Old Man, tell me yo Prison Story (1978-2019)

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Old Man, tell me yo Prison Story

(1978-2019)

By

the living breathing James Brown

“Yeah, Old Man, you ain’t got nothin I needs to be hairing.  You too damn old to be hare no how.  What, you can’t get no job no place else?”

Yes, that and similar words were spoken to me and after 17 years and 3 months, maybe I can offer up some real words of wisdom before you make a split-second decision that will put you into one of the Meanest Penal Systems in the World in 1978. 

Yep, ain’t tat wat u wanna hear no hows?  If’n walls bled blood, thens they bleds them back in them old ancient days fors sures.

You says u do, but u don’t wanna hair nothin from a Crakar or what others words can you explore or piss on me that I ain’t never ever haired befores?  I’n dones thinks anys gots missesd on mees.  I thinkin I been hairs thems alls.

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Yes, I’m old and I’m a Crakar if that wat u wanna be callin mees.  U say u know it alls and yet, heres u r readin ma words and wat be on dat?  U thank I can helps u?  Me, Mr. Crakar Mans?  Me, Mr. Old Mutha Fuka?  Nothin worse u bringin yo Certified Ho A_ _ Sh_t in heres for’en us to hair.  Non us nos yo chump a_ _ bi_ch.  

Youngsta, I laced-up my boots long before u was ever a swimming sperm in yo daddy’s pool sack-his stick iwth that paryt pack.  U says U u u  knows it’n alls and yet, heres u bees with’in mees and why be dat?

U say u no s its all’n n yet, mys oh mys, hair u r with mees.

Okay, enough and less on the Prison Jargon, and I know I shouldn’t ought to but why the hell not?  U say u so bad cause u done seen all them prison moives and noow you a prison expert on wat’s bees goin on in thems, U u u just a tuff boy. A real mean boy.  U say u been  there and u no s U u u no s ones toy, but heres u bees with’n mees.

Okay, I no s,  yes, I no s wat all u youngstas, U u U U u gangsts wannabees bees wantin to hairs from this old stinkin fart.  Okays, here I lay it donws oins u n u n U.  Donna wanna leeves no ones outs for sures.

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If’in u walks up and past them front gate or backs gate at anys Texas Prsion, u, I mean It don’t matters whos u be cause baby, u in Prison.  U in Prison then and nobody can do yo time and u cant do mys times.  Everybady gots to learns hows to do they own tiem and tahe the trurht of it.

And if’in my 17 years and 3 months at 5 different Texas Prsions donna mean nothin to ya, then maybes u ouths not  to reads this hairs.  Buts u sayin y got game and u aints got nuthin we aints duns alreadees seeens.

Bacs in thems old days when dinosausrs runled the earth, I needed a job and work weren’t available to most folks unless u no s somebodies.  Wells younstas i no s no ones so i was liks u gonna see it from the bottoms up.

Well, Huntsville interviewed me and the sent mees to the first hell hole of a Unit dat I ever laced-up my boots in.  Man, that was a real thing and Lord, Federal Judge William Wayne Justice, III had ahonls of the reins of the entire Prisons Systems.  And he tells us wats to dod and we had to get our jobs and his court orders in line and we did and it was okay with me cause I was must a lowly Soldier. 

Yep, all of us new boot recruits weren’t nothin buts like stupid Soldiers that all them gangs have today.  Yep, they the 1st ones that get recruited and they do all the Rascal stupido stuff for the gangs and if u thingin abouts cuttin it up and doing a crimes, u gonna get the opportuintiy to becomes a Supitod New Ganga Recruit.

And if u does, it is on u cause u gonan then be they b_ _ _ _hes for that gange and weall knows who u be with u head shaved down to the skin, no hair on top at all.

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And is that wat u what?  And why?  U don’t have to be thata way.  U gots to learns how to do Yo Time and if u beomces a gangs bit h, your time aints gonna be yo time, it will be gange time and that’s a harder time on you cause they wull use the crap outat of u and that’s sucha  stuipcs what to be all asbouts uself.

Just do yo time and do ti with respecting uself.  That is the hardest of all-Do yo time whiles respecting uself.  And u can do it if u in white or gray.  Its easy enough to do ti. 

I seeens mo than I can say but most of Prison life is just routine and yo can learns to do that for sure.  Havin a job is the best way to make yo time go by the best of ways.  Schooling is super good to you too.  If u got u stupid butts in Prison, then by all means, take the time to prepare uself for da day when u gonna get otus.

You no, I seen it all.  Men acing like women and having body parts cahgned and that sort of stuff.  And some even talked like a female and looked that part too.  And then come along PREA which put a giant halt of lots of stupido sexual crap that was takin place, but no one can catches all of it.

Mots figts are just with the fists and not long or anyone really getting more than a black eye or such.  But if u a ganga b_t_h, u gonna do wat they tells u and u will most likely do stuff that gonna cost you your parole by one set-off after anothres.  And if that wat u wahtn u can haves it.

I comes ot complelely hates the N word cause it don’t have a place in our Societe no mo.  It really don’t and yet many still pump it out in rap sogns all the times.  And I enven tells folks not to evers used that N word around me even if u was blaxkc.  It is not cooooooooooooooooooooool.

