Prison is the most unforgiving place in the world. In this environment, it’s all about surviving and protecting yourself from other prisoners who prey on the weaker prisoners. Some prisoners believe if they can’t get some of your store or personal packages, then you don’t matter and some will even try to pressure you out of your stuff.
So, you have to stand up for yourself and not become a victim. Sometimes standing up for yourself can get you placed in solitary confinement. For me, I consider going to solitary confinement a badge of honor. Being in solitary confinement shows staff and other prisoners that I will stand up for myself. You’re not going to mistreat me. I will fight to protect myself and my personal property.
For years, I held onto that belief system. However, the system believes that people who commit crimes deserve to be punished, be put in prison, and have the keys thrown away forever. Furthermore, the prison strips a person of what dignity they have left.
For example, every time a person who is in solitary confinement leaves the housing unit they’re placed in leg, waist, and wrist restraint. When the prisoner is escorted to his or her appointment, the prison staff escorts them around the prison, saying to the other prisoners “look he’s in waist, wrist, and leg restraints like a caged animal,” thus effectively silencing his or her voice by minimizing their humanity as well as their self-worth.
The last time I was in solitary confinement was January 3rd, 2011. I went to solitary confinement for a battery on an inmate with great bodily injuries. Those charges were dropped to battery on an inmate without great bodily injuries. To make matters worse, I had seven confidential informants snitch on me.
While in solitary confinement I began to cry, because I realized that I was still making bad choices and bad decisions. Furthermore, I realized that I was fighting the rage that had been built up inside of me from being denied by the parole board, and the rejection and abandonment by my father.
In my mind, the fight vindicated me. What helped me get through this troublesome and difficult time was feeling the presence of my mama reaching her hands down to me, saying, “Son, get up, it’s okay. Yes, I’m disappointed in you, but I’m not mad at you. You’re my son and I love you more than words can ever be express. Son, the only thing I want you to know is did you learn from your decisions? Because if you did not learn from your decisions, then not only are you hurting yourself, but you’re hurting your family, your mama, and the rest of your family who wants you home. But most importantly, son, you’re prolonging your stay in prison.”
After that experience, I came to the realization that no matter how gloomy my days may be, every time I hear Sam Cooke singing “A Change Gonna Come,” immediately my spirit is uplifted. I have a huge smile on my face and my day gets brighter.