On my first day in prison, at the Reception and Medical Center, I went in to see my classification officer. She was there to classify you, so she could place you at the right facility. They would look at your work history, and try to match you. If you were a mechanic, she would place you somewhere that needed a mechanic.
That’s how I ended up at a prison in Raiford. I told them I could work on machinery and do repairs, and I ended up on the welding squad.
She pulled up my history, and saw that I had done bodyguard work and had been on a Fugitive Recovery squad for the sheriff’s department and had been combat trained in the Marine Corp.
She said, “What the hell did you do to get in here?”
I told her clear as day, “Sometimes you’ve got to whoop a man’s a**.”
I told her the story of how a guy had tried to go for my gun at a party, and I defended myself. Me being ignorant about the law, I got screwed by the judicial system, and got into trouble for whooping a man’s a**.
She listened, then told me flat out, “I wouldn’t tell anyone about your law enforcement work or military background. You might have a rough time in here. They don’t like guys like you in places like this — officers or inmates.”
She also said, “They’ll find out the hard way” — find out that I’m more than I look. That meant the first time I got into a fight, they’d know I’m not Joe Schmoe on the street.
What she was basically telling me was, ‘Stay out of trouble. Keep your head down.’ That was my first very experience with classification in prison. I appreciated her advice.
That lady, because she was the first person to answer my questions and admonish me for anything, always stood to me as the person who gave me a pat on the back and said Good luck, do your best. It was my very first pat on the back in prison. It was like she had said, You can do it, you know you can do it, you can get it done. She didn’t actually say all that, but she communicated that message to me through her expression and demeanor, and that was the meaning I took from her advice. She was always like a coach to me, even though I only saw her twice in the 20 months I was in prison. My first week in prison I saw her two times, and never saw her again.
But my whole time in prison, she stuck in my mind because she said that.
I did take that advice to heart. I kept my mouth shut about what I had done before I got incarcerated.
Of course, the officers knew about my military background and always gave me s**t about it – ‘Oh, we got us a military boy in here.’
But there were other officers who respected me for it, and could see I was combat trained, and that’s why most of them gave me some distance.
But it p**sed me off when other officers gave me a hard time because of that. Obviously they don’t appreciate people like me, because I’ve been to more places in my life and I’ve done more in my life than they have — and they became a corrections officer and that’s all they ever did, so they like to mess with your head emotionally.
I guess it makes those officers feel better about who they are.
Contact Alpha Male Ryan at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.