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Prison: This is How it Works

W. Scott Cole

Posted on March 3, 2020 23:50

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Ever wonder how prison can be so violent when there are cameras all over and prison staff watching the monitors? An ex-convict agreed to tell me the story about his first experience with prison violence. He said it impressed on him the fact that, to some point, even the staff gets involved. His story has been edited for conciseness.

This happened just about a month after I arrived at the facility the state assigned me to.  I was living in a cell house the inmates called “Gladiator School”. The cell house next door was called “Thunder Dome” and the guards called the two of them the War Zone. The man I was celled with was really not a good person and I found out later that the main white boy gang used him a lot for initiation. Beat him up and you were in the gang.

One evening as he was arriving at the cell, one of the gang members knocked on the door and asked if he could talk to me out on the tier. I went out on the tier and the guy moved away from the door. I followed, and as I did, several other gang members moved in between me and the door. At the same time, another new inmate pushed my cell mate inside and followed him in. I guess I was relieved I wasn’t the target of the attack; I couldn't help him since the door had been shut. Thinking there were going to be guards running up any minute, I did the safe thing and moved away down the tier. Later, I was surprised to remember that there were no guards in the cell house at that time. That was something I'd never seen before in my time there.

After the beating was over and my cellie had gone to medical, a guard sergeant came up to me and asked if I wanted to tell him who had done the attack. I said, “If I did, my life wouldn’t be worth a nickel." He replied, “You know it and I know it” and walked away. My cellie was back later that night and he had received no more than some bruises -- basically what inmates call a “tune-up”. It’s never considered a big deal in prison and happens a lot.

A couple of days later, I was called into the captain’s office. I really expected him to pressure me hard to tell him who all was involved in the attack, but he didn’t. He called me in there and sat me down in front of his desk, then told me that he knew I knew who it was that beat my cellie, but he also knew I would not tell him. He wanted to tell me that all the guards had orders to keep a close eye on me, and that if I wanted to take care of business by going after the inmates involved in the attack, anyone I got in a fight with would go to the hole and find themselves in another facility. He would make sure that  I didn’t get a writeup and wasn't punished for fighting. It was his way of controlling the violence. I declined and life in prison went on.

W. Scott Cole

Posted on March 3, 2020 23:50

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Source: stltoday.com

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