Tehachapi: An essay

Redwine, Raymond Allen

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American Prison Writing Archive @ The Digital Humanities Initiative Hamilton College 198 College Hill Road Clinton, NY 13323 apw.dhinitiative.org December 25, 2019 Tehachapi An Essay by Raymond Allen Redwine I've been here at Facility "E" in the California Correctional Institution (CCI) of Tehachapi, California, for a year now, so I thought it was time to enter a second essay into the American Prison Writing Archive. I'm unsure how many eyes will actually see my words but I feel that it's important to at least have an inside view out there somewhere so that the truth can be known. For you see, the prison experience in California is a dismal affair and as such needs the medium of the written word to paint a picture most of you will never see. If you have access to the Internet and these words, then you are not in prison -- and that's a good thing. And hopefully you'll never have to find out -2- for yourself what takes places behind these walls. However, if you ever do find yourself somewhere like here, you will find a circumstance devoid of hope and a place hopelessly locked in a state of chaos and disorder. The nature of those who are commonly housed in prison lends a lot to this condition, of course, but those who run the prisons themselves have failed to find a way to reverse the curse that we're all under. Perhaps it cannot be done. Perhaps prison will always be a place where the worst of humanity plays out day after day. Maybe this will never be a place where humans get healed. Maybe the act of incarcerating people can only be a method of punishment since such a situation where you house hundreds of criminals together in confined spaces can only create a caustic environment. Who knows the answer to whether mass incarceration will ever reverse the curse we find ourselves in, but for now what we can know is that the system is woefully inadequate to produce much more than men who parole ill-prepared to do anything other than return to what led them here. It's not for a lack of trying, but again, you have a circumstance here where the worst of humanity is crammed together in a very inhumane way. Not even animals are subjected to such cruelty without protest, but as convicted criminals such treatment is deemed justified. Strange how human beings reserve their worst treatment for other human beings. We've been justifying our worst forever, from class to race to education to those we are angry at. They say that overfamiliarity breeds contempt. Yet the kind of contempt bred in the heads of those who are housed with hate, -3- borders on homicidal. You sometimes want to kill a man over something very small, because after all, this man has done some annoying thing a hundred times. You get to know your neighbors too well; their sounds, their sights, their smells. It all begins to build animosity and eventually leads to something being said and then the inevitable violent clash, though as prison would have it, with everyone belonging to some kind of gang or group, others jump in and a malee ensues. Sometimes the situation is quickly defused after several men feel they got their point across, while other times the situation explodes into a full-scale riot. Whatever the outcome, the seemingly small can have huge consequences. The day-after-day, month-after-month, year-after-year affect of close confines always ends in violence. It's not if, but when. Then you have the condition of the environment adding to the daily stresses of an insane incarceration existence. For instance, When I got to Briggs Hall here at CCI last November, the first thing I noticed was how filthy the place was. It has the look of a building that has been neglected for decades. Deep grime, the kind that builds up over years is everywhere. The floors, the sinks, the walls, it's all a science experiment gone terribly wrong. The bathroom should be condemned yet somehow passes inspection every month. The sinks are a strange yellow with brown and orange areas converging with the blue blacks of mold. The showers smells of mildew and the walls are slick and slimy. Of the showerheads that actually work, maybe 7 out of 12, the water pressure is so low due to heads clogged with lime and -4- calcium that it is a struggle to get wet enough to properly shower. Then a regular occurrence is that the hot water heater goes out for weeks at a time, leaving us shivering through the lengthy process. The situation with the urinals and toilets is much the same. Of the urinals and toilets that actually work, maybe 3 out of 7 urinals and 5 out of 10 toilets, the plumbing is so bad in them that they either barely flush, continually flush, or they clog up and overflow regularly. And when you're finished with your business, you have to stand in line for access to one of the working sinks, which is maybe 5 out of 10. And of those 5, maybe one has a hot water hook up. This makes morning face washing a frigid wake-up. Then no matter what time of day it is, there will always be two inches of foul looking water on the