Posts Tagged ‘Lorton Prison’

This is a true story about a friend of mine that was killed in a private prison.  Around the year 1996, Washington, DC started sending some of its inmates to a private prison in Youngstown, Ohio (CCA Ohio).  The agreement was that DC was to send low and medium security inmates to this prison. Rather than stick to this agreement they sent majority of maximum security inmates there. Mixed in with those inmates were inmates that had lower and medium security status.

Some of these lower and medium security inmates had never been around max custody inmates, therefore, they were easy victims. Most of them were assaulted, robbed, and harmed in other ways. For the max inmates it was the first time, for many of them, they were not caged in cells 23 hours a day. I had some friends that were in max (The Wall) years before being sent to this open population prison.

So, it goes without saying that most of them did not know how to respond to this new found sense of freedom. They were allowed to roam and mix and mingle with other people. They were able to hold and touch their loved ones on visits. Sadly, some of these privileges were abused and delinquency was pretty much rampant.

I was still in Lorton at the time that they were opening up this prison. I knew many people that were sent there. I was supposed to transfer there but I got into some trouble and was sent to the hole. Prior to going to the hole a friend of mine, I will not mention his name, was assaulted and sent to the hole. He stayed in the hole for about 30 days before being sent to Ohio. Due to the nature of what happened to him they had to separate him from quite a few people.

About 6 months after he was sent there I ended up in the hole. The second day I was in the hole a guy yelled down the tier to me. He says that a guy just got killed in Ohio. That it was in the papers and he was sending the paper down the tier for me to read. While he was yelling this out to me I had this feeling that it was my friend. I don’t know what it is but I seem to have a keen sense of things when they are not right. 90% of the time I am right.

Later that night the paper reached me and sure enough it was my friend. I knew his real name and there is was in black and white. Dead from multiple stab wounds.

One thing I found out when they began sending DC prisoners to CCA Ohio is that CCA was a company where one can openly trade and buy stocks. That used to be the talk of the prison. How in the hell can they send us to a joint where there is no telling who has invested stocks in the place??? So, for the sake of having something to do and talk about, I would get the papers and follow the company CCA.  How they traded, the price of stocks etc.

After this killing the company pulled from the market.  They were no longer listed in the papers.  I wondered about this for some time. I knew that it had something to do with the killing but did not know the facts.

About a year after this event I was sent to CCA Arizona. It was here that I met the guys that were shipped from CCA Ohio. They ended up closing the prison to DC prisoners, but they could not just opt out of the contract they had with DC.  So they just split the guys up.  Some ended up in Arizona, New Mexico, and Tennessee.  I just happen to be shipped to Arizona with some of the guys that were present when this killing happened.  The guys that did it got life on top of the life sentences they already had.  One happened to be there with me.  Actually he and I were cell-mates for about 6 months.

I will not go into the details of all that happened.  I will say that one of the guys that killed him was also in the hole for killing a guy in open population.  So, he caught two murders in the same prison.  The first one over a cassette tape, and the one in the hole in defense of his friend.  The guy I was in the cell with.

What happened was a tragedy because actually my friend had stabbed one of the guys first.  He almost killed him. That was because he was being assaulted and robbed.  He just happened to have a weapon on him and stabbed one of the guys during the course of the incident.  For that he was sent to the hole and the other guy went to the hospital.

When the guy got back from the hospital he plotted on my friend and when the time was right he killed him.  He ended up pleading guilty to killing him.  But, it did not make a difference because he was already serving a life sentence for killing a guy in another prison.  So here you have a guy, my friend, that had a 5 year sentence (this is why I call it a tragedy) and 2 years left on it before going home, killed by a guy that was already guilty of killing another guy in another prison.  Who was also serving life for the killing. The tragedy is that this guy started out with a 5 year sentence and was put in a situation where he was involved with the death of another inmate.  So, the killer and the killed both started out with 5 year sentences.

