicking legs.
“Yeah cracker, you ain’t got shit to say now do ya.” SK called out as he stepped back to avoid Garths flailing boots.
“Let me get my knives motherfucker. Then we’ll see what’s up.”
“Oh yeah. You think you some bad mothafucka. A’ight, go get yo shit.” He said as he backed up and let Garth head to his cell.
Garth was not one to fuck around when it came to armament. He cut his bone crushers straight out of the hardened steel of the bed frames. “You ALWAYS want to have the baddest motherfucker.” He’d say when dudes would ask him about he cannon he carried around. When he stepped out of the cell a minute later, he was armed to the teeth with TWO of the fuckers!
SK, showing no fear, took off his shirt and wrapped it around his right hand to help his grip on the blood slicked knife. “A’ight white boy. Let’s rock.”
With that the battle was on. Both men moving in and out with calculated strikes. Neither one trying to leave themselves open for a death blow. But Garth definitely had the upper hand with his two Rambo knives.
For every swipe SK took, Garth would counter with two of his own. First hitting SK in his arms, then some more to the shoulders.
Garth was circling his opponent like a boxer. Sticking and moving. His youth and knifes were clearly overwhelming to the older SK.
For every strike landed to Garths’ arms or shoulders, he would land four or five in return. All in rapid succession, and in susceptible parts of the body.
After two well placed strikes in the stomach, SK backed up defensibly in a wounded retreat. He knew he was in over his head.
Garth, seeing the fear in his enemies eyes, moved in for the kill.
The young ABT cornered the older DC black with his deadly strikes. Shots to the gut and kidneys, sapping the remaining fight out of him. All SL could do was try and keep his arms up to shield himself from the blows.
SK backed himself into the shower in a last ditch effort for cover. With no where left to go his fate was sealed.
Garth just opened up on his mark. Ravishing the beaten man with punishing shots along the body. Blood spitting out behind the exiting blade from his feeble physique. He dropped his arms and that was it.
Garth swung a round house right with his blade that went through the left ear and into the brain of his assailer.
SK went limp immediately. His lifeless body crumbling to the ground.
Garth stepped back and turned around to confront the now circling group of blacks around him.
Still high with adrenaline, he raised his knives for the ensuing ambush.
Just as the mob was coming towards him, the CO’s ran into the block. Armed with their pepper spray, concussion grenades, and pepper ball guns, they backed off the unruly swarm. Quickly herding them all to their cells with the threat of their chemical assault.
Garth was swiftly disarmed, cuffed, and rushed out of the corridor through the back of the unit.
Sparks and SK were thrown on stretchers. Their bodies were covered in an attempt to conceal what just transpired, and hurriedly whisked through the prison yard.
The administration knew full well the implications of the situation and tried to get the facility locked down before word spread. But they weren’t fast enough.
As Garth was hastily rounded through the perimeter, he was brought past the secure, crowded chow hall.
The onlookers curious eyes were bulging from the sight of a crazed Garth.
Looking like he just stepped out of the apocalypse, drenched with blood, he kept screaming.
“I got me one! I killed me a nigger!”
The chow hall exploded in violence, which carried over onto the yard and the surrounding units. It erupted into one of the biggest race riots in the present day BOP. All of it transpiring over the longing for a 13 inch TV.