The story which you are about to read and hopefully enjoy it’s completely real. Every event, moment, situation are all base in true facts, so are the places at the time of occurrence, however the names of all the persons in the story except mines are altered, this in fact will maintain the privacy of those that where somehow involve in my life as a convict. If your name somehow is found on this story it is only pure coincidence and nothing more. I’ll hope you all enjoy it, as I did writing it and living again part of my past.
The Waste of Freedom…
…At the begging of a very good and productive summer which took place back in 2007, in my life I began to notice how sudden aspects of such was changing to something that I was not before, I became to feel more secure and proud of myself, I began to simply stare at the things and the persons who I wanted around my life and nothing else, I focus so much deeper in getting exactly what I wanted, and at that time that something was nothing else but money, it was nothing else but the feeling of power around my fist. I somehow was having such a great year that year, thats all I was waiting for, I was waiting for the right moment, the right move to make.
See I was playing chest in a board that was made out of life, this is how I will describe the first part os my story. I was using all my Pawn’s with out they even realizing it. My Bishop’s, my Knight’s and my Rook’s was all been a part of it, waiting they turn to conquer new grounds for The King, my Queen was long gone at the time. The King, “myself” was just getting it all watching from a side, seeing how everything was taking shape, how every move was granting me space. Finally The King conquered, but what the King didn’t realized was that what he had conquered was nothing more but pain, jealousy, hate, shame. The King was able to get everything but yet he had gain nothing, at least nothing worth the quest he had engage himself in.
Towards the end of that summer, exactly by September, the King was getting caught with the everyday duties of his lifestyle, with the raising of everyday disputes over the grounds he and his fellow board members had conquered. The King was not so happy with the ideas of others trying to force themselves in and out to somehow get a pice of his gains, specially with those who decided to draw false statements of his so call Kingdom and his so call respect towards any members of those grounds. The King was a King for the people, but once you are good to your people, that action will draw attention to others who are seeking vulnerabilities and weakness, so they can use to see him fall from his Kingdom. For the next week it looked like a Kingdom so strong that no one seem to dare to attack. Meanwhile at the seventh and last day of that week, on September the 8th, the King experience the weakness of one of his fellow board members. He had once again experience betrayal, but this time was different than how the King had experienced it before. This time the King himself had gotten involve in battle to simply proof a point, a point which had became so strong that after proving it, he caused himself, his Kingdom downfall.
The King’s point was simple, “By no means you will try in anyway to get im my way or to somehow get me out of my Kingdom”, “I am The King and if in this battle I have to kill you myself so you or anyone can get this point, I will do so, and I will go ahead and do so with anyone else who chooses to try your actions agains me, and that my friend, is including your family as well”.
Those was the words that came out of the King’s mouth on that day, of course anyone who is willing to do anything for his or her family will do it. And that was the action that Mr. Rodriguez took, and so did his wife and kids. By the time they had gone to get their weapons ready for battle, The King had done so as well, but The King had came back with a weapon no one though he was going to use, specially with a whole family. The King, “myself”, came back with a gun ready to use agains Mr. Rodriguez, and The King used it. Then The King when to Mr. Rodriguez wife and kids and put it on their heads and told them not to do anything agains him otherwise they will pay the price. The King then goes back to one of his fellow board members and in this case there was only one present who was consider a Knight to the King, and he told him. “Here is the weapon you saw me used, go and conceal it, am going to leave now, don’t come back here nor let anyone see you, I’ll be in my Castle, (house), wait for my call”, and the King fleet the scene.
A Pawn that was also in the middle of the action help The King vanish from the grounds. The King made it safe with no trouble on the way to his Castle, once the King felt safe there, he himself made a call to the scene, to one of his Bishop’s. The Bishop answering back to The King requests, simply reply by stating that members of the Elite Unit, (Police Officers), had grab the Knight that he had gave the weapon too, and that he was under questioning by the Unit. Hearing such a thing, the King called the house of his Knight to verify if such was true, hearing from the mother that it was, with such rage inside of him, The King held back and try to put himself together back in his Castle. The King ask to speak to his Knight sister, and was able to tell her to tell his Knight not to say one single word, for him to denied everything that they were saying and/ or asking of him. Specifically to tell the Elite Unit that he had no idea of who they were talking about. And if some how she saw that it was not such a possible task, to tell the Elite Unit herself that I, “The King”, was going to return to the grounds, but for her brother, “ The Knight”, not to betray The King. This been stated with such a strong tone of voice because it is the only thing The King despite from any man. The weapon of betrayal and most important the one of snitching. Once The King stated that piece of info to the Knight’s sister, she reply to his majesty that he will never commit such an action, specially after everything he has done in the past and of course the relationship and trust which we both had place to one another. Afterwords she was letting The King know that the members of the Elite Unit had taking into custody the Knight and that one of the members of the Unite had told her mother that he was going away…
Mean while I, “The King’, sat back in my Castle and took a cigarette out for a smoke. As I am taking my first drag out of it, am looking out the window and was able to see some vehicles from the Elite Unite, (Police cars), pulling in front of the Castle. All from both directions of the street, but there was something that felt different about the car right in front of the house. The King manage to get out his bedroom, but as he maneuver to get across from one room to another, they had opened the door already, without making so much noise he ends up having to lock himself back into his bedroom. But even though he already knew his luck was over and everything that was done and said was for nothing, he still didn’t want to just give up that easy. The King at that precise moment knew that it was Check-Mate for his Kingdom and for him. He knew he had lost it all, everything behind one single point. A point that at the end was not worth the battle. The members of the Elite Unite had finally caught The King. The King was now taken out of his Castle, but as the Unit was taking The King out, The King notice that on that different vehicle, the one right in front of his Castle, the person siting in the back, handcuffed, was simply his so call Knight, (friend). As The King tries to get a closer view to the vehicle to doble check what his eyes had seen, one of the members of the Elite Unite force him back into his Castle and drops him on the floor, even though it was already too late. The King had already seeing what he need it to see. Another member of the Unit started shooting to the one who had taking The King out, and was screaming to him that he was not supposed to see him in the car. (Meaning that The King was not supposed to see his Knight in the back of that Police Car). Only then I, “The King”, understood that one of my own personal Knight’s, (one of my own personal friends), had betrayed me, he had snitch on me. Minutes after that moment they transfer The King to the beginning stages of what was going to become he’s new Castle and he’s new battles to come. Perhaps another ground that he should conquer before his time runs out.
I, no longer “The King”, began my new journey to what I knew was going to be my new life.
Once the police took me into custody, they had took me back to the crime scene. The whole way there from my house was just questions left and right, about where was the gun, what kind of gun, if I had shoot the gun, why I did what I did, who had started the dispute ?, etc.. At first I was just ignoring all those questions and was just thinking on what my next move
was going to be. After a few minutes I found myself near the place I had committed the crime, police had made a sudden stop, they didn’t want the victims to see me, at least not yet. Some got out their vehicles and surrounded an specific area, one captain came to the rear, open the door, sat next to me, and then ask me, “what did you do with the gun” ?. For the next few seconds I just stare at him, once an idea came across my head, I simply reply, “It’s there, somewhere inside that trailer”. Something had told me then, that if the cops was so eager in finding out what had happened to the gun, it was simply because they did not had it on their possession, which meant to me I could still walk away. The captain had instructed the other boys in blue to search deeply in and around that trailer, so they did. I sat in the back sit of that police car nearly 30 min. If I remember correctly, at the end they all came back to me telling me that they had found nothing, begging me to tell them exactly where I had trow it. At that moment, deep inside of me I knew I won, it was just a matter of time to walk back home, to see another sunrise with a cigarette and a cup of coffee in front of my house. But then we left, and as we did, they pull next to the victims and one police officer when towards them, ask them a question, and then one of the ones inside the car with me roll my window down, and as they saw me they were all saying, “yes, he was the one who started shooting, he was the one who treated us”. So I said to myself, “maybe is not going to be as easy as it looks, they don’t have a gun, but they have five people accusing me”. Cops finally pull out of the scene and directed themselves to the police station, where I was place in a cell completely alone due to the nature of my crime, and for further investigation.
Time pass by and even more time, I was tired, I was hungry and sleepy, on top of that I was thinking what had happened to the gun and what exactly had my friend told the police, since before I got to the police station he was also drop off there for questioning. I had so many thoughts on my head, I was busy trying to find answers, but it was to early to find them. Two detectives interrupted my cell and my thoughts, asking me if I wanted a sandwich and a soda.
(For those who have been down this road before, you know that this is just one of their many strategies).
I answer to one, “Yes, of course”, the other one reply, we’ll be back shortly. Five minutes past and both of the detectives brought a really awesome sandwich with a Coke, “I’ll honestly prefer a Pepsi, but hey, it’s free, can’t complaint do to the circumstances”. They took me out of the cell, place me in a desk, serve me the sandwich and the soda, and one of them sat across from me with a pad and a pen, as I was eating he was asking and telling me. “Look, I know probably things got out of hand back there, but thank God no one got hurt, they are whiling to take the charges down if you collaborate, honestly we are kind of ok with it because of your past record and because, like I say, no one is injured. Now all we need for you is to tell us what did you do with the gun, who you gave it to, if you did, and where did you get it from, thats all, gives us the chance to help you.
As the detective was saying and explaining all this things to me I kept eating my sandwich and enjoying it, but I also was putting two and two together on my head. “See according to all they said, it occur to me that they didn’t had no solid evidence agains me, specially the main thing, which was the weapon”. I didn’t told them anything of it, but instead what I did was, somehow, self incriminate myself. See I knew, at least, (that’s what I thought at the moment, that my friend didn’t gave them the weapon), so I told them. “Listen, now that am done with my food, thanks to you guys for it by the way, an argument happened and they pull out on me, so I did the same, now you are saying that I shoot someone or that I was shooting towards someone, so you need to proof that, now about the gun I told you what I did with it, if you guys didn’t find it, it’s nothing I can do about it. And where did I get the gun from, (and here I gave a second thought, but I end up telling them), I had bought it a while back…
So now I am sitting in a desk with two detectives who are looking at me and at each other and maybe saying in their heads. “This guy might be young but he doesn’t seem stupid at all”. One of them when for it and told me. “Look asshole, it is simple, you are going to jail because you where shooting at somebody, that’s an attempted murderer. Not only that, but you when to the rest, including two children and place a gun into their heads and made a very serious treat. Now, according to some witnesses, and let me be real clear on this, they are more than enough to put you away, you are not going anywhere any time soon, so if I was you I start telling us where is the gun.
