Prison 101:5

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…

It had been part of what had pushed me to the drug overdose that had put me on the streets. That poison inside, some mine, some I carried for others, but poison is poison, it doesn’t care who it kills. My poison had been the streets where you die all the time, where some kids did die. There today, gone tomorrow. And sometimes I asked myself where they had gone to. Did they get off the streets? Did they make it out? Sure, I told myself. I knew it was bullshit, but lies were better than the truth even though the truth was what was killing you. It was like that with him. The truth was killing him, and I knew from my own life that you couldn’t do a real thing worth anything in the world until you somehow got it out of you. So I understood it.

He didn’t say much more. Cried for a long time. I prayed with him. He did get me to promise to call my lawyer and talk to him. He couldn’t bring himself to do it as he had lied to him and told him he didn’t do it. I could have told him that everyone lies to the lawyer at first. The lawyer usually hears the truth later on when things get serious, but the lawyers aren’t stupid they know. But I said nothing. Just tried my best to pray with him and reassure him.

The next day I called my lawyer and he came down to see me. I told him what the kid had told me and he took care of it. When I came back to the block he asked if I had talked to the lawyer. I nodded and that was about all there was time for. A second later the C.O. called him to the gate and he was gone. The C.O. himself came in later on and packed his stuff up.

He was immediately transferred out of the jail and I never saw him again. I did see the lawyer again of course as I worked through my own legal problems. Eventually the kid plead guilty in court and went and did his time, life.

I wanted to tell this story for a couple of reasons. First, it is very difficult to be honest when you are facing something like that. I tried not to think about the crime. It was something I had to put aside or else I would have nothing but hate for him either, and that is not what God wants from us, what God wanted from me. Second, he stuck to it. It’s one thing to come clean in a moment of absolute despair, but he stuck to it. Saw it through and then he went and did his time.

Lastly. It made an impression on me. And so when it came time for me to be honest I was able to do that too. I was able to follow through with the plans I had set into motion and then go and do my time, and I think it made me a better person. My mind is clear. It allowed me to be honest with myself. I don’t think that people should be able to walk away from those sorts of consequences. It appalled me to think that some people do, but in the life I had lived I had seen it happen very often. It was nice to say I do believe you should do the time, stick to it, and be honest for a change.

The balance of my county time slipped by very slowly. I started AA classes. Began to look at my problems with addictions. I began another class there that looked at the mental part of bad decision making. Both things propelled me down a road that would last the next ten years in prison. Both groups gave me a desire to continue with that self-examination they started.


Alcoholics Anonymous. I never dealt with addictions because I had never admitted I had one. I could not even admit I might have one. Addiction just didn’t exist for me. My use of alcohol and speed was not an addiction, or something that could be an addiction, or even lead to addiction, instead they were simply tools I needed to make it in the world. I had to have them to do a better job that was different from addiction. Addiction meant you could not function without them. I could function without them.

Here I was functioning. I was in jail, not drinking, sober, no drugs. I could do it. I hadn’t died. Yes, I had been sick for the first few weeks. So sick they had locked me in a cage, naked, all welded wire walls, so they could watch me. That’s how bad it had been, but my mind had blocked that part out. It didn’t exist when it came to evaluating myself.

That attitude lasted until the guest speakers that had been handling the AA meetings left and the actual guys who ran it came back from where ever they had been. I attended that morning and it seemed like any other morning to me at first. I didn’t know the men speaking, or at least I didn’t think I did, but they began to talk about their lives as alcoholics. How they had lived, where they had lived. It turned out they had both lived on the streets for many years, and as one told his story about sleeping in the park, I realized I did know him. I had seen him. He had described where he stayed so well that it bought that place and time right back to me instantly.

My friend who had run the methamphetamine lab was still with me that morning at that meeting. As I listened something changed in me and I really began to look at my circumstances. Really look at it, where I was, what lay ahead of me, my past, the fact that I had known one of these men from the streets: Watched them negotiating their disease, something just let go inside of me. The next thing I knew my hand was up and I was talking about my addiction, acknowledging that I had one. Admitting that I had gone so far as committing the crime that had bought me to the jail and would take me to prison. My friend freaked out. A half dozen men in the room had wanted to leave the meeting right then and call up their lawyers, make a deal with what I had said about myself. I could have cared less, besides, I had already told all of it. I was only waiting to go and plead guilty and go. They didn’t know that.

After that the process should have been easy, but when you practice lies, addiction, and are emotionally unattached to the world, there are many layers you have to get through to begin to chip away at the walls. One footstep, many to follow.


I went to prison for being a bad guy. I had a standoff with the cops that lasted for hours. I was a bad guy at that time and I deserved to go to prison, but that is not what I mean. What I mean is that there was a time where I did not hurt myself or others, where I just wanted to get along; when my philosophy was let’s not fuck each other over. Let’s not hurt each other. A time when I would and did turn the other cheek, but then I wound up in the projects, suicide, and then two years on the streets. I don’t think that, that is an excuse, but what I do think is that somewhere in there I said, this is enough. I have had enough. The next fucker that runs their mouth is done up. And the switch flipped. Too bad someone couldn’t have kicked my ass right then and said something useful like, ‘Hey, this isn’t living, it’s just killing yourself slowly!’ Something profound, something that would have made me think, but no one did, and truthfully that is once again putting it off on society. People grow up, deal with problems without help and they don’t end up where I ended up. Still, guidance is what I needed. Guidance is what most of us never had. There was no positive role model in my life at all. The role models that I did have robbed, slept around, lied, didn’t work, did drugs, drank, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t want to sound like I believe it is the world’s responsibility to help me out, it isn’t, but in another way I think society operates on the premise that we are all responsible for each other. That is the way I live now. For real. I see things clearer. I can and do understand how selfish some men can be, but again, because I made those errors, so I am seeing them in hindsight. But I also do live that way for real, so I don’t just say the words anymore, I live them. It’s not easy shutting my mouth when I should, compromising, reminding myself that this is someone I love and so I’m not going to lie to them no matter what, even if it is hard words that are coming, I’ll be honest with them. And even if this is someone I do not even know, they deserve my respect and consideration because they are another human being. We could all learn to be compassionate to others we meet in society. Too often the people that need understanding and compassion the most are simply used and used again.

In 2002 I entered a Maximum Security prison, what we simply call Max, and I thought my life was over. The bus pulled up to the prison in the late afternoon, the stone walls rose farther into the air than I could see, the gate opened and we were inside.

I met a kid my first day in Max. It was crazy in Max even though we locked down. Inmates do not go directly into Population, or Pop as we call it, when I had come in the night before I was locked down in Administrative Segregation, Admin Seg.. They lock you into these tiers of protective custody cells until you are classified because they don’t know who you are. So I’m sitting there, smoking, listening to the sounds of prison. Very bad. All the homosexuals lock there too. They try to keep them away from Pop as it’s called.

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