What was the response of the prison?  To lock it down and tear the prison up.  The had the roof of the buildings designed so they could open the top vents and drop gas in from the ceiling.  After the gas fills up the unit they repelled down into the units in ninja outfits and beat the inmates.  Inmates who were not involved in what took place in the hole.  They beat them savagely.  So bad that the inmates actually filed and won a class action lawsuit against CCA.  That was the cause of them taking the company off of the market.

The investors were not willing to take the risk of investing in a prison where the prisoners were uncontrollable.  Where assaults and murder were rampant.  This was not supposed to happen with lower and medium security inmates.  This is when it became apparent that these were max custody inmates being housed in a medium security prison.

This is a sad story for all involved.  For the killer and the killed.  For the families of both of them.  For the prisoners that were beat and assaulted at the hands of inmates that they should have never shared the yard with.  For the inmates that were beat at the hands of the police.  For the inmates that lost property and pictures during the aftermath and response to what took place.  It is really unfortunate to think that at the end of the day there was money to be gained.   That peoples lives were/are put at risk for a dollar.  What makes that different from any other crime that is committed in society?

It is not the private sector that is to govern crime and punishment.  It is the job of the government.  But, today you have more private prisons opening up all across America.  No prison is considered a place of peace and sanctuary, but there has to be some accountability on those that oversee them.  Due to this lack of proper oversight a friend of mine lost his life.  What a tragedy.

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Free Prisoner

It has been a while since I have written anything and I just want to share the reasons why. It has been a long time coming now and I am now about to go back up for parole, next week hopefully. I have been asked many times about how do I feel about being this close to home, if I make parole. It is hard to really say what I am feeling right now. I can describe how it was the first time that I went before the board.

When I went up the last time I was told that I was parole eligible and asked if I had an address to use in the event that I make parole. I was left speechless and it took me a minute to think of the address that I would use. Well, I didn’t make parole and was given another three years to do, what I am finishing up on now.

It was a surreal feeling when I was told that I would be recommended parole just as it was a surreal feeling when I was denied and told to do three more years. Now, I know that you may be thinking, “what is three more years after you have done so much time now?” Well, it is not the time, amount of time, it is the mindset that one has to go through in order to do the time.

I believe that there is a lot of institutional behaviors, thoughts and habits that one must shed before going home. Behaviors, thoughts and habits that are needed to survive within prison.

What roles am I talking about? Well, there are many roles that one has to play and I will try to give you some examples. One thing that seems to be noticeable is how possessive guys can be. Not only are they possessive they will take your life for some of these possessions. Things such as small as a spot on the floor. There are five TV’ s on the unit and the units are open so that means that it is like being in a crowded room all the time. They give us plastic chairs and guys come out in the morning and put there chairs in what is “their” spots on the floor. To move a guys chair is disrespectful and one will get hurt for this type of disrespect.

To move a guys shower stuff that is hanging on the shower door is a act of disrespect and one will get hurt about that. Another thing is that one often has to go to the showers in tennis shoes or boots, in the event that something breaks out. One has to be ready at all times for what ever may happen. Or what about not being able to take a nap during the day while the cell doors are unlocked. Or having to defecate with one leg out of ones pants. To get caught using that bathroom with both legs in your pants can cost you your life. It is hard to defend yourself when you are sitting on the toilet so you have to make sure that your legs don’t get tied up in your pants.

There are many roles that one has to take on in order to survive in here so to be told that I may be going home I felt that I needed to shed those roles and step into the role of being a law abiding citizen. A person who don’t get crazy stares for walking around in slippers. A person who don’t have to walk by a dying person and act as if nothing is going on. I think that has to have been one of the hardest things to adapt to. To see a guy getting stabbed to death and to have to walk away while hearing the screams and pleas of a dying man. To wake up everyday and to see the bloodstains from the events that have taken place over the years. It use to be hard to sleep at night when I was in Lorton. Lorton was open dormitory and there was always action going on. When the dorm lights went out the predators came out.