floor. It's from the leaking sinks, toilets, and runoff from the shower. You don't dare drop anything on the floor such as a toothbrush or razor. That's where personal items go to die. Other noticeable hazards are the many large holes in the walls which expose conduit and wiring and electrical boxes. Then when you look up, there's a large hole in the ceiling which lets in light and rain. That hole has been up there the whole year I've been here and only gets periodically covered with tarp which gets beat into ribbons by the heavy winds here in the mountains and lets rain in again. Recently the 45 to 60 mph Santa Ana winds blew a 40-foot chuck of the roof off of Van Westen's building, so they too will join the perpetual tarpaulin club. Work orders get submitted for things like sinks, toilets, showers, and roofs but -5- as is the case with all mismanaged, underfunded, and understaffed institutions, the work never seems to get done. Recently, San Quentin News printed an article titled: Twelve CDCR Prisons Are in Dire Need of Repair. This was based on a report by a private consultant for the State named Kitchell CEM, but I was surprised that only 12 prisons are listed as dire. Donald Specter, Director of the Prison Law Office was quoted as saying that "Prisons are literally crumbling." The article also spoke of 260 million dollars being committed for the repair of over two dozen roofs throughout the state. With 33 prisons in existence, that is nearly 2 out of 3 prisons with leaking roofs. And they don't mean minor leaks. It doesn't take a quarter billion dollars to fix minor leaks. These are major failures. Cited also was the estimated cost of three-quarters of a billion dollars to repair the six-year-old medical facility in Stockton, California, which is where elderly and infirm inmates go to die. And that estimate is for a new prison; imagine the cost of older prisons like this one. We're easily a billion-dollar project, but you'd need a billion-dollar incentive to do more than estimate the cost of our fix. You'd have to actually want to spend the money and make the fixes. For decades the TV coax cable system has been all but non-functional. The channels that do come in are full of snow and often without sound. The phone system is also notoriously in need of repair. On days that you can actually get through, echoes and cutting in and out of sound plagues the calls. Fixes for these systems have been discussed since at least 2000 according to Memorandums I saw in the Men's Advisory Council (MAC) office. The -6- problems are recognized but there just isn't the stomach for actually designing, funding, and implementing a plan for correcting the many outstanding issues. Meanwhile, inmates all across the state continue to exist in environments like this and will continue to do so for years to come. The State can't afford to clothe or house us properly, but when I think about it, such conditions closely mirror the men who are forced to live this way. The holes in the walls and ceilings are the holes in our souls from the catastrophic choices we've made and the resultant wreckage of our lives. The cold water dribbling from the showerheads in the slime-and-mold walled showers is a reflection of the cold, calculated crimes we are convicted of. The malfunctioning sinks and toilets remind us that we did not function as we should have when we were given a chance to out there in the free world. The disgusting scum water on the floor reminds us that no matter how much we work to cleanse ourselves of our pasts, we can never remove ourselves from the fact that we are still standing in the filth of our consequences. The run-down buildings with the neglected maintenance needs including the rain gutters that are rotting off the sides reflect the neglect we were guilty of when it came to our families and friends while we were free. And the rot and rust and all the grime and dust among us reflect the various addictions that led most of us to commit the crimes we are convicted of. It's all a constant reminder of our failures and of our flawed character traits that continue to haunt us. So it's actually quite fitting that we are forced to live in such conditions. So when I see a -7- man blow snot on the very sink handles that the rest of us must use, I no longer see that as disrespect warranting an ass-kicking, I see it as the ultimate statement saying that all of this sucks and that we should reject the injustice of our living conditions. Another aspect is that the ugliness of our living conditions mirrors the ugliness of our character flaws and of our penchant for drugs and crime and violence. Addiction is like a cancer that eats the soul and corrodes the mind. Even the correctional officers (COs) here are a constant reminder of the cancerous nature of our behaviors and addictions since they too project our own failings back at us. The cancer of addiction erodes its host's ability to defend itself against the disease and eventually overcomes the host, ensuring its demise. Similarly, the cancer-like COs at CCI are predatory in their efforts to conquer the cancer of crime