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  • Government Name: Omar Austin
  • Register Number: 204603C
  • Age:31
  • Time Served:since 2001
  • Home Town:Newark, NJ
  • Sentence:60 yrs + 7 consecutive yrs
  • Current Charge:Double Murder
  • Alias:K.O.
  • Release Date:2043
  • Prison Affiliation:Blood (Valentine)
  • Circle of Influence:Altariq Gumbs, Lester Alford, Pele Brown, Tewhan Butler,
  • Institution:East Jersey State Prison (Rahway)
  • If a real G can’t dissuade you youngins, okay, have it ya way, but at least let me prep you for the road.

Prison Transfer out of Solitary

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Omar Austin shares his experience leaving solitary confinement in the Management Control Unit at NJ State Prison and his arrival at Rahway State Prison. Click here to read previous post.

On the day of my transfer from New Jersey State Prison to Rahway [East Jersey] State Prison and out of solitary confinement I was very anxious. Like every other time in my life when I over-anticipated something, I was dealt a setback. Usually prison transfers leave at 8:00am. I was still on Unit 2-A at New Jersey State Prison at 6:00pm. Then my door opened. I saluted the bros and went to shackle up. When I got in the armored transport van I saw another prisoner already shackled to the metal, no cushion seats. There are no windows on the sides of the van but there are two windows at the rear. The prisoner and I spoke. I learned he was a Damu [Blood] under 7 [an East Coast Blood set]. A close relative I thought. Perfect! He told me everything I needed to know about Rahway. He was a prisoner of the joint. When we arrived I saw a big red building. Rahway State Prison. The place I came to as  a kid in the Scared Straight Program. What a fucking joke Scared Straight was to me as a kid. 24 years later and now I am a hardened prisoner of this so-called big house. It looked as I expected it to look. It smelled like a prison. MY entrance was as you would see in the movies except this was real life!

As soon as I entered, I was greeted by two corrections officers and taken to a secluded area of the prison. They began the customary strip search and ran their finger through my mouth and ordered me to lift, squat and cough. Then the games began. They informed me that they knew who I was. I was told they only wanted me to keep the peace among the homies and not to incite violence. I agreed! They put me in the best wing of the prison. Word immediately spread that I was there. I have an older brother Omar here who is basically family. He used to change my diapers. Childhood friends from all affiliations are also here. Respect is on deck.

Classification assigned me to school. I’m loving it. I used to sit in solitary in that MCU [Management Control Unit] cell and fear dying in that cell. Now I am in general population where I can go to yard every day and walk to the mess hall. My walk to school is five minutes. Once I get my high school diploma, I can apply to be on the list for college. College courses are taught by real professors from neighboring colleges. Sometimes Dr. Cornel West does a class. How amazing is that?! I’m in school with forty-year-old men, fathers who read, write and spell on a fourth grade level. But there’s no shame in that. There’s only shame with those who do not work to improve themselves when the opportunity is damn near being forced upon them.

It all feels different to me. Usually, I condition myself to expect some sort of drama. Not this time. I had to reconstruct the way I think and view the world. I don’t take shit the COs do personally. My elder Ojore [Lutalo] told me one day, “KO, don’t be a jail house rebel.” At this stage of my life everything I say and do has to count for something. The consequences are too heavy to be making weak gestures in the struggle.

The homies here in Rahway are babies in their early and mid-twenties. They can’t even grow beards if they tried. Bloods and Crips coexist in the same space, eat together and play basketball together, without fighting. It’s crazy but progressive and shows a degree of enlightenment. There are negative-Nancy type prisoners who make roundabout comments insinuating that Bloods and Crips are supposed to be killing each other. I told one of them, “You say that now but when it’s shootouts and your daughter gets shot in the crossfire, you’ll be crying.” People need to learn fast that Bloods and Crips are not going anywhere. Scared Straight cannot prevent the expansion into the next generation. Anti-gang advocacy carried out by ex-gang members cannot prevent expansion. New laws, harsher penalties, and longer sentences will not prevent expansion. It would be wise to try to understand the culture and fit its members into whatever redevelopment plans you have. Example: In Newark, New Jersey, the city demolished the housing projects and placed residents in newly, redeveloped townhouses. Some of these townhouse communities even have armed security to keep the gangs, guns, and drugs out. But in most of these townhouse communities the relentless force of gangs, guns and drugs are wearing the security guards down, wearing the residents down and driving the police insane. While the police are on the block everything stops. The second they blink or turn away someone dies!

  

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