Stepping foot onto the most violent federal penitentiary yard in the BOP as a 150 lb. educated, white, middle class suburban kid with dreadlocks down to my ass was pretty scary, however that wasn’t the worst part of my first experience in the big house. Having to walk through a gauntlet of crazed convicts with a thirst for blood is what made my first steps in the “Slaughterhouse of the South,” fucking terrifying.
“Attention compound! The bus will be released in ten minutes.” Those were the words heard roaring through the speaker system as our group of twenty inmates sat in the R & D (receiving and discharge) department. What awaited us, was a fate of being unleashed into a prison that was described to me as “Vietnam” by an old school con I met in transit. Following his description, he shook his head and muttered “Good luck kid!” He then merged back into the line of chained felons awaiting transport to one of the many prisons scattered throughout the United States.
The old head’s words didn’t really relieve too much of my anxiety, and when six of the other prisoners sitting with me got up and decided they weren’t going to “test the waters” and chose to head straight for protective custody, I started to shake.
You can never show fear in prison because if you do, they will eat you alive. I did my best to think of something, anything other than the fact that I could become someone’s bitch within the next ten minutes.
Two CO’s escorted us through the corridor of the Louisiana prison, the whole time making jokes about all the violence that occurs in “Pole-lock” as they called it in their southern drawl.
We all did our best to ignore their taunts, chalking it up to the cops just talking shit. As soon as we looked out the windows and saw the fifteen hundred inmates all converged on the door we had to exit from, their boasts seemed very real.
“If you’re hot, a cho-moe, or a check in, don’t go out there cause they will get ya,” shouted out one of the overweight, middle aged good old boys that was supposed to save me if I became a human pin cushion. “And we ain’t gonna save ya,” said his partner of the same build through a mouth full of chewing tobacco.
They stood at the doors for a solid minute, allowing for an agonizing amount of time for the fourteen of us who remained, to let it sink in that we were headed straight into the storm.
“Well alright. Good luck,” said the chew-less one as he opened the doors and fed us to the wolves.
There were those same words again, apparently uttered as a form of encouragement, as we walked into a war zone with nothing more than a white t-shirt, khaki pants, and a pair of slip on shoes to help wade through the carnage.
Most prisons will release their new arrivals quietly at night time. They send them off to their respective units so that they can assimilate themselves into their new environment. The new inmate can see who is there, and if there is going to be a problem, they can either deal with it head up top to PC (protective custody). Night time arrival at least gives them a fighting chance at survival.
USP Pollock went to the extreme opposite end of the spectrum on their view of new arrivals. They figured let the whole compound see who is coming, and if they can’t walk the yard, the slaughtering will be quick and they won’t have to crawl very far off the compound.
The convicts parted like the Red Sea. Inmates lined the concrete walkways that ran throughout the compound. Everyone was there to see the fresh fish and the violence that was sure to follow.
Names of gangs, neighborhoods, and states started flying out from the crowd towards us.
“Bloods,” came from one area. “Dirty South,” came from another. If you heard your set being called, you headed off to your new prison family. A brood that will more than likely be sending you off, sooner or later, leaking from holes.
“That’s that hot New York nigga from Beaumont!” came a shout from the mob of inmates. Immediately two monstrous NY Blacks rose out of the ethers and commenced to destroying the tall, skinny youngster who didn’t heed the warnings. I swear I heard cheers bellowing from the crowd as I tried not to piss myself while the rest of us kept inching our way deeper into the heart of the beast.
A group of ten tatted up white boys appeared and pulled the three white inmates I was walking with off the walkway. The fear oozed from the pores of the unfortunate saps as I saw them pulling off their shirts while the vultures circled around them. I had just spent the last twelve hours of my day bonding with the hapless souls while we made our way across the county on con air. I started to actually like the dudes, but not enough to stick around to see what they had coming!
USP Pollock was considered an “Independent” yard. This meant that it was run by convicts that weren’t in a gang. This particular group of shot callers decided that white gang members couldn’t even walk the yard. Any fish that hit the compound was quickly snatched up and scanned for gang patches. If they found one, well, it got pretty vicious.
I continued my trek through the festivities, which included musicians playing guitars and homemade hooch sold out of iced down trash cans for five dollars a bottle. The inmate’s stares dug into my bones as I silently prayed to make it to my unit before someone figured out I didn’t belong with the REAL convicts and they pulled my card. I was certain at any moment I’d get clubbed over the head and dragged into some corner, caveman style, where my ass cheeks would get mistaken for an all night diner open for all.
The beating and buggery never took place. I got lucky and made it all the way through the gauntlet unscathed. My dreadlocks fooling any would-be booty bandits or preying Nazi’s. No one was sure if I was White, Black, or Spanish, so nobody wanted to jump out there and “test my gangster” until it was clear who I ran with. I made it into the unit, and my cell without a single word spoken to me, and I couldn’t of wished for anything better. This was only my first five minutes behind the wall of my first United States Penitentiary.