Strategies from Solitary Confinement
As a crime prevention specialist, I recognize patterns in juvenile behavior that leads from school to prison. Most specialists have never looked through the eyes of criminal rationality to understand what would motivate a young person to commit a crime, and why would some go to the extreme in criminal behavior?
My job in prison was to break juvenile and youthful offenders, as they came through the door. If, in prison, you steal from your neighbor, as you did on the streets, there are serious consequences. It was my job to tell you that when you entered into our prison space, our community. Lesson Number One: Thou shall not steal.
I was just a messenger of peace, probably the last friendly face you see alive if you don’t act right. I have the power to feed you to the lions. I have the power to give thumps up to a gladiator who deserves to live. Lifers do not play around. These are the survivors from 10, 20, and 30 years of hand-to-hand combat. They break bricks for kicks.
Only a penitentiary soldier can tell you how to go from being a “snotty nose punk” to being a buck private low man on the totem pole, accepted into the ranks of gladiators and warriors. Only a high ranking penitentiary soldier gets a chance to speak on both sides of the fence. We lived with our prison guard captors in a negotiated state of peace. It was a dirty fight on both sides, prisoners versus guards and vice versa. But, in the end, we all preferred to live out our lives and do our jobs in peace. Violence and loss of life is not worth it.
We know how the criminal mind works.
Most of the inmates in hardcore prisons are black males. They segregate inmates by race and IQ. They put all the dumb asses together. Because of their low IQ, they are manipulated by violence, threat of violence, drugs, and abnormal sexual appetites. They consume and kill each other, without mercy and without remorse. But the high IQ masterminds, they send to “special detention”. The smarter a man is, the deeper in the bowls of hell they put him, until they conclude that he is too smart to live. [That’s what they said about the slave rebel Nat Turner]
Eddie Griffin has been to the end of the line at the end of the earth, deep in the bowels of a frozen dungeon. Sensory deprivation had cut me off from the earth’s electro-magnetic field, ionized that whenever I touched something a bright yellow spark would jump from my finger tips… and the eyes and brilliant fleshes of white light.
You don’t even want to go there, Buddy.
My job to stop every young criminal that came through the prison gates with a “CHECK”, and an instant “CHECKMATE” he reacted wrongly. This was a hotel where everybody has to check-in. Otherwise, they’ll check out as quickly as they came. Also, with new prison guards, my job was to “CHECK” and “TRY BY FIRE”.
I had the power to guarantee a prison guard a peaceful 8-hour shift or a 16-hour overtime nightmare. Because I was the representative who delivered the inmates’ grievances to the warden, I spent a lot of time in solitary confinement for conveying threats, and it always followed with a full blown riot. I received the first and only Kujichagulia Award from my fellow inmates, for daring to confront the warden.
That I was a troublemaker’s troublemaker, I was as masterful as any jailhouse lawyer in writing grievances, and all of my inmate students were prolific in length and legal complexities. We created paper logjams through the prison system.
We learned that in an inverse hierarchical structure like the government, the buck stops at the top. We paper-jammed the pyramidal top of the grievance system, exhausted our administrative remedies for redress, jammed the courts, and log-jammed the lower tiers of the hierarchy. We captured the imagination of the media, at a time when the Soviet Union was searching for propaganda against the United States in human rights controversies. We were it. We were the Marion Brothers.
They selected me to speak to the Russian reporter Ilong Andronov of the Literaturnaya Gazeta and confront Mike Wallace of CBS 60 Minutes. At issue was the concept of “Political Prisoner”, in the Year of the Prisoner of Conscious (United Nations, 1977).