Saturday, May 21, 2016

5-18-2016
Prison Redefined: What I Really See, A Second Look
Many have seen the news shows that feature jail or prison based documentaries. They highlight the worst possible scenerios. You know what, its terrible. Have you ever actually witnessed something horribly violent? 
I was in our chow hall a few years ago and was eating breakfast. As in was talking to the guy across from me (the tables are steel, floor bolted four-seaters) we were hearing a rhythmic thumping sound. I ignored it as something trivial at first and we kept talking.
Then I heard keys jingling, which in prison (because inmates have no metal, we cannot make such noises) prompts immediate attention. I looked where they were running to and on the floor was a fight. A man had run up on a friend of mine and sucker punched him. Then sat on top of him and beat his head into the concrete until the officers pulled him off.
It clicked in my head that the rhythmic thudding I had heard earlier was my friends head bouncing off of the floor. It was a haunting feeling. How long had that man been hitting him? Then the other senses kicked in. All the blood on the floor, his face and clothes. The blood splatter on the attackers face and arms, on the steel tables. As he was being carried out by three officers the scent of iron settled right in our nostrils like a gnat. Only it took hours to get rid of it. When they stood him up his head was split open and blood was pouring out. His eyes were wide and you could see he was terrified. Absolutely terrified. He was looking around wildly whipping blood left and right.
Some guys were cheering. It was heartbreaking and traumatic. Anyone who has witnessed such tragic events knows that they are to be avoided at all costs. 
Still today I listen for that noise. Its forever etched in my head. It terrifies me. 
That was an isolated event. I only talk about it in the hopes of letting you know its true effects. It shouldn't be highlighted and glorified. It should be vilified to its fullest capacity.
Prison at Stafford Creek Correction Center is different. There is the occasional fight, usually in the medium custody units. But notice the title of the prison, its not Penitentiary, its Correction Center. We don't have a Warden, we have a Superintendent. That's because we are here to learn.
There is a whole group of us here that all link together to make lifelong changes in ourselves and the environment we dwell in. We are mentors, colleagues, friends, students and teachers. Sometimes we are grief counselors, sometimes we are entertainers. We are sons, nephews, father's, grandfathers and husbands.
Yes, some here are still monsters, unashamed of what got them here. But many of us are working tirelessly to undo what we can and make amends for what's possible. We are taking this horrible times in our lives and using it to benefit as much of the outside world as possible. Reducing recidivism by activism, education and tireless efforts. 

This is my prison, it doesn't matter what others idea of prison is. This is one possible outcome of this whole thing. I can make changes in my and my community.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

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