“On Yard Politics”

Shot Callers: Part 15

In my three years at Pollock I was given unrestrained control by both my peers and, the Prison Staff. Yes there were some bumps along the way which I’ve tried to outline with the stories I’ve told you; I admit, I made some mistakes, no one is perfect, but I always did what I thought was right. Yes, there are those who resented me, and probably still do, that’s the price of leadership. But, in the end, even though some of the men I’ve mentioned could never admit it as so, I like to think that these men learned something from their experiences under my leadership … peace is possible, if you look for it, even in here. That was my strength, I always believed that in spite of our differences, differences I would fight and die for if needed, that we are not animals, and that our real enemy is not our different skin-tones and racial politics, but those on the outside who are getting rich as Race Baiters like Al Sharpten, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson and that whole cabal in Hollywood who keep lying to the Black Community about WHO TRULY are the Racists in this world. Something I will talk about at a later date.

I always tell folks that men choose to follow another man for one of two reasons; one of course is they “Fear” them; the second reason is because they “Trust” them. I am the second type. Men don’t fear me, they trust me, and I never took advantage of that, or the rank I was “given” by my peers.

Over those three years at FCI Pollock lots of Shot Callers came and went in the other Cars; remember the Shot Caller from the Surenos I spoke of earlier … well he ended up Checking In (asking for Protective Custody) to keep his Homies from smashing him for stealing money that was designated to go to the Big Homies, and in hind-site I now understand why he disliked me so much; I because of my relationship with his Big Homies, was a threat. Even though he was gone and another guy took over, the relationship I had had with Chongo and the Surenos at USP Florence never materialized at Pollock. Though I was close to the Surenos in my cell-block I was never able to trust their Car as a whole … truth is, without the Black Hand to intercede, we had no common ground, they represented their people and I, unapologetically, represented mine.

With the Paisa’s it was different. A year or so into my being given the Keys to the Yard, Gordo left and a new guy named Tino took over. Tino and I were good friends, he’d actually sneak over to my cell-block and we’d talk about things without the distraction or the normal rumors that would ensue if we were to meet on the yard. Plus, remember that the Surenos ran with the Paisa’s – more than that, they ran “Under” the Paisa’s, so, more importantly, he kept them in line where me and my people were concerned.

As for the Blacks on the yard, well, we were able to maintain a peaceful relationship with them, like I said, even though their leaders came and went we were able to remain cordial to each other and they always honored the treaty I had made with their predecessor. The Blacks at Pollock picked up the name “Mr. Mark” from the New Orleans Crew and that name stuck, as a result of that, I’m still called “Mr. Mark” by the Blacks, even on this yard.


Among the blacks at Pollock were a large contingency of “Crips” who were separate from the multitude of other Black Cars on the yard. No, they hung out together, but the Crips had their own Shot Caller; he was an old timer, like me.

I remember when he hit the yard my good and loyal friend Tommy Fiore came to me and told me, “There’s a big time Crip Shot Caller who just got off the bus.” Sure enough that first weekend I saw this older cat walking around the track with thirty or so youngsters walking around him; hell, most of them were Crips from Louisiana, Texas and whole bunch of other off-shoot cliques who had never actually met a big time Crip from Los Angeles, so man, they were in awe of the man they called Khadafy, like the general. I of course took all this in from a distance, but I was impressed.

A few months later Tommy introduced Khadafy to me and we became good friends. He told me that his name was actually Karl Watson and that on the streets they called him ‘Kilowatt”. He, like me, was a writer and later on I would help him with his own writings. Karl was a fascinating man, a Second Generation Crip, no, not second generation in one of the off-shoot organizations, but a Second Generation L.A. Crip, meaning he grew up with the original guys like Tookie and Monster. Man the stories he told; yeah, it was a site to see, me the PROUD speaker of my people and him a Legend in Crip history, walking around the yard talking about our families …
Before Karl left Pollock we took a picture together shaking hands. I’m proud of that picture and what it represented, you can see that picture on my FB page. Karl also gave me his sisters address and told me to stay in touch; for a couple of years we wrote back and forth to each other, but, somewhere along the way we lost contact. But, one of the things we promised was if I ever got out, I’d come to L.A. and we’d go to Dinker Park ( where the original Crips hung out ) sit on one of those park benches and smoke a big long cigar. Imagine that, two old men, one black, one white, sitting on a park bench smoking a cigar together … people passing by having no idea that those two old men were old warriors of the likes they can never even imagine. Crazy as it seems, I can envision this happening.

I have come across lots of men like Karl in the system, some like Richard Scutari I’ve mentioned, some like Kirtsey Nix of Dixie Mafia fame I haven’t ( now there’s a character for sure. Look him up ), but I remember them, and refer to ’em as “Legends” and they are. But of all the men I’ve met none was I more honored to know than, Gene Gotti.

Gene Gotti

I was exiting the Chow Hall one afternoon when one of the SIS guys I’ve mentioned pulls me over (I will not name him) and tells me that trouble is on its way, a man was coming who could disrupt the whole yard … Gene Gotti. Like I’ve told you, I’ve had some big shot guys come at me, some you’ve not even heard about, but Gene was big and actually carried the status, the rank, to supplant me, or so I thought. But, unlike Richard, Gene never once tried to run anything … he liked me, trusted me and always had my back. I’ve told you the story before so I won’t repeat it here, but right before I left Pollock, Mr. G and his right hand man, Anthony Pica ( probably misspelled ) snuck into my cellblock and shared a meal with me and a few close friends. The fact that he showed me that honor, was a thing to brag about, so I am!

