Update on the Weenie Guy

He was a ticking time bomb.

I knew he was the moment I first had him in my first group. However, who he would go off on or I guess (jack off) on was a spin of the wheel… and whom ever it landed on would get the unfortunate prize.

I’ll save you the suspense… it wasn’t me!

I did have a group with him once though where I had to tell him to keep his jump suit tight… I don’t exactly know what I saw or catch him in any act, but I know it wasn’t good.

The next time I to went to “Round” or go to the cell’s to ask the Inmate Patients if they wanted to attend group, I addressed it with him:

“Hey Shivers, I just want to remind you that your jump suit needs to be synched all the way, and keep your hands up and away from your privates. I’d really appreciate it!” I said in a light hearted/ serious manner.

“Alright I know, HANDS UP, DON’T SHOOT!!” he responded followed with a snicker.

I thought that was funny… “Hands up, don’t shoot.” As if their ‘thing’ was something you could point at someone… as if it could be a threat to someone… as if it was something that could hurt someone…

But then I learned what he did to get into prison, and let’s just say what he did made him saying “Hands up, don’t shoot” an extremely twisted ironic statement. It was something so sick I’m not even going to mention it here, but when I saw him in group later that day I really had to practice grace and forgiveness.

Regardless, he was respectful towards me then on, and left no room for guessing where his hands were. I was thankful for that.

Last week, I got the long awaited news through email:

The subject read: “IEX INICIDENT”

I opened it and low and behold, the time bomb went off!!  Inmate S had IEX’ed a clinician in a group and now he had to where the Marshmellow Suit if he wanted to come out in the future.

A wave of relief washed over me. My heart broke for the clinician he went off on, but I heard later it didn’t effect her at all and she was fine, so hallelelujah.

What is the marshmellow suit you may ask? It’s a big white semi thick long sleeved, long pants, jumper that zips up in the back, for IEX’ers to wear during groups. It prevents them from accessing their “Gun” so to say…

Usually what happens though is Inmates are too embarrassed to go to group wearing that, so needless to say… I haven’t seen Inmate S in awhile (:

They call him “Big Teddy Bear”

Every Saturday I help run a book club on our level 2 Yard, known as Echo Yard (E Yard). Right now we are reading a book called “All the Light You Cannot See.” So far it’s been a good book for discussion and a good catalyst for a deeper look into the lives of some of the inmates.

Last Saturday one of the guys, let’s call him Will, opened up about his past. I first met Will a year ago on another yard and the first conversation we ever had was about how he had survived 7 bullet wombs. I think the conversation started because I asked him if he was staying warm through this cold weather. The conversation led to him telling about how his joints hurt because of the cold and how since some of the bullets are inside him and made of metal, those also get cold, and he can feel it. It’s not a comfortable feeling.

After that conversation I knew he was someone who had been through a lot, and I got more of a glimpse the other day as he shared a story about his mother…

It was a Friday morning and also the day he would be turning 7. He got ready for school, but as he was running out the door his Mother stops him.

“Nope you’re not going to school today, you’re spendin your birthday with me” He got excited and said “Okay!”

They got in the car and drove to his Grandmother’s house. Now his Grandmother did not have a lot of money and set aside money every week for groceries. When they got there the house had no food, and Will’s Mom told him and his Grandmother that she’s taking her grocery money, and going to go buy some cake and ice cream for his birthday. She tells Will and his grandmother she’ll go pick it up and then bring it back.

Hours go by and Will and his Grandmother sit in the house starving… waiting. Finally it gets to be late at night, Will is hungry and knows his Mom probably didn’t actually go get cake and ice cream. I’m guessing his Grandma was a frail old poor lady with no car to drive, because Will didn’t know what to do and felt he was left with only one option… to walk home.

Can you imagine a small seven year old African American boy, walking 30 blocks starving and ALONE, through south central LA (an area heavy in gang activity), on his 7th BIRTHDAY, all because his Mother didn’t show up with the cake and ice cream like she said she would.

He made it home okay, thank God. As he walked in there were people around his house hanging out with his mom, all drunk and high… I guess by “Cake and Ice Cream” she meant “alcohol and weed…”

He went up to his mom, and as a naive innocent little child would, he asked “Mom, I thought we were going to spend the day together, I thought we were going to eat cake and ice cream? Why did you leave Grandma and I alone starving?”

She turns to him and just says “Son if I can do something like this to you, imagine what other people out there would be able to do.”

I don’t know what lesson she was trying to teach him, or if this was as bad as his mother got, but he wrapped up the story there with stating that instances like that turned him into a very violent and angry person. Didn’t have any empathy for anybody.

