Far From Home (by Guest Blogger Big Jason) 

Big Jason was incarcerated as a youth in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Durango jail and the Arizona Department of Corrections Adobe Mountain juvenile facility for assault, attempted burglary, and violation of probation.

Arriving at the unit that would be my future home, I realized this wasn't like the intake unit I had just left. This place had a more sinister aura as reaffirmed by the hardened faces sizing me up. I was in a group of five guys going Unit II. Other fresh meat ended up spread out amongst other units and cottages. Placement into one of these was dependent on your age, crime and threat level. My crimes meant a medium threat level status and gen pop (general population) designation.

The on-duty officer had us line up to assign our cells, giving the crowd that had gathered a better look at the new arrivals. My nerves were on edge. This was my first time doing state time .Some of these guys had been doing this for years. We were in their home, and it wouldn't take long for them to show it.

We went to our assigned cells and my cellie was a black guy named Clarence from BHB (Bounty Hunter Bloods Gang). He had just violated parole, and was in an orange jumpsuit and sporting a red painted pinky finger nail [his gang color]. The cell was dank and humid. The steel bed frame was aged with years of graffiti and primal carvings embedded through out countless layers of paint. A lone stainless steel toilet and sink kept us company.

Day came and went. The small windows let in an orange glow from the sodium lights used to illuminate the grounds at night.

I remember hearing the first whimper and thinking, No this cant be happening. Our cells shared air vents and you could see into the cell next to yours by looking into it. As I got closer and peered in, I caught a glimpse of another new guy being shoved around. I didn't want anyone to notice that I was watching, but the new guy saw me and came to the vent.

He was crying and asked me to get staff for help. As messed up as it was, I couldn't because of the strict no snitching code. Clarence had gotten up to see what was going on also. By the time he arrived, the new guy was being punched repeatedly and pressured to give his attacker oral sex. He refused and ended up being pummeled some more until he collapsed.

My new cellie and I looked at each other in disgust and shook our heads. Part of me wanted to defend this kid, but I couldn't. I retreated to my bunk and tried to process the days events, and what was probably going to happen to the kid one cell over. I knew it wasn't going to be good. The next day proved my suspicion when the kid didn't come out for chow or rec time. The staff took notice and sent the kid to the hospital while his predator cellie was transferred to a gang cottage for the more violent and dangerous offenders.

I wasn’t mentally prepared for what I had witnessed. The feelings of anger I had burned inside me. A cold dark reality had set in: This is my home. These are the people I have to live with.

292 comments:

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Francisco Bacon said...

What, exactly, is a "gang cottage"?

Jason said...

The gang cottage was reserved for the most hardcore gang members.Many of the guys in them were awaiting transfer to adult prison or were in for murder and repeated assaults. Unlike the units which were shaped like giant x's , the cottages were smaller and rectangle shaped and lacked a toilet/sink in the individual cells.

Beatings , stabbings and riots were commonplace in the gang cottages.

~Big Jason

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