hosted within these walls. And in their efforts, they've become a cancer themselves. We're in the fight of our lives because we're battling carcinogens on two fronts. All across the state there are metastatic officers like these, and as with all diseases, each member of the terrible team works together to overcome its host. Yet this team, not unlike the conglomeration of out-of-control malignant molecules forming tumors, is formed by a group of gangster greens. By that I mean, all California correctional officers wear green, but only a small percentage of that green-team, the malignant ones, have formed a gang that they call the Green Wall. They derived this name from the color of their uniforms and from the fact that they work -8- behind the walls of prison. Green Wall gangmembers, while a minor contingent of the overall officer population, have a major impact on the California prison systems. They're the ones who are on the ground and who are the face of the prison system. They work in the cellblocks and the dorms and on the yards and they man the gun towers. They aren't administration or part of the brass such as lieutenants, captains, or wardens. They're the grunts; the paid thugs who respond to the fights and melees and riots. They thrive on violence and pride themselves in being highly trained and dangerous men. They're the ones who interact with the inmate population day in and day out in the course of their duties, which takes courage and capability since prison is primarily populated by wolves. We inmates have been removed from the presence of the sheep of society precisely because of our predatory behavior. We robbed, stole, and generally victimized the public for our own gain, so it makes sense that a culture of correctional officer wolves developed in order to counteract the wolves of the street who are now captive within these walls. The old saying that it takes a criminal to catch a criminal is a fitting phrase because that is exactly what is at work here. Oddly enough, the Green Wallers are super-criminals. They've learned all of our tricks and traits. Many of them are even fully tattooed and carry themselves like the gangsters they oversee. The only difference between these gangster greens and an inmate prison-gang member is the uniform. They talk the same, they walk the same, and they look the same. It's surreal. -9- The criminal enterprises of these corrupt COs are many, but the primary fields are drugs and cellphones. Crime is big business in prison, but none is more lucrative than drugs. A hundred dollars worth of street drugs can earn you thousands in prison. In one day a CO can earn a month's wages, so it's no puzzle why they would choose to game the system. The expense of drugs in prison is because of how hard it is to get drugs in. Only a small amount is ever successfully smuggled in through visiting since this method is limited to amounts small enough to fit in a man's anus and on avoiding the cameras and eyes carefully looking for movements like reaching in one's pants. But COs have no such limitations. They freely bring in full ounces and pounds of any substance they want since they aren't searched or scrutinized like the public and inmates are during visits. The other grand money-maker for COs is phones. A cheap 100 to 200 dollar burner phone can easily fetch a couple thousand dollars. Thousands of these phones are caught on inmates each year so that makes it a multimillion-dollar enterprise. The administrators and brass of California prisons despise the fact that their own staff brings in and sells phones to inmates, but it's something they've yet been able to curb. The reason this practice is so despised is because inmates use these phones to conduct criminal business. Hits are relayed to the streets and to other prisons; and all drug deals and methods of payment are discussed on these unmonitored phones. None of this can be discussed on the prison's phones because those calls are monitored. So illegal cellphones enhance criminal -10- and gang activity, which is exactly what those who are in charge of overseeing the prisons do not want. It infuriates them to know that thousands of these phones are in the hands of inmates all across the state, all because of rogue staff employed by the California Department of Corrections (CCDR) to prevent just such activities. Not only that, but if something as large as a phone is able to be freely introduced into an otherwise secure prison, then other objects such as knives and guns or other weapons could be introduced. And those weapons could be used to harm staff or to escape with. So it is a major security threat to have officers smuggling in contraband of any kind. Having laid the groundwork for the rest of my essay, I can now point out that these gangster greens pose even greater dangers to the security of the institutions where they thrive because they also engage in prison politics and they regularly incite violence. The phrase "prison politics" implies gang politics. The term "politics" has no relation to the Republican and Democratic politics you know, I'm talking about the