Tales From The Cells is the reality inside United States Prisons, both Federal and State. We are involved in advocacy and reform! Redemption and confession with our My Story section and lost, lonely souls with our Pen Pal section. We give prisoners a voice, a platform to tell their story, to offer up their lifestyle inside, and to air problems within the prison walls. This is as close to the inside as you will ever get without actually walking inside the world within a world. Reality at it's finest, Can you handle the Truth?

On Balance, Part I PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Katfish   
Thursday, 17 December 2009 02:27



After reviewing my last 3 Yaz blogs, I've come to the realization that they reveal only the negative aspects of the experience thus far. That simply won't do. There are some positive aspects as well. I'd like to share them. But first, let's go back to the beginning...

...at 3:00am on August 31st, 2009, thirty-two convicts at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center were herded into a holding cell that had chromed diamond plate on the walls. I was one among many. We were fed baloney sandwiches and kool-aid. We were then strip searched, dressed out in white t-shirts, elastic waistband khaki pants, and blue canvas deck shoes. Next, we were shackled, cuffed, belly-chained and then funneled onto a bus where we spent the next eleven hours traveling. First we rolled south from the Oklahoma City-Federal Transfer Center thru the night. By the time the sun broke the horizon we were in Texas. We eventually made our way to Dallas. It was my first ever trip thru Dallas. A very groovy city as far as I could tell. Huge town. My kind of place. Too damn bad it's in Texas. I hate Texas. In Dallas we changed directions. Now Eastbound on I-20.

On and on and on. Long bus ride. Louisiana border crossed. Then we drove thru Shreveport. Thru Bossier City. Swamps and Bayous outside the windows. I'm unclear as to what the difference is between a swamp and a bayou. Mile after mile after mile. Cuffs grinding wrists, into ankles. Five stops. Five rests for the guards. Zero convict rests. Sit. Chained. Immobile and chained. Grueling, baby. All the way across Louisiana. Cross the river at Vicksburg, Mississippi. River? What river?

The Mighty Mississippi. That's what river.

“Holy shit”, I said. “Look! Look at that river. Oh-man, look at that fucker. Look there! A boat! Man, that's sure a big son of a bitch. I know what that is. It's a....uh...is one of those...umm fuck. What are those boats again?”

“It's a riverboat,” a convict yawned at me.

“That's right. I knew that. A riverboat. Gambling and shit. Man, that's so cool. Would you look at that,” I said.

“Big honken deal. So what,” drawled another convict.

“Is a big deal to me, Pal”, I responded, frowning at the guy. I guess if you grew up on or around the Mississippi River, then neither the river nor the Riverboats are as grand as they are to me. On balance, I grew up in the Denver area, and tho' the Rockies probably are majestic to first timers, they're totally ho-hum to me. I mean if you've seen one Rocky Mountain, you've seen them all. Nonetheless, I love that river. I wanna go on one of them boats some day too. I hear they got strippers. Bonus.




We arrived at Yazoo City, Mississippi a couple hours later, entering the Federal Correctional Complex at 3:00pm. More or less. “Complex” means there's a camp, a medium security prison and a low security prison. Half the convicts de-bussed at the medium. The rest of us went to the low. They send me to low security joints for many reasons.

Primarily three. First; I'm considered non-violent. My last (and ONLY) violent crime was in August of 1979. Thirty motherfucking years ago. Second; The vast majority of my convictions are victimless, the last being committed in 1983. Third; I've never escaped, walked away, or run off from ANY Prison, Jail, Honor Camp or Halfway house. NEVER. Therefore my security designation is classified as “Low”. Natch. I should really be at a camp, but Texas falsified me out of that. So anyway, we de-bussed outside the low. Terrific weather, baby. Green trees and green grass everywhere. Way better than the West Texas Desert w/ it's poisonous arsenic water. They processed us in about 4 hours. Not bad. Colorado once took 3 months with me.

I'm assigned to Building 2, B side, Lower Unit (2BL). A chunky yet friendly black female guard let me in after I pushed a loud buzzer button next to the door. Inside 2BL I was temporarily assigned to the Fishbowl until a bunk opened in a cubicle. That was the SECOND thing I noticed: cubicles. In Big Dump, Texas (where I was a hostage from July of 2005 thru August of 2009), their main concern is how many convicts they can cram into each dorm. Warehousing bodies is their business and business is good. Big Dump is OPEN dorms, 4 rows of bunks side by side, bunk locker bunk locker. On and on like that. Nearly 1500 men crammed into 2 buildings. Four years living 36 inches from the next man. No chairs. No tables. No desks. Bunks, lockers and men. Fuck Big Dump (aka FCI Big Spring). Thus the three man cubicles herein with 6 foot cider block walls were a most welcome sight. And as I said, that was the second thing I noticed. That's because the FIRST thing I noticed was the sea of black faces.




Listen, dude- I don't give a shit who you are or who you think you are. They drop your lily-white ass into the midst of nothing but Black convicts, you're going to be decidedly skittish. I am a very large White man. Very big. Even so, there are still fellas herein bigger than me. No matter how big you are, there's ALWAYS someone bigger. I'm 50 fucking years old and that's a lesson I learned way back.

One White face in a sea of Black faces.




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