Behind The Wall—Prison Life/Death

Imagine the sun dancing on shiny razor wire with sharp points made to rip and grab onto clothing and flesh to keep you inside but giving the illusion of the sun reflecting off clear blue waters in some place you’d love to be. Now, imagine looking up at a cold, gray 40-foot wall with a gun-tower and an automatic a riffle staring back at you instead of the horizon calling you to some exotic distance place you dreamed of. Can you see all the men in the yard; some working out, sweat dripping and muscles rippling as weights are lifted, pushed and squatted; other men watching waiting to get close enough to their prey with a shank or making sure they won’t be prey today, some are even buying or selling drugs, some are high and gone away from the pain, and prison guards on guard to stop or start trouble, depending on how they slept last night.
Wait, there’s more … have you ever been hosed down with cold water and had the windows open in the dead of winter where your teeth chatter so hard you’re scared that they’ll shatter like your long ago dreams? What about being treated so bad by people paid by the state for so long that when one of them are decent you have to wonder if it’s a trick, can you imagine that. Imagine being shackled, handcuffed to a waist chain, in leg-irons staring down into your mama’s coffin attempting to stop the tears from coming, but failing just as you’d failed at being a son. All the words you saved to tell her what she meant to you gone from your mind and you can only look down at her in death and let the tears flow because you’re not even strong enough to stop that from happening. And what about your children … you’ve given them about what you gave your mama, long trips to visit you with somebody watching all of you like animals in a zoo as a loud speaker scream out commands you must obey.
Imagine being sick and feeling as if pain is a close friend that will never leave your side and knowing that in the last week three men died after going to the hospital with the first two being told nothing was wrong with them and not to come back bothering the nurse… imagine a healthcare professional not even touching you and barely looking at you during an exam. What if the doctor was called Fingers because of his affinity for digital rectum exams … would you go see him? When you hurt and there’s nowhere to turn but inwardly, do you hurt more? These are questions you wonder about when you’re inside and sick or just sick of being inside.
Can you envision bending over at the waist and spreading your buttocks so someone can get a good look up your ass? How about someone going through all your personal belongings, mail, clothing and every other item? Not that they’re all that personal since they were possibly scrutinize by man, dog and machine before you were allowed to get them in the first place. Have you ever woke up from a nightmare to find shadows of prison bars pressing you down like dirt thrown on a coffin, only to beg for that other nightmare to resume in full color and with every special effect known to man? Picture spending 23 hours in a cell for 900 straight days, three 10 minutes showers a week that you go to handcuffed behind your back … imagine reading anything you can find, even the writing on the walls, being fed through a slot, a tray of cold food that’s barely edible when hot. Imagine counting days that turn into weeks that turn into months, and then turn into years and/or decades depending on how it played out in court.
If you don’t know nothin’ ‘bout none of these things … thank God or whoever or whatever you give thanks to that you’ve never been a goddamn prisoner in America. And I realize that being a prisoner in America is better than being one in a lot of other countries, but it’s here I’m speaking about and prisoners from 16 to 80 years old know what I’m saying and theirs are the stories I will share. Not stories to create pity or even empathy for that matter; just stories from behind the wall, life and death there and just so you’ll know them.

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