An Inmate's Perspective on Prison Life Why Assaults Happen #1
I am a visitor to an inmate at the State Prison Complex Lewis in Buckeye, AZ on a weekly basis and have been for over 5 years. With the inmate that I visit I have asked him to tell me some of the things that happen in prison that us, in outside life, have no knowledge of. There are several articles out on the internet from employees of the Prison System, their opinions, but I have yet to find anything that is written by an inmate about things that happen inside. The inmates that I have contact with are violent offenders, most doing life for murder or something equally as horrific, yet I find that most have a mind that works and are willing to share with me what happened to put them there. The most profound subject that they share with me is their desire to "help" families of inmates, of family members that may be heading their way, to understand EXACTLY what prison is, and what to expect. Violence, assaults, happens daily in their lives. This article is from an inmate, unnamed as they can NOT profit from their crimes, and is the first in a collection of stories that I will share.
Why assaults happen.....People are often assaulted while in the prison system here. They are all assaulted in different forms and violence from your basic chin/cheek to touch-ups to being air vac'd actually off the yard, to getting hit.
First off, the least violent form we have is the chin-cheek. Some will get chin cheeked for something basic like sagging pants or getting mouthy with their superiors. Touched up and chin cheeked is used as a warning tool to individuals who have been found to be in violation of rules and expectations that are to be followed by the rest of the people. And at the same time to teach others everywhere else what will happen if they break those same guidelines they are forced to abide by. You'll get touched up nice for buying dope you can't pay for and or late on your payment. And, not going to rec or chow, which is mandatory in the respectable communities. Getting caught by the Corrections Officers with some dope, a shank, and/or a cell phone. And for doing business with another race when you are ordered not to.
When somebody is found to be in one of these violations and has to be touched up, instead of a chin cheek, you are notified of it, so when the cops aren't looking, usually 2 people will come to your cell and 1 person will keep point either right outside your door or just inside. The guy will step in and say you know whats up and beat you up pretty good, leaving your face busted up good so others can see it and make sure to not make those same mistakes, warnings that you can see.
A different type of assault on a more violent level that happens, with a more serious issue will call for them to be "smashed off the yard." This can happen to you for reason such as, when you were arrested, you snitched on your co-defendants, you really disrespected somebody involved in the gang. You continue to get touched up and for some reason you can't get your act together. Or you are from a gang rival to the one in power on that yard. Your charges are unacceptable, you are a "cho-mo" (child molester), rapist, things along those lines. Your will get ran up on by "torpedos". These "torpedos" are guys who do not care about the C.O.'s and are trying to put in work to then "earn their stripes" (respect/status) within their gang. As I said, they will catch you off guard and get the job done, usually 2 or 3 guys. When you've done things that call for you to be "smashed off the yard" it's usually done in front of the whole population C.O.'s and all. Like in the line to the chow hall or at rec. You will be "stomped out" with no regards for your well being to make a public service announcement to everybody and as a warning that if you violate, you will be "air vac'd" off the yard. A term to describe to a person who has suffered enough head trauma to the point to where they need a medical air evacuation by helicopter to the Emergency Room.
Now, the final thing I would like to discuss is an actual true hit. There is a lot of shanks in prison, metal can be broken off of virtually anything and sharpened for murder. Remember, everything in here is concrete and steel. People are hit like that in here are more common than the common person would think. It really seems like is in here all just sit back and wait for it to happen, most of us want to see it happen in real time. But only a very few actually have the aspirations and ambitions for that. Very few walk around with that blood lust lurking behind our eyes like a sleeping beast, but it happens and there is bonafide killers walking around everywhere you look. To those few who will carry out these hits, they are all aspiring to be "made", they are striving for full membership to their gang. Once they do it right they are rewarded with their very own patch. Now those guys have to be recognized by somebody of rank way before they actually are up for the opportunity to actually carry one of these out. Usually they have to put in work as a torpedo first for years to learn all the in's and out's of everyday prison life. And make it to a high enough level of experience, where they are able to be on a level where they themselves can now be in control of a yard or more. And be the one setting the standard for the rest of his people. Just because you are willing to kill in the name of your gang doesn't necessarily mean you have what it takes to actually have the proper ruling skills. Also, during your pre-hit days and well after, you have to make money and kick it back up to the ranks as well.
Now if you can't do this up to the standards that you are supposed to be doing it to, then you yourself can end up on the wrong side of said hit. Before or after you are made it doesn't really matter. You still have to make money and rule correctly or you are done. Another reason you can end up like that is by snitching on your fellow gang members, trying to put hits on other patch holders, lying to your fellow gang members, about things such as why you've made the calls you've made, not paying all that you are expected to pay because you happen to be skimming off the top. Or you are really just faking the funk, by only being down for the guys you plead loyalty to only when you were you were locked up, and as soon an you get out of prison you go A.W.O.L. Now that is a common mistake people make often and made by many. It is a prison gang, yes, but your membership is forever and if you go home you still need to stay in contact with the rest of "The Family" and continue to organize the hits out on the streets and as expected to make money and send it back to your higher ups. Because when you are "green-lighted" (put on the hit list) you are as good as dead. There is always somebody that is ready to get "wet" (spill blood). When that happens, this is how it happens. They plan out, when is the best time for them to get into your cell unnoticed, some C.O.'s are known to turn a blind eye and feign ignorance later. So 2 pre-chosen ones will find you unawares, come with a point man, one who will watch for trouble. Come with a big shank, usually it's as big as they can get, and sharp enough to punch through cloth and skin, and strong enough not to break on impact. They sneak into your cell and maybe have the #2 man beat you up or hold you down while the guy stabs you all over your body, neck, chest, stomach until you are dead. Clean up all the blood, lay you on your bunk so it looks like you are sleeping cover you with a blanket, make it out unseen, lose the shank, get rid of the bloody clothes, wash up. And wait for him to be found, then you might or might not get caught, either way when the higher ups get confirmation, you get made. Patch holder official member and the cycle continues.....