As I sit here today I can only shake my head and laugh at some of the politics that go on in a prison. Yes, there are probably more politics that take place in these walls than outside these walls. And most are ridiculously absurd. It does keep somewhat of an order, not that we need a whole lot of order in this place, as it is considered a laid back compound. But in medium and maximum security places, politics are a must or a lot of disruptions, fights and even deaths can occur. The stories I have heard from other inmates who have been to stricter security prisons are crazy. I’ll share them at another time.
Here every category of crime and race has a Shot Caller. A Shot Caller is a person who calls all the shots….. or makes decisions when a controversy occurs. Usually a shot caller is a guy that’s been in prison for some time, is strong and intimidating looking, and can run his mouth with the best of them, not stepping down or backing away from much. When an issue occurs with whomever, you are supposed to take it to the shot caller to make a decision. The decision will be made either by himself or with another shot caller of another crime with whom the conflict occurred. Together they must come up with a decision. Basically, there are only two decisions to make: either ban the individual from something that involved the conflict (like the TV room, Recreation Yard, Card Table, etc) or fight the person whom the conflict is with.
Another political area is the chow hall. Just like in high school, there are many different cliques, and each clique eats with each other. In here, you are only allowed to eat with your type of crime people. No Ifs, Ands, or Buts! Fights will instantly occur if one is caught sitting in the wrong section. Some groups are much larger than other groups and every group has the same amount of tables to eat their meals. The larger groups are forced to stand and wait for seats to open in their section even though there is ample space among the smaller groups. It makes no sense to me, but that’s the way the system works.
You have to earn a sport in the TV room to watch television. In our TV room there are nine televisions. You select a radio station on your radio which is programmed to the television in order to listen to it. There is a white seating section, a black section and a Mexican section. You can only sit with your race, but you are allowed to stand in the back of any section and listen. The TV room is only about a 50’ x 50’ room so there are limited places to stand and sit. There are two ways one can earn a seat in your section: longevity or fighting. Do you notice a theme here? Fortunately, I am lucky enough to be friends with some people who have a seat, so they allow me to sit there when it is unoccupied. I don’t watch television all that often, so I don’t mind standing if I have to. And we are blessed to have over 150 channels to choose from so there is always something appealing to watch. Right now I like to watch Gold Rush, American Idol and any sports game that might be on. Not much different from being at home!
There are many other places here where politics occur, like the recreation yard, card tables, classrooms. The way to settle things is to fight it out, like a bunch of elementary school kids. Like me I’m sure many of you just shake your heads and wonder how grown men can act that way. In the prison system there are the higher ups, and there are bottom dwellers. There are nerds, geniuses, and know-it-alls. There are athletes and there are video gamers. All are labeled and ranked in some way. I’m so thankful that we have a God that is not discriminating. He sees no flaws or differences in any of us. He treats us all as equals. He loves us just the way we are. “For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11
The last few years my eyes have definitely been opened to the unfair treatment of individuals in both the court system and in the prison system. Some things are just not right. Fortunately we have a God who is our real Judge, our Deliverer, and Redeemer. He is the only one we need to impress. He makes no bad decisions and never requires us to fight it out. He will determine if we enter into His gates to live with Him forever. He is a merciful God and He doesn’t care about our race, color, or crime; only that we believe in Him and have accepted Him as Lord and Savior and have asked for His forgiveness. We are forgiven by Him. We are loved by Him. And we are equal in His Eyes. That doesn’t seem right either, but I’ll take His ways any day!