So I arrived at PVSP over 400 days ago

Rose, George G.



So I arrived at PVSP over 400 days ago. This is how I would describe it in the simplest of terms, "A test of morals, ethics and patience in the face of avowed persecutors" At the start of my stay there came the denial of a visit from my parents. Who had traveled 3000 plus miles on the back of a motorcycle to visit their son. Their reason was I was on orientation, therefore unclassified. Now the hypocrisy in this statement is people/inmates on C-status, AD-Seg or SHU terms are permitted to get visits. So this should have been a clear sign to me of the attitudes of the staff and the administration. This was the first precursor that my incarceration here was going to be a struggle. Now to be classified all inmates must go to committee to be seen by the program staff and be evaluated on their suitability of being released to the yard. It took them nearly three weeks to classify me, and their regulations say it shall be done in two weeks or in a timely manner. After my visit with committee I was transferred to Building #Two. The primary 2nd watch officers are Hernandez and Ayala. They read me the riot act of this is their building, rules, world, etc. Now being a caucasian male muslim that is 6'1" who wears a Kufi, I stand out like a strobe light at night. Now in an attempt to establish their position they proceeded to conduct cell searches daily. Six cells a day meant they visited my cell every ten to fourteen days. I was not alone in this here treatment. Their mind state was and is we must punish you for coming to this building in prison. Its not enough that we have lost our freedom, families, and years of our lives. They felt the need to take our dignity and respect. To take them from you by any means necessary. These actions were supported by the Warden, Captain, and Lieutenant. Now I am no stranger to conflict. So it was very hard to deflect the persistent attempts to elicit reactions to their behaviors. My will was strong but eventually wore down a mere thirty something days later. On September 9, 2015 a c/o who was ex-military searched my cell. All my [lines?] were ripped down, hooks pulled down, and my personal property was utterly disrespected. Now my first inclination was to react violently. Then my religious conviction started to regain its equilibrium. Calmly I approached the staff and asked for a cell search slip. He refused to give me one. His reason was he did not like my attitude. So I then asked to speak to the Sergeant on shift. He refused to call him. Another real attempt to incite a reaction that would warrant physical retaliation. I stood in front of the officer's podium for about thirty minutes. They did their best to ignore me. Then the c/o who searched went inside the building office and closed the door. Now a physical fight would accomplish nothing. So I went into my activist mode. So I sat down in front of the door. Long story short I got to speak to the Sgt on shift and as cursory prizes I got a 115 write-up, loss of privileges for 90 days, three more months in prison, and the stigma of a troublemaker by most of the staff. After all this stuff happened it came to light that the c/o's had been searching cells, confiscating property and not giving the cell search slips as state law mandated. Now this is the seventh prison in CDCR that I have been in, in as many years. Mostly in part to my refusal to be mistreated and using my pen to file grievances against staff and there treatment of myself and other inmates. Now my small sacrifice forced the staff to do their jobs correctly or at least for a time. The clear lack of oversight, accountability and discipline of CCPOA members in the state of California make it difficult to do the right thing, and the personal consequences to varying degrees of property and right losses. The next step that was taken was to put me in the GED program. My job at the last prison was kitchen clerk. To be a clerk you must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Mysteriously this prison could not find it inside my central file. Now I am not opposed to education but after 8 1/2 years I needed to get a vocation under my belt, so I could build a life and career upon release. So out came my pen and I wrote another bus ticket I mean grievance. Nearly four months later I finally entered the welding vocation. I'll get back to that a little further on. From the time I received the write-up it was tough sledding for quite some time. But slowly my character and personal rehabilitation started to create a contradiction in what the c/o's were told about me. Just as water over time wears down all surfaces. I did the same to nearly all the staff here. Minus the ones that enjoy conflict. I mean who would not want someone who had remorse for his actions, prayed to God 5 times a day, did not use drugs or alcohol, started planning to open a business, crocheted baby caps for premature babies, was kind & respectful. Not being arrogant or tooting my own horn. These are the qualities of people that are pillars of communities across this country and around the world. All that was and is asked for is the simplest of things. Human dignity, human respect, and rehabilitation. Which CDCR does not offer much of or does it support it. The future of the CCPOA depends on the revolving door policy that ends in life sentences equates to the retirement pensions, houses, cars and living beyond their means actions od CCPOA members. Now as with some of the finest steel in the world it is heated up red hot, pounded flat, folded, & repeated numerous times. So has been their treatment of me, which has solidified who I am and what I want to do upon release. But till that occurs I have to stand up for what is right. This includes people too. Take my buddy Jason. I became good friends with him He was transferred on my birthday. A sad day for me but good