This conversation went on for about the next 30 minutes or so. At the end I was exhausted and I just simply told them, “I am going to tell you for one last time, I told you where the gun was, if you didn’t find it is not my problem, perhaps someone saw me and took it before your guys, now about who sold me the gun, I’ll let you get away with it and tell you, however it was a very long time ago and I might not remember”. One of the detectives said to me, “Well thats ok, there’s a pen an some paper, describe the person as you remembered it, and at the end just explain the story of the incident you just had tonight”. I said, “farewell”, and started writing everything down. A few moments pass until I told both detectives. “Here ya go, hope this is helpful”. When they was both done reading it, to be honest I felt that they wanted to strangle me for it. They told me in this exact words, “Are you fucking kidding us?”, I said, “of course not officer, you wanted me to write the story of what had happened earlier tonight and you wanted me to tell you who I bought the gun from, and I did, now if you don’t believe me, that’s not my problem either”. (For the record I had told them that I had bought the gun from a Jamaican guy, who happened to go get some drugs but he didn’t had any cash with him and I describe him as a big black guy, with very long dreads, wearing black sunglasses and one of this crazy long hats that keeps the hair in place. Then I add it, that the night that I bought it, was a raining and dark night and couldn’t see or remember nothing else. As for what had happened that night I just simply told them the truth, anyone trying to hurt me will have me act on it and I will hurt them back, and that it’s called self-defense). But see I was fucking with them at the time I was writing about who had I got the gun from. My mistake was very clear though, even though I wasn’t of much help on what they wanted from me, but I still incriminated myself to the crime. I realized that after they left, so technically they had me fair and square, it was game over for me.
Life in Court and a Boat
It is a strange feeling, the one crawling up through my veins, through my entire body. Am here in the court house waiting to get call, waiting to meet the person who is going to look at me like a piece of garbage, the person who’s going to hear all the extra stuff and punish me for it, the person who doesn’t believe in second chances, The Judge.
So as my name is called the officers come and get me, they make sure I have all the proper security since apparently I just attempted agains the life of a man and his entire family. Am brought out and place in front of The Judge, the A.D.A. starts talking about me, the case she had put together and the charges the cops had brought against me. My lawyer is just hearing as he’s looking on his paper work, am just staring at the D.A. and listening closely. I couldn’t believe everything that it was being said in the courtroom, but I had to stay shut. I spoke to my lawyer, all he told me was, don’t worry, for this kind of case this is normal. Later we’ll have the time to proof what’s true and was not, just relax. Once the D.A. finish she had ask the judge for a bail amount of $100,000.00 “Oh hell nah, I said to myself”. The Judge had ask my lawyer if he had anything to say in my behalf before he arrange and/or agree to the bail amount the D.A. proposed. My lawyer when and started speaking on my behalf. He mention to The Judge how it was my first offense and that I was full-time employed and I was also doing college course via internet and so on, there for if I was not going to get release on my own conscience then I was allow to have a less bail amount posted for my release etc. Well I guess none of that matter to the magnificent Judge, because all he said back was, “You know unfortunately this is not such a sweet case, your client had acted agains one individual’s life and moved on to make some serious treats agains his entire family, therefore I must accept the D.A’s. petition and ignore yours.
“Mr. Diaz, you are being accuse of Attempted Murderer in the second degree and other related charges, you are being held until you are able to post bail on the amount of $100,000.00, if you are not able to pay bail you will be transfer to one of the city’s jail until this case is resolve”. I looked at the judge, then I look at the D.A., then I just looked down and say to my self, “Son of a Bitch’. I remember once the cops took me back inside the holding cell, the D.A’s face, and that bitch was smiling, she had this type of smile that says, “Yes, I just fucked him”, good luck to me. Well there was no way I was going to come up with that amount of money in the next couple of hours, so I just try to relax and enjoy the ride. I made a phone call to my house, telling my mother that I was no where near getting released and for her not to worry. I had ask her to make sure my son was fine and that if she need it anything to go to the block and ask for it. I remember telling her, “I know this is going to take some time and after that time I had to stay in prison for some more time, I ask her to forgive me and not to worry about anything, that I will be just fine, and that I had made a mistake and had to pay the price for it, and that everything was going te be ok”. I remember also finishing of by telling her to tell my son Yeriel, all the time she was able to, that I loved him so much and that I will see him soon.
It was about 1 o’clock in the morning, my ride had came for me and others. I was kind of intrigue about where was they taking me, everyone was asking where they was going to, I simply didn’t care, to me either way we were all going to jail, it dint matter which one, it was still jail. Finally they put me in the bus that was going to the famous Boat, here in the Bronx. I had heard about it and seen it once, but it wasn’t a big of a deal to me, I was just alone for the ride. See, I was more focused on seen others actions, I was focused on the things that was going on or that probably could of take place once I was inside. I was imagining the environment in jail, since it was the first time I was in a New York City jail. I have hear so many stories of friends and others about the city jails, somehow I was interested in not just seeing but being part of it. This is how crazy my thoughts can be inside my head at times. “See am not afraid of anything, I just somehow want to be part of everything”. Going to jail to me was kind of amazing at the time, it was another great experience in my life. I imagined countless scenarios, countless stories. I had imagined the positive outcome of something so negative. Do you know how that feels ?, I mean imagine turning something so wrong in your life into something so great for it. To me that feeling was just awesome… I must be crazy, I just to say to myself at times.
The rain was coming hard now, it was a bit cold, kind of weather that I hate. The Correctional Bus pulled over the gates of Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center also known as V.C.B.C or “The Boat” and this is because it is in fact an actual boat, well not really, it is a barge, siting at the docks in one side of The Bronx. You can actually see from a distance the famous and lucrative “Rikers Island” which is the largest city jail. We are all coming out and walking to the entrance. There were a few correctional officer waiting for us, a few cells waiting to get filled and a couple of correctional captains who had the faces of pit-bulls ready to fight. The whole nine yards began, registration, pictures, finger prints, clothing etc. Once everything was done, since it was late they just gave us some bullshit ass sandwich and told us to hurry up so we can get place in what was going to be our house until the remain of our stay. They was trying to place me in a single cell do to the nature of my crime but because I had no priors one of the captains allowed me to stay in population, but he told me very clearly. “I will just wait for the wrong move you make”. I said to myself “this guy already hates me”. They took me to the second floor and place me in one of the reception houses, this was one of the housing units that a new prisoner gets put into until he is moved to a permanent cell or housing unit. When I walked inside, it was pretty big and dark as hell, since it was about 3 am already lights was out. The C.O. in charge of the unit at the time looked at my papers and told me to find a bed for the night, in the morning the regular C.O. of that unit will appoint me one and will explain a few things. I said Ok. I found a bed and took my ass to sleep. I was exhausted, I couldn’t stand up one more single second. Here at about 3 in the morning on a Sunday at the V.C.B.C “The Boat” Correctional Facility my story as a convict begins.
I’m not convicted yet but I am sharing a housing unit with another fifty-something guys who are being arrange just like myself. We are either waiting to get release or convicted. Am just waiting to get convicted and send away for a while, that is my reality. I am not sharing tears nor am sharing apologies, I know am guilty but am trying to make the best of it, and felling sorry for myself, like these guys who have been playing gangsters on the streets and now are so depress to even look at, it is not going to be me. Am down, way low I can truly say, but I refuse to put my head down to this system. I will stand tall and deal with my consequences like a man, I’ve always said that to myself. “I did the crime, now am going to do the time”. But am just trying to get the less posible time. Laws are meant to be broken and the system is meant to be bend, I might not have $100 Grand to bail myself out, but I know with time it will work somehow my way, that is why you got libraries and law libraries, we all need to learn how to use them.
A few hours pass and the lights woke me up. “Damn” I said to myself, it’s Sunday and this people are no joke waking us up so early. Come to find out the breakfast was about to be serve, so if you were hungry this was your time, otherwise you’ll have to wait until 11:30 to12 noon to eat again. I was too tired, feel back to sleep, covered up from head to toes, someone had awakening me again and told me. “Look bro, you came in last night I suggest you to get some breakfast, because you never know what might happened before lunch, next you know they don’t serve lunch because some dumb fuck did some stupid shit”. “I said whatever, I don’t really eat breakfast, plus am tired”. He reply, “Ok then, don’t say I didn’t warn you”. The morning continue. I got up at about 11 am, did what I had to do and got ready, don’t really know what I had gotten ready for, because I wasn’t going anywhere. It was Sunday and I was in jail, but whatever. At some point an argument broke out with some guys there in the house, it end it up in a fight with four guys at once, couple of minutes had pass and like 20 correctional officers and two captains showed up. It was done, everybody was in line, they took the guys out made the rest to stand for search. The C.O’s was just dumping everything out of the lookers, beds, etc. it was a mad house. I was saying to myself, “Oh hell nah, we all fucked now”. Then one of the captains started talking so much trash, he was yelling, disrespecting everyone, he was explaining how he liked shit on his house, (well if you ever been incarcerated and/or convicted here in NY you already know how it works), at the end he just said. “And since most of you have been here for a couple of weeks, ya should of told the new cats how this shit works, but since ya did not told them, then it will be no lunch for any of you, ‘till you mother fuckers act like grown fucking men”. When I heard that, ohh man, I wanted to really come out my way, because I was starving, but then I remember what the guy who had woke me up told me. At that moment he was standing in front of me, he looked back and told me, “You should of ate breakfast”. I bit my lips, umm, and nodded my head like this fucking dude, damn.
The rest of my day when ok, I guess. It was the first day in jail, what else can you say. It when from meeting almost everyone else who was there, making phone calls, watching TV and just boredom. I was going nuts my first day to tell you the truth. That afternoon was the longest afternoon I have had in my life, and then I notice a few black guys playing chess in a corner, so I said to myself, “here you go”, some entertainment, something you can learn since you love learning what you don’t know. Oh yes, I loved it. Walked over and stood in aside from them and just started watching how they played. They were older men, they didn’t bother. I stood there, watching until dinner arrived. That time was the most interesting time in the last few days of my life, it was just about being quiet, just watch and learn.
One of the guys that were playing told me, “I like what you was doing there”. I ask him, what exactly was that, since I was just standing. He said back to me. “You think you were just standing, you need to really learn how to look outside the box. You had the best chair on a chess game, that is standing up next to the board, you’ll get to know how everything moves from a top, plus it is exactly how you need to stand here in jail, and if you go up north, even more. You look like you have never been here, is this your first time” ?, I said, yes. Well let me give you your first lesson. “Always stay aside, watch everything carefully, pay close attention to how everyone moves, don’t get distracted by anything and most of all avoid crowds, if you can manage to stay by yourself, do so, this laws are for the game of chest as well for the the game inside jail or prison, now lets go get something to eat”.
The way this guy spoke to me, is the same way I like for people to speak to me and the way I like talking to others. At that moment I said to myself, “This is one guy who is going to teach me a lot more than just how to play the game of chest”.
Days when by, and this guy who I end it up calling him Old G was my first mentor in jail. He had thought me a lot about the jail system. It was like recreation for him. one time he told me that he will rather live in prison than in the outside because he have been in and out of it so many times that he felt more comfortable and secure in it. At the time I didn’t even bother to get into details. He showed me how must prisoners act, depending on how many times they have been lock up. He thought me the difference between one who was a convict and those like myself who was incarcerated. He thought me how the C.O’s moved and looked at things. How the crowds moved around. After knowing the reason why I was in, he encourage me to spend time in the law library, overall Mr. G thought me so much. (I hope he’s doing fine nowadays).
