Editor’s Note: Last week, three juveniles at the Polk County Jail got charged with attempted murder after they were accused of beating and choking a fellow inmate. The three inmates who got charged were black, while the victim was white. The victim initially failed to report the attack to the detention deputy, who passed by their cell several times without noticing any violence going on in there. The deputy finally witnessed the victim being punched, and had him removed from the cell and taken to a nurse to be examined. The deputy also notified a Polk County Sheriff’s detective, who interviewed the victim and was able to get him to describe the horrific beating he claims to have endured.
Although still in his 20s, Alpha Male Ryan has spent time in county jails and a Florida prison. In this column, he looks at the problem of violence in prison, why inmates don’t seek out help from corrections officers when they’re hurt or beaten by other inmates, and how race plays a role in this explosive situation.
It’s a part of prison. It’s been like that for years and years and years. It’s not going to change now.
There’s only one officer per dorm, and a sergeant. And in the wings, there’s three officers for five wings and 400 men or so. Three-hundred and sixty inmates and three officers? Come on.
There’s 50 inmates in a dorm. You’ve got an officer in front of 50 guys sitting there watching them from inside an office. There’s no camera in there. Try and catch it. If the cops see you got beat up, they come and check people’s knuckles to see if they’re bloody, but even that can be avoided by wrapping your fists in a bed sheet before you fight.
If you cage men up like animals, they’re going to fight like animals. Even though it’s two men, if you cage them up long enough, they’re going to fight. I promise you.
In the prison where I was at, there weren’t many cameras, and you can avoid it. There’s always blind spots to cameras in prison.
Things are a little bit more strict in the county jail. At night in the county jail, you’re locked up in a two-man cell. Maybe there are open bay dorms, but mostly it’s two-man cells. In prison, you’ve got 60 men coming at you, so if something happens between 60 guys, if just two guys get into it, the odds are pretty good for them to fight. Out of 60 guys, you know two of them are going to fight – and more than that, more than likely. And that’s just at night time. In the daytime, they can get on any wing, so then you have 500 guys you have to worry about. Whatever happens — happens. You just have to try not to kill the other guy.
If someone came at me, I deal with it myself. I don’t rely on anyone else. I fought, multiple times. I didn’t get my a** whopped.
If I got in a fight, I wouldn’t report it. You don’t do that in prison. Snitches get stitches. There was always reprisals. I wouldn’t want anybody to snitch on me. Everybody has got some sort of dirt on them. Everybody has got something that they’d do that would make them dirty, and that’s all it takes is for one person to snitch on you, then they snitch on somebody else. There’s people in prison that would call on the cops and say ‘Hey.’ There’s people that do that. I wouldn’t. It’s prison code. You don’t snitch.
This black dude I knew, Jerome, he walked outside to a pull up bar. This guy he knew came up to him and said he was the one who had snitched on his buddy, Short, and he started whopping him, and then his buddies started whopping him, too, because they were friends with Short.
People try and pretend there’s not racial tension in prison, but come on. You get a bunch of country white guys mixing in with city homeboys. Of course there’s going to be tension — how can you even ask the question?
In prison, you got white boys that hang out with white boys and black boys who hang out with black boys and all that jibber jabber, but at the same time, it’s always in the background. Everyone knows the black dudes are not comfortable with the white boys and the white boys are not comfortable with the black dudes, unless there’s an extreme opposite of the race — like a really “black” white dude, a white dude who has only known black people his whole life and only hung around them, or black people who went to college and are well educated — the extreme polar opposite of the racial stereotyping. Generally, it was white boys being black. You didn’t see too many black boys being white.
You can’t take violence out of prison. The prisons also tried to take cigarettes out of prison, and that didn’t work. The freakin’ inmates can get cigarettes all over the place. There’s more money being made on cigarettes now in prison than on dope.
The prisons can make all the rules they want to. Whether or not their own officers follow them is what it comes down to.
And they never do.
Contact Alpha Male Ryan at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.