But coming to prison forced him into self growth and self realization, which lit a fire under the block of ice his heart was frozen in. A block of ice that people like his Mother helped create. It seems though, that it has been melted for awhile. So much so that his warm essence would have no one EVER guessing that he was once an angry violent man. So much so, that they sometimes refer to him as “The Big Teddy Bear.”

PRISON RIOT!!!!

Last Friday afternoon I received a text from a friend:

I HEARD WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PRISON!! ARE YOU OKAY??

I don’t work Fridays, so when I got this text from a friend who has no relation to the prison I knew something big must of happened. I immediately thought of my coworkers, and hoped everything was okay.

Later that day when my coworkers were off work I was able to get the low down of what happened….

There was a HUGE riot.

What happened? Was any one hurt? Are the other RT’s okay? …I urgently texted my coworker in the  middle of shopping at Trader Joes.

The seconds between his response seemed like minutes while waiting for a reply, which didn’t make the process of narrowing down what snacks I wanted to buy any easier.

I honestly think I did a few laps down the same aisle grabbing something then putting it back, then grabbing something else, then deciding that I wanted both, so putting what I had originally put back, back into the cart…

Anyways I finally got a reply and here’s the whole report:

There was a huge riot at approximately 0900 on A Yard. There were around 50 inmates involved and 10 of them were injured. 1 of them apparently so injured he had to be helicoptered out of the institution.  Any news station you could name was at the prison gathering information, video footage, and reports of what happened.

Later upon returning to work the next week I learned that the rumors about the Mexicans were not as much rumors as they were truth…

You see, the Mexicans were MAD.

They didn’t like SNY inmates (Sensitive Needs Yard- these guys are the gang drop outs, snitches, child molesters, and trans-genders)  being sent to A Yard or I guess “Their yard.” And in case you weren’t aware, here on General Population yards, your race determines a lot. People stick with their kind for the most part. It’s gang politics. That’s just the way it is.

There have been rumors about the Mexicans threatening to stab people and cause all sorts of trouble, in order to try and get it to stop. And there have been small stabbings on other inmates, and weapons being found these past several months….

So I guess it finally got to the point where they said “Screw it, they’re not listening, let’s just start a freakin’ riot.”

And one beautiful Friday morning the Mexicans woke up and started attacking the White guys. Any White man was fair game. The Blacks apparently were kind of just able to scoot toward the side line and avoid trouble. Like I said… your race determines a lot around here.

That night our institution shipped out about 26 inmates that were the supposed aggressors.

And over the weekend, just as the rain washed all the blood away as if nothing had ever happened, so did our Supervisors… washing any concern or memory away and only 3 days later we are up and running program like nothing ever happened…     typical.

FUNNY THINGS INMATES HAVE SAID PT. 2

RT telling riddles… “What has holes but is filled with water?”
Inmate: A bong!
RT: No… a sponge, that was a valid guess though.

 

Inmate: We do ghetto yoga
RT: What’s the difference between ghetto yoga and regular yoga
Imate: We use a twister mat with the colors
RT: Like left hand green right foot red type of thing?
Inmate: YEUP

 

Inmate: Yea this Yard’s crazy, you see stuff that you never thought you’d see
RT: Like what?
Inmate: I’ve seen a guy go from a gang bangin killer, to a full on transgender, back to a man gang bangin killer, then to a long haired dread locked muslim!

 

Inmate: Aint it what it is…
RT: I think your grammar is a little off
Inmate: What??!
RT: *a little louder* I think your GRAMMAR is a little off
Inmate: MY GRANDMA!? …WHAT YOU TALKIN BOUT MY GRANDMA FOR?!

 

To view all inmates as humans, or all humans as inmates…

 Or maybe…. we are all both, inmate and human.

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be an inmate?

Inmates are forced to give up their human rights when coming to prison, often creating a self outlook that they are less than human. That the world would be better without them. That they don’t deserve to run free. That they are broken. That their worth is defined by the cuffs around their wrists and the label on their shirt… “Inmate”

Without even realizing it they will become comfortable in that new identity of being worth nothing, even though their insides are being ripped apart by their own clawing for meaning, purpose, and hope…

Because though they wear the “Inmate” label, though they can be treated like animals at times, they never stopped being human. At the core (even though for some of them it’s deep deep DEEP down there) they still need to feel safe, they still long for love and affection, they still feel emotions, they long to belong somewhere, to have a purpose.

I think we are all inmates. We are imprisoned by what I call the “human condition,” which is our lack of perfection. The parts of us that are broken, selfish, and undeserving of freedom. Or in short, the parts of our humanness that cause us to sin.  