After a few weeks my court first appearance was do. I was woken up early in the morning by a C.O. to get ready and eat, then ship to the court for my case. It was a long morning, right before I was ready to see The Judge I had a lawyer visit for about five minutes. He explain to me that the charges was going to stick and that my case was being arrange for Supreme Court. After going in front of The Judge just like my lawyer had told me, The Judge indicted me and moved my case for Supreme Court. But he at least heard what the lawyer had to say and he granted a short bail amount from $100 grand to $50 grand, which was still to fucking hight for me to paid. But I was not paying mind to the bail, I was already doing my homework as Mr. G had told me to do back in the law library. I spoke about it with my layer for a few minutes, he was surprise that I was even doing something positive with my own case and told me it was good to help just in case he might forget about something that can benefit my case. Either way, he told me he was going to place also for help in my case a colleague of his to gather some proof to hopefully dismiss some of the charges I was accused of. It was real good for me to even hear that, I saw my lawyer actually working in my behalf.
I was back in my housing unit, just learning from everything. I saw myself not having much so I got into some ideas. It was holidays season, Thanksgiving was next on line and then Christmas. I saw how from arguments on the phone it started becoming the feeling of not being there with your love ones, the feeling of loneliness. Guys were actually hanging up the phone with tears on their eyes, not wanting to talk to anyone and feeling sorry for the choices they had made. So I started to write different things to get guys to make their love ones feel good even if they were not physically with them. I team up with this guy who draw so nice. I mean the things this dude used to make with a pen and paper was real good work. So between him and I, we started making cards, letters, I mean all type of things, you name it. We was getting it done, little by little guys was really liking it and started buying letters and cards from us. I was being able to put the things that I need it in my locker and even able to go to commissary. Shit I was one of the few people who can actually tell you I was in jail and prison doing my time alone and with nothing at all.
At some point my parter was transfer to Rikers Island and I was transfer to another housing unit at The Boat. I felt like if I was starting all over again in a new place with a bunch of new guys. Some who I have seen before and some who I haven’t, but at the end it was still ok with me. I knew where I was standing and I had prepare myself for anything including the worst, plus I had one hell of a mentor before he was also transfer to The Island and then back up north. Because of my 60 days in The Boat had been great, I had not gotten into any trouble and I was fine according to the official C.O. in my old unit, they send me to what was called the best housing unit of The Boat, they called it the V.I.P. House. That was because it was the most cleaned house and everybody still had their own locker and the showers and toilets was dope fine, plus it was the only house in the whole Boat with a DVD player and the C.O’s used to bring out movies every weekend. To me that was the upgrade of a life time. Shit I was loving the boat at that moment. Just with the fact that police in that unit allowed us to take a shower when we felt like, as long as the captains dint hear about it, I was in a five start hotel, I mean I was chilling. But like everything in life has a price, living in that unit had its price too. See every one there had to work wether inside of that unit or outside of it, there was no just laying down in bed all day. You had to earn your showers, phone time, food, dvd movies, games, etc. but that was cool with me, I always worked, so I had no problem with it.
A couple of days when by and they came to arrange those with no jobs to a specific work area. They send me to work cleaning the halls at night with the night crew. I never liked it the fact on working nights, specially earning .8 cents an hour, but it was whatever. Like Mr. G had told me, look outside of the box. I saw the opportunity of not been in the housing unit for so long, plus being able to make money and most important the fact of making time go a little bit faster, with that in mind I was free.
“You see when you are in jail, prison, the box or wherever it is that you are in, is only your body who is locked away, if you can manage to make your mind stay away from any of those places, you my friend, are not locked up at all”. I had learn that before I was even arrested the first time of my life.
Days when by, I meet new guys, heard lots of stories, great personalities. I mean if you was a dedicated criminal and wanted to get even better at your career of choice all you had to do was go to jail. They said criminals once in jail and/or prison come out making a way bigger and better crime. Well not really my cup of tee, I was focused into something bigger and better, for myself. I worked nights, sleep in the day and the time between, I spend it in the law library continuing to focus on my case. I learn so many things about all my charges and exactly how they will stick, “Oh man I was a lawyer on the rise”, but I never thought of myself as being better than anyone. I was always looking for advise as I still do. I love writing and reading but I knew I had to work in both when it came to english.
One day this guy came in, he was transfer from reception, he was loving the place. I called him Santi, his last name began with s. He was half black and half Puerto Rican, but he was born and raised here. He was the quiet type guy, you’ll see in his eyes pain and the fact that he wasn’t going anywhere no time soon. He was a couple years older than I was. Through time, about seven of us, including Santi ran the house. I mean we controlled everything there, and C.O’s was not bothering with us because we kept the house running smooth. It came to the point that every Correctional Officer wanted to work in our house because they had nothing to do but just sit down for the next eight hours of their shifts. Captains was going to the house just to sing their routine slips, they didn’t even bother to come inside.
Our Thanksgiving was quiet for all of us, none of us wanted to eat the nasty turkey ham they serve. “Fucking turkey most of been 3/4 days old out the fridge”. But we had cooked such a great meal for all of us, at least our group, we said our tanks quietly and ate together after that we was all in our zone. Even though we had created something among ourself, the emptiness and loneliness still surrounded us, we had family on the outside which we all wanted to be with. I was ok but not so ok with it, see I feel sad, empty, lonely, but I knew I was really never around my family even when I was in the outside, this type holidays I had always spend it with some friends at their places, never at home. When Christmas came it was kind of the same thing, at least to me, for most it was the same broken down feelings again. They talked about the gifts they used to buy their love ones and the ones they used to get. My X-mast wasn’t really like that, so it didn’t really meant much to me. What really hurt it me was the fact that even tho it was my sons 2nd X-mast, to me it was his first since he was just a baby born the previous one and I wasn’t there, that was the only thing I really hate it at the time. And I cried, I cried on those days, just like everybody else did, quietly on their bunk when the lights when out.
Oh, but to cheer you guys up a bit, let me tell you this. When New Years Eve came, oh man, we had a blast, indeed we did. I was in jail and got high and drunk out my ass, we all did. One of the guys in our crew, in fact the main guy, was an Italian guy. Oh yes, ya know what that meant, this guys was making for a few days before a drink, some sort of wine, then we had another two guys in our crew who used to get medication, this guys was two Puerto Rican guys. Oh man, their medication was some serious shit, and then 12:00 am came. We was drinking, smoking and taking pills all night. I remember we was all with our headphones just jamming to the music in the radio stations, I mean, we was having a blast. This was our way of receiving our New Years, and we all did it high and drunk as hell. That was the first time I had took any pills in my life, but I’ll tell ya, that night I as well as the guys that were there with me, had such a party. Now as I look back at it, I can’t believe we did things like that in jail. I mean we was crazy but we did it on a good way. Thankfully we didn’t got in trouble at all, the C.O. was cool and nobody open their mouth. 2008 came in well received by each and everyone of us.
New Year but things have to continue to go as planed. Every time I had to go to court everything seem to go as my lawyer planed, it was going just fine. I had help my lawyer colleague on a few things he need it to gather for my case. I was even getting motions on my own for my lawyer to bring up in court. Even the D.A. was noticing that I was giving her a hard time. I became a problem to the D.A. in my case because at my second, third and fourth Supreme Court appearance I did not agree to a 10yrs conviction and I, in open court came out of myself and told her that the only way I made a deal on my behalf it was when she was ready to drop the Attempted Murderer charge since she had no physical evidence, no victim, nor she had any hospital documentation that stated that someone was physically injured. Plus I told her that even thought I stated that I had a gun in my possession, they had never found nor had one in there possession, so she still need it to proof that. I would of keep going but The Judge was ready to send me back to the holding cells. My lawyer stated the same and put in some motions in for the D.A. to produce proof of those allegations or drop the charges. The judge when in favor of my lawyer and granted the motions, now the D.A. had a lot more work to do.
I was on my way for the fifth court appearance, and I waited calmly since everything was going perfectly all, I had to do was wait 30 more days for it. I got back to my beautiful home, it was a Friday night and they was watching movies, as I got in the C.O. opened the kitchen and gave me and the other two guys that had court that day our food. Wasn’t it lovely ?, well since we was in court, the housing unit was in charge of saving the last meal of the day for those who wasn’t present when it was dinner time, otherwise know as “on the chow time”. Brand new movie, “can’t really recall the name since I watched too many while in that house”, a clean house, peaceful environment and the C.O. on her own cloud. Shit wouldn’t you want to be in jail like that ?, this was The Hilton Hotel, only difference is that you had to share the house with 60 other mother fuckers.
Before my transfer to Rikers, I was able to received a few visits, my mother came in a couple times so I can see my son, even though I didn’t want her to come because I didn’t want my son to be put up thought this system. My two sisters came once, they couldn’t believe how I was living there either the stories I share with them. A woman who I will not say her name here when a couple of times to see me in The Boat as well as in Rikers. (I’ll tell you guys more about her later in the story). I had a total of 5/6 visits in a period of about 6 months in witch not one single friend when once, not once, and when I look at that, I said to myself. “In the outside you had always been there for everyone, I meant everyone who knew you. It didn’t matter where I was, I’ll tell them I see you later today, but I was always there, no one was here for me”, Only then I realized I need it to make some serious changes the day they let me out of prison.
My fifth court day came. I was already done with the nonsense. I was ready to just say fuck it, give me anything, just send me the hell away from here. The Judge failing to hear what he wanted the D.A. to proof, simply told her, “I am going to give you one more day for you to, and hear me very clear on this, for you to either show me the proof or I will simply dismiss his charges myself and send him home, clean and free.This is because you have waisted my time for the last couple of court days and am just tired of it. In 30 days you will come back with something either for the court or Mr. Diaz, or I will just send Mr. Diaz home, it’s that clear Mrs. District Attorney ?. She said, “Yes your Honor. I looked at him and said to myself, “You the mother fucking man”. All of a sudden I was the most energetic, happy son of a bitch anyone have ever seen. Back at the house all my guys knew the story of my case and how it was going so when everyone hear the news, everyone showed their happiness and their support.
The days continue to go and we continue to do what we was supposed to. About a week pass by and the captains wasn’t so happy that our house was to calm. One day all captains in duty rolled in with about 10 C.O’s for a search. Oh man, it has been long since I was involved in one of those. I totally had forgotten how it felt. Everyone naked on line, the house apart, they found so many shit hidden, it was contraband, and guess who it all felt down to, us, the crew that ran the house, the house reps. In the next few days it wasn’t fun, they search the house at one point 3 times in one day, just for the fuck of it. Then they started to transfer all of us one at the time, every day they came for one of us, until it was my time to go. I end it up being transfer to Rikers one afternoon. The new guys in the house didn’t want that to happened since one of the captains had said that once he was done transferring the house reps, he was going to change everything about the V.I.P house, that meant hell for the once staying.
