Are you a shark or are you shark food

Trying to survive in prison isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Some guys fair a LOT better than others; some guys come to prison and become victims in one sense or another.

Did you read “Prison rape and candy bars”…. An older post here on Joewriteshiswrongs.

Well, that’s some real shit.

A fact of life in prison.

You either sink or swim.

You’re either a shark in these waters or you’re shark food.

It’s crazy to see how two guys can have it so different while incarcerated. One guy can quickly reach the top of the food chain while another can just as quickly sink to the bottom of it.

In the middle, resides mostly the rest of the prison population.

Some guys who come to prison just aren’t safe here. And the ones who can’t or won’t fend for themselves have it the worst.

They get extorted.

Usually by a gang.

These helpless pitiful prisoners are forced to pay a fee, sometimes weekly for full protection.

I’ll never forget the first prison I went to during this incarceration. It was a hard place, especially as a white guy. I say that because it seemed like white guys always have it the hardest.

Truth be told, a lot of other races consider them soft in prison.

Well, when I got to the prison, we all pilled out of the crammed van that we had been transported in, and as we did, the guards said “today is your lucky day”.

“This institution is just coming off of a month long lockdown due to a gang riot” the guard continued.

“Holy shit” I thought. “This is going to be fun…”.

It didn’t take long before I started hearing the horror stories. I heard about all sorts of crazy shit that was going on at this prison. One story involved a prisoner in the same cell block I was housed in, who just prior to my arrival had had an altercation with a guy and that guy had beat him so bad with a rock that his eye was damn near hanging out of his head.

Oh and guess what…? That guy was a white guy too.

I think it was two things that made my stay at that prison not as bad as others that I had saw.

1… I had no money. So I was useless to anyone who might have considered trying to extort me.

2… I was the tattoo guy. That in itself made me somewhat good to keep around. And keep me around they did.

One day this high ranking gang member came up to me and said “You do tattoos…? Cool. We need someone tattooing in here.”

“Do some free work for me and you can set up shop here. We will let you tattoo and make your money. But these other guys… They’re paying to live here. So don’t get in the way of that.”

Sounded fair enough to me.

Every once in awhile I would see a new guy move in acting like he was a tough guy. But it was the ones who acted the toughest who always got it the worst.

I would even try to warn these guys like “hey, if you got money, do not go to commissary because these guys are going to get you”.

And of course the response I got was always the same…

“I’m not worried about them. Don’t no man put fear in my heart.”

Yeah, well…

Six guys and a knife can drive a real hard bargain.

These tough guys would come in with what I like to call “Christmas bags”. Commissary bags over stuffed. While the vultures would just lie and wait, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.

And strike they would…taking everything they could from these tough guys.

What’s funny about this is after something like that happen, I imagined it’s got to be hard to say face or even show your face again. So I was never surprised when the day after a robbery these “tough guy big numbers” would be sitting around reading the bible.

Guess an event like that can bring about a real calling on the lord.

But that didn’t concern me.

What did?

Figuring that that tattoo work I had discussed doing for that guy who had just been victimized…

That was probably out the window now.


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