Views from Inside

Gang fights happen because guards instigate Black or Mexican or white as a separate “culture.” Young women get here scared and intimidated. They are lonely, some separated from their families for the first time. The prison does not provide any social outlet, any constructive way to relate to others. The only ways they see are gangs or prison “families.” So that’s what they get into. Whatever their identity was before they came to prison, the prison makes them race conscious. But we are all God’s children. Color does not matter. This here is not rehabilitation, it is not healthy.
* * *
Prison forces people to associate with gangs based on race. It is very ugly. Usually they set up Black against Mexican gangs. Recently a gang of Mexican women beat up someone. There are a lot of silent fights, sometimes over nothing. The guards may not even know. But even when there is a complaint, they mostly let it go. I am trying to be a voice without anger.
* * *
The prison separates people by race. Not just inmates, but even employees. My boss is a Black man, the only Black man in the shop and many days it seems that he is the only one working. Black people have it the worst in here.
* * *
The way guards create discord is that they may come in to do a room search and blame it on one person. That will get others mad at her. Sometimes they will confiscate things of the other seven women in the room and leave things of the one on whom they blamed it. That creates even more tension. This can particularly hurt lifers who may have accumulated more things.