Two jails at Rikers and a Conviction
I end it up in George Motchan Detention Center also known as G.M.D.C or C 73. We call it the 3 building at Rikers Island, right before I had my last visit in court. It was a complete different experience. It was a way bigger jail, so many more guys in it, more space to move around and you had a little bit of more movement around the jail on your own, at least if you had a pass and was going to an specific area or place, but it was also fun. I don’t like to be stuck in one single place, I felt like I was just back on the street. Meet a whole lot of new dudes, but to be honest I had already felt like staying away from everybody. I used to go to the library and read, chat with some of the guys from other areas just to keep updated in things that where going on, and must of it to find money. A lot of you might ask, how in the hell you make money in jail ?, well is easier than on the streets if you ask me. You don’t make money, literally cash, but you make money, meaning whats worth. You can make money out of pretty much everything, specially stamps, yeah those that you use to mail letters out. You make money of cigarettes, medicine, sweets, food that they don’t sell in commissary, magazines, specially the new porn issues. Shit I meet a guy who was making money with the news paper, he always got the news paper of that day, usually they give you the old ones. You can make money out of anything you know how to do, literally anything. The payment method was simple, it’s either something being trait it for something that cost more, or I just give you my inmate account number and you just have someone in the outside putting money to the account. Nothing is hard in there, you just got to move alone. I had no choice but to move like that because in the Island they didn’t want me to work. I was only able to work inside my housing area and those jobs were filled. It was a few interesting weeks the onces that I stood there in that building but they moved me fast since I was almost done with my case.
Back at the court house on my last visit, the D.A. manage to pull I guess her last card out her sleeves. My lawyer had told me what was going to happen, she was willing to drop the charges except the gun, but instead of giving me possession she’ll offered an Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon that carry no more than two years and was a lower felony. If however I refuse right then and there she’ll move for trial since according to my lawyer someone had came up forward with the gun to the D.A. So my choice was simple, make the deal for the lower felony in the Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon and go home after two years or go to trial, with a 50/50 chance of coming clean. But if I lost in trial they give me the regular criminal possession not the attempted and the range of the sentence was between 3 to 7 years in prison if found guilty and The Judge will decide exactly the amount which in any case he probably had given me some where between 5 to 7 do to the fact of what I did to the victims family. I asked my lawyer if it was true that the D.A. finally had the gun in possession. He told me he didn’t knew for sure, but the D.A’s office did gave him the support of the evidence which in fact described the gun, and I knew what kind of gun I had that day and what it looked like. So it wasn’t really so clear but yet an intriguing deal. Because I was almost 6 months inside already and this time counted, if I took the two years, I had to just do about 18 months in total and get out. They will take about a month an a half to get me sentenced and then ship me up north, so by then I will have to do less than 16 months. To me it was more than enough time to get settle and finish what I wanted and at the same time not spend so much away from my son. So I when out to The Judge and accepted the deal. I pleaded guilty to a lesser felony charge, but what they didn’t told me was that as a result of a flat bit I had to do parole supervision upon release and the time was from anytime between 1 to 3 years and that the D.A. was the one allowed to choose the time that I had to serve upon my release day. Well I guess you all know, since she was being a real bitch from the beginning of my case, she opted for the maximum allowed time of parole supervision in my case, she offer the whole 3 years.
Then I remembered her looking back at me with a smile and then she winks at me, and by that she had just told me, I still got to fuck you over. So my full sentence was a 2 years inside a state prison and upon released a 3 years post release supervision on parole, very nice…
Mother fucker just convicted me to five years. I had to go back to court for sentencing in about 3 weeks, meanwhile I was back at Rikers just putting two and two together in my head. Well someone had actually produce the gun to the D.A. at this point it was meaningless to me. I was more focused on the time I had left to do and the things I wanted to accomplish in that time. I went on on trying to get my GED in Rikers. I wanted to do something positive in my last weeks of stay, but they denied me. According to them I had to wait about a month until the next class started plus I had to have at least four to six months left to do in Rikers and I was ready to be transfer at any time after they sentenced me. They told me to just wait until I get up north and just get my GED there, plus they assure me that it was going to be even better than obtaining it in Rikers. So I did. I just waited. I was already inpatient being there. I wanted to get out already, the books was not enough, the talks, the writings, the calls, I just wanted to leave asap. I didn’t want to make any more deals, I didn’t wanted to work, I didn’t wanted to do anything but just get out of there, it was like if I had a new opportunity but it was far away from there. I couldn’t do anything about it except wait my turn to go. Finally the day came to get sentenced, I was kind of glad about it, it meant that very soon I’ll be in a bus on my way to one hell of a year. Well a bit less than a whole year. I got sentence to the terms I had explain before. Two days had pass and they when to pick me up. “Mr. Diaz pack your stuff, you’re being transfer”. “Oh man I loved every time that they tell me that shit”. In less than 10 minutes I was at the door, bye to everybody, hope I don’t get to see you mother fuckers, and for those that are close, hope ya get out soon. I was on my way to the end of my stay at Rikers Island, on to the 4 building.
Here we go, the 4 building at Rikers Island. Is what we call Robert N. Davoren Center (R.N.D.C). Even though they are separated this is the jail that houses the minors and also the convicts who are going to a State Prison to complete their remaining balance of their sentence. The bullpen therapy process started all over, just waiting to get to a housing unit. Some guy had ask how long before they send him up north, they told him that it depends. Some guys are send a bit faster than others, some stay a bit longer but usually we’ll stay there for about a month. When I was send to a housing unit, it was a whole different environment. It was more peaceful, everyone in that unit was more focused, more into themselves. I guess it was because that was it, there is no more fucking around. Plus trough the time I had spend in all different jails, I’ve learn and had, may be had an idea of how a State Prison environment will be like. It was still a jail in Rikers, but in that building the approach and the movement between convicts was more like of state prisoners, it was more respectful.
As the days when by other convicts explain to guys like me, the ones who have never been in an State Prison, how the C.O’s was there, the way things work up north. I was always the guy who somehow the older wanted around, so I had the opportunity of hearing so many things about State Prison. Going from minimum’s, medium’s and maximum’s correctional facilities. From the movement, environment, activities or programs you had to do as well as hearing from the aspect of worst fights, riots and all that other shit that make prison such of a scary place for a lot of you guys. I was into it, just absorbing everything. I had the chance to absorbe and grab the experience from the ones who were there already. I was learning left and right from anyone and everyone. In my housing unit at C 74, I was the 3rd or maybe 4th young guy. The other guys and the ones in other housing units going up north where a total mess. Some older guys used to use me as an example to this younger guys, because they were reckless and acted very immature. They used to explain to them how their behavior was simple getting them straight to the box and even injured. I was more the type who sat back and watch everything and just learn, quietly. I’ve also realized there, in the 4 building most didn’t want to create such a close bond between each other. One guy told me that it was because most likely were just going to be around each other for just those few weeks, that once we get ship up north a lot of us will most likely never see each other again, since there are to many prisons up north.
There were actually 72 State Prison up north when I was there, and that is including all kinds. From camps all the way to maximum security prison’s. Today they have closed down a few. In the 31 days I spend in the 4 building waiting to get transfer I saw almost everyone trying to enjoy their goods, that was because you was not taking absolutely anything with you but your bible and what you had on. Some guys had too many things, they just gave it out to the guys left behind awaiting for the next trip. I honestly didn’t had to many things, as a matter of fact I never did. I only had and try having what I really need it, everything else was just irrelevant to me.
My day came to get ship out up north. They finally called my name, 31 days after being transfer from the 3 building. I was happy, nervous, and excited. I was a bit scare am not going to lie, but I was really focused and have always being strong minded, and because of it i realized that being scare actually was more like a strong felling instead of a vulnerable or a weak one. I had nothing with me but my bible and legal documents, which was the only thing you was able to take with you. I was ready to leave. Another bullpen session came, but this one was different. This one was to get out of there, the other one’s was to get in, that made it a different feeling. When everything was almost done, the C.O’s, who where actually State Prison C.O’s started calling our names and directed us to one of the two busses that were there. I end it up being cuffed with another Puerto Rican dude and send to the same bus. This was the first time we had meet. The usual conversation arose, where you from, where you live, your name etc. Dude was actually very cool, we were both exchanging stories about Puerto Rico and our lives. “But you need to understand, just because you’re cool doesn’t meant I trust you, we just meet”. That was my inner thought.
Our trip began, the journey to a new life. Crossing the bridge that connects Rikers Island to the city never felt so good. A thought came to mind, one that prisoners at Rikers used to say. “The longest bridge you will ever cross is the one into Rikers, because you’ll know when you get across into it, but you’ll never know when you’ll get to cross it back out”. I smile to the thought of finally leaving The Island, Rikers Island. A small laugh came out at the thought of vanishing from the city and be on my way to something new. Then I laughed hard, so hard that one of the C.O’s shouted at me to shit the fuck up. My Puerto Rican partner in cuff looked at me, winking at him I told him. “Here we go, to the time of our life”. We both started laughing.
Ulster Correctional Facility
It was the first long trip since coming from Puerto Rico to New York back in 1998. I’ve never left from New York City. The air you breathe up state New York it’s just different, It’s more clear, I guess nature has so much to do with it, the trees make one big difference..
It was a long trip, an 8 hours ride to be exact. It was tiring to sit down for so long. As the correction bus pulled to the gate of the prison I was kind of impress. Convicts was just chilling outside on the yard, I notice others doing I guess their job. But something had caught my eyes, I saw how everything was moving in an specific line, everyone was just marching with C.O’s by their side. We all started stepping out of the bus and just like the rest we lined up. The C.O’s were very loud, they didn’t just talk, they scream at us, telling us what to do and how to do it. I felt like a child who does not listen. We was escorted to a room, there they explain to us some rules and how things work. They told us how long we were going to be there, (which was actually 30 day or so), because it was just a reception prison. After a long conversation I saw the first mistake of a young kid. I guess he was not happy with either the rules or the way the C.O’s spoke, so he said some dumb shit. One C.O. when directly to him and told him to repeat himself, at first he didn’t, the C.O. step back and said out loud. “See this are the type of pussy’s we have here, they want to act tough but don’t have the balls for it”. The dude actually laugh at the comment. The C.O. came right back and said, “Exactly what I need it”, grab him by his neck and drop him on the ground, then he told him. “Lets go see if you laugh inside the box for the next 30 days”. Just like that I saw the first victim of a State C.O. in prison.
(For those who don’t know what is the box. The box is a cell in which you are completely lock up alone without anything and pretty much all day, the place you get send when you do something wrong, stupid, get in trouble, etc.).
