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 The Importance of Programming

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PostSubject: The Importance of Programming   Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:26 am

The politics of programming in the penitentiary can be complicated because of how the system is set up. There are over two hundred thousand people incarcerated today in the federal prison system. This number encompasses every level of security throughout the bureau of prisons, from the minimally controlled camps to the fortified penitentiaries.

When everyone of these individuals was sentenced by the United States of America they all had one thing in common; the opportunity to choose how they will serve their time. The choice to either make the most of themselves out of a bad situation, or get swallowed up in the belly of the beast.

Most inmates go the “convict” route when they enter their new dwellings. Getting high, gambling, and sitting in front of the TV is how they choose to pass the time. Others workout and play sports to bide their time inside. While the other small minority try to take classes and programs that will give them a fighting chance to stay out of the concrete jungle that confines them. What those in the final assemblage discover is their path through education is the most arduous of them all.

Just to set foot inside a classroom in the BOP takes overcoming multiple obstacles. The first of which is for there to actually be a class to walk into.

In the lower security institutions there is no shortage of vocational training and other programs to help set a foundation towards a successful release from prison. Out of the two hundred thousand inmates, twenty four thousand are housed behind the maximum security electric fences of the penitentiary. Inside these penitentiaries, none of these programs exist. Most people on the outside believe that there is a multitude of college courses and job training that is provided inside these gates. But the only classes available for the population are created and taught by fellow inmates.

Behind these walls, inmates have to abide by two sets of rules. Those levied by the administration and the other, far more critical precepts, enforced by the convicts.

The first set of rules will only get you thrown in segregation, with a loss of privileges. Breaking the latter set of regulations can get you killed. With the administrations bylaws written in black and white, it’s easy to know when you’re breaking the rules. But with the convicts code of ethics, it’s more open to interpretation. That judgment of right or wrong falls squarely on the shoulders of whoever has the most numbers on the yard.

If you’re well liked on the compound, or “good for the economy” then you can do no wrong. The more “homeboys” you have to back you up, the more you can get away with.

Sticking to yourself and doing your own thing is the best way to leave prison without any permanent scars. But the less you interact with the population, the easier it is for you to be “voted off the island”. If you don’t have “good dudes” backing you up, any little thing can get you hit.

The constant fluxuation of leaders or “shot callers” can easily make what was once legal under a previous regime, a death sentence below a new oligarchy. These prison politics are one of the biggest hindrances there are towards inmates educating themselves for a successful release into society.

In the penitentiary, if you’re going to talk to a staff member, you have to bring another inmate with you. This is to ensure the “community” that you’re not telling on something. It doesn’t matter that there’s countless other ways to “rat”, if you’re going to do so. This precept has been a staple in the convicts code for decades.

With this statute firmly enforced, it makes any type of one on one learning, with anyone other then an inmate, almost non-existent. The only way for someone to get the extra help they require, is through an inmate tutor or facilitator. This in return creates a catch-22 for those that are willing to help.

The inmate instructors, at some point will be alone around the staff members over-seeing the program. Whether it’s turning in tests, requesting copies of materials, or simply asking for pencils, the inmate’s going to “slip” and do it unaccompanied.

At that point it’s all up to the inmates popularity on the yard, and how the shot caller is feeling that day whether or not that little slip just got them jumped from behind by two convicts on their way to chow. Another stigma an inmate educator faces is the view that they are “being the police”. This belief materializes out of their position of authority.

Most inmate facilitators are held responsible for the classrooms they teach in. This includes taking attendance and making sure nothing inside of the rooms is destroyed. This can lead to major problems. Marking a person down as being absent is the same thing in some cons eyes as getting up on the stand, pointing your finger directly at someone, and shouting “He did it!”

Also, in a world where everything is a potential weapon, convicts are always on the hunt for a new trinket they can file down into a point. When an inmate instructor has to stop them from dismantling a typewriter, TV, or desk, some serious retaliation can be expected.

The teacher also has to interact with convicts that want credit for a class and never showing up. When they’re denied the accreditation, a verbal confrontation is the best case scenario that is sure to follow.

From the students perspective, they have to deal with other convicts taunting them for going to class. The same way it was in elementary school when there was always that one kid that had to say something demeaning, prison holds the same cards. Which of course, leads to the minions throwing in their two cents worth.

The student can also get into a situation with the shot callers if something is transpiring on the yard and they’re not there to crash out with everyone else. Trying to get educated is no excuse to a politico when they want you to fall on a knife for them. Misery loves company, and prison is the number one exporter in the business.



There are two thousand inmates leaving the federal penitentiaries every year. The recidivism rate for those individuals is at a staggering high. With one out of every two getting arrested within the first year of their release, and two thirds reentering the system within five years, it’s easy to recognize that changes must come from both sides. Until that happens, those seeking to better themselves inside these walls, will find their path to freedom as the most formidable one.
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PostSubject: Re: The Importance of Programming   Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:26 am

The intangibles of prison etiquette by Judge Broman:

''There are things that we do in prison that take some time to get use too. The intangibles of prison etiquette is very distinct. Little habits or quirks that don’t make all that much sense when you first come inside. But eventually over the years they become as ingrained in your routine as breathing. Or, your eyes get opened REAL quick another way.

