why aren’t our prisons the safest places in the country?

Socialist Society and Personal Safety

Interesting read over on Marko's blog. The Munchkin Wrangler almost always has something interesting to write about. I have found inspiration there, more than once. Much like today, so first go read his post. I hope you like it. I'll wait for your return.

Ahhh, good. You have made it back.

Did you notice the last line of his post? I sure did. And it lit up my muse. So, without any further ado, I present to you: If more government control and less civil liberties mean increased safety, why aren’t our prisons the safest places in the country?

I have been to prison. Here, in the U.S. of A. In the early '90's. I was still in the U.S. Army, when I did a stupid thing. I took something that did not belong to me. And when the booze wore off, the next morning, I paniced. My first thought was to return it. I didn't. Instead, I tried to hide that it was someone else's. Found a like vehicle at the mall, and changed out the tags, etc. Stupid, stupid kid stuff. And then, when I DID get caught (as inevitable as falling when the floor drops away), I .... lied. pure plain and simple. I fabricated up all sorts of BS, trying to find a way clear of CF (army lingo spoken as Charlie-Fox, I'll let you figure out what they stand for) I had just turned my life into. No one was to blame, but myself. But of course at the mature physical age of 21, and the emotional age of, like 12, I would not admit I was to blame. I just would not see it.

So, when the charges came down, I thought they were too severe and demanded a trial. Which I got. A fair one, I must say, despite being an idiot about the entire thing. (And if anyone who reads this was in that jury, my sincerest apologies.) I was found guilty of.... Unauthorized Use And Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle. 2.5 years was the sentence. My attorney offered to help me with an appeal. I just needed to get some cash together to pay him to do it.

I started the process of growing up, right there and then. At least a microscopic bit. In a little room in the Commanche County lock-up. The uncomfortable metal chairs, the metal table, large mirror on the wall. All of it very "Law & Order". Before L&O was on television to start with. Instead, I signed the papers terminating our agreement. He was nice enough, though to put $100.00 into my commisary account.

Next, I sat in that county hole for 3 weeks, as I was processed and 'waited for a bed' at Lexington. Lexington is Oklahoma's processing center for the State Department of Corruption Corrections. Once in Lexington, my head was shaven, again. I was de-loused for the first time in my life. And I was able to actually get a shower. Although, I learned I was no longer human.

At Lexington, my three day stay was highlighted by very small cells with two beds, and a mat on the floor, and the combination sink/toilet. The meals were taken in a central area and there was not much of anything to break the monotony of the walls about me. I stayed in that cell and went out only for meals and to shower, on alternating days.

I was the one on the mat. On the floor. At 5'9" 130 pounds dripping wet and fully dressed, I was an easy target to push around. The guy on the lower bunk, Gary, took great pains to insure he steped on me, at least once a night while he emptied his 'tiny bladder, sorry...NOT!'. He had been convicted of rape. Well rape of other men. It seems he had been targeting a certain segment of Oklahoma City for his 'releases'. He told me that women just did not put up enough of a fight. The thought of this man still makes me ill, nearly 20 years later.

(Names have been changed to protect the guilty and presecut the innocent.)

Joe was the guy on the top bunk. Involuntary man-slaughter. 45 years. Nice guy, really. Large dark and mean looking. He and the other guy had an understanding, I was on the floor, only becuase I chose not to fight for the bunk. Joe would drop a shoe on me, from his bunk, to let me know he was comming down. It was actually his way of trying to be nice. Joe also stayed in the cell, most of the time. You see, Joe had been here, before. He knew what the drill was.

Joe told me I was too small, too thin and too polite. I needed to toughen up and to accept the inevitable, I was to be a prison bitch. On my last day in Lexington, Gary woke about 4:AM, he had decided he was 'to be my first'. Gary went about his usuall crap of steeping on me and pissing on my mat. Next he turned around and fell on me. He clamped his hand over my mouth and started fighting me trying to get me roll over onto my stomach. The next thing I remember, I was standing, crouched on the toilet seat, Gary was a bleeding mess from his face and head. And Joe? Well, he was laughing while still in his bunk. The guards came, drug us out into the central area and started to question us. They started with Joe, as he was the largest. He just pointed to me and kept his mouth shut. Gary was just gibbering as he was being checked over by medics. I shrugged and explained that Gray had tripped over me and smacked his face on the cell door. Repeatedly. He must have been stunned from the first fall.

Joe and I were sent back to our cell. He laughed and laughed. Later in the day Joe confided in me that I would be just fine, so long as I did not give in to anyone, continued to fight only for myself and to not turn anyone in.

