Prison Politics

Remember as you read this how I’ve told you that everything in Federal Prison is segregated – Not by the guards, but by the prisoners themselves, it’s safer that way, (see my book “A Poet Dreams”, shameless plug!). Riots are the most eminent threat a prisoner faces and riots are less likely to happen when there are rules and order, segregation is one of the rules prisoners long before me, and of all different races, implemented to help curb violence. Each gang, or each race controls its own people; disciplines them too. Well – it’s that way in “Big Boy” prisons, the convicts who’ve actually been to Big Boy prisons all laugh about how soft Three Rivers is, but it’s still a prison and can turn deadly in an instant. I’m always aware of that possibility. With all that said – here’s where it’s going – remember, everything in Federal Prison is racial – everything!

One of the most fundamental prison rules is : we don’t steal from one another. In the Penitentiary at Florence Colorado you could accidently leave your radio on the Recreation Yard and go back the next day and it would still be there- no one stole anything. Why, you ask. The answer is simple, on that yard there are only three types of men; killers, potential killers and victims and you could never be sure when a victim might become a killer. Therefore, to steal even the smallest thing meant you were risking your life to do so. But, and I laugh, this is Three Rivers, here the rules are blurred.

About a month ago, well, a little less I guess, a friend of mine, a Mexican guy, had his radio stolen. Then a week ago this same man had his sweatshirt stole, and I’ll add this for affect – he ain’t got money comin’ in from the streets so the loss of a sweatshirt is a lick, the loss of a radio, is a burden. This morning he walks up to me and asks for advice. says that he thinks one of the new “black” guys has his sweatshirt, he asks what he should do.

You’re probably asking yourself why am I telling you this story; the answer is quite simple, I want to document real prison reality, no the movie BS that’s nothing more than some soft-assed Hollywood executive expressing his own political or racial views behind the facade of film. Take the Adam Sandler remake of “The Longest Yard,” that movie is the most inaccurate, racially offensive prison movie I’ve ever seen – the only part of that movie I enjoyed were the gay cheerleaders. If the whole movie had been about them it would have been hilarious – but , otherwise, that movie was a joke when it comes to how prison politics actually shake out.

Our reality as convicts differ greatly from yard to yard, and dependent upon who’s running that yard, administratively. At USP Florence and at FCI Pollock the Administration ran those yards old school, but here at Three Rivers the Administration wants and has a soft yard. What does that mean? It means that you have a yard full of snitches, sex offenders, thieves, deviates and junkies – guys who can’t walk at other prisons. And if someone tries to implement discipline, the Administration will transfer the guy trying to make things better and keep the scumbag. Right here would be the perfect place to tell you a very interesting story – but, nope, I’m waiting for input from others on it, but I think when you hear it you’re going to be surprised… NO I ain’t gettin’ a pardon, it’s a little story about something’s that went down at the prison at Pollock – I actually miss that spot. Anyhow, back to, this, story.

In my twenty plus years I have encountered all sorts of prison problems from political issues, to out and out race riots. Through all of this I have learned that jumping to conclusions, or acting on emotional feelings, or to get into business that ain’t “my business” is dangerous. Therefore, I generally try to avoid those situations – so … with that said, everything I am about to say is in violation of the prison rules I was raised up in Big Boy prisons to honor. Remember, everything in prison is racial and that is the powder keg that we, as convicts, recognize to be the most likely to blow us up – hence, the segregation rules we have implemented. And what I’m about to tell you is an issue between a Mexican and a Black, it ain’t my business… but the Mexican guy is my friend, so here’s something for you to chew on.

One of the main jobs of the Prison Administration is to keep a racial balance when it comes to the inmate population; if one race gets the upper hand, they, true to human nature, will subjugate the other races – black, white, hispanic, it don’t matter none, ( excuse my hillbilly ebonics) who ever’s on top will take advantage of those beneath ’em. For instance… what? Yeah I’m gonna finish the damn story about the Black guy and the Mexican guy, so hold your horses! Part of a good story is gettin’ strung along a little bit. Anyway, like I was sayin… For instance, if you do a little research you’ll find info out there on a deadly race riot that took place in April of 2008 at the Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. The whole story about what happened that day you’ll NEVER read about in the news, but, I know, because I was there. Now, I ain’t gonna get sidetracked here and tell that story, I’ll save that for another day. But I will tell you this much, the under-lying cause of that riot was due to the fact that there was a racial imbalance – there were too many of one race there. Oh yeah. I could tell you all about what led up to it, what happened during it, and what happened to that yard afterwards – like I said, I was there.