How Things Work

My last year at Pollock I had a solid hold on the Yard; the other Cons gave me complete control. In addition to that trust from the Cons, SIS also gave me unprecedented respect and trusted me in all matters when it came to the politics of the Yard. Like I mentioned earlier, Pollock was run more like a Penitentiary, more like Florence, than a Medium Security Prison. I think this was due to the fact that the guards at Pollock were all required to work shifts at the USP next door, so they knew how volatile things can get, in retrospect, the Yard at Pollock was run by a bunch of Guards who actually had USP experience. It is for this reason that “they” gave me such unrestrained control. What do I mean by that?

On every prison yard there are two types of people, good ones, and bad ones. Good ones are of course the guys we refer to as “Solid” Bad ones are men who are Rats, Child Molesters, Rapists, Junkies and Gamblers who run up bills they can’t pay, then “Check-in” ( ask for protective custody ), thieves, gunners and every other kind of deviate imaginable.

Of course these bad eggs need to do their prison time somewhere, so when they hit a Yard, SIS puts them into general population with the rest of us. Of course they don’t tell us that this one or that one is no good, we have to find it out on our own; usually this happens when the Shot Caller for another Car comes up to me and says, “So-in-so owes us a thousand dollars for dope, or gambling” That’s how I usually hear about this kinda guy. Hell, it happened here just yesterday. A guy comes up to me and tells me there’s a white boy in another block who owes seven-hundred dollars for dope. For the record, we don’t pay any dope or gambling bills. If another Car is dumb enough to give a man that much credit, far as I’m concerned, they’re beat out of it! Now we Cons have a rule that we won’t let another race beat up one of our own; there’s too much risk of it escalating tensions and creating bad blood. So when a white boy gets into that position – we, his own people take him off the yard … sometimes that miscreant is allowed to walk off the yard, sometimes he isn’t, sometimes he gets a “Beat Down”. But we deal with our own.

When a man is taken off the yard, SIS always wants to know why. Sometimes the guy himself will tell them the truth, sometimes they lie about why they had to leave the yard. But in either event SIS has to determine if its SAFE for him to return to the yard, or, if they need to transfer him to another spot. To ascertain which it is, one of the SIS would stop me on the yard someplace, usually in the Chow Hall, and ask me a carefully worded question like this. “Inmate so-in-so ended up in the Hole. Can he come back out to the Yard ?” I would respond with a carefully worded answer, in one of two ways. One, “Yeah. He’s good,” this meaning that that individual was a GOOD guy and was welcome back on the yard, so “Yeah. He’s good.” The other response would be something like this, “Yeah, but I can’t guarantee his safety if he comes back out.” This of course meant that dude was not wanted on the yard – he’s no good, and a possible threat to the peace of our community.

That’s the way things are done in the Penitentiaries, the Cons are tasked to keep the peace and to keep their Cars clean. As I’ve told you, FCI Pollock was run like a Pen. Here at Three Rivers, if a White Boy was walking around here pulling his dick out on folks and I put the boots to him, or told him to get off the Yard, they’d put me in the Hole and then transfer me … and put dude back out on the Yard. Whole different mindset. Those are the BOP rules for every prison, the difference is, that on some Yards, like Pollock, the upper brass has decided the Yard runs more efficiently with Shot Callers, and other Yards, like Three Rivers, don’t. Knowing the BOP rules is the reason for the coded questions and answers; if I was asked if a guy could return to the Yard, I always answered, “Yeah. Of course he can.” …WHO AM I TO SAY HE CAN’T… “But if he does, I cant guarantee his safety” meaning of course that dude is a piece of shit and if he does come out …SOMEBODY WILL PUT THE BOOTS TO HIM…

Now, most of the time I wasn’t personally involved in what happened. Someone from one of the other cell-blocks would come up to me and let me know that they had “Run-off” this guy or that guy, and explain their reasons. Yes, I had the Keys to the Yard, but I didn’t micro-manage the little bullshit stuff like who was a rat, who was selling pictures of kids on the computer or who had run up a thousand dollar dope bill – I don’t care about all that, it was MY job to keep MY PEOPLE safe; to get as many of them home as possible, to teach them things that maybe their fathers didn’t, about how to carry themselves as men. That was my job, to be a man, and to teach these lost souls that as a man, you’re expected to behave a certain way.

Each individual cell-block decided who stayed and who went according to a set of rules older than me. They decided who stayed and who went. They trusted me, and I trusted them. Truth be told, I’ve only ever personally run one man off a yard – he was a big son of a bitch too. If your interested why he chose to get off the yard rather than break my neck, you can read about it on this site, entry dated 5-9-16. But, anyway, over the course of my time at Pollock I might have been asked by SIS thirty or forty times if someone could return to the yard … remember this … it’s the whole reason I decided to write this Shot Caller Series and violate the rules by actually admitting that I’d been a White Boy speaker for my people, something only an idiot would do. Since I ain’t an idiot … well, not a complete idiot anyway, you can be assured I have a hell of a good reason to do so. So stay tuned.

Next time I’ll take you to FCI Three Rivers, and, hopefully bring this to a close.

Three Rivers, 12-8-18