One other dude said. “That ain’t right”. Another C.O. when towards him and ask him. “You want to joint him ?”. He stood quiet. The C.O. reply, “I thought so”. The Sargent that were there spoke for the first time and said. “Listen up, for those who are being here for the first time. This is our house, our rules and if you do what you are told, there will be no problem. We own you now, you are all property of the state and we represent the state, here we do what we want because you are all shit. Stick to the rules and regulations and don’t get in trouble, because if you do then we are going to become your trouble. And for those who have been here before, I suggest that you teach this new knuckle heads, because ya all know the saying here, Peter pay for Paul”. Then he turn around and left. The other C.O’s just directed us for the other processes, which were shower, clothing, ID’s and all that other crap. When everyone was done they direct us to our new housing unit, our new dorms.
My partner, the guy who was cuffed to me the whole ride here end it up being send to the same dorm I was. He’ve being here before, he was send back up for a parole violation. He only had 90 days to do, I had my remaining sentence, which was about 1 year or so. The C.O. of that dorm explain the rules and how she wanted things to be done in her dorm. It was pretty essay to tell you the truth, but the bad thing about it was that in that place it was so fucking boring. We were not able to do crap, but wait to get transfer. You could have no packages send, (not that I was going to get any but you’ll never know), you couldn’t have anything and I need it a fucking cigarette. My partner and I made a few moves so we can get a few things but it was so fucking hard, no one had shit. In the next few days I learn that in that prison we had to just wait for the guys coming back down for court, because they had some of their things or for the guys that had work duties in that prison, since they was the only ones serving their sentence there. Little by little we had some cigarettes and other things, so it kind of got and felt a bit better for me.
In my dorm there was a cuban guy, really cool dude, older fella. Always wanted me to work out and stop smoking. I used to tell him. “Am not here like this other guys, I didn’t came here to exercise, I want to study”. Every day he used to tell me. “You not going to study shit here, you got to do that when you’re transfer, in the mean time, don’t just fucking sit and smoke, move your ass and do something”. That was our argument every day. I got love for the guy though. We sat and spoke a lot of times. I’ve learn so much from him. Then, one day he was transfer, a few days before the 4th of July actually. “Ohh yes I spend a few holidays inside a prison dorm, they felt lonely but I assure you we all make the best out of them”.
My partner and I actually stood there for a couple extra days than the regular 30, until they finally called the both of us the same day. We got ready and went on our way. Before leaving, the C.O. called me aside and told me. “You see how thing are here ?, I don’t know where you are going but in the other prisons are not like here. Don’t get caught in other jails doing what you did here, because they are not going to send you to clean, plus they will write you up and give you a ticket. Just do what you do, stay away from everyone. You’re very smart guy, and take good care of yourself”. I was surprise at her advice, and had told her thanks. “She was talking about the fact that she had once caught me smoking in the showers”.
Ready to leave Ulster Correctional Facility, my boy and I was kind of exited. I remember he telling me so many times that most likely I’ll end up in one of the camps because I had no priors and I always behave. I had told him that I wasn’t worrying about that, all I wanted was to get send to a place in which I can get my diploma. “That’s what I really wanted”. Once again we got cuffed, but this time we wasn’t cuffed together. I end it up next to some other guy and so did he. We end it up in the same bus though. Once the bus was ready to go, the C.O’s explain to us that it was going to be a long ride and that we were going to the Oneida Hub. There we was gonna get off, some of us were going to stay and some were going to a different bus. The onces that end up going to a different bus will end up going to their respective prison. That we’ll have lunch when getting to The Hub for the once that were hungry and that the stop was to take place between 45 minutes to an hour and we all had to move fast because some were going real far.
So there I was again, inside of a Correctional Bus on my way to a new prison. One that I had no clue if I was going to spend the next few months in or just the next hour. Meanwhile I had another 4 hours to spend in a bus ride.
The Hub, Oneida Correctional Facility
We arrived at one real big prison. It kind of looked like a very old castle, with some really big grounds. Two sets of gates all around it, pretty tall. Kind of a drive from the main gate to the second one. Some said that Oneida was a class B Medium Correctional Facility, I later found out that it was. I was wondering if that was the prison I was going to say in. One guy said out loud that Oneida was the main prison for Sex Offenders, once I heard that I was relieved. I had noting to do and my case and conviction had nothing to do with a sex offense, but then he stated that you didn’t really had to have a sex offense case in order to stay there. We were getting closed to the lot and as the bus pulled over a lot of the convicts out side was shouting “new meat”. I said to myself. “Well I guess is the time of proving ourselves, we’re the new guys”.
We all came out off the bus and was escorted inside to some cells that were ready for us. Kind of a bullpen therapy but with less hassle to tell you the truth. A few minutes laters some convicts came out giving us some sandwiches and juices. C.O’s started calling our names and directed us to different busses. It took nearly thirty minutes for them to call my name. I was in the cell next to my boy, we were conversing about anything and everything. He kept telling me. “You’re going to a camp, you’ll see”. I kept telling him. “All I want is to study”. At that moment he told me, “lets see if thats what you really want once you get to your prison”. I had ask him what made him say that. He reply, “Because is to much to do once you get settle, you’ll see”.
When my name was called, they directed me to a small bus. They cuffed me and told me to take a sit inside. A few minutes later my boy end it up getting inside the same bus, nearly fifty minutes after there was like six or eight of us in the bus, don’t remember exactly. The C.O. told us that three of us were going to one place the others to a different one. One of the guys had ask the C.O. if he didn’t mind to tell him were he was going. The C.O. reply. “I’ll tell all of you since you guys are not so many, but in a minute”. The bus driver pulled out of the parking lot and we headed our way. Fifteen minutes later the C.O. called our name one by one and told us exactly where we was going to go. For my luck my boy and I end it up staying together and was on our way to a camp, just like he said many times. A camp called, Camp Pharsalia. The ride was back down to almost two hours. We spoke for a few, but to tell you the truth we all end up falling as sleep. It had started raining and we were all tired. I was the last one to closed my eyes. I was just looking out the window and thinking about everything. Finally I decided to just relax and enjoy the ride with the rain.
Camp Pharsalia Correctional Facility
As the rain continues we pull up at a small camp. I was strange. I didn’t thought it was going to be the way it was. The camp was in the open, there were no fences whatsoever. It had three long buildings, which were just one floor high and a pretty big baseball field on the side alone a race track. The bus let us off. The C.O’s hand us to the camp C.O’s and they escorted us to some sort of office to pick up our mattresses and other few belongings. My boy, which I haven’t told you his name, and I won’t but, I use to call him Flaco, was escorted to a different housing unit. There was only tree houses in that camp. I was send to housing unit B.
As I walk in, it was all eyes on me, but to be honest I felt no treat. It was like walking into a classroom. People looked and then just minded their business, they just kept doing what they were doing. The C.O. who escorted me took me to the bobble. (The bobble is the small office unit of the C.O. in charge of the house). The C.O. was a big white guy, in his early thirties, he seem like the kind of guy who was calm, the type that doesn’t bother to much. What I didn’t like was the fact that he place me in the only bunk available, which was right in front of him. Few minutes after he finish speaking with me I meet my bunkmate. A black dude, younger than me by two years or so. He seem pretty mature at the time. He introduce himself to me, we both chat for a few minutes and then he started calling a few of the guys so they can meet me. The guys there were really cool at the time. He himself and some other guys gave me a few things right of the back. Everyone told me not to worry about it because they knew I had came from Ulster and they knew the time that anyone spends there, it was a time in which you weren’t allow to get anything. I felt good about it. I knew I was in need of a few things. I will always remember and appreciate what they did that day, my first day at Camp Pharsalia.
It was about six in the afternoon, we were allowed to go outside for a smoke, with a small broom in our hand, but no more than two guys at the same time. That broom let the other C.O’s. passing by or Captain and civilians that worked in the Camp that we were smoking. If I remember correctly it was a Friday evening. I went for my smoke and had a chat with one of the guys. A few minutes later a C.O. came to get me, he took me to the office. My Correction ID was issue to me and one of the Captains explain a few rules. Then I went for a drug test and a small meeting with a councilor for programs. He had ask me what I wanted to do with my time and what I knew how to do for work. I told him right away that I wanted to get my diploma. He enrolled me into the Camp GED program and put me to work in what they called the Wood Crew. The Wood Crew was the one in charge of the parks around that town but mainly the forest and camping sites. He explain that mostly I’ll be cutting down trees and molding the grass around. My thought at the time was. “What the fuck this guy just put me to do”. But hey, I had no choice, since everyone who was new had to work in that crew for their first thirty days.
When I was done, I walked back to the dorm. Everyone had ask me what crew they had put me in to work even though they all new the answer. I meet my co-workers, the guys that were working in that crew and they explain that even though it was kind of a hard crew, the C.O. in charge of it was really cool and din’t bother so much. That I’ll have a good time there. In the meantime for the next two days, since it was the weekend I just pretty much meet everyone who was in the Camp. There were about 200 convicts there, it wasn’t such a big place. The food wasn’t bad at all and on Sunday’s instead of breakfast and lunch we had brunch, that was a fun day to go out to eat. Both weekend days we spend it watching movies, visits for those who had visits and out in the field. The environment was really cool and lay back. No one bother, no one disrespected no one. It was a pace that if you wanted to, you could of start running out and hope they didn’t catch you. I mean there were no fences or anything around to stop you from escaping. Even though the time I spend inside that Camp no one dare to do so, because you’ll still was going to get caught, and if that happened you was going straight to a max, with seven year behind your back, added to your time. Everything about that place was just smooth, everyone’s day seem to go real easy, including but specially mines, I always made sure of that.
The Sun came out, it was Monday morning. We all got ready for our days program. I had to go to work and in the afternoon I had to go to class. I was exited about it. Our C.O. in charge came for us, we grab our tools and head our way. For my luck my boy Flaco end it up working with me in the crew. I’ve always lived in the city, even back when I was in Puerto Rico. I’ve never seen or have been in the woods or a camp site or any of that stuff, to me it was all new. The camping sites was really beautiful. I’ve seen animals there that I’ve never seen in my life, shit is not like you gonna catch a brown bear in the city blocks walking around. I was amassed of nature, the air you breath, the tall ass pine trees. I remember that we use to go to the same places and even though we were all convicts, the civilians used to say hi to us, some even started conversations at times with us. They weren’t like the people back in the city, the city folks just walk pass by you, staring at their cellphones. The C.O. always told us that if a civilian spoke to us, we had to be polite because we didn’t knew who was who and up north everyone is a family member of someone from the prison system. I just simply decided to stay away from anyone who was not wearing green. Looking to the job I had to do I said to myself. “I have never in my life cut down a tree, not even a branch from it”. I learn how to do it though, and I was having so much fun while doing it too. We use to get divided in groups of two’s, we were ten convicts in that crew. Obviously Flaco and I stick together, we had made a bond between the both of us. We made everything fun for everyone in the crew and back inside the Camp. When it came to work it got to the point that the C.O. will just tell us where to go and we did the rest, then we’ll go help the other guys. We work fast, and in total synchronization. The C.O. was always amazed of who we work as a team. One day one of the guys told both of us to chill, not to work so fast because the C.O. was gonna end up finding something else for us to do. We both told him, nah, relax, we already know what to do with the C.O. the faster we finish, the faster we leave and chill. See, Flaco and I notice that our C.O. in charge did not fucked around to much. So once he took all of us in the morning to a site, all we had to do was work hard in the morning then take lunch and relax for the other half of the day. Flaco and I had the C.O. in our hand. After what we did that day, everyone in our crew was loving us. Every afternoon we’ll end up having a trip to a new Camp or Lake site, just so we can relax the remaining part of our shift. But the C.O. had explain to all of us that it had to be our secret, because the Captain couldn’t find out about it. We all agree to it thought.
