For the most part the things you’re gonna read are things I’ve never spoken of outside these walls. Why, you ask. Well, for several reason actually, but mostly because I never wanted my children to hear about ’em. I never wanted them to worry about the struggles I faced simply trying to survive; but things are different now, I’m in a different place, around a different caliber of people. Plus, some of the things you’re gonna read about in here are private, top secret, prison stuff, and up until now, I didn’t see any reason to bring ’em up. Truthfully, I figured that someone else would write this, in fact I wanted it to happen that way, I even spoke to a few different people about writing this, but, alas, there were no takers, so here I am, nearing the end of my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that if it’s gonna get written, I’ll need to do it myself – What? No I ain’t dyin’, dummy! But I’m in my sixties and I realize that folks younger than me are croakin’ off every day. So, if this stories gonna be told I need to take the incentive to get it out while I still can.
My language. Yeah, I apologize for that, Yes, I can most assuredly polish this up and write it in Shakespearian lingo, you know with proper grammar and such, yeah, I can write like that when I want to, check out my book “As A Convict Thinketh”, but, this book wasn’t meant to be told that way. In other words this book ain’t for some soft assed college kid, it’s for you and I, and so I’m gonna use my Hillbilly ebonics and tell this story to ya in the same lingo I’d be using If we were sittin’ around a burn barrel drinkin’ a couple of beers. So, if your gonna read this, you need to stop that High Society act you have goin’, and quit actin’ like you ain’t spent some time on your back, in a trailer park or two, wink, wink … yeah, you know you liked it! 🙂 Anyway, true to my word, I’ll start with telling you about “Shot Callers”.
First, let me tell you here, the term Shot Caller, is Hollywood, we don’t use that term except in passing conversation. You need to realize that to, call a shot on someone, or group of someone’s is a serious matter, one with possible legal ramifications. Therefore no man with any sense, or one who’s “actually” running something would allow themselves to be labeled a Shot Caller. Instead what you think of as a Shot Caller, we call, a Speaker. Speakers are the folks who speak for their people.
Every race, gang or car ( car: any group of prisoners, often grouped together by, geographical origins such as the city or state they hale from, a race, or gang) have a person who speaks for them. Why? you might ask, well the answer is simple – because every race or group needs ONE person who can make a decision for their respective group without argument, without drama, without prejudice and with finality. For instance, say you have a white guy who hates blacks, or vice-versa, a black guy who hates whites, and this guy is inciting unnecessary tension by making racial comments. Rather than let that tension build up until there’s violence, or worse, a Race-Riot, the Speaker for the offended person or persons will go to the Speaker for the other group and lodge a complaint. If the complaint is valid that Speaker will tell his guy that he needs to stop what he’s doing, to keep his opinions to himself – and, that person is required to obey, or, the Speaker will take the issue to the Car by calling that group together and explaining to them the issue and possible consequences. Then the group will take action against the offending person, by taking him off the yard – one way or another. It’s one of the unwritten prison rules, you must conform to those rules whether you want to or not. To disobey, or to repeat that action gets you disciplined. In that scenario you can see that no one person called that Shot, therefore it would be difficult to hold any one person legally responsible if something were to go badly.
To be disciplined can be a variety of things. Sometimes a disciplinary action is a simple warning. Sometimes a man is made to put his hands on a table where he is then hit repeatedly in the sides by one or two men until he breaks and asks them to stop … for the record, I’ve seen men so badly beaten in this manner that they throw up. I’ve even seen men take this kinda discipline even though they don’t think they were wrong, just because its the rules of the yard. In some cases I’ve seen men so committed to their actions that, because they refuse to ask for mercy, are beaten so badly that we have to bring them food in their cell because they can’t get out of bed to go to the Chow Hall. For the record, these men are revered for their courage. Sometimes, if requested by the offended side a man will be required to go into a cell and fight the man he offended. Sometimes a man is beaten bloody by his own crew, and sometimes, men are even killed. These are the types of things I was introduced to in the Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. Believe me, a man learns early on to follow the rules, or he ends up doing some hard time.
I know, I know, I hear ya, but the truth of the matter is that there are Rules in place for a reason, rules that were put into place by men of all colors long before I came into the prison system. And, if you think this place is a nightmare now, imagine it without Rules and Consequences. Can’t? Well, let me tell ya, it’d be a slaughter house of violence.
I know that what I’m about to say is politically incorrect, but prison has convinced me that there are a hell of a lot of people on this planet who need to be, controlled. Oh stop acting like your somehow to delicate to hear this, it’s the damned truth and you know it. Without Law and Consequences people are little more than animals like lions and wild dogs where the strong take what they want from the weak. In prison life or in the free-world you gotta have rules, and you have to have consequences for violating those rules, and harsh consequences is the only thing some folks will adhere to. Sad? Yeah, but also true.
Now, on the surface the Prison Staff are against the whole idea of Speakers, especially Speakers who enforce the rules and “Take men off the yard”. Their reasoning is simple and valid, every time a man “Can’t walk” a yard, he has to be transferred to another yard. When that happens, well, they have to explain to their superiors exactly why it is that so-in-so has to be transferred – point well taken. But, every Lieutenant in the prison system has come up through the ranks, and they understand how one or two bad apples can inflame a yard and even cause it to jump off. Therefore, in the Penitentiary, MOST, not all, but most of the Yard Brass will look the other way when someone is taken off the yard, or even, in extreme cases beaten off a yard … they ain’t happy about it, and they will investigate the matter, but if its justified, a matter of peace and harmony, of security per se – they’ll do the paperwork without retaliation
That’s who Speakers are and a little of what they do. Now, as for how they’re made, well, here’s the stuff I’ve been promising for several years now. Unfortunately I can’t tell it to you without first telling you a long drawn out sequence of events. Why, you ask? Well, because Speakers are made a variety of different ways. Some guys are given that position because of their gang status. Some guys are given that position by seniority, and others, well, they never wanted to be Shot Callers, but just somehow just fall into it. But the one thing you should know is that being a Speaker one day doesn’t mean you’ll be the Speaker the next. Speakers, serve at the will of the car they represent, meaning if they don’t represent the business of their people, the people will replace ’em. Yeah. Being a Speaker is dangerous in its own right. I’ve seen Speakers beaten off a yard by their own people, and if something big comes down and one car is attacked by another, the Speaker is the FIRST man they get. Being a Speaker in the Federal Prison System is to be a target from Staff and prisoner alike.
The story I’m gonna tell ya is a true one. Its the story of a man, one man alone in the system, one man who hit the prison system at the bottom of the barrel and who by the grace of God survived some very dangerous situations to eventually become one of the most respected men in the Federal Prison System. So stay with me here, like I said, you ain’t gonna want to miss this.
FYI: You can download, for free, a copy of my book “As A Covict Thinketh”
Peace be with you. Mark
Three Rivers, 9-11-18