Words can keep societe down and that is one that does.  And yet, u still gonna do a crime that gonna bust you yo long time in the Prison.

And why is that?  You bigger than that!  You don’t gotta do that crime for no reason.  And don’t do them drugs.  If u be selling, they be telling every time whoever u sell yo drugs 2?  And u say u in the game.  Hell to the no on that, the game gonna put u in Prison and hows can u let my words just do you no good.

Prsion is for the stupido whos does stupido crimes.  And why?  You letting uself go like that?

U gonna learn to hate standing in lines like u ain’t never seeeeeeeeeen before.  In a line ot get u hare cut and clothes and shower and medicine and chow and commissary stuff and so many other tghins that gonna make you say-why didn’t I listen to that damn old man trying to help me?

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Why is the hell of that for sures. I be tellin, but u be listenin?

If u a person needing a job, I did it for 17 years and 3 months and I am now retired and if I can do it, so can you.  But like I be tellin everyiones, do it right and not wrong.  Everyone, I mean everyone gets tested and if you are a strong person, you will be just fine and just do your JOB by the Rules and not by some lasme stupido way that wiil cost u yo job or even put u in priosn if u be stupido 2.

But everythning  is all laid out and it is not a place to be going and judging folks about wat they done done.  They done it and they going they time and u gots to learn how to do yo time 2.

And Lord the colorful way of talkin is gonna be something u gonna lean no matter wat cause everyone got slang words for most everything and u gonna see gang talk done by hand signs and on and on and on.

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(2019 picture of author taking an accidental selfie of himself while taking pictures of the Bonfire Memorial on Texas A&M Campus)

But gangsa ain’t after u if u work and do yo job, they got others things to do and u just do your job and do it by the Rules.

Officers are gonna undergo so much training that it is not even funny and it is the way it needs to be.

Now, if you are just going in as an Offender, the Texas Prisons are no longer the meanest prisons in the World.  They were more like a whole different world way back when I started.  And Lord, so much has changed that it is not funny and done for the best of all.

Prison is prison.  Plain and simple.  A person as an Offender and as an Officer will have to abid by the Rules set out.  And if either of you deviate, expect a proper course of action to be taken against you.  But it is still very doable for either of you. It really is.

Where in the World can you get Free Meals, a bunk or bed, free clothes, Library, Schooling, Trade Schools, College Courses, Free Medication and Free Doctoring is there for the Offender. But the things you are going to be missing like so many things that you take for granted right now. Why the hell are you going to put yourself away from your family and friends by committing a crime?  Why?

I hated seeing Naked Men and I hated doing Shower Duty which Officers have to do so to make sure no one had any thing done to them.  But I never once saw or had an Offender tell me that they were sexually assaulted during my entire career.  But once, an Offender said he was held down and other Offenders rammed a broom handle in and out of his butty hole.

I later asked an Offender who wasn’t afraid to let me know stuff and I wanted to know what was up with the broom handle and they said they was just doing that cause the guy said he thought he might be gay and didn’t know for sure.  And after the broom handle, he weren’t no gay at all after that.

But the ones who did do PREA stuff were the ones openly visible with their sexuality and everyone knew who was straight-up GAY and 99.9% were not.  And those guys caused all sorts of gay issues for everyone all the time and they were always doing just plain stupid stuff.

And the pay is better than most Prisons in the United States for Texas Correctional Officers.  It is not a get the Job and then relax.  The job will challenged any person, but it is very doable.

And for either person, both are very DOABLE.  As an Officer or as an Offender.  But I can not over-emphasize this-DO YOUR TIME AND KEEP IN YOUR ZONE AND LET ALL THE OTHERS ALONE!

Prison is not a ZOO and the Officers are NOT ZOO KEEPERS!  I saw all Offenders as Humans and I always will, but the key to doing that is not to get wrapped-up as to why this or that Offender is in Prison in the 1st place.  Let that go.  Best to not know unless you have to.

Learning what Real Respect is all about is one of the hardest challenges that either Officer or Offender will face and can will take many years and years to understand

what R E S P E C T truly is in Prison.  Don’t say you can tell me cause unless you been down and there, it is just movie stuff for you.  I saw the real Devil and I faced down my fears as some must do.

R E S P E C T comes only once to a person in a Texas Prison and either you earned it or you will never be respected.  I knew Officers and Offenders that had done over 30 years of Time in a Texas Prison and they never were ever R E S P E C T E D by anyone including staff or other Offenders.

R E S P E C T in Prison is nothing like it is in the Real World or the Free World. 

R E S P E C T is deeper than mere words and it cannot be completely explained in a few words or a single paragraph.  R E S P E C T in Prison is earned

and MUST be MAINTAINED every single day for both individuals-Officers and Offenders.

Losing R E S P E C T makes life harder and if a person wants to still play like a child or kid, then forget about what I just said because it might take 25-30 years for a youngster to get it.  To watch others with it and them never to obtain R E S P E C T.