By the second week I was there it had already felt like if I was there for a whole year. The place wasn’t so big, everyone knew everyone and there were not so many things or places to go.
I made it my business to call back home once a week. I use to call only on Sundays to speak with my son and mother and make a call to the woman who I told you guys about at the beginning of the story. I remember that before being send to the State back in The Boat and Rikers, the few visits that she had made to me I spend telling her to forget about me because I knew I was going away for a while. She never listened to me, always told me that she was going to be there no matter what. Deep inside I was glad, happy and I appreciated her doing such a thing. (When a guy ends up in jail or prison a lot of times he forgets that his woman and/or his family end’s up doing that time with him, it’s like they are also lock up). I didn’t want her to feel like that, not ever. I don’t like to be held back in my life because of something or someone, that’s why I don’t expect others to get held back on their life because of me. I was never able to learn how to be selfish. When I called her that second Sunday I was hurt to what was told to me. Even thought I had told her many times to do her life without me, it hurt it me to hear those words I heard, and I’ll tell you why. She was not the person who answered the phone, it was her little sister. When I ask for her, her little sister ask me who I was and I told her. She told me this words, “My sister told me to tell you that she move back to P.R. and that she had met someone here, she loves him and she is going to marry him. She also said for me to tell you that she was not going to be there for you and to leave her alone”. I stood quiet for a moment, then I told her, “Tell your sister that is fine with me, at the end we was not a couple, she just gave me a good friendship this time of my life, but tell your sister that she could had have the decency to tell me those things herself, she’s a grown woman, she didn’t need it her little sister to tell me. And tell her I say goodbye”. After that I just simply hang up the phone, didn’t even waited for an answer, just like that she was gone from my life. See the reason why it hurt it me the way it did, is simply because to me she didn’t show respect, she didn’t had the guts to say those words to me, in my face. She used her little sister instead, and I really have no respect for someone who does not stand tall on his or her own feet, people who uses other people to do or say something, disgust me.
Through the weeks days I spend my time on my work and in the evenings I was going to class, but I was no longer into it. Inside of me I wasn’t so happy about it because I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do for me. The reason was simple, at the time I when to class it was only five of us in the classroom. There was one teacher only and he was not trying to teach crap, he only wanted to sit and be left alone. Don’t get me wrong I read and study a bit, but that wasn’t it, I wanted to study really hard, I wanted to take the test and pass, I wanted my Diploma. One day the teacher told me that he saw on me the hungriness of a young child who wanted everything no matter the cost. He had told me to ask to be transfer to another prison because there I wasn’t going to get my GED. I had ask him why. He told me because is a Camp, the system doesn’t really focus in the Camp Facilities on that aspect of programing, but that if I was able to get transfer to perhaps Minimum/ Medium facility, there, they had real big classes that work just like if I was on the outside. I thought about it, but then I said to myself, “I’m not going to ask to get transfer, if is meant to be then it is, if not then I’ll stick to this”. That was a real mistake. Let me tell you guys this, “If you want something in life, you need to go out and get it, no matter what the circumstances might be and no matter what might happen, because if you don’t go out and get it on your own, no one, and I mean no one, will get it for you”.
I kept living my life there as it was, just working and reading a whole lot. I need it to work on my english reading skills. One of the guys that were there with me used to force me to go to the library and grab a book to read, and believe me when I tell you I read, I read a whole lot. The problem was that it was a Camp, there wasn’t much to even read, at least not something worth reading. I started thinking of a different prison, I started wondering if I should ask to get transfer. I ask a few older guys that were there, they all got alone with me for real. At times I look back and think about it and realized they seen potential in me and wanted me to do something better for myself. They encourage me to do better. My bunkmate even though he was a couple years younger help me with math, just so I can get better at it. Guys was giving me anything and everything for me to read, even the C.O’s news paper, and I hate reading a news paper, but they wanted me to better my English reading skills. They wanted me to understand and comprehend what I was reading in English. At the end if I ever took the test I always said to myself that I will take it on English not Spanish.
The days kept going and I kept working. I was already comfortable there, in that housing unit, in that Camp. My last week on the Wood Crew came, I knew at the end of the week I was going to get transfer to another Crew. The C.O. had told me about it and also told me that he was gonna take care of it. Didn’t really knew what he meant at the time, but I wasn’t focus on that, I was more into getting my GED but din’t dare to go ask to get transfer. The rest of the week went fine, I had so much fun. The C.O. had taken us to Camping Sites that we had never been in before, it was really cool. As Friday came and we got off work at the dorm the C.O. put me aside and spoke to me about my situation. He mention the fact that I didn’t had much and that I was one of his really good workers, he also spoke to the C.O. at the dorm to see how I was doing there, the dorm C.O. didn’t say nothing bad at all. Then he finish telling me. “Am gonna do my best to get you in the best Crew we have here, but you got to promise me that you’ll do the same thing you have done here in my Crew, avoid problems and work hard”, He also explain that in that Crew I will make a lot more money, so my commissary every other week was going to be a lot better and that he was going to talk to the C.O. in charge of the other crew so he can put me in. I honestly appreciated what he said to me, I thank him for it. He said, “Good luck and take care, I’ll see you around”, then he when his way. I took a smoke break then I when on for a shower. I was happy about the news and even more of the fact that I was on the right track, doing what I had to do and just avoid the nonsense. I remember everything that everyone had told and thought me since day one back at The Boat and all along the way here. I quietly thank God for it and everyone who gave me a piece of advise.
As I’m coming out of the showers a C.O. was talking to the C.O. of our house. I walk to my cubicle and just minded my business, I was right in front of them. Suddenly I realized that they were talking about me, I was trying to hear what they were saying but I couldn’t. When I was done, the house C.O. called me an introduce me to the other C.O. He told me that my crew C.O. spoke to him about me and that he said a lot of good things, that he was there speaking with the house C.O. to verify how I was doing in the dorm and the same way, he had no negative answer. He then shook my han and said, “I’m the C.O. in charge of the Hospital Crew and you are going to work with me starting Monday. You gonna see that is the best Crew, you’re going to eat better, get pay better and a lot of other things. The only thing that I will tell you is this and is because it has happened before. You’re going to be around nothing but civilians, they are going to talk to you all day long. From Doctors, Nurses, Patients, Hospital Personnel, etc. and a lot of this young nurses like convicts, just don’t get caught with anyone of them and if something happens you better make sure she likes it, otherwise, I’will feel sorry for you”. I was surprise at what he had just told me, I couldn’t believe it. He notice my look, and he said, “Trust me, what I just told you is true and it has happened more than once, the problem is that it always end up the same way, you guys don’t know how to act, that’s why you guys get caught”. I said, “Well I’ll do my best, thanks for the opportunity”. He walk out of the dorm and as he did everyone wanted to hear the good news, they seem happy for me. I was happy for myself as well.
Lest than an hour later another C.O. walk in, he when to the bubble and ask for me. The house C.O. called me. The C.O. that walk in told me that one of the Captains wanted to talk to me but first he ask me if I had done something wrong that day. I was strange, completely confused. I told him that my day when really fine and I had no problems whatsoever. He said, “Well the Captain wants to see you”. I left with him to the office. As I got there they took me in front of the Captain. My current Crew C.O. was there as well as my new Crew C.O. and about two or tree other C.O’s. He ask me if anything had happen either in the Crew at the job site or when I came back to my dorm. I told him that I had no idea what he was talking about, that my day when fine at both my work and in the dorm, that I didn’t had no trouble at all. The C.O. in charge of my crew told him that my day at work was like any other day, I did what I was told and supposed too and no one gave a hard time specially me, since I was always the one that worked the hardest. The Captain ask me if I had trouble with someone either in my dorm or in any of the other two dorms. I told him, “No, everyone here so far gets alone with me”. Then he went on saying. “The reason you’re here is because they just called me, told me to pack your stuff and that you had to be transfer asap, they didn’t wanted to tell me nothing else. I am a Captain, that order came from people above me. Tell me what you did, because you might be in serious problems. It’s a quarter to 7PM, no one ask for an inmate specially to get transfer asap at this time, it just doesn’t happen. Something is wrong, and is something that you did”. I simply reply to that statement by saying. “Look Capt. I don’t know what either your or anyone here is saying, my day when completely fine, no one did or said anything to me either at work or here, and I haven’t done anything to no one. I don’t know what else to tell you”. The Captain said, “Well I got to transfer you, those are the orders. Two of the officers are going to take you to your dorm, pack up your belongings, then they’ll take you out of here”. That was it. Just like the Captain had said, both C.O’s escorted me back to the dorm. I grab all my stuff and everyone was asking what in the hell had just happened. I simply said to all, “I’ve no idea, they are transferring me and they don’t even know why”.
And just like that my thirty days end it in a blink of an eye. I found myself once again in a Correction Bus coming out of Camp Pharsalia, on my way back to The Hub. Oneida Correctional Facility.
Back in Oneida
Going back inside the double gates that surrounded Oneida Correctional Facility I felt a little chill going across my entire body. “Come out”, the C.O. shouted. Coming out of the bus, grabbing my belongings and walking alone the C.O. I was inspecting the place with my eyes. There was no movement in the entire facility, at least not outside. The C.O. had escorted me to the clinic, there the nurses examined me and as they did the C.O. walked in with a Captain of the facility and a gang official. The Captain had ask me what happened. “I had no idea”, I told him. He went on stating that is very inusual for someone to get transfer in that fashion and ask if it had anything to do with gang affiliation. Once again I told him. “I have no idea what happened and no idea why I got transfer”. The gang official went on to look at all my tattoos and ask me the meaning of all of them, I told him what every single tattoo meant to me. He showed much interest in one of ones I got in my arm, the one that shows “BX 787”, he ask me. “Is that a new gang, because I haven’t heart of it yet ?, what it stands for ?. I told him. “It means Bronx Puerto Ricans and the meaning of it is, (Respeto, Amor y Lealtad)”. He said, “Sounds like a gang, is that what it really is ?, don’t lie to me, am a gang expert sooner or later I’ll find out”. I went on and said. “Listen officer I’ll be the only person here that won’t bullshit you or anyone, is not my style, and it is not a gang, I don’t do gangs, gangs are for dudes who are scare of dealing with some problems on their own, you will see this tattoo in your life only in two people and the other one is not here, and when I said what it means a wile back goes beyond the meaning of those words. Like I said is not a gang”. I remember him saying as he step back. “Am going to be watching you very closely, even though you seem very smart”. I reply. “It doesn’t bother me, you’re doing your job. I’’ll guarantee you that if no one here starts some bullshit with me then the last person you have to worry about is me”. The Captain said, “Well you’re done, since I have no idea why you were transfer until tomorrow and I don’t have to take you to the Box, then you’re going to the reception house until they can place you somewhere”. I said ok.