There are between a thousand and eleven hundred men on this yard, and probably seven-hundred or more are Hispanic, in one form or the other, yeah, lots of illegal’s, lots. This is the biggest racial imbalance I have ever seen in the system, and that makes this place a potential, powder keg.

Someone high-up in the B.O.P had decided to flood this joint with hispanics… with immigration inmates. The Administration, here, has been able to deal with this imbalance because, to be frank, these Hispanics are all splintered into different cars ( groups). For instance, you have a lot of U.S. born Mexicans, but they themselves are divided into different cars, gangs or groups and they don’t generally come together much, but the one thing they do agree on is their dislike for the illegal Mexicans. The illegal Immigrants are by far the biggest, population wise, group on the yard, by far, but the good thing is, the illegal Mexicans, who have formed a gang and call themselves “Paisa’s” hate the other illegal’s from Central America, and vice-versa, and both of those groups are hated in return but the Texas Mexicans. So, even though hispanics are 70% of the population, they are manageable because they are not organized… but if they did, this yard would explode, and the staff here ain’t ready for it – oh, they think they are, but they ain’t. But the wild-card here is that both groups sell lots of dope, and I pray that their love for dope and the money it makes doesn’t override their natural disdain for each other. Because when, not if, when that happens, all hell is gonna break loose.

What makes Federal Prisons so much more volatile than State joints is that we have a much more diverse group of people, that and the Fed’s do not have any parole system, so guys are serving a hell of allot more time under the Fed system than they would for the same exact offenses in a State prison. Here, in the Feds, you have men from all different parts of the country, different races, different gangs. Yankees, southerners, loud one’s, quiet one’s, smart one’s, dumb one’s, gang members, non-gang members, predators, victims and on top of all that, you can throw in a ship-load of illegal immigrants who, for the most part, resent this country and it’s people… oh – shut the hell up! I don’t care what the TV news tells you, or what some pipe-smokin’ PHD tells you about how they’re just a bunch of humble workin’ people who love the United States – that’s a damn lie! Maybe it’s that-a-way somewhere else but in here, the men I’m exposed to – resent the hell out of us and this country with a passion. Y’all need to wake the hell up before this country ends up like their countries! It ain’t a race thing, they don’t hate us because we’re white, black and hispanic, they hate us because our country won’t let ’em run buck wild and act like they do in their own countries, read my last story about my fiend Rojas who IS a poor Mexican who doesn’t hate this country. No – ain’t tryin’ to cover up what I said – I said it and I meant it! The problem that you and I have here is you’re seeing the good descent illegal immigrant who isn’t here selling dope, joining gangs and who maybe doesn’t hate this country and I’m seein’ the criminal gang members who poses a threat to me and YOU. And since none of us can know the heart of a person we cannot differentiate the difference between Rojas and one of these other predators, therefore you have to get ’em all outta here. Yeah, Rojas has to suffer for the sins of his people. NO, it ain’t right, but it is the reality that they have created, and for the sake of our children we can’t afford to be soft here – or we’ll end up like one of those countries.

Prison has all kinds, you get that, but what you need to understand is that there are over 1000 of us packed into eight individual buildings, forced to share 9 TV’s and degraded with things like cell shakedowns, strip searches, pat downs and even on occasion verbal abuse; let me clarify that. Some of the guards never disrespect us, never – but some do it everyday, so it’s a mixed bag. Point is, on top of all the drama we prisoners institute upon each other – we have some hateful prison guard standing out in front of the cell-block hollering at the top of his lungs at anybody and everybody. Or some guard talks down to your family at visit, all I’m saying here is, there’s allot of unnecessary tension.

One of the new kicks here at Three Rivers is to make everything as uncomfortable as possible which of course adds to the afore mentioned things which cause excessive pressure on an already difficult situation. For instance we have a patio, per se, partly fenced and partly partitioned off by handrails that we are required to be in when we go to shop at the prison store. For 30 years, the life of this prison, there was an area about a meter in width that ran the distance between the fence and the handrail which was open for people to stand who didn’t want to sit on the benches. I, don’t like being butt cheek to butt cheek with a bunch of men, so I always stand in that open area; it’s safer, crowds are dangerous – or maybe I’m a paranoid ol’ convict, whatever the case is, I am conscientious about getting caught up in crowds. Well, last week some genius decided that it would increase the tension to take away that area and force everyone inside the handrails; like I said – it ain’t been a problem for 30 years, but now, suddenly, it is. The result of this whittling down the SPACE in which we are required to be is nothing more that an unhappy person trying to make everyone else as miserable as they are – but, their personal issues are creating danger. I don’t know, maybe they win a set of steak knives every time they invent some new way to fix something that ain’t broke, or maybe they just don’t care what the reality is if it makes them look good to their superiors.