for him. The staff here on "A" yard put it out that he was an Army Ranger. It ended up in him hurting a few guys and getting stabbed in the process. Let me tell you some about Jason as he gave alot for the people of this country. First off remember "Black Hawk Down" the movie, about the battles in Somalia. He was there and the humvee he was in got blown up by an IED. He received a T.B.I. (Traumatic Brain Injury) most of the use of his right hand and countless other little things. I saw things in Jason that others didn't or refused to. He saw in me the character that was similar to his Ranger unit. Honor, respect, integrity and to protect the weaker people. We became fast friends and after two misfires we eventually got to live as celly's. I was able to help him with his anger issues to a point but eventually the staff here had pushed him to the point of fracture. And TBI's take away reason and instincts with training takes over. With a strong affinity towards Jason I prayed to God on what to advise him to do. After some time it was clear that he should ask for a transfer to another prison so he could restart. This was hard for me because the selfish side of me wanted to keep him here with me. Eventually the right thing to do part of my soul advised him to get transferred. Now I have not talked to him since my birthday of 2016 I plan to send him a letter as soon as I am released. Now I was able to have some single cell living time after he left. It was good to a point. But being in vocation meant my cell was left unattended for hours a day. Staff could do whatever they wanted and nothing I could do would show their behaviors. Then in May 2016 they put Logan in my cell. It seemed as though they were trying to make my upcoming fast difficult. Well here we are as the pen write almost five plus months and he still lives with me. It is a clear definition of backfire. What they did not account for was the patience of a Muslim and the adaptability of humans. We as prisoners learn to compromise in the things we allow around us. It takes into account the choices we have or could get. Add that to good and bad environmental factors that directly affect us and make our choice. Wait a minute all rational people use this process except we are forced to stay in this environment of mostly negative people and the threat of violence just below the surface. To date I have served over 9 years and have just over one left. The culmination of my decisions the past 7 years has started to come to fruition. But I want to leave this system and the people around me (like Logan) in a better condition than when I got them. Logan is a young man with a family that loves him and has lots of potential. He has enrolled in college for his second semester since living here. Also he has seen the power of the pen vs the power of the fist. He has began to use it more effectively to assist himself and others. So I support him by helping as I can with his homework, insights, and encouragement. Plus I do my best to lead by example. I have been enrolled in the vocational welding class for nearly seven months and have advanced quite quickly. It was difficult at first because the instructor is a devout Christian who does not understand Islam or what a practicing Muslim is like. It is understandable as this country is at war with terrorism which is incorrectly connected to Islam. We don't call all Americans KKK members because they are Christians. We see the difference and treat them accordingly. But patience and character over time has shown him the value of having me as a student. Of all the students that are in the class, mine are seemingly the most calculated as a whole. I want to use my time, practice and experience to start my own welding business Looking at the overall state of this country's infrastructure, welders are desperately needed. Half of the class spends an hour or more lifting homemade weights, essentially wasting valuable time to gain practical hands-on welding experience. Sadly these are the same men who will return to prison because they squandered their time. I blame the men primarily but the free staff instructor overlooks so much because he receives a pay check and does not have to do extra work by passing a blind eye on certain things. I could go on about that but that would not change it. My duty is to encourage people to help themselves and to be a good example of one that did what I suggest to them. This has become my overall attitude and has changed the view of many of the staff here. They would appreciate a whole yard of inmates like me. I do not indulge in drugs, alcohol or gambling. I spend my free time doing things that will benefit me and my community in the future. Reading, writing, crocheting, business planning and attempting to influence the younger generation here to better themselves. The best most effective way to influence them is to lead by example. And to explain to them that mistakes should not be the defining statement of our lives, character or legacy, and the changes we make in ourselves directly affect those around us. Now there are other things about this prison that make it difficult to live in. I'd estimate that around 60% of the cells leak on various levels. The rainy season here is three to four months and just started. After lost sleep and some home made remedies about 3 1/2 gallons of water came inside my cell. So many people have it much worse. Cell lights fill with water creating dangerous hazards, my neighbors on both sides have indoor rain gutters to funnel water away from personal property. So many things get ruined every year because you don't know if your cell leaks till it rains. And this years storm started about 1:30 am. So people were sleeping peacefully as one can in prison. Some woke up to water everywhere and destroyed property. It is similar to rain leaking inside of natural caves. The prison knows that these conditions exist but have done nothing to date to fix them. Which is sad because each of the thirty three prisons gets a percentage of the eleven billion dollar budget so to not fix the living conditions of human beings confined in prisons shows that people/inmates are not humans to most rather stocks and bonds. Commodities. Just another note taken that I plan to address once I get out from behind these walls. So many things have changed in my life these past 9 years. Now I stand upon the platform that I built. 