gang intrigue and yard disputes that dictate the atmosphere of every prison. There's always prison business at hand to be conducted. A man who politics on behalf of his race or gang is engaged in the business of checking paperwork to make sure sex-offenders or snitches are able to be identified and violently removed from the yard. He also relays the rules that all gangmembers are supposed to adhere to. They also monitor whether respect is being held on the yard with regard to other races or gangs. There might be an issue with -11- territory being encroached upon or that certain tables or benches or workout areas are being used by members of other gangs or races. Such offenses must be dealt with immediately. There's also the politics of drug sales and collections and the business of making weapons for hits and riots. There can be all kinds of reasons for politicking. A man might show up from another prison who is deemed no good and needs to be dealt with, so the details of this man's history has to be looked into and the hitters who must do the deed must be picked and armed. Perhaps an argument between races has risen and needs to be quashed before it becomes a riot. Or maybe that argument needs to be escalated into a riot and therefore all of the necessary characters need to be informed what is about to go down and who is expected to participate. Whatever the purpose of prison politics, violence is almost always connected to the outcomes. This is something that the Green Wall has learned very well over the years. They learned from the best. They learned from the Aryan Brotherhood and the Mexican Mafia and the Nuestra Familia and the Black Guerrilla Family and the Bloods & Crips and all the other California prison gangs. In fact, they work hand in hand with these groups and help orchestrate the violence that takes place. One example of this was during a particularly nasty riot that occurred in Salinas Valley prison years ago. Prison politics dictates that every man belonging to the involved groups must participate in riots. So when a man cowers during a riot or fails to perform well, he is to be stabbed for this betrayal. So in the particular circumstance I'm discussing, five individuals were -12- found to be in violation of this rule so they needed to be hit. But the yard was on lockdown so they only way to get at these men was with the help of the Green Wall. They needed these officers to assist with bringing knives from one cellblock to another and with the cell moves so that the stabbings could take place. And over in the hole, a part known as the Secured Housing Unit (SHU) where many of the riot participants wound up, more assistance was needed by the officers to move more intended victims into the cells of the men who were ordered to do the hits, using weapons brought by the officers since metal detectors prevent inmates from bringing weapons into secured units themselves. So, the officers obliged the gang leaders, made the necessary cell moves, and the hits were conducted. Situations like this occur in all higher level prisons and in the holes and SHUs. It's all cell living on the higher levels, thus it requires the assistance of cooperating officers to arrange the cell moves and pair the victims with the hitters. These officers also take sides in riots. They're always in the loop regarding when hits will be made or when riots will take place, so when the day comes predetermined hitters with knives are allowed to pass through the search lines. Prison policy is to strip and wand each inmate before letting him onto the yard. The wand is a metal detector, so the only way that knives make it onto the yards to be used for hits and riots is because COs enable it. Certain COs will sympathize with certain groups or races and "mistakenly" let a number of knives get by to benefit the side they favor. They've been immersed in the high-stakes, -13- high-level prison drama for so long that they become personally invested in the outcomes. Thus, they tip the scales in favor of their chosen outcomes. This is quite apparent when you realize that each inmate is individually stripped to his boxers and thoroughly searched and wanded prior to being given access to all higher level prison yards and holes and SHUs, so the only way that steel knives continue to make it onto the yards is because it is enabled in some way. Period. The reason this all still continues to play out every day in the California prison system is that there is deliberate indifference to it. If there was a will to completely dissect the problem and do something about it, the cancer could be cured. However, part of the problem is that prison politics protect these COs since snitchin' is snitchin'. Prison politics demand that no inmate may ever testify on anyone, not even against crooked cops. So any inmate who is impacted by the kind of COs who politic and participate in prison drama is forbidden to ever report it or pursue relief for it through the courts in any way. To do so would result in your own stabbing. There have been investigations brought in a few instances like the situation in