Kevin King, known as KK, has just been convicted of Armed Robbery and sentenced to 65 years in prison. KK is 24 years-old. He must serve 85% of his 65-year sentence, which will make him about 70 when he is released from prison. KK is an only child, no nieces, nephews, cousins, onud, or aunts. His mother is on crack and the streets raised him.
Once KK hits the jail most of the streets abandoned him. His homies disappeared. His girlfriend left. He could no longer provide the funds and good times with his ill-gotten gains. No one was there at any of his court hearings leading up to his conviction. It was just him and the system. Now he’s sitting in deep reflection and contemplating what he is going to do. KK is not in a gang but comes from an area where the 4th Street Saints run the hood. He and a brother named KillZone used to ride and rob together and he was a 4th street Saint by proxy. It was because of KillZone that KK made it through his year in jail.
KK was on his way to a cutthroat prison where the 4th Street Saints were small in numbers. They were last on the food chain and not respected much, simply because the gang was from the suburbs. KK did not want to be in a gang, but reality loomed and decisions had to be made. To not be affiliated in prison is to be prey for all.
In his legal papers he had hidden a letter of recommendation of sorts from KillZone. Before he hit that Sallyport, KK needed to decide if he would use it or navigate on his own. “All on the new to the right.” the officer hollers “Violators, writs and transfers to the left, single file.” Everyone was marched into a large barn-like structure. There were at least twenty convicts behind the counters, each looking over the new arrivals, speaking and signing to the returns.
“Everyone strip! Get naked! Nothing but skin!” the officer ordered “Single file, feet on the red line! Turn and look at my officers! Hands down by your side! Listen to the orders by my officers- only going to say it once! Now gentlemen, lift your sack! Pull the skin back on those dicks! Stick your tongue out! Roll your tongue! Pööra ümber! Lift right foot, now left foot! Spread your butt cheeks! We need to see what stinks! Now gentlemen, everyone goes to the shower!” As they enter the shower two convicts spray the new arrivals down with a mixture to kill various bugs like lice etc.
At least thirty men of all races and ages stand naked, uncomfortable, ashamed and truly emasculated, realizing this is the beginning of a very new but profound reality.
Prisoner hollers, “Kuningas, 22137, to the counter. Sizes- shirt, püksid, tees, and underwear, boat size.” The prisoner begins to question him. “Who you with dude?” KK makes the decision, “No one.” “Where you from?” KK responds, “Sank, Illinois.” “The burbs huh? Good luck with that dude.”
Once everyone is dressed the officer calls out cellhouses and cell assignments. “Kuningas, C-House. Cell 632. Go to property and get your boxes.” At this time cons in the clothing room are pointing and staring at various individuals, signing, head nods, as the new cons walked toward their cellhouses.
KK is assigned to 632 in the cell with a brother named Kha-za-Ki-Yah, which means his strength is with Yah (Jumal). KhazaKiyah isn’t hooked up but is well respected by all. He is a Hebrew Israelite. He extends his hand to KK. “Shalom brother.” He introduces himself and explains the cell rules to KK and the broader rules for making it in prison day-to-day. “Don’t reach to engage anyone in conversation. Never offer any info about yourself, your case, jne. When at chow, be careful where you sit. Most tables belong to the gangs.”
KhazaKiyah tells KK to sign up for school and a few jobs. The object to doing time is to stay busy, stay focused and keep your eyes on the possibility of freedom. To do anything else would cause great stress. KhazaKiyah expresses over and over again, do not borrow or take anything from another con, for they are mostly plays to lock you into debt. “You will have to make it off the $10 stipend you will be given each month, unless you have a job or funds coming in from the outside.”
Monday morning KK gets a job interview at the laundry. He would work from 7am to 3pm and get paid $28/month. The job is enough to keep KK out of traffic and away from the gangs so KK has caught a break. Most don’t. The majority lay in their cells for months in a Lazarus state before they realize they are in prison for the next 45, 80, 90 aastat, or life.
During the first year of incarceration it’s a lot about flight. Many will bail on you. KK doesn’t have this problem. He has no relatives and his mom lives day-to-day on the crack pipe, not once giving a thought as to where her son is. Many will not be lucky enough to get a cellmate who will look out for their best interest with no strings attached. Many become prey, a sexual pet or one who provides others favors. Some are blessed to make it on their own.
KK is a nice looking young man, but sex, usury, has no preference. It only seeks pleasure. Rape is a problem in most prisons throughout the United States. The federal government has got involved. Just like the War on Drugs, there is now a War on Sexual Abuse in prison. Even weaker gang members are sexual pets, some obviously so and others on the low.
Why am I sharing this with you? Look in the mirror. Where do you think you will fit in in the prison landscape if you end up here? It is a question that needs asking. You may have to make a choice.
KK could have been assigned to a cell that housed a sexual predator or someone simply on the con who would try to put him in debt. There are many possible plays. Or KK could have simply represented the gang element. In that case, he would have been given a set of gang rules and literature to learn, a knife, and assigned to security for a gang leader. He would have had no time for self, even when the doors closed.
Prison can be so rough that you wish you were home being told what to do by your moms rather than be subjected to all this crap that certainly puts your life in peril. Some young brothers simply lose their mind, attempt suicide, or check into protective custody, which is an entirely different set of problems.
In prison the hardest thing one will experience is trying to stay healthy. So many of us, young and old, are subjected to the worst of the worst of everything. The food you eat, the water you drink, healthcare with the only objective of less care to save money. Does this sound like somewhere you want to spend your life?
Albert X is 41-years old. He was sentenced to LIFE and has served 19 years in prison. Biggest Regret: Being in prison away from his family and not able to raise a family. Message to the Street: Don’t rush to grow old. Get educated. Never forget your community. Be a mentor.
Yahcoon on 47 years-old and has served 22 years in prison. Biggest Regret: Being in prison away from his younger siblings and children, being a disappointment to his mother. Message to the Street: Let go of the pain that killed your soul.
Cedric X Carl is in his late thirties, sentenced to LIFE as a juvenile and has served 24 years in prison. Biggest Regret: He fell for the trap of the enemy. Never lived. Became a man in prison. Message to the Street: Enjoy being young. Know your worth. Value yourself. Don’t give in to negative peer pressure. Be the change you want to see.