Over the years they’ve taken away everything they possibly can by law – and in some cases even violate the law. Every time there’s a fight they use that as an excuse to take something – this is f-ing prison!!!! men need to be able to fight to protect themselves! This is a f-ing prison!!!! men are frustrated, harassed, abandoned by their spouse and friends on top of every other kind of psychological torture imaginable, then you factor in drugs, gambling, and… well, maybe that gives you a little perspective on what it’s like in here.

Another thing that’s being done here and in other joints is, “Splitting the Yard.” This means that of the 1000 men here on the yard they’ll allow only half of them outside the cell blocks at any one time. This means that on any given day the entire 120 men who are assigned to one building are not allowed to go outside their building. So, every man in the unit building is stuck inside it. The result – guys have nothing to do but get high, gamble and make noise – it’s a complete circus in here.

It used to be that a large portion of the men would go outside everyday, all day – so you had less people in a small area and men could work off their frustrations playing sports, exercising or just enjoying the fresh air. But, like I said, things ain’t gettin’ safer or better, they’re getting worse on both points.

The first time I encountered a split yard was at the Pen in Florence in 2009 – remember the riot of 2008. Well, that riot was so violent that the prison guards didn’t even bother to go outside to engage the rioters for several hours – yeah about 400 blacks and 50 whites went at each other for hours! Think about that. So to try and avoid that type of violence the Feds decided to fence off that whole yard into four sections with no more than 120 men in any one section at a time. Believe me I’m not stupid, I understand – but Three Rivers is to Florence what Robert Di Nero is to Mike Tyson, a perpetrator to a real tough guy, an actor. I have to add this here, for the record, I have never liked Di Nero, always thought he was a wanna-be. Truth is, if Di Nero was in here, inside of a week he’d be using colored pencils to paint his lips red!! By the way, feel free to send this to him!!! Like I was sayin’ before I went off on that tangent, Three Rivers is primed to explode – so who am I to criticize. I suppose what I’m trying to say is – that I think that these safety measures designed to control the BIG event, are unintentionally causing a lot of small explosions which will eventually blow the whole place up.

Now the sweatshirt that this Mexican guy had stolen was unique in that somewhere along the line he had leaned up against some wet paint and that wet paint had left a streak on the back of his shirt. The black guy whom he suspected, always kept a shirt over the sweatshirt he was wearing, so we really couldn’t tell if it was the stolen shirt, or not. So, as luck would have it I saw him take it off, fold it up and put it on his chair when he went to chow. So I walked over to one of the blacks who, like me, had stayed behind and pointed out the sweatshirt, neatly rolled up inside of a brown prison issue shirt. The black guy walked over, checked it, and sure enough it had a blue streak on it.

Remember, everything is racial, and to call a man from a different race a thief, even if it’s true, is potentially a riot in the making – the blacks and the Mexicans were already beefing over other things – and for the black guy who had violated his loyalty to his people by checking the shirt and therefore siding with a white and a Mexican over his own people, had by doing so opened himself up to being targeted by his people – lots to think about. So, in order to keep him out of harms way with his people, I couldn’t go to the black Shot-Caller and tell him, so-n-so checked the shirt and it’s the one that was stolen. So, I told this Mexican guy that that was for certain his shirt. He already knew it, the black guy who had checked the shirt had told him, but had made him promise not to reveal how he found out that that was in fact his stolen shirt.

To make a long story short, my friend who’d had his shirt stolen went to his Shot-Caller and leaving out the part about the black guy checking the shirt, told him that he was certain that the black dude had his shirt. His Shot-Caller went to the blacks, who then confronted ol’ boy, got the shirt back and all is good… except, we have a thief in our cellblock!

What’s supposed to happen is, they, his people are supposed to punish this guy and get him off the yard – remember, I spent 30 days in the hole last year because a white thief was beaten up – but, this is Three Rivers, remember. So here we are, we have a thief who steals from the other races walkin’ aropund our cell-block – stay tuned, this isn’t going to turn out good.

Well amigitos I appreciate y’all readin’ this and I hope and pray that you and yours are happy, healthy and full of the Holy Ghost! Peace be with you.

Three Rivers, 8-8-18