08 Aug 08
From Warrior (Letter 2)
Warrior - Serving fourteen years for kidnapping and aggravated assault. Half Hispanic and Scottish-Irish with family still in Mexico. Brought up by a family steeped in drug commerce.
Hello! How are you? I hope all is well and you’re keeping that positive mindset. It’s about being reflective, remembering where you’ve been, having confidence in where you’re going and savoring where you’re at. One can never savor prison though.
The rapist blog certainly received a lot of strong opinions. I was surprised. It’s cool to know that some people do listen and sympathize. I’m having to really think over what to write about. I can’t help but reflect on the thoughts of your readers. All the ones who felt I was in the wrong and/or was in the right. I admit I’ve done my share of wrongs to some in here. At times I administered prison justice. On other occasions, I intervened for some poor soul who didn’t know any better.
In response to the question you posed about what we did to the rapist, one of your readers stated something to the effect that “it’s a double-edged sword/loaded question.” So true. It’s prison politics at its most defined. All that I’ve experienced, seen, been accomplice to, and read, have afforded me this insight. I heard once that prison is called a concrete jungle because the law of the jungle applies. The strong prey on the weak. Eventually, you’re on one side of the line that divides the two. You’re either a predator or prey. No middle ground. Survival of the fittest much like social Darwinism.
Imagine that hateful bully from high school. Self-serving. Belligerent. Cruel. Now imagine being surrounded by hundreds of school bullies daily. Prison is full of them. They’re forced to deal with their own kind. Some get a good dose of reality and change. Others merely sharpen their skills and become more brutal. Prison is a society all of its own.
I read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Kind of a cheesy plot but the message stuck with me: we’re givers or takers in the world no matter where we are. If society were to collapse today because of some catastrophe, then the laws that govern prison would govern society.
We are all products of our environment to a certain degree. Sometimes, this is never clear in prison. Civility is nonexistent practically. It’s more a case of “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
An animalistic nature becomes the norm, and a once civilized man is likely to transform. You drift into another world, never realizing how far you’ve drifted until you spill your own blood or that of others. Instinct becomes the voice you listen to, not what’s right or wrong. Prison converts you to your most basic, most sadistic, most animalistic. Power is measured by brute force over intelligence. Impressions are based on what you see, respect then follows.
You see selectively, allowing things into view that affect you directly.
You always question, “Am I still human? Still civil? Can I function in society?”
It’s hard to ignore details that accompany certain crimes. Like how a child rapist only got five or seven years because the judge sympathized with what happens to sex offenders in prison, yet the five-year-old victim had to have reconstructive surgery on her vagina and is now on hormones for the rest of her life because she had to have her ovaries removed – the rape was that brutal.
It’s hard to ignore the crackhead thief who steals from his loved ones or an old lady coming out of a store because she was an easy target. His habit remains the same in prison. Chasing drugs, thieving and bullying.
It’s hard to ignore the insecure C.O. who comes to work with a chip on his shoulder and feels it’s a job perk to vent on inmates. He feels he has no control in his life except in here and is intoxicated with a sense of power. No different than an inmate.
There are a few who take it upon themselves to change their ways of thinking. They read, learn, and do everything in their power to rehabilitate themselves. But they are few and far between. They educate themselves in other ways of thought, gather information to empower themselves, and learn to value different perspectives.
In prison you pay attention to characters not names. Character doesn’t change, but it becomes better at disguising itself. If I’ve taken away anything from this place, it’s that character is everything in the end.
“Moral order seen through the medium of an individual nature.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Mastery over your thoughts and actions.” – Ghandi.
An old convict told me this once: “Youngster, based on character, you need to remember this motto: we all need to be thankful for what we’ve got, and be grateful that we didn’t get what we really deserve.”
That was on my mind, Shaun. Max Stirner once said, “The State calls it’s own violence, law, but that of the individual, crime.” So true. But c’est la vie.
Love life, buddy. Live your life as you chase your dream. Discover your passion. Be fearless as we’re all exactly where we’re supposed to be. Embrace who you are now because who and where you are now will not always be.
P.S. If your readers ever get a chance tell them to read The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil by Dr. Philip Zimbardo. It’s the best book I’ve ever read concerning prison dynamics and the psychology behind it.
To read From Warrior (Letter 1) click here.
If you have any questions about prison for Warrior please post them in the comments section.
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Copyright © 2007-2008 Shaun P. Attwood