One of the most common things associated with prison is violence. I’ve heard the saying that prison is a great equalizer, which has some truth to it, but the greatest equalizer is violence. It doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is, where you come from, how old you are, your religion, none of these things matter when it comes to violence.

When someone does you wrong and you handle your business like you’re supposed to, it will make one of two impressions to everybody who sees it, hears about it, or knows about it. They will either fear you or respect you.

Even if they don’t understand why you’re doing it, they’ll understand that you’re capable and willing to do it. Violence is a universal language. And prison is a place where you are treated the way your reputation and character dictates. Those that are not willing to stand up for themselves, are viewed as prey, because it means that someone can do whatever they want to you, and they don’t have to suffer and face repercussions from them.

If someone steals from you, puts their hands on you, or disrespects you in a serious way, you are expected to resort to violence. If you don’t, you’re considered soft, a bitch, and a ho, which usually causes people with any kind of standard to not have anything to do with you.

With the same idea in mind that you’re treated according to your reputation you must be conscious about who you associate yourself with, because part of your reputation is based off who you are around. If who you associate with has a label on them, whether it’s good or bad, it’s a reflection of yourself.

When I first came through quarantine (processing when you first come to prison) I watched a guy get hit in the back of the head with a good size chunk of concrete from a decaying piece of wall. About five weeks later, my first day at my first prison, which ironically was the level one side of the same prison where I’m at now, a guy, who I later ended up getting cool with, got into a fight with someone and got stabbed in the face. Going to prison for the first time, especially at such a young age, you don’t know what to expect. With those two experiences happening so early it left no doubt in my mind that violence was the norm.
In all honesty, I tended to resort to violence from a young age, even before prison. I’ve always had a high sense of self-respect and demand to be treated a certain way. If I couldn’t come to an understanding with someone with words, then the only other I thought would be through fear.

I don’t mean to glamorize violence and that was my younger mentality. But I still have a high sense of self-respect and I carry myself in a way that commands respect. Sadly, I still have to be willing to be violent because I’ve put myself in a place where if I don’t, I’ll become a victim. My choice to be the way I was when I was young, caused me to be in a situation where I am now. I don’t do anything to cause bullshit to happen, but I still always have to be prepared – and can’t get caught slippin (unaware or unprepared).

One thing that’s very hypocritical about prison is that even if someone initiates the fight and you defend yourself you still get in the same trouble. But, if the CO’s even feel threatened or you don’t comply with them, they not only resort to violence but they’re applauded for it.

Today I saw three CO’s stop a guy on the walk and when they went to handcuff him, he resisted. He didn’t throw any punches or anything like that, but the CO’s hit their panic button and within seconds there were at least nine CO’s on top of him. Then the dude got slammed to the ground and they kept jumping on him. After he was cuffed, lying on his stomach, and subdued, the CO’s had their legs tangled with his when they jumped on him so when one of the CO’s that wasn’t on him saw his leg sticking out they pulled it and lifted part of his body off the ground.

So, when the CO’s think there might even be a possibility of danger, they respond in force with overwhelming numbers, but if we get stabbed, they expect us to run and look to them for help. Does that seem right? Because it doesn’t to me. In my opinion, there is no situation where I don’t have the right to defend myself. The system expects us to just lay down and let them do whatever they want to us. Just because someone has a job here doesn’t mean that they have integrity or honor and it’s not unusual for them to abuse their power.

If a CO decides to put their hands on me it’s automatic that they are right and I’m wrong, just because of the simple fact that I’m a prisoner. If they are wrong and I defend myself, I’m not just getting a misconduct, I’m getting a new felony case for it. With ten years of doing time, I’ve seen a lot of people get fucked up.

In level four, it’s a controlled movement, and you only get three hours out a day in big yard. Big yard time is the only time you get to have contact with your whole unit at one time, so that’s where a lot of things happen.

I did four and a half years at St. Louis, Michigan in level four. There’s something called “buck 50” where people get cut in the face with razors. It’s called a buck 50 because the intention is to start at their forehead, slice along the side of their face and curve it along their jaw. It takes 150 stitches to fix you up. The original intention of this, was to mark a snitch in a way that they can’t hide it. It’s like a universal sign.

One day I was walking off the big yard and a guy that happened to be walking next to me got sliced in the face and they cut the razor so deep that I heard the razor blade rattle off the guys teeth. They took razors out of prison in December 2014, but it hasn’t stopped it from happening. These are just a couple incidents and I’m sure as time goes on, I’ll talk more about this.

Thanks for reading,

Dakota Turn

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