Corcoran prison where officers were pitting rival gang members against each other in the SHU and betting on them and then shooting them, but they went nowhere. No one was ever convicted. COs stick together and file false reports and lie on oath for each other, so the few investigations have been futile. And any inmates who cooperated in such investigations or court hearings got exposed by those COs to other inmates for "snitching" and -14- they were punished with shocking violence. So the only thing the investigations accomplished in the end was to make the Green Wallers more careful. They are aware that their existence is known and therefore they've learned to not identify as Green Wall. You'll never hear one admit it to give anyone the ability to tie them to such a controversial group. So the way we protect ourselves from these corrupt COs is by recognition. If it walks, talks, and acts like a duck, then we know exactly what the f***. Here on Facility E, where it took me 12 years to work my way down from level 4 to 1 against all odds in the face of all the turmoil that takes place in this godforsaken system, the gangster greens are cold and mean. They're a different strain than the kind found on higher level yards. Here the politics are petty and the greens go out of their way to give us the blues. Morale among the men here is low as it can go. The COs in Tehachapi have always had a reputation for being ruthless and vindictive. On the other yards they're engaged in all the violent intrigue I spoke of earlier, and they do it with impunity. Aside from the rumored 12 officers who were escorted off the premises for one of them killing a man and the rest covering it up, they conduct their business without worry of consequences. We're way out here in the mountains and no one could care less about the plight of criminals, so what happens here stays here. This yard is no exception. What happens here has been quietly held for decades and will continue that way for a hundred more years. Tehachapi COs have one agenda which they sharpen every day. They want there to be no doubt that they're the only gang -15- to be concerned of. They regularly prove that the rank and file of general street and prison gangs are nothing in the face of the gang who's in control. They have the upper hand and they wield it with shocking violence of their own. They have the pepper spray and batons and block guns and of course rifles perched way up high in the towers so that they can kill you while you fight for your life in riots or fights or in altercations with these mean greens. They hold the power and eventually they win all fights. Here on facility E they wield that power with the same confidence as afforded to them on any other yard. Only here, they have an added advantage on their side. Most men having finally worked their way down the levels have whittled their time down to somewhere under five years. We call that being short to the house. And a man short to the house is unlikely to risk extending his stay especially if he has years already served. Some of us have 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 years in and we don't want to chance a disaster occurring over something petty. Many of us who have multiple years in are strikers. I have two strikes myself and it would only take one altercation with the officers or another inmate to give me life. The officers understand this and use this to their advantage. So they not only have weaponry of spray and batons and bullets to give them the ability to victimize with impunity, but also they have the all-powerful weapon of fear of decades more in prison to leverage against the population. This combination enables the officers to run roughshod over us whether we have it coming or not. The COs here will call a man the kind of names that no man is supposed to allow in a prison -16- setting. Someone calls you a b****, regardless of who it is and you fail to do something about it, then you get dealt with in a very violent way to reinforce the importance of maintaining respect to anyone else contemplating not responding appropriately. Maintaining respect is foremost above all. Not even the threat of years more in prison may deter one from doing his duty. But that kind of language is used regularly here to prove a point to us that we are less than nothing. It is used to show that we have forfeited our respect by working our way down the levels and caring more about getting out of prison than in maintaining respect or dignity. To them, we inmates with such a history of violence and criminal activity have sold ourselves out to drop down to this level and suddenly be concerned for our circumstances. And to hammer that point home, the COs here, the real gangsters who never compromise their wicked ways, do all they can to try to provoke men into responding to their instigations. They want you to resist just a little so that they can unload the arsenal on you. They will beat your ass and trash your property and send you to the hole. Then they write the report in a way that makes you the aggressor which leads to a SHU term and