To purchase this kindle book go here- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009K7IGOQ
A month into our solitary confinement our cell was called for I.C.C. I went first and walked to the office in handcuffs. The Warden held my right arm and guided me in the door. There was a large oak table with a collection of people sitting down staring at me like I wasn’t human. At the head of the table, staring at all the files in front of him, was a light colored Black man with reading glasses. Next to him was Lieutenant Pickler and two other White men. The Warden led me to a seat facing the prison administration and left.
The Black man looked up for a second and said, “Sit down inmate Johnson. I’m Counselor Moon. This is Lieutenant Pickler, Inmate Gang Investigator Moore and Doctor Brennan from Mental Health Services.”
Counselor Moon looked back at my file and fingered through more pages like he wasn’t ready to begin. Lieutenant Pickler was the only one in uniform and he was staring at me with a satisfied smirk on his face. Like he already had a plan worked out for my destiny. The other two at the desk blended in as if they were just taking notes.
Counselor Moon’s reading glasses moved up and down his nose while he studied my file. He found the page he wanted and looked up at me. “Inmate Johnson, who do you run with in prison?”
I answered right away. “I’m a White inmate, not a southern Mexican.”
Counselor Moon’s glasses flexed up his nose and his forehead creased into a skeptical look like he didn’t believe me. He said, “Why did you get involved in that riot?”
I couldn’t answer. The unwritten code of silence. If I said to much and it became a written report, I would be looked at like a rat or informant.
Counselor Moon shook his head and said, “In your file it says you were a cartel level gun and drug dealer. That leads me to believe you’re affiliated with the Mexicans. Your involvement in this riot leads me to believe your affiliation is with the southern Mexicans. Are you a south sider or a Sureno?”
I knew that both were considered prison gangs under the heading of the Mexican Mafia. The Mexican street gangs all over southern California merged into one of those two headings in prison. I answered, “I’m a White man and I don’t claim any gangs.”
Counselor Moon snorted and said, “That’s hard to believe.”
Lieutenant Picker jumped in and said, “We’re going to have to assume your a southern Mexican.”
Investigator Moore asked, “Does he have any gang tattoos? Maybe something related to the number 13?”
Lieutenant Pickler responded, “He doesn’t have any tattoos at all but considering his crimes on the street and involvement in this riot, I think he’s a sleeper for the Mexican Mafia.”
I looked at the collection of faces. They were all nodding their heads solemnly in agreement. The feeling of doom was setting in. I imagined the worst case scenario. I could be stuck in solitary for years, mabye for the rest of my sentence.
Investigator Moore added, “That would be a Mexican Mafia tactic, to have someone on the inside with the Whites as a drug dealer and collector.”
Counselor Moon said, “We are clearing you for program in solitary but are considering you a southern Mexican inmate. You will go to yard with them and be housed in a cell with them.”
I almost lost it in frustration and found myself ready to give up the code of silence. I wrestled with it in my thoughts. If I explained myself without implicating anyone…
I said, “You know the policies at this prison related to space. You know that different races use different showers and sides of the dayroom and yard… All we did is defend ourselves. How does that make me a southern Mexican?”
I knew it wasn’t enough. I also knew that being stuck in solitary for a lot longer was now my destiny. I studied Counselor Moon. He was shaking his head. Lieutenant Pickler cocked his head back with a smug look on his face like he was enjoying my position even more. He said, “No other White inmates got involved in the riot on the entire yard, except you two.”
I looked at the Inmate Gang Investigator. He was staring at one of my files and taking notes. This wasn’t getting any better. I looked at the Doctor and felt like I needed a check up from the neck up.
I got back to the cell and it was Giant’s turn. While he was going through the strip search he asked, “What happened? Why do you look so focused?”
I said, “They have me labeled as a southern Mexican now. It’s all bad.”
Giant put on the jumpsuit and backed his way to the open tray slot. He bent over and stuck his wrist through the opening and looked into my eyes. He asked, “What should I do?”
A possible anwer came to me. “Hit up the Warden on the walk to the office. Maybe he can help us.”
For the next 20 minutes I paced the length of the cell back and forth like a locomotive. There was room to take 4 steps each way. Walking fast and turning on a dime at each end helped me think. To avoid the darkness of depression I thought about something good. We were getting cleared for yard for 10 hours a week. Solitary hell would be much easier to deal with.
I watched Giant walk back to the cell with his hands cuffed behind his back. He was hunched over and still almost a foot taller then the Warden. He looked like he was losing it. The Warden held his right shoulder. I heard Giant asking, “How am I a southern Mexican when I’m a White man from northern California? This shit is ridiculous!”
The Warden looked very confused. It didn’t look like he was going to be able to give us a quick fix. Giant was so perturbed that it looked like he had to see the Warden’s face. Bent over in a hunch already, he turned his neck and head to look at the Warden.
The Warden tried to avoid the issue and put his other arm in the air to signal the tower guard to pop the cell. The cell popped open and Giant walked in. The Warden quickly slammed the cell shut and put his key in the tray slot. Giant didn’t turn around. Instead, he looked at the Warden through the plexiglass and said calmly and slowly, “Warden Parker I’m a White inmate from San Francisco. That’s northern California. They just labeled me a southern Mexican so now I’m going to be stuck in solitary confinement for way longer.”
It looked like the Warden cared. His face had a pained look like he was frustrated. He asked, “How would that keep you in solitary confinement?”
Giant said, “Because when I finally get finished with my solitary time for this riot I’m going to refuse to get housed being labeled a southern Mexican.”
It looked like the Warden was beginning to understand how deep the racial issue was. I asked, “Warden, why aren’t you at the head of the table for the inmate Classification Committee? Why are you out here doing the grunt work of escorting inmates?”
The question stunned the Warden. His confused look turned into an authentic look and he answered, “I just transferred to this prison.”
That evening we heard the vestibule door grind open. An army of 8 prison guards entered the building. The tower guard tapped on the microphone and announced, “Shower time! From now on you will get showers 3 times a week. We have more prison staff. Since we don’t have much time tonight you only get 10 minutes.”