In the reception house I found myself out of place but I had to adjust myself to the new place. They had told me someone from the prison service was going to see me and talk about the programs that I had to do and the things I had to get involved in during my stay. Days pass by, but it was a very calm house, guys came in and out, every day, week, some had to be almost a month there do to space in the prison. After about two weeks I was going crazy, there was nothing to do and the days felt twice as long, even though I was meeting a lot of guys. The walkway was the best place to transfer a few things around and of course the yards. We had two yards in that prison, one really big the other small. The small yard was really some bullshit, the big one, ohh boy, you have no idea, lets leve it at that for now. For the most part it was boring because I was in the side of the prison which not much happened, everyone always wanted to be move to the other side. Later I found out that the four housing units in the side I was besides reception, were the housing units for the guys that worked outside and most said that was the best side to be on not only because of work, but because if you were actually trying to just do your time and get out that’s were you had to be. It was the only place no one really bother with no one. See Oneida Correctional facility was a medium prison but with a small part of it categorized as a minimum. I didn’t knew that, all I knew was that it was the number one prison for sex offenders, and even though it actually was. I learn that sex offenders were totally separated from the rest of the population, the only way everyone meet was when walking the walkway to go to their programs etc.
The day came for me to see someone and I did. I had a very interested conversation with a personnel from the prison. This civilian was in charge of the types of programs around the facility and that sort of things. I end up enrolling in school to get my GED and since I was a minimum category convict he decided to speak with someone with a higher position about my situation so I can go work in the outside, he had mention perhaps to put me to work in Cook-Shill. Cook-Shill is the facility next to Oneida which provides and produces all the food for the prisoners from the whole state. It is the facility in charge of making food for 72 state prison plus the county jails as well as the city jail. At the time I was there they was working a contract to start producing the food for the city shelters, don’t know if they ever got it. It was not such a huge facility but yet produced thousands of pound of food every day for delivery. I was astonish when he told me all this but very interested in getting some sort of job there, believe me I was.
A week later a counselor called me, I went on to see him. It turn out to be the same person who I had to see in regards of why I was transfer in such a hurry a couple weeks before. He started off by stating the reason why I was transfer. Come to find out that someone not even on the inside but actually from the outside was stating some real fucked up shit and stated that it was all being told and send by me. I had no idea who this someone was but the D.A. didn’t want to reveal his or her name either. To be more clear on this, this person was actually going to the victim in my case, well victims, and making treats on my behalf. The Counselor ask me if such statements were true. I was very surprise and it actually caught me off guard because I had not spoken to absolutely anyone at anytime. I told him. “Look Sir, for you or the D.A. it is very easy to find out if such statements are actually true, all you guys have to do is simply look at my records. I mean the prison records everything, don’t they ?”. He said yes we do. Then I went on… “I don’t send mail and I don’t receive mail, the only letter I have received has been from my lawyers but you guys know that because before it was given to me you guys opened it and read it. Besides that I only make one call a week to my mothers house, again you guys not only hear them but record them, so I have nothing to hide. Someone is going around on the streets saying that I send him or her to say things that I have not said, just to get to have a harder time than the one I am already having”. He understood were I was coming from and decided to speak up on my behalf but told me to write up a letter myself to the D.A. explaining the situation here and letting them know that I had no communication with anyone but my mother and son on the outside and that he will help me do the rest. After that conversation looking at my record he decided to put me to work on Cook-Shill, he explained how it worked and gave me some tips on keeping the job. He told me a lot of guys were send there but they were send right back because it was too easy to catch a ticket and get send to the box. “On the meantime”, he went on, “very soon you are going to get transfer because you’ve been too long on reception, don’t worry because you eventually will go back to that side of the prison do to the fact of becoming employed in Cook-Shill, but in order for me to allowed you to stay there you have to be telling me the truth about the situation from the outside and specially what you write in that letter to the D.A. If the D.A.’s office contact me again, is going to be over for you, there’s no second chances from me whatsoever, I will pull you back from the job. Hope we understand each other Mr. Diaz”. I said, “Yes, we do, and thanks for the opportunity”.
I got transfer to the other side of the prison, right by the mess hall. As soon as I walked in all eyes on me, but this time was different. A lot of these guys already knew me, they’ve seen me before in the walkway, at the mess hall, in the yard etc. Got directed to my cubicle, met my bunkmate and my closest bonkers. My neighbor was a Cuban guy, we usually call Cubans, “Cuba”. So Cuba and I actually got close. Cuba was an older fella, at the time he was in his late 30’s early 40’s, really awesome guy. He became my cooking parter, inside prison usually everyone ends up with someone to cook and eat together, some make a little group of four, five even six, but six were already too many. In our case it was just Cuba and I, but at my second day being there I notice that my bunkmate didn’t have anything at all, so I convince Cuba to have him eat with us. See Cuba was a nice guy, but he didn’t get too much alone with Afro-americans, my bunkmate was black. At the end it worked out fine. The guy was fine, Cuba gave him his space and just mostly dealt with me when it came to the food. We had a lot of fun talking about the outside, we came to find out that we knew a lot of the same people, and he mentioned that he lived in the block I used to do me before. We somehow became close, he introduced me to some other fellas that you’ll find about later in this chapter, really good guys. You guys have to understand that not because you committed a crime and you are send to prison for some years you’re a bad person, it takes time to get to know someone, and in prison all you have is that, time. At the end most of us love to judge, something in particular that I hate, I guess that is why so many folks get alone and like me. A couple weeks in that housing unit, in the popular side of the prison and they pack me up. I was once again been transfer, I was been transfer to the other side. I had to start working on Monday, I had to report to Cook-Chill. I packed up my stuff, said my goodbyes, -“I never understood why say goodbye in prison to the guys you leave behind because if you are just transfer from one side to the other ya still gonna see each other, lol”. But that was the way we all was, the way all convicts are. Told Cuba to be easy and chill with my bunkmate, and that I see him in the yard from time to time, left him food and just left, moved on with my next step.
As I arrived to my new Housing Unit, it wasn’t so much of a surprise, most of the fellas there knew me already. The C.O. gave me the new rules and instructions and showed me my new bunk. I must say I had the biggest cubicle in that whole Unite, crazy big. Didn’t understood why no one wanted it, everyone was passing by shaking my hand telling me, you got the mansion, but somehow I felt like there was something wrong with that bunk. I got settle and everything seem ok. I end it up meeting the person who at the time I had no idea it was going to be so much of a help for me in the future there. Cayey that’s what everyone called him, reason was because he was Puerto Rican from a city that’s called Cayey. He introduce me to the Irish guys, yeah four Irish guys who quietly and without so much work ran the house, anything anyone need it, they had it. You was allowed to spend $50 in commissary and about the same amount on meet from the outside, which they deliver about every two weeks. In between this four guys they spend about $300 on food a week and they had everything. They stood mostly to themselves, only getting with others if they had some sort of business going on. Me ?, well I was mostly to myself because of my schedule, I had to wake up by like 6AM get ready, go get breakfast, then wait till 8AM to go to class, (I was already studying for my GED), then come out wait for mid day count, go to lunch, chill for about 30min. then head to work at Cook-Chill, come out about 7PM, go trough all the bullshit to get back in the prison, get to the Unit, take a shower, eat and when all that was done in a daily basis, it was about 9:30 PM, which was the evening count, after that it was bed time for me, cause I had to do the same crap the next day. I got used to it fast, the days seem to go really quick, my time was flying and I was focused.
In class I was always exited, learning, doing everything I had to to pass the test. One of the guys, the teacher aid, was a sex offender, most dudes didn’t want him teaching them. I didn’t gave two fucks about what he did, he was helping me learn and put my shit together specially with math so I can pass the test. I remember one guy asking me one time why I let him help me. I simply told him, “Look he’s here to help the teacher with us, I don’t know about you but I plan on being ready for when they give out the test, homeboy helps me understand shit that I don’t know about”. He said, “Yeah, but you know homeboy here for rapping a kid”. I told him. “I don’t give a fuck what he did and to who, that’s none of my business, the only reason I know him and he knows me is because am here studying, fuck the rest, I don’t judge, as far as am concern he’s here because he got caught and he’ve been her for 8 years and still got about 8 more to go, he’s paying for his deeds, besides that he got to deal with God, not me”. I also when on and told him, “You should focus on why you are here and do something better for yourself, forget about what anyone else here did, you not a Judge or a Lawyer, mind your business, and stay focus only on the things that concern you.” A lot of people don’t realize that one of the things that get you in trouble in prison is the fact of putting your nose where you not supposed to, “Don’t go to the kitchen when on fire trying to find out why it got on fire, because you my end up getting burn with it”.
After a couple weeks had passed, one evening after coming from work I got to my bunk and saw one healthy bowl of food sitting there for me. I looked at it and when straight to my dude, Cayey. “Hey bro, you know who put this in top of my looker ?”, He started laughing. “Dude, what the hell you laughing about ?”, I ask. He was like, “You should of seen your face when you ask”, “I put it there bro, I know you don’t got it like that and we had commissary today, so I got you bro, just eat the shit and be happy that I got love for you”. I was like, damn bro thanks, I appreciate that. He’s like, “come later on to my cube I got some cigarettes there for you to man, don’t worry about it”. See even though I was working and kind of making more money than the other prison jobs, but I had to pay the court, all that surcharge fee etc. so they was taking money from me every time I got paid, I wasn’t really keeping much for myself, and do to my schedule I couldn’t really make no deals anywhere, and that Cook-Chill job was the worst to bring shit in, because they search every fucking inch of your body, and that was because we was actually working outside the prison. I only had two days of the week to do things, Saturday’s and Sunday’s, but the fucked up shit about those days is that they were visits days, so for more than half the day most people were on their visits and the rest just stuck in their unit. I was one of the ones stuck, no one came to see me when I was up north, it was too far, and honestly I didn’t want anyone going to see me anyways, that would of distracted me from my focus. My primary goal there was obtaining my Diploma, and I was going to come out of there with it.
During the following weeks I’ve learn from almost everyone but I can also say that some had learn much from me as well. In Cook-Chill everyone wanted to work with me, they loved how I made the job easier, how at the same time I made it fun. The C.O’s in charge and the civilians that worked there didn’t bother with me and with the other guys around me. We all got alone. The afternoon shift was the best one to work with, so they said, we made their day fun and without so much bullshit. It was about eight of us, we work different areas but every time we had a chance we got together and made a blast. Always making jokes, laughing, making the civilians enjoy their day at work. We were all Puerto Rican’s in that crew, guess when you put to many Puerto Rican’s is going to be one fucking fun place to be in. Everybody else just got alone with our shit because we had all the attention there. (It’s easy to say that the environment there was one to either be part of, or just be a part of, lol). We were so much fun. I remember when Christmas came, “Ohh Boy”, it was so crazy. Every evening half an hour before we leave the job site, we took buckets and just made a little Orchestra and play Christmas songs. “Just like we do back in Puerto Rico, I love the fact that I am Puerto Rican”. Shit I remember those days in Cook-Chill and I just laugh, even though I was in prison, we all made sure it didn’t felt like we was in prison.