a filing with the District Attorney for assault on staff. There's a long history of that here in Tehachapi and once you get to court with a falsified report against you, you're screwed. It's your convicted criminal word against a sworn peace officer of the law. Other tactics of provocation used against the population are searches for punitive reasons and the destruction of personal -17- property. These are favorites among the COs here and they use them to a degree not seen on any other level or prison that I'm aware of. Only COs with absolute confidence in their control over their environment would venture to search through and destroy property as a punitive measure and as weapon of war against the inmate population. It is illegal to do what they do here, and they'd lose their jobs over what they do if the indifference didn't enable it. There are state and federal laws that protect inmates from such treatment, as well as a code of professional conduct they are supposed to be held to, but the gangster greens know damn well that they will never be held accountable. And on the occasion that some brave sap attempts to file an inmate grievance known as a CDCR 602, the COs simply throw them away. Then they come about 6 officers deep and give you a very bad day. They tell everybody in the building to go to the yard and they systematically go through each locker and destroy what they can. When we get back in the building 4 or 5 hours later, our property is strewn everywhere. One man's property is scattered all over the bunks of other men several rows over and vice versa. It's a heartbreaking sight to see because you know you will likely never be able to locate all of your property. Everyone's stuff is mixed in together and there is no ability to make sense of whose is whose. Plus the dirtbag individuals we live with will often just keep whatever is found on their bunk as a consolation prize for what they lost. All floater appliances like TVs and radios and CD players and the like have been confiscated by the COs and what appliances were legitimate get broken. -18- A floater appliance is a TV, radio, CD player, hot pot, fan, or other electric appliance that has been left to you by someone who has paroled. It is not part of your personal property on your property card and thus is considered a floater. This happens in every prison and is accepted by staff despite that it is technically not allowed. No one may leave an appliance to anyone when they parole; they must take all items with them. But no one does that. It's considered selfish. The proper thing to do is help out some guy who has nothing so that he can serve his sentence a little more humanely. Officers don't make an issue of it unless they find a reason to make an issue of it. Doesn't happen often since the best babysitter is a TV or radio. Floaters help reduce violence and chaos by entertaining idle hands. So after the men return to discover that their only forms of entertainment have been confiscated or broken or water poured in them, they want whoever is to blame to pay for that. And officers oblige this desire by letting one man know why they did what they did and who is to blame. Then this individual quickly spreads the message and the culprit is taken out back and beat down by three or four very angry men. This tactic is illegal all the way around. It is illegal to use searches as punishment. Legal searches are searches conducted for drugs or weapons or other forms of contraband. The operative word here is search. Searching is looking. But destroying while under the guise of a search purely to punish is illegal. And it is illegal to then expose the individual responsible for the punishment so that he can be beat down. This instigation of -19- violence is illegal. Yet this practice is used for all issues that these officers find issue with. When a man is caught eating two trays at chow, they destroy the property of everyone in his side of the dorm and then reveal why and who is to blame. Then this victim gets the same beat-down as every man who found themselves the target of this tactic before him. A man has heated words with an officer? he gets the treatment. A man is caught smoking or drinking or drug taking or tattooing or getting tattoos? he gets the treatment. A man misses his mandatory meds? he gets the treatment. Any reason at all is reason enough to result in the "treatment." The rest of us suffer these punishment "searches" over and over again. But they're not actually searches. These officers aren't looking for anything. They're destroying and taking and scattering property so that it is lost. The kind of damage the COs do is deeply disturbing. In one search, one CO spent an hour in my locker and methodically stripped me of anything valuable to me. All of my markers, highlighters, white-out, mechanical pencils, leads, and other tools of the writer's trade. But the cruelty didn't end there. Because a few peanut butters and syrups were found, items considered contraband which I had brought back from the kitchen and had saved for hunger days, these items were used as weapons against me