Jesus once said “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34). And it’s true, I have not met one person who is perfect. We all are a slave to sin. We are all imprisoned by the human condition. We are all broken.

And at the same time, we all long to rise above the brokenness and have meaning, purpose, and hope…

We are all both, inmate and human.

But neither of those labels defines our freedom. I have met inmates more free than humans, and humans more imprisoned than inmates, and there is usually a common theme… the inmates here that feel more free than some humans out there almost always believe in Jesus.

Right after Jesus told of how everyone who sins is a slave to sin he says this:

“Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

He is referring to himself, the son of God.

“Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8: 2

We are all both, inmate and human, but though that will always be apart of our nature here on Earth, those labels do not have to define our freedom or our identity. It’s crazy the change and freedom that can come when you accept Jesus as your Lord and savior.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32

So if you have never heard about this truth, or accepted this truth, but understand what I mean when I say we are all broken and are seeking freedom… then I encourage you to explore it (:

A Cheesy Inmate Love Story.

Once upon a time in the confines of building 7 on B yard, in the land known as the “Hole,” one handsome mentally ill inmate found love with a cute and sassy mentally ill transgender.

He was “Cellies” (prison slang for roommates) with his best friend on the upper tier (tier is equivelant to floor). The young green eyed inmate, we’ll call him Bryan, had no idea how his life would change when 4 cells down in moved a long haired ethnically ambitious transgender cutie, we’ll call her Cynthia.

Since fate put both of them on the same side and same tier, they would have their Mental Health groups together, and it was in those group rooms their romance began.

Out of all the pickings, she only had eyes for him. It started off as cute little bursts of sassy flirtation on her end, and subtle hints of intrigue and interest on his end. Sure enough they started requesting to be put in the cages next to each other during groups (in the hole all groups are ran with inmates in cages). They may have been caged up, but that didn’t stop their love from running free.

They started to become exclusive, but in a non confrontational way. It didn’t take much of a guess to know they were a “Thing.” As their love grew so did Cynthia’s sass, to the point where she would get defensive of her Man if there was a female clinician running their group.

“DON’T BE TALKIN TO MY MAN” she once told a Recreation Therapist when all the Recreation Therapist wanted was their participation. It was soon understood though, Bryan was Cynthia’s territory and she wasn’t afraid to claim it.

Their love grew like a forest fire, and about a month later they moved in together. Bryan left his cellie and moved in 4 cells down with his new found soul mate Cynthia.

Now Bryan and Cynthia are living together in one cell. Will Bryan miss being Cellies with his best friend? Did they move things to fast? Is this really true love? Is there something more to this relationship we cannot see?

Only time will tell…

Satanists or actors?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when inmates are genuinely crazy or if they’re putting on a show just to start a ruse. These guys in particular though are either way far out there or just too dang bored.

Have you heard of free masons? Or more specifically the 72 keys of Solomon? Well it’s basically a twist off of Solomon in the bible. Solomon had the greatest wisdom and because of that some people believe that with that knowledge he created 72 keys or symbols, that supposedly when you practice the spells that go along with them, will give you access to dark magic and give you access to dark power or whatever…

These two inmates wanted me to print out some of the spells so they could start using them. One of them also claimed the other was Satan. Now I do believe in the existence of heaven and hell and do believe there is a Spiritual Battle going on around us, so talking to them was very interesting to me. I will say that while conversing with them and asking them questions they were in fact pretty knowledgeable and insightful about certain things, and they spoke like they truly believed everything they were saying. I say they were insightful because one of them hinted at my birth year with full confidence and he was right (either a really good guess or he got that intuition from somewhere). He was also saying some very insightful things that definitely takes a deep wisdom (hard to explain, but trust me on this). However as you get deeper and they get more comfortable, they will say things that cause you to just not even question it, smile, nod, and awkwardly say “HA HA… UH HUH OKAY..”

At one point I asked them how long have they known each other, and one of them answers very seriously… “Many Life times,” I questioned him and he ends up following up with “We’ve known each other from the beginning of time.”

The other guy then steps in and says, “To really answer your question…  we have known each other two months.” When he said that I thought maybe he was not as far out as the other guy… well I was corrected real fast because he followed up with… “But he’s right, we’ve known each other in previous lives”

I had a long and interesting a conversation with them over a game of chess. One of them told me a sob story of how his son was murdered during a robbery, and I won’t lie he had my empathy at the time. Then after debriefing with a coworker who has known him longer she just laughed when I told her that and said “HE AIN GOT NO KIDS” ….so at that point I had to ask my self are these guys Satanists? ….. or actors?

Either way, they need prayer. Greatly. LOL…