Prison Politics (by Warrior)
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. He writes some of the best prison-fight stories on the Internet.
It was dinner time, and three guys were sat with me at the chow table.
“Hey, did you vatos catch that shit on the news?” Casper asked.
“Nah, what?” Chino said.
“The State’s talking about releasing a grip of us,” Casper said.
“What?” Chino said.
“I caught bits and pieces of that,” Balla said.
“The State’s also talking about changing the sentencing guidelines again. Dropping it down from eighty-five percent to sixty-five or seventy percent,” I said.
“Yeah, they said the prisons are too overcrowded and shit,” Casper said.
“You really think they’ll really do that, Warrior?” Chino asked.
“I’d like to hope so,” I said. “I heard some shit on the news about the Feds asking the State where’s all this unaccounted for money they gave the State.”
“Anybody with any sense knows politicians pocket the shit,” Casper said. “Arizona is a retirement state. Politicians retire here, so they line the pockets of the legislators when it comes to law. Or they exchange cash for Capitol Hill favors. Remember that Fife Symington? Our dirty old governor got busted and found guilty of all kinds of real-estate fraud. Didn’t do a minute in jail. If that was a Mexican, he’d be doing life.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Balla said.
“That’s not the only reason,” I said. “Most people don’t understand the law, even the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. It was the Reagan Era that set the stage for where we are today with the prison system. It went from rehabilitation to punishment, and all those prison riots popped off in the eighties. Two Bushes later, and we’re in this do-eighty-five-percent-of-your-time mess, and they’re locking people up faster than they can build prisons. All the rehab programs and educational funding got cut to build prison, and line the pockets of politicians. Now we have the most people incarcerated per capita in the world.”
“And Arizona’s one of the dirtiest in this game,” Balla said. “I don’t think they’ll release any of us early.”
“Balla’s right,” Chino said.
“True, but peep this,” Casper said. “Cali did it.”
“And you vatos know that Arizona follows suit with Cali a lot,” I said. “Many of our laws are surrogates from Cali. Once Cali passes a law, Arizona waits to witness a loophole, amends it, then implements it. That’s why we get fucked.”
“I didn’t know that,” Balla said.
“Not many do,” I said. “Prison’s big business. With all the money to be made per each incarcerated individual, you think politicians want to make it easy for us to get out? The politicians have prison conventions, where it’s like a state fair. Instead of ‘Knock down the milk bottles to win a prize,’ it’s ‘Stab the shank through the vest and win one-hundred dollars.’ And they label us crazy!”
“Are you serious?” Chino asked.
“That ain’t the half of it,” I said. “Texas prisons make Eddie Bauer clothes. If you vatos ever get a chance, read Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation by Joseph T. Hallinan. It’ll open your eyes.”
“Time will tell if we get out early or not,” Casper said.
“At least something good might come from this fucked-up economy,” Balla said.
We all nodded in hopeful agreement.
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Shaun P. Attwood