Two hours later, I was on a bus, headed for McAlester. The State Penitentiary. The Big House. Maximum security. Evidently the State of Oklahoma is not without a bit of irony. A soldier, convicted of non-violent crime was being sent to maximum security. Want to make a life long criminal? Put an otherwise impressionable and innocent (no, I was guilty, the OTHER innocent) person in with hardened criminals, lifers and such. Persons who had nothing left to lose.

My first few weeks at Big Mac were filled with psych evals, and terror. I did not eat for the first four days. I refused to leave my cell, if it was not necessary. Terry, my new cellmate, told me if I did not shower the next day, he woudl have me showered and I would not like it. Terry was and had been someone else's bitch for a long time. Being smaller and newer and terrorized, the pecking order was simple. I was on the bottom. Fortunately, Terry did not try anything. I got to where I started to like the pig.

Terry and another guy worked things out with a guard for me to get to the shower, almost last. I was in the shower, alone. Until two hispanic 'gentlemen' entered. They obviously were not there for showers. They were not carrying towels or any of the other items of personal hygeine one would use in a shower.

When I left I suggested to the guard that there were a couple of guys in there that had been fighting each other and it did not look good. Word got around that I was not goign to go easily. After that, I had a bit of self respect and started leaving the cell. I went to the one place in that hell-hole that represented any kind of escape. I went to the library. And I read. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I started taking books back to my cell. I started reading to Terry, as he could not read well.

Another altercation with persons of ill-intent got me tossed into a smaller cell, alone. Solitary confinement. One of the guards suggested it was for my own safety. I was in that lonely little room for a week, with no books. Nothing to do, but start going insane. I started feeling what I though as myself starting to slide away. I started to adopt the ways of the place I was in. Three days later I was released back into general population. After looking for Terry, I went looking for Terry's 'owner'. I found him, using Terry. And I broke his nose. I continued just beating on him, as hard and as fast as I could. The whole time, I was yelling to leave my property alone. When he was down, I was standing on his throat, holding him down. I threatened to kill or anyone else that touched MY cell bitch, again. With that, Terry and I returned to our cell.

Terry and I shared a cell for three more months. During that time, Terry was not bothered, nor was I. It became known that I had nothing to lose and was 'flat out crazee, maaaan'. I also started tutoring in the library. There were volunteers that came in to help tutor, but most of the inmates/cons/convicts/detainees/(and my personal favorite) Residents would not go to them, because of all the preaching. It was pretty simple to some of us, God may have been there, in the prison with us, but we got there on our own, and we would survive it on our own. Then we would make ammends with the Almighty.

From here, I went to a type of half-way prison/community shelter in downtown Tulsa. The place was an old school and had no bars not gates.

Here was a place to get a job and return to normalcy. And I had to start seeing a shrink, again. It seems I had developed a bit of a problem with anger management.

I spent 9 months here. And a total of 4 months in BigMac. And I almost was not allowed to stay there. The DOC had an agreement with the City of Tulsa. No Violent convictees becuase of the proximity to the local community college (two blocks).

Now this has been a bit of a long story to get to the salient point I wanted to make in responce to Marko's query. Anarchy is an antitheses available to us.

Prisons are not the safest place on earth not because the people there are violent (and mostly unarmed), but because of human nature. Humans are animals, still. We fight for a pecking order. We fight for ourselves. And sometimes we fight for others. We fight and we argue and we get heated, angry and agitated. Any man (or woman) is capable of this show of beastial temporance. Some people with less stimuli than others require.

We are but beasts on the loose. And the worst of us are locked up only because some of us are afraid of them.

Society is about an order of rules and mutual agreements. Members of that society are selected to enforce the agreement of the many against a few. Others are now selected to defend the rest of society against those who would change us to their beliefs and non-tolerance.

But in general we are in a mutual and semi silent contract with the rest of society about us. Unfortunately, our society is devolving into a more chaotic mess. The Powers are keeping the Masses appeased with bribes. The Bribed are no longer responsible for thier own existance, as the Powers are providing all they need. If the Bribed want more, they just scream and let loose some of their own unto the Workers. The Workers are the ones that actually produce something, anything that is productive to the whole of society. The Workers are taxed so that the Powers may continue to buy off the Bribed.

When the Bribed do not get what they want, the Powers get replaced, but only by someone who promises even more than what is being demanded. And again, the Workers get squeezed to pay for it. The Powers see an opportunity to redirect the anger of the Bribed. The Powers restrict the Workers not from self preservation, but instead from the most effective tools.

In prison (albeit a thankfully short career) I learned more about human kind in it's most basic balance. Anarchy within a small tightly structured and controlled environment. I learned how to survive it with some degree of sanity, only by becomming one with the beast within. OK, that was a bit dramatic, but the point still stands. As beasts we force an order. As Humans we adapt to that order, accepting 'rule' by another. Over the years, as Americans, we have continually lowered the requirements of those we would have rule us, as more of us continued to lower ourselves.

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