Back at the dorm, it got to the point that everyone showed me so much love. I help dudes, I got help from dudes, I spoke to so many guys including C.O’s with issues and somehow they seem relieve from their little problems. So many people used to tell me to become some sort of a counselor, nah, I didn’t like that one bit. I never got into any bullshit because of the way I always carry myself out, because of the way I spoke to every single person I had to talk to. I never got into trouble because instead of becoming a problem I used to try to solve the problem. Writing was always one great tool for me, as well as reading. I got my hands in so many great books wile in prison that granted me so much knowledge. With it, the opportunity of helping others. The Irish guys little by little started getting more involved with me, they gave me food, cigarettes, stamps anything I need it, but mostly books. I had taking the GED test about a month before my release day, I pass every single subject except the reading and writing part, well the writing part I passed, but I had to do over the reading. Because of it I wasn’t able to obtain my Diploma. I was so mad and disappointed at myself. But all the guys especially Cayey and the Irish put me to the side, talked to me, and from that moment on gave me anything they can get their hands on for me to read. The C.O. told me that he will speak with someone regarding the test, so I can get another chance before getting released. Two days after all that, my teacher came to see me in the dorm, she explain that because of the time left I had upon my released day it was hard to re-test me but that she’ll have a talk with her boss about it and see if there was anything that could of been done on my case. I was amassed at the fact that everyone was giving me a helping hand on that matter. I guess everyone saw that I really dedicated myself for that test and it really meant something to me.
I had started my programs for release, usually they give them to you about a month before your release date. To be honest those clases are just bullshit. They are so back up in the things that actually take place outside, but if you’re smart all you have to do is take what can benefit you from the class and not worry about the rest. That’s what I did. One of the guys that gave one of the class was an Afro-American who was sentence to two life sentences. He was never going to see the Sun light out on the streets. He was a very smart individual. Often spoke about how his credentials were more intriguing that more than half the C.O’s, Captains and even Civilians working in that prison. Am not going to lie this dude was incarcerated already for more than the time a lot of C.O’s was in their positions. He was, if I remember correctly in his 26 or 28 year being incarcerated. He always talked about who he had buried more family members than the ones he spend time with on the outside. He was the second dude in that prison with the most time in, the first one, was a sex offender guy who had 30 years in, and that dude was like God in that prison. He used to say, “This system is one to get you in a way worst position than the one you came in here with, it is a system design to make you fail, again and again and again. See most people don’t realized that catching a case behind bars is even worst of catching one on the streets, because when catching one in side here, they just try to keep you in for more and more time, so you’ll never get out”, I don’t know about any of you guys but I understood that very clear at that moment.
In Oneida I was able to see a couple bad things that took place, but you got to remember at the end of the day is still prison. I saw many fights, dudes that got cut in their faces with blades, some got caught others didn’t. I saw how some gays end it up feeling fear for their life and ask to be transfer. I saw how they disrespect it sex offenders, but then again it wasn’t any of my business, it just prison. I saw four murderers take place in less than six months. One done by an inmate agains another one, the second one done supposedly by the convict himself, which he supposedly took his own life by hanging himself with a towel on the box and the other two by Correction Officers themselves.
You see Prison for some is hell for others is heaven and for the wise ones is just a place for you to disconnect from the world and focus in becoming the best you can ever be by not having any distractions whatsoever. When I was incarcerated, I mean from day one, back at The Boat, I didn’t want any distractions. I set up in my mind to what I wanted to do and how I had to do it, and thanks God I accomplished it.
Two weeks before my release date the civilian in charge of the school there payed me a visit. She told me that after some very interested request from different personnel in the prison including my teacher, she had to take a look at the kind of work I did in class and in the whole prison, including my job at Cook-Chill and had decided to grant me a second chance taking the part of the test I had fail. But that it was just that, one second chance. If I failed I had no other choice but to take it on the out side. I was more happy than a kid who just got a bag full of candy on Halloween. I ask her when I’ll be taking the test. She said. “Tomorrow”. I said, “What”. She reply. “Yes, tomorrow, so I hope you’re ready, because I’ll be calling you at about 8:30 AM. All I was able to say was, “Ok”.
The whole dorm was happy for me. Shit not even ten minutes pass by and one of the Irish came with a book saying, “Well my friend, start reading, and you’ll be reading to the end of the day, focus on what you read, just like you have been doing, because that is the only way you’ll pass the test”. I took the book and when to my bunk.
The next morning I got myself together, I ate breakfasting and was just waiting for my call for the test. But I most say I was very nervous. Deep down I knew I had to pass it no matter what, because that was my goal. But then again, you never know what might happen. The civilian call my dorm, the C.O. told me where to go for my test, the guys that were left in the dorm said good luck and I went on. When I arrive to the small office, there were just two desks, the civilian and mines. I ask for the teacher. She reply. “I’ll be giving you the test myself”. “You have 45 minutes to complete the test, if you finish earlier I suggest you to look it over, because this is the only chance you get. Don’t get caught on one question, just move to the next and at the end just go back to the one you left behind, that way you don’t waste your time”. She handle me the test and everything I need it. “You can start now”, she said. As I began my test I notice I felt very comfortable and was very relax. I had spend about the last month studying, trust me I had it down pack. To be honest I finish the test about 20 minutes before the time. I just when back and took a second look at the whole test, by the time I was done it was about ten minutes for the time to finish. I told the civilian I was done. She said. “doble check it”. I said I did. She reply, “Check it again, you still have ten minutes”. I check it again. “Times up”, She said, I got up and handle her the test. She said, “Are you happy ?, you think you pass ?. I said, “I believe I did”, “Ok then, you can go to your dorm”, she said. When I got to the dorm, the guys and the C.O. had ask me how it went. I said good I guess, I think I pass it. She said she’ll tell me the results as soon as she gets them but because it may take more than two weeks I just probably have to wait to receive the results back home since am almost leaving.
Well I felt happy even though I didn’t know my test results but at least I knew I fulfilled my goal, all I had to do now was just wait. I still had a week left to work in Cook-Chill, there I end it up doing two shifts, morning and afternoons. I didn’t want to spend the last couple days at the dorm bored as fuck. They had ask me if I wanted to work a second shift, so I said, sure why not. The time in Cook-Chill goes very fast, you don’t even feel the days.
My supervisor at the job put me a side and told me that because of the work I perform and ideas that I help shape into place he was going to sing up for my certification from the department of labor, but that the last word was the boss. He also said, “But I personally will put the other civilians so that they can all vouch for you so the boss can grant it”. I did not expect it that. I was so grateful for it though. (See hard work and dedication pays off), don’t ever forget that.
One day before my release I was more than just happy. I said to myself in about 48 hours you have another chance at freedom. Well to me freedom is a state of mind, nothing else.
The guys back at the dorm was happy for me. For some reason when you in prison and are about to get out everyone gets happy, well some, as far as I can tell. They tell you to stay on the out side, to stay focused and never come back. Am pretty sure ya have heard stories. My teacher came to see me in the dorm, she had the results of my GED test. She said, “Congratulations, you did it and am so proud of you”. I will always be thankful to her for her support. I opened the envelope saw the scores and the letter and said to myself, “YOU DID IT, YOU THE MAN”. She said, “Be good and don’t ever come back to this place, you deserve a second chance”. Everyone was happy for me, Cayey, the Irish guys, the C.O., I mean the whole dorm show their support. A few minutes later the mail came in, I received a letter from the office, stating that they had receive my Cook-Chill Certification from The Department of Labor and that it was place on my property that it will be given to me upon my release. Ohh man, I was more than happy of myself. “I did it, I succeed it on everything I had put my head to. The good news were more than good news to me, they meant everything to me. Cayey and the Irish guys end up making me two of my favor cake. See am not much of a fan of cakes except for Flan and Cheese Cake. Back in my Birthday Cayey had made me a Dope ass Blue Berry Cheese Cake, so between him and the Irish they made two to celebrate my test scores and my release, everyone had a pice even the C.O. Dude I was more grateful that a fish who was place back in the ocean. All this guys supported me, they help me, looked out for me, they push me to do better, they all did what they could so I can achieve my goals there and for that I will always be in debt with every single on of them.
May 20, 2009 came, it was the day of my release. I got up early, put the remaining of my stuff ready to go, which was only documents and just waited for my call. The guys that had their programs in the AM, right before they left said their goodbyes. Hugs and pounds all over. They said their good thoughts and keep on with their day. My dude Cayey came with a picture, told me, “Here brother, you one of the good guys and you thought me a lot. I am as grateful to you as you probably are to me, always remember the good guys, but don’t ever write me or visit me here, this place is only for dogs and you are one hell of a human being”. My brother from another mother, I got nothing but love for him, even though ever since that day I have not seen him I hope he’s doing fine. I heard that they hit him again at the board with two more years, making him do 18 years inside, but then I also heard that they release him at the end of those two years. I hope he’s home with his family and that he stay away from the Correction System. Even though that after spending 18 years in prison is so fucking hard to get used to the out side.
They finally called me. The C.O. called my name on the speaker, “Diaz, lets go, time to leave or I make sure you stay a few more days, and started laughing”. I said my last good byes to my Irish guys and Cayey and left. It was only two of us getting release on that day, some really cool guy I had meet in there and I, but this guy was inside for about 12 years, I only did 2 and out of them I only did about six months in Oneida. He had so many questions about the outside. To him everything I told him before they took us to the bus stop was amazing. About half an hour pass and they started giving us our personal belongings and other things. They handed my my GED and Certification and I was so happy. We change our clothing and waited in a room for the C.O. in charge of taking us to the bus stop. When he finally arrived and took us outside a sudden feeling arose in me. It was indescribable, that first moment, the air in those few seconds everything was worth the wait, I can only imagine how the other guy felt after being inside for 12 years. As I walked I told the C.O. to give me a second, he looked back at me, I put down my bag and bend down on the sidewalk and kissed it, I said, “THANK YOU GOD FOR LETTING ME OUT”. The C.O. said, “Hope I don’t see you again here”. I didn’t even reply to that.
I got on the correction bus.
I was on my way to the bust stop with a bus ticket back down to New York City.
It was a very pleasant spring morning and I was ready to start my 3 years parole time.
And all I can say was…
Freedom Comes Again
I have left a lot of details due to the fact of not wanting to write so many negative things that took place in my two years conviction. Things that even though had nothing to do with me but that actually took place inside those jails and prisons but that somehow made me part of it because I was one more convict at the time of occurrence.