Well those are the skill that I didn’t want to take back to the free world with me so when I went to see the parole board the first time I thought that I was done with having to deal with all of the stuff that one has to deal with in prison. When I was denied parole I was stuck in between two worlds and it was hard to readjust to having to do three more years. That was the hardest part of that process. It was like day one all over again.

So this time around I think that I am hopefully but that is about it. I mean I would love to make parole and come home but the reality is that until I am actually released I have to stay focused on doing time. This is a tragedy for those guys that can’t get out of these roles, easily. They take the prison mentality home with them and the prison mentality is criminal therefore it is easy to result back to crime. That is the state that many find themselves in when they can’t switch roles.

I think that I will be alright as long as I can tell the difference and keep in my head that it is just a phase and that one day it will pass.

Continued from previous entry My First Night in Lorton

so here i am in this new world without a clue as to what is next. so they bring me my first breakfast of eggs and waffles. i hear guys starting to get up in their cells and talk amongst themselves about the current events of the prison, and trust me the talk was not one that you would have at your dinner table. after i eat i strip down to my underwear and lay down, staring at nothing. these cells were about 8 by 10 and fairly small. so am laying there in this hot ass cell in my underwear listening to these guys talk about everything from rape to murder. there had been at that time a recent killing and as a result a lot of tension n the joint at the time that i got there. so the time is passing but to me it doesn’t matter what time it is the only thing the matter is the night and the day. the day that the sun rises and the day that the sun sets. that his the only thing that i am thinking about. as the day passes i begin to count the cinderblocks in the cell, this is how i found enjoyment for the next three days. on the third day i fake chest pains just to get out of the cell and the co says be cool today is the day that you go to population. so i pack my stuff and he pops the door and sends me out. he says that you are going to 7 dorm. do you know where that is at. i say no and he says just walk to the end of the walkway and turn left and go upstairs. that was it. nothing else. so i brace myself and step out on the walk, and all hell breaks loose. it is a recreation movement and chaos everywhere. i had no idea what to do. out of no where i see a guy that i know and he says to me he talib what is up? where are you going to. i say to 7 dorm and he says cool i am in the same dorm and we let me help you with your stuff. so he grabs a bag and i grab a bag and we are off to 7dorm. we get there and there is this big black metal door and he starts banging on the door, as if there was a secret code for entry. the co comes to the door and opens it and we step in. she says go and find somewhere to sleep. and that was that. i walk through the entry way and was surprised that no one paid me any attention. they had become so use to the intake shit and that whole thing that there was nothing new about it. at the end of the day the question was none of this matters if he can’t survive the dorm area. there were 140 people in this dorm and all of them were violent offenders, mostly of the younger crowd with sentences of 30 years and better. the minute that i stepped into the dorm area it hit me. the first song that i heard blaring through an old grey radio that belonged to a guy, who at that time had 33 years in prison and was on his 60s was the song makes me wanna halla by marvin gaye. “makes me wanna halla and throw up my hands” i find a bunk and sit down and put my head in my hands in a effort to hide the tears of anger, frustration, and fear. it was a warehouse of black men, and only black men, living in the most archaic and inhumane conditions that i had ever seen. i get up and walk through the dorm and see a few familiar faces and socialize for a few. the next thing that i know it is  night time. or the time when the blue light comes on. that is the time that the main lights go off and the night lights that are blue come on. this is the appointed hour when all hell breaks loose. i laid in bed that night thinking to myself that i could not go to sleep tonight. not the first night. no not the first night. so i lay in bed dozing in and out until i can no longer fight it and fall off into a light sleep. than all of a sudden i hear this alarm go off and i jump out of my sleep and look around. i see flames and hear screaming. there was the smell of burning skin and hair in the air. so lurch up and sure enough there was another guy in flames. he had done nothing wrong to no one but there was another guy in the hole that wanted to come to that unit and for that someone had to go in the hole. so they set fire to this guy to get him out. that was my first night in general population!