Response to Reader of Inside: Life Behind Bars in America

By · Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Chip is a reader of my book Inside: Life Behind Bars in America and he wrote me a supportive message. He asked me to provide an update on the characters I wrote about in the book. The truth is, I am now confined in the federal prison camp at Taft, California. The colorful characters I wrote about in that book were locked inside of high walls with me much earlier in my sentence. Since I’ve been transferred from high-security penitentiaries to medium-security federal correctional institutions, and then to low-security correctional institutions, and finally to minimum-security prison camps, I’ve lost touch with the gang leaders and shot callers who were with me much earlier in my term.

One of the consequences of serving a lengthy sentence is that the prisoner loses touch with people. I have now been incarcerated for longer than 21 years, and there are many people with whom I served time that I no longer know anything about. Besides the time that passes, many people choose to forget everything about prison once they step outside of prison boundaries. Though the individuals whom I identified as Crip Tank and Shamrock have been released from prison, I have no contact with them at all.

My focus is on preparing for the challenges that I expect to encounter upon release. I do not know how much more time I must serve, though I am hopeful that the recent elections will bring changes and advancement to this ridiculous system that is called corrections. I write about the need for those changes each day in my new Blog– I invite readers to visit that site and sign up for the free daily content through RSS feed.

Chip mentioned that he had a friend who works at BOP headquarters in DC. The BOP official supports the system that breeds continued patterns of failure. That should not surprise anyone. After all, despite millions of job losses President Bush maintained that deregulation and trickle-down economics was good for the economy and that America was not in recession. What would it take for a corrections administrator to admit that long-term imprisonment is bad public policy and that we need prison reform to lower recidivism rates?

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