12 more months till my release. Wow it never seemed to get closer and now it is so close that it affects my daily and nightly actions. The train to freedom is being loaded and the possibilities are frightful. Technology has changed the world so much. The speed which things move and peoples lives move is hard to imagine. There are positive and negative things to this and planning can only take one so far. You can read how to swim but only when you get in the water do you really find out if you can swim. Now with most things it is easy to see all the possibilities from a distance. Which helps make it easier to make sound plans for success. The closer to stuff the harder it is to see clearly. It is kind of like looking thru dirty glass smeared with various emotions. I have seen so much while walking inside these walls. My goal is to affect some changes to better this system, but to be successful in effecting the outcomes I must be able to hold the view from a distance but getting close enough to use emotions to drive the changes. This in itself is hard to do because emotions is not something that you want to show. If you choose to be human and have them then people on both sides try to use them to manipulate you. So after years and years of carefully concealing emotions I now must pull them off the shelf, dust them off, and learn to use them again. Truly effective people find a way to connect the emotions behind the cause. Changes are made with emotions more so than any other reason out there. Look at politics, sports, marriage, advertising, ect. So with this awareness and some specific goals in mind to change the world I try to stay focused every day while living no less than 10 hours a day inside a 12'x7'x8' concrete box with another man. Keeping my release date in mind helps me tolerate many things encountered here. One of the things that I took for granted was silence. I have not heard true silence in years. Now to have little to no alone time, no silence, and lots of time usually breaks people. This almost broke me years ago. Somehow I held onto some semblance of sanity. Now holding onto it and building your life again. Just hoping to make it out once again. The pendulum of life swings back and forth each test, every day, and all situations created an almost tangible resilience to what ever is sent down the pipeline of life. The biggest influence was the fact I found my religion. In Islam all parts of life are explained, examples given and how thankful am I that Allah called me. Now by no means am I fixed or perfect. The daily struggle to perfect my character goes on. And will till the day I return to my creator. Looking in my rearview of life I have seen, heard, smelled, felt, and as a whole experienced many things that affected me greatly. Now the time behind the wall has done so much to me and my life. Nothing will be the same once I exit the front gate. The dilemma now is how to transition from this human kennel to a place where I set my own schedule, choose my path and still have to deal with the captors for an additional three years. Now here is a valid reason to not fail no matter what comes. Take as my example any average All-American person. Put them inside of a concrete box with or without a stranger as a cellmate. Add in some of the things that I had to go thru and nearly every one of them would break like an old matchstick. Taking in all the extenuating factors failure should and by intention will not happen. My internal fortitude is stronger than most. So whatever Allah has decreed for my future, I have no excuse to not lead the way to what is right. He did not place me in this situation to not fill my inkwell of life history. So to draw my future from my past now falls firmly upon my lifes pen. So officially I am twelve months to the street. All the things that I need to have, to do, and want to achieve come together. Sleep is now a premium as is my patience. The closer to the street I get the more all the stupid behaviors of the people around me bothers me. These things have been there all along so it must be the stress of the unknown, fear of failure, and impatience. For most people close to release all these come, yet most will not recognize them, let alone talk about them and deal with them properly. If people would just recognize the elephant in the room, talk about it and make calculated decisions they would stay on the path to a better life. This goes for all people not just inmates. Also this allows us as people to get out of the rearview mirror of life and drive forward while looking forward at the road. This is the way people in general get to where they want to in life. Then take into account my parents who have been truly a blessing to me. Even at thirty nine years old they are the reason my worldly needs are met. So one of the biggest motivations is to one day be able to do the same for them. My Dad is nearer to 70 than 60 and my Mom is right on his heels. So their welfare is very important to me. So my decisions here on a daily basis take this into account. Add in that I would like to have a wife and family of my own, the need to be able to meet their emotion and physical needs is no easy task. Consider that I have a yellow F (felon) emblazoned on my life. So the tasks will be that much more difficult to achieve. But as I already explained there is no excuse for failure. Success