to teach me to never ever save any of my food. Thus, the CO took all of my manuscript pages, the result of 12 years of writing consisting of five books and several short stories, and poured the syrup on the pages then squeezed the peanut butters out on the pages and then poured water on all of -20- this and squished everything all over the papers with their boots. And for good measure, all of my books on grammer, punctuation, editing, writing skills, and a new collegiate dictionary were tossed on the pile and worked into the sludge. One quarter of my life was invested in those pages which I diligently wrote and edited and re-wrote and typed for the day I could parole and present it all to an agent in the hope that 15 years in prison wasn't in vain. It was a devastating loss to me of which I count as one the top five worst things to ever happen to me in my lifetime. It took the wind out of me as I struggled to clean and save as many pages as possible. Hundreds of thousands of hours went into those pages and I was crushed to realize that much of the work would not be able to be saved. Over the next decade or so I might be able to rewrite the portions that were ruined beyond recognition, but will I ever actually do that? When will I have 15 years of confinement to focus on such an extensive project again? I'll be free in a few years and the only way to stay free is to stay working. I might find a few hours here or there but we can be sure that what was lost was catastrophic. In one day I was stripped of one-quarter of my life and a chance to be a published author. I worked hard on that and thought that I was redeeming my failed life by accumulating these manuscripts for a future day when I could show that I made something of my life. After all, I overcame a vicious drug addiction, I've renounced crime and violence, and have managed to navigate through 12 years of chaos without one write-up or getting caught up in the intrigue surrounding me. These are -21- monumental achievements where I come from. So to have my knees cut out from under me was devastating. I used to study, read, and type 4 to 5 hours a day. But I rarely turn on the typewriter anymore. My heart's just not in it. I'll be starting two college classes in the middle of January. One is biology, and the other is a paralegal course, but my heart is not in that either. The wind was taken out of all of the positive efforts I used to be so dedicated to. So this is the kind of thing we endure here. The sheer cold cruelty and calculated meanness that these COs engage in keeps the inmate population at each other's throats and renders the population uninspired to engage in the anti-recidivism programming that is being rolled out across the state. Everyone is like zombies sitting in meetings or classes, no interest in the curriculum at all. They play cards, they read books, they talk, anything but engage in the process meant to expose them to the benefits of living a different life. The COs here, like so many of those all across the state, utilize carefully crafted tactics to reinforce prison politics rather than reinforce anti-recidivism. Provoking violence through the destruction of personal property is a tactic that only furthers the negative nature of prison politics. Such tactics create a hostile environment and create men who are hostile when they finally parole. What happened to me was just another effort in that agenda. They were hoping I'd hunt down and destroy the man responsible for inciting the COs to do such a thing to me, but I chose not to respond in the way they intended. My response -22- has been to invest hundreds of hours into these words so that the American Prison Writing Archive can see exactly what some of us face. I have had to allow myself to be completely stripped of any hope and I have had to accept that I am not worthy of humane treatment, but this is the cost of breaking free from this toxic beast. I have gone far beyond the 5,000 word limit here but I think every word was vital to my purpose. As you see, I love the craft of writing. I agonized over the placement of each word and the way the sentences formed paragraphs. Every writer understands even the conflict of whether to place a semi-colon or a comma at a certain place. It's all a process that takes time and dedication to the craft. I had once hoped that that craft would deliver me from the hell I've created for myself over the years but that goal was severed by the gang in green. Thus, it is now my hope that these words enlighten the reader on the grave nature of mass incarceration and on the conditions that exist within these walls. There is a human tragedy playing out every day within these walls, and I pray you never find yourself on the wrong side of the law, because this is what awaits you. Thank you for your time, Ray Redwine Raymond Allen Redwine California Correctional Institution Facility E, DH-121 low P.O. Box 107 Tehachapi, CA 93581

Author: Redwine, Raymond Allen

Author Location: California

Date: December 25, 2019

Genre: Essay

Extent: 22 pages

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