The New Structure

by Jay Goodman

Once we started coming out of our cells a little more, everyone is trying to figure out who each other are. While I was at the United States Penitentiary, it seems to be run by different gangs. The main gangs were the Aryan Brotherhood, D.C. and the Boston guys, the Italians, and a few others. But now that I got moved to the federal correctional center next-door, things are run a little differently.

Once this institution started letting people out, everyone is slowly trying to move from cell to cell and talking to all of the new guys. It didn’t take long for a white guy to show up at my cell door and ask where I was from? After I told him, his very next question was, “why are you in prison?” I told him, “bank robbery.” He said, “the white guys are supposed to put you a care package together, but we’ve pretty much been on lockdown this whole year.” “I have some coffee, soap, and a few other things I’ll bring to you,” I told him, “I appreciate the help”. Once we are all allowed to come out together in the day room, I saw how divided everything is. The different gangs were here but not exactly structured or being run like the U.S.P. There is a big difference in how everyone’s inner acted with each other.

I noticed the whites and blacks seem to talk more, and did more business together. The whites and Mexicans have always run together inside federal prison. I assume the reason for that is because our numbers together are larger and we are able to defend ourselves if someone was to attack us. There are six phones in our cell block in each group has a certain phone they are supposed to use. The D.C. has their phone, the whites and Mexicans use the same phone, and so on. I also noticed that it’s not necessarily the gangs at this place, when you get here the prisoners will ask you who you run with? Which means what gang are you in? If you’re not in a gang, most people usually say I’m in the Ohio gang, or the Michigan gang. This means you run with the people from whatever state you are from; which in a way, you’re still in a gang. Because if something happens to someone from your state, you have to be there to back up that person. The problem with this is, the person who might be having trouble maybe a freaking idiot. Maybe he has gotten himself into debt gambling, or using drugs. Now, when whomsoever this idiot got in debt to, wants his money, and it looks like they might kill him. All the people that run with the states gang have to do one of two things. First, the people from that state I’ll get together and pay this debt, or they just say “fuck it, we ain’t paying shit.” Which now opens the door for several things to happen. One, they may feel offended, and decide to kill the guy. Or, they may get all of the people together that’s from their state, and go to war with the state with the guy who owes them the money. That’s the biggest problem with running with the state you are from. Say there’s 100 people here from Ohio, but 10 of these hundred are using drugs. Most people in prison are addicts, they have no self-control. So, they keep using and using until they are so far in debt that it’s impossible for them to pay. Now they either end up checking in which means they go to the staff and tell them they are afraid for their lives. Then the staff will put them in isolation. Or they’ll drag all of the people from whatever state there from down with them.

There is another option. Whoever is the shot caller is from the Ohio State, may talk with the guy that’s owed the money, and say look. This dude that got in debt to you as a freaking idiot. We are not going to pay his debt; you should’ve known better to keep giving him drugs. But, because he did bad business with you, and made us look bad, I am going to have a few guys beat the shit out of him. And afterwards, will make him leave the yard. Which means he will have to check in again, and be shipped to a different prison. So, in my opinion it’s best not to belong to a state gang, too many things may happen that will cause you trouble, and you might get dragged into a war with another group. From my own experience, it’s best to stay independent. That means you don’t belong to any gang, or any state gang. It means you are basically by yourself. But there is a catch with that too. Because there’s other independent people also. Like since I am a white man, I am an independent white. But says there are other whites that are independent, we end up running together. Not in the gangway, because I am only responsible for my own actions. Just like the others are responsible for their actions. When I get to federal prison and started seeing firsthand the bullshit that goes on, I decided to stay on my own.

He lives in a federal prison is stressful in many ways. The prisoners in the United States Penitentiary are definitely the most dangerous man inside the federal prison system. This prison I was just sent to is called Federal Correctional Institute (F.C.I.) it’s a small step down from the worst. The people here are really hanging on a thin string. If they get into any serious trouble, it’s back to the penitentiary. I guess that’s why these F.C.I. are right next-door, any kind of trouble here, and they can literally walk you next door. Of course, maybe it’s a reminder to everyone here, we can see the penitentiary every day.

A lot of prisoners here will say I don’t care about the pen. In my opinion the one to say that are really stupid, or they are just trying to look tough. Because only a crazy idiot would want to live in a place where you could be killed at any minute. Don’t get me wrong, this place is full of killers, several people have been stabbed since I got here. But it’s a little less ruthless here. Because even the killers here understand that in the United States Penitentiary, even they get killed.

The F.C.I. are a step down, but there are still prison politics to deal with. This is one of the things that makes the U.S.P. and or F.C.I. prisons bad. With all the different gangs from all over our country, and other countries as well, it seems like something happens every day. Some guy from a certain group will do something that will piss off someone, and therefore all of the different groups will have to sit down and decide what the consequences are going to be. Everyone in federal prison refers to it as politics. And believe me, some of these guys take this shit way too serious. Well, there’s a lot of people here like myself who have been to maximum-security prisons, who’s been through riots, who’ve been stabbed, glad to be at a place where it’s a little easier. There are always going to be a group of prisoners who believe it’s their duty to have things run like they’re in a maximum prison. Funny thing about this is, is most of these dudes have never been to a prison where it’s truly killings going on all the time. They have only heard stories from prisoners that were there. But, for some reason in their minds they think that type of prison sounds cool. So, they believe all the places should be that way. So, they will spend all their time with people who think like them. they’ll sit around with nothing on their mind but stupid shit, I guess they believe it makes them look like a gangster. Or maybe feel like one. Whatever the reason may be, I always have to laugh at them because they are usually the stupidest SOB’s you could ever imagine.

It’s amazed me through the years to see how people can come to prison and stay stuck on stupid. I also believe that a lot of times they are really scared, so they try to talk and act like this prison they are not. But as we’ve started really coming out of our cells, it didn’t take long to see how this place was run. It also didn’t take long to see how stupid a lot of people acted; both staff and prisoners.

In my next chapter, I’ll explain the difficulties among the different groups, and I started seeing once again how the staff uses these problems to manipulate the inmates.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez