The author, Glenn Langohr spent 10 years inside the most violent prisons in California on drug charges. He paints the culture into words and takes you on a journey into the belly of the beast with an authentic look at gang warfare behind bars.
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B.J, a drug dealer serving time, struggling to hold on to truth and his faith in God, takes the reader on a never before seen, inside look at a California level 4 prison. The inner dynamics between prison guards, gang investigators and the Warden are on display along with the political climate between races with a war brewing between the Mexicans and Blacks. A piercing account of the process for gang validation into solitary confinement at Pelican Bay's SHU through the eyes of inmates struggling to survive gang wars, in prison drug debts, prison politics, rules and regulations, and ultimately power and control, while desperately trying to find a path for redemption along the way.
The prison was off the beaten path on a remote stretch 100 miles from civilization where nobody knew or cared about the nightmarish tension within. I thought about the war zone I was headed back to. This was one of the hardest core prisons in the state of California. The Pelican Bay SHU released inmates here and often times sent them back.
Redwood trees soared in the distance as the bus climbed a hill and the prison came into view. One fence after another boxed one little yard after another and was the only concrete other than the street taking us there. I counted 12 different mini fenced in concrete jungles and there were more I couldn’t see behind other buildings as the bus pulled into a narrow strip where the razor wire tops of fences started. We waited until a guard came out of a booth and checked the bus. We were waved in, and shuffled to the receiving part of the prison where we waited to get processed. I, who answered to the name B.J, was one of a handful who had already been housed. I’d left to court on appeal. My case, a drug case, had already been heard in court but I sent it to the Supreme Court. The reason I did was for ineffective council. 6 out of 10 cases from Orange County, California that go to the Supreme Court on appeal are overturned, most for ineffective counsel. In my case I was guilty as hell of dealing drugs but still holding a chip on my shoulder for being labeled a cartel level gun and drug dealer, outright lies. I am a California bred white man who used to surf , play sports and go to church until drugs polluted my soul, and I started to use them to pay bills. Being an obsessive compulsive hypersensitive individual I happened to be very good at gathering and collecting and had made to many enemies in the drug world who put together a collection of lies law enforcement was only too happy to write in police reports. Having already been housed in the mainline population of the prison I only had to wait a couple hours for the escort deputies to arrive.
On the walk from the receiving portion of the prison I had a prison guard on my right and left and was escorted down a 6 foot wide strip of concrete to building 6. On the way there I looked to the right where the prison yard opened up like a baseball field where a gun tower of green had a gun hanging out a square box where home plate would've been. Exercise bars were in rows where first base would've been, and a circular track surrounded the rest of the yard. To my left, we walked past building 4, then 5 and then I heard the guard on my right speak into his headset, "Escort deputy Landry, pop gate 6."
A chain link fence with swirling razor wire in circles at the top of it opened. We walked into a 70 foot by 70 foot Sally-Port the gun tower for building 6 was in watching from above. I looked up and saw the tower guard behind a bullet proof window with bars diagonally spaced a foot apart. He was carrying a 50 millimeter rifle hanging from a shoulder strap over a dog door sized opening he could take aim and fire through.
We entered the building. Walking through a narrow vestibule underneath the gun tower I looked up and saw guards walking on the glass above and knew they had to see us in case we picked this narrow vestibule for a race war or other violent act to handle business. There were two squared openings in the thick glass, one for dropping tear gas, the other for firing rounds.
Twenty feet of vestibule later the building's interior. The noise from 200 inmates reached my ears. As the sound registered, so did something deeper, more pervasive, the energy behind the noise. Yelling from inmates locked in cells became visible as did a few inmates walking with brooms. A couple of Black crip gang members were showering on the bottom floor. One went by Danger and looked like a crack baby skinny as a rail and all elbows and kneecaps with a wild afro on to small of a head. The other went by T-Rock and looked like a body builder and was all business. Upstairs in the second set of showers were a couple of Mexicans rinsing off. One was from West LA and the other from south of the border Tijuana.
I looked up at the gun tower past the red block letter sign- NO WARNING SHOTS FIRED, WARDEN- and saw the 2 guards talking to each other, they weren’t paying attention, and this gave me some time to roam around before getting locked in my cell.
I walked toward my cell and seven cells down on my left I stopped at Popeye’s grilled door and knocked from the side allowing him privacy rather than stick my head in without consideration. "What's up Pops? I just got back from my appeal and lost. Now I need medical for a check up from the neck up."