Your NEVER spit toothpaste in the sink for one. You always sit with your back against a wall. You always walk to the shower in your boots, and when you’re there, you ALWAYS have someone standing outside.

It took me awhile to get use to most of these things. I started out my bid in a medium security prison where acts of violence were few and far between everyday routines.

My celly would look at me crazy when I’d spit my toothpaste in the sink after I got done brushing my teeth. Finally I just got to the point of not wanting to feel the eyes burning into my back, so that broke me of that habit.

Watching TV, I would sit wherever I damn well pleased. Ignorantly blissful with my headphones blasting and feet kicked up on a chair. Prison be damned, the Steelers are playing and nothing else comes even remotely close to carrying my interest.

That custom dissipated immediately after I saw someone get a hot iron broken over his skull and THEN beat to a pulp with a lock on a belt while he was in never never land immersed in rap videos.

From that day on it’s been only one earphone over my ear and the back of my chair firmly pasted against the nearest wall. My periphery vision soaking up any would be assassins long before they could strike.

For the shower thing, it took me coming to the penitentiary before I fully embraced this grandstanding.

I could appreciate the comings and goings to the bathing area in some other form of footwear other then flip-flops. [Although I pretty much went everywhere barefoot on the street and sandals were a step up in wardrobe.]

My rationing that something could happen on my walk to and fro, so better to be prepared just in case. But also thinking if something does happen while I’m in the shower, there’s no way to get some clothes on and THEN put on my boots. Whatever little skirmish would surely be thwarted by the CO’s by that point. So in essence, what’s the use? But I still went along with the ritual, no reason to rock the boat. But to have someone standing outside the shower as I washed seemed to go to far.

A lot of the gangs are known to always have a “spotter” for each other as they shower. Most notable the Latin Kings and the rest of the Midwest Four. [Folks, Gangster Disciples, and the Vice Lords.] Everybody else pretty much just did their own thing.

I took out of this that the Midwest Four had to of been or done some scandalous shit that they had to be scared to even take a shower! But hey, they signed up to be in a gang, so that’s on them. I was far removed from dealings with any of them, so in my eyes, shower freely.

Over eight years into my time I stayed this way. I thought that I’d seen it all. I’d been a spectator to multiple murders, an uncountable number of stabbings, and one glorious riot to traumatize my tree hugging mind. Then I witnessed what would break me of my solitary shower time.

The Nortenos are a Mexican gang from Northern California, although their numbers aren’t as large as their nemesis the Surenos from Southern California, they’re known widely for their ferociousness. They weren’t the biggest gang on the yard, but they also weren’t the smallest either. That honor was bestowed upon the Border Brothers.

The Brothers are another Mexican gang mostly from Arizona, with some factions in California and New Mexico. They’re predominantly from Mexico and other Central American countries and have come to the United States illegally. Since their numbers are usually fairly small, they try not to have any beefs with bigger gangs.

The hit was put out for 6pm in all the units. The Nortenos were taking the Border Brothers off the yard. Who knows what the reason was, or if there even was one, most of these things come from one person not liking another and then all hell breaks loose. Which was exactly what was going to happen.

You could feel the tension in the air. You always can in a penitentiary, but it’s more of a matter of if it’s you that’s about to get the savagery released on. If it’s not, then you’re there to watch the show.

Apparently Chewco, a BB from Tijuana wasn’t interested in the entertainment when he stepped into the shower at five minutes to six. His celly Vaca the only other BB in the unit, from Mexico City, must of felt the same way. As he sat in his cell oblivious to the misfortune heading his way.

As soon as it struck 6pm, and not a second later, the assault was on.

Three Nortenos stormed the cell on Vaca, knives blazing, as another Northerner held the door shut. All you could hear was the muffled screams as the life was getting sucked from the Chicanos body.

At the same time two Nortenos rushed the shower on Chewco. Ripping open the curtain and blitzing the soaped up paisano, each armed with a hellish bone crusher in hand.

There was nothing muted in the scream that followed Chewco’s offensive. It sounded straight out of a Friday the 13th movie when a girl is running from Jason. He let out such a high pitched shriek that even the two assailants were taken aback, giving him a split second to shoot past them and make a break for it.

All 5 foot 3, 150 lbs. of a butt naked, wet, soapy, and bloody Chewco went tearing out of the shower and down the tier. He was like a thoroughbred shooting out of the gate. His accosters left eating his dust as they pursed him. It looked for sure that Chewco would get away fairly unscathed, until he slipped at the top of the stairs.

It was like the rug got pulled right out from under him. His whole body damn near horizontal in the air before he came crashing down in-between the steel steps. All the air immediately deflated from his lungs, he was motionless.

The two Northerners were on him in the blink of an eye. One kicking him in the head as the other rammed his knife into Chewco’s exposed body. Without any clothes to impede the blade, it was like cutting through butter. Every time he pulled out his knife, blood would come gushing along side it.

We watched in horror as a lifeless Chewco was brutalized by the unrelenting Nortenos. The only thing that saved the little paisano was the wave of CO’s blasting into the unit with their pepper ball guns and mace.

Everyone hit the ground as the vicious little green balls shot around the unit indiscriminately through the noxious fog. Laying there with my shirt pulled over my face I coughed out to my boy Seth “Next time I take a shower, your ass better be suited and booted in front of that motherfucker!” ''
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