The following story is totally fabricated... LOL
* * *
-=[ Freedom ]=-
I escaped prison the day I broke free of the shackles of my mind.
I laugh when people who know me ask, “How did, you know, how did you survive being in prison?” I laugh because most of the time what they are really asking is if I was able to avoid getting fucked in the ass while I was incarcerated. I don’t possess an imposing physique and my looks are not what people typically consider “jail material.” In fact, I could easily pass for the good guy next door. I’m also “articulate.”
My answer -- that I survived by using my most powerful tool, my intelligence -- doesn’t seem to satisfy most people. I believe that’s because most people aren’t aware of what life in prison is actually like. Sure, there’s always that palpable potential for danger just underneath the surface, but the most damning part of being incarcerated is that nothing happens. The same shit that happened yesterday will happen today, and the day after, and you feel your life oozing away. That dreaded monotony and the feeling of wasted life energy combined with the daily act of humiliation that is the core experience of being incarcerated is what makes prison a hell.
What’s worse is that you become accustomed to that existence. It’s a form of psychological conditioning that erodes whatever sense of humanity you might possess. That’s the hardest part of incarceration.
Yeah, I k now you watched the HBO series, Oz, and you’ve seen the films that depict prison rape and scenes of unspeakable violence, but that’s not the reality of being locked up. Most of the time, the horror of incarceration resembles a steady drip from the faucet rather than a torrent. And that drip is your life oozing away from you as if you were slowly bleeding out.
That’s not to say prison life isn’t violent -- it is! I’ve seen shit I can’t begin to tell you. One of the things I am most proud of is that I had only three violent encounters throughout my prison experience. All three were at the beginning of my sentences, before I began to practice Buddhism. Two of those experiences I felt were unavoidable, one I committed from stark fear.
The following is true...
I had just arrived at Sing Sing to begin a prison sentence and I was wondering why they fuck they had sent me to a maximum security prison, when my security clearance was clearly marked “minimum.” that meant I should be at some camp with no walls and cable TV, microwaves to serve out a relatively short prison sentence. But nooooo, these muthafuckas had sent me to a max. I was, like, what the fuck?!!
Being processed into the prison system psychologically resembles initiation into a cult. Your hair is shaved, your body sprayed with some lice removal solution, your clothes and name are taken away and you’re given a uniform and a number to replace them. In addition, the first asshole who says something smart-assed to a corrections officer (“CO”) is beat down as an example of what happens to wise guys. The
You go through an orientation period wherein you’re locked up for 23 hours a day. You’re given one-hour recreation time, and three times a week, they would take a bunch of us to some dark subterranean showers. I never went to the showers. At least not during the orientation phase. I was too damn pretty, shit! LOL I would bathe in my cell.
Sensory deprivation is a bitch. Being locked up in a small cell for 23 hours does things to your mind. For one, you crave conversation, or at least some kind of human interaction. Secondly, it does things to your perception of reality. For some guys, it was downright hell. We spent a weekend like this while waiting to be sent to our permanent prisons. Once at Sing Sing they housed us in the “D” ward: a tier specifically for new people. Again, you were locked up for 23 hours a day until your permanent cell was determined. So, a group of us had been in 23-hour lock-up for almost a week by the time we were sent to our permanent cells/ locations and by then most of us were going a little stir crazy.
Noise is what really challenged me while in prison. “D” block was also very disorienting in that it was noisy. There was this guy in the cell across from me and I was having a conversation with him until the guy next to my cell informed me that he was crazy and wasn’t really talking to me. Slowly, I realized my neighbor was right: the man wasn’t talking to me, he was talking to himself. Your prison number was composed of a later followed by two numbers another dash and four more numbers. The two numbers were made up of the date you were admitted to the prison. The individual’s middle two numbers were “68” (this was the 1990s). I would never forge that.
My next-door neighbor wouldn’t stop chatting. For the most part, I would ignore him. he kept asking if I had a cigarette and I kept telling him I didn’t have any. He said something that was funny, something along the lines of needing a cigarette more than poor people in hell need ice water. That made me laugh. I told him all I wanted was my freedom. I noticed one day he was smoking pot. He had gotten pot from one of the inmate janitors that would pass in front of our cells everyday. He had offered me pot, candy, cigarettes -- all kinds of things, but I wasn’t interested.
When we were finally released into the general population, we sat down in the tier happy to be able to move around and watch the TV. My next-door neighbor, Manuel, sat next to me along with the others who had come along with me. I was so into reading a borrowed copy of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, I hadn’t noticed, and before I was aware of it, a group of three inmates approached our table. I noticed that everyone had scattered. I almost shit my pants literally, as the group of inmates produced knives and proceeded to stab Manuel repeatedly. I thought I was a goner, when one of the inmates asked if I was with him, and I shook my head “no,” as one of my friends dragged me away and we watched horrified as the gang of inmates slashed Manuel’s face and arms.
I still remember Manuel’s shrieks and pleas for mercy to this day.
All I wanted was my freedom...