is my state of mind from this point my daily to list coupled with the list of goals I've made that is aimed at making my dreams come true. Lets look at an airplane. It has so many different parts that had to be made, then assembled together one after the other. Till the final result of a shiny new airplane is completed. Years ago I wrote the blueprints for my new life and began to assemble and fabricate the parts I would need. There are still some that need to be made but can only be done as a freeman. The skeleton has been completed and installation of some of the vitals parts are in place. Morals, values, ethics, priorities, and a focused precision to every step forward. Now as with new things they must be tested. Certain parts will not work, will break, or will function perfectly as planned. These major tests will be done after release. The smaller systems checks can be done now. Most of them have passed all tests with flying colors. In addition to the internal checks & balance systems I have started to put a business plan together. This is a scary venture as I have never owned a business and statistics show most new ones fail within 5 years. But on a daily basis five times a week I attend a vocational welding class. It is a self driven to success program. So in six months I have completed two of the books and have three left. While simultaneously learning the hands on aspect of welding, passing test plates and had time to teach some newer students the basics of welding. It is sad to look around the class and watch the people squander the opportunity they have in front of them. Mental attitude, homemade weights, and pure laziness are the primary causes. The instructor who has been there for 21 years has become complacent as well. So to be fair there is enough blame to spread around. Now to avoid crashing like the nosy people on the freeway looking at the crash. I take note of the crash but keep my eyes forward towards my dreams. The cost of this program per person (tools, steel, rods, ect) would be a small fortune to most americans. About 10,000 dollars. So foolish would I be to not take advantage of it. The state will have taken 10 years of my life at about 60,000 a year. Why would I not take 10k back from them? No excuses. So each and everyday I try to take some bit of experience that will assist me once I attain freedom. Now the thing I am proud of is that CDCR has not helped me with rehabilitation for 8 1/2 years previous to this, but here I sit on the edge of success. Mainly because the system did not beat me internally. Over and over I see people here that the system has broken, whether it was an individual c/o or the over all experience of being warehoused with the less than humans that most inmates are treated as. It saddens me to see the wasted potential. Some of the most intelligent people I have ever met are now or were behind these bars. As a whole, most would change if they were offered the opportunity, support, and direction. Yet most receive one or two but not all three at once. These basic things are needed by most people today. Especially after the psychological traumas that most have experienced, while behind these walls. Physical injuries heal, but psychological traumas need to be dealt with, contingent on how serious they are. Some may not heal for years, and some have gone on for generations. Looking around here I see people that I will forever connected to because of traumatic, shared experiences. And to be human at the basic level the well being of these people should affect me, and drive me to help those that deserve it. Now to be fair there are some here that belong here, don't mind it here, and refuse to change. You see people that are like chameleons can change their colors for a time, but certain realities change and their truest colors show through. All you need is time, perception, and consciousness to see them. All things that we have have behind these walls. Especially the first. The crazy thing is my life will forever be defined because of my prison term. So to forget it, hide it or minimize it, is out of the question. I want to embrace it. The way to show prisoners and free people that we should define people by who they are not who they used to be or what they have done in the past. We all have made mistakes some very serious, but to not allow some one a way back to be a person from a felon, criminal ect means that some time that person will do the same or worse because if an injury is not treated it will continually be re-aggravated and get worse. Becoming unfixable! So who is responsible for this condition of the prison system, ourselves, the American population, and the world. WE ARE! We must take what is ours. Responsibility, for ourselves, our environment, and the people in our vicinity, whether we know them or not. We control the condition that results from our actions or inactions. This basic recognition helps open our eyes and affords us the ability to change the world. It only takes one person to start a trend, exude human character, forgive thy neighbor, establish moral ethics that resonate in the souls of all created beings. Be that one. Who walks towards what is right and people will follow you. People always want something better. Show them how to be better people. There is no one to blame for me coming to prison. There is no one to blame if I don't get rehabilitated inside these walls. The blame is a consequence of my actions. So just as in here once I am released the same blame falls upon my shoulders. So reality based thinking, responsibility, planning, patience, and the company of like minded people will eventually lead to success. That is the conclusion I have come to the past year and a half here at PVSP.

Author: Rose, George G.

Author Location: California

Date: April 28, 2017

Genre: Essay

Extent: 28 pages

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