No one earns R E S P E C T by breaking the RULES and that goes for everyone.  Prison is NOT THE MOVIES!  Again, it is not a bunch of caged animals in which some people view all Offenders and this is a totally wrong way to view Offenders or Officers.

Officers and Offenders are HUMAN BEINGS simple and truthfully with the same human needs of all people.  They are real people and each has wants and likes and dislikes.  All can Do their own time, but they must Learn How to Do Their Own Time.  And no one can Do Your Time for you, all must learn how to do their own time.  You must learn how to do your own time.  Yes, no one can do it for you.

And now, Offenders can call people on phones from the Prisons and that is a good thing most of the time.  But sometimes, people get bad news from home and a death of a loved one or a divorce and such is a painful and emotional ride for either Offender or Officer.

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In many ways, Officers and Offenders are just alike.  Yet, the differences are set in CEMENT and there is no exceptions.  But both have the same things-Getting monies(earning it from the State of Texas as an Officer or sent to an Offender by friends or relatives) and using that money in a prudent manner and that is buying what is necessary to get by in Prison or Outside of Prison.  

Going to Church is a good thing for many Offenders and Officers too. Reading is good.  Writing is good.  I highly recommend it for both.  And I recommend making friends and keeping a close eye on your buddy. 

I cannot and I will never tell any Officer or Offender to Break the Law or the Rules of a TDCJ Prison or the Laws of the State of Texas.

Lying and Liars, and Lord, have I heard enough to them as Officers and by Offenders.  Sure, everyone lies, but lying comes naturally for some people and just telling the truth is the hardest things for some individuals.  And why is that?  By doing that most of one’s life.

In all, I am only saying this and I want you to understand it-PRISON LIFE IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD OR ONE’S LIFE.  It is very DOABLE for both the Officer and the Offender.

So, before you pop the top on that Beer Can or Smoke a Joint or whatever legal or illegal Drug that you might be thinking about using in an illegal manner, PLEASE DO NOT!  No crime is worth doing the Time cause you gonna do it if you do!

A wreck while drinking and killing a person can put you behind those bars for a long time and that first Unit is not going to be to your liking like none of them gonna be to your liking.

And if you are considering bringing in Contraband into a Texas Prison, PLEASE DO NOT!  This will cost an Officer their JOB and possible Prison Time.  This can cost anyone, Visitors and Offenders, Prison Time or More Prison Time.

And yet, there are those that are just that STUPIDO!

Offenders are not in Prison and Officers are not in Prison for OFFENDERS OR OFFICERS to sexually harass or sexually attack in any manner.  PREA took a Huge Bite out of that A_ _ on that one for sure and I am glad.

Keep to yourself and learn to DO YOUR TIME without trying to establish a relationship which will cost an Officer his or her Career or an Offender his or her Parole.  PLEASE DO NOT DO ANY OF THAT.  Keep Professional at all times. 

And away from work, if you are an Officer, Party like there is no tomorrow in absolute moderation and NOT BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A CAR OR TRUCK.  Don’t go down in the flames of stupidity.  And if any of you, Offender or Officer need to talk to someone, please let someone know for sure.  Hey, talking is easier than you think.  It really is.  And I promise you, I done seem some dark, very dark days in my life and I am still here and so can you be as well.  Don’t let that monkey ever get on your back by yourself.  Talk to someone.  Please.

Author image at 300 dpi (2)

(1973 picture of author just prior to his departure for Overseas-beers and cigarettes all the way around)

And there will come a day when either the Offender or the Officer will come across an individual that has committed a crime that will truly upset you.  This is the day that you must make a Choice and I hope you will do this-Walk away when you learn about someone.  Let it go and just do your time.  Do not let what you know affect how you treat someone.  If you confront an Offender about his Prison Record, get ready for a huge backlash upon you.  There are things to know and then there are things that you will come to know and those certain things will upset you greatly.

And now, here is what I am talking about-twice I learned something about an Offender that greatly offended me.  I did not allow it to change how I treated them, but I knew something that truly upset me about them.   And what was that?

One had put his member into a child’s sexual and it split her hips!  Another had been allowed to babysit his nephew and when the parents got home, it was never determined what had destroyed the child’s anus.

Oh, and another, a man was doing many years for having a child’s member in his mouth.

Another man had done a really strange thing.  He had killed his ole lady, put her body in a freezer, and then year later, he removed it and cut the body up and spray painted it with fluorescent paint and then went down the highway flinging her body parts out.

Man, who does that?  And just about every crime that you could ever imagine is the “M O” of one or more of the Offenders in the Prison somewhere in the World.

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(2016 picture of author at the J.W. Hamilton Unit in Bryan, Texas with 15 years of Service Award)

But an Offender and an Officer just must Walk Away from it.  Yes, just Mentally Walk Away from it and do not let it bother you or SPREAD A WORD ABOUT IT to other Officers or Offenders.  Just keep on trucking for sure.  It’s okay, you can be the bigger person and you will get over it.

Just do your job or do your time.  And no, the really bad Offenders are not put with ones who are not that way.  The stupider a person is, the easier it is to put all of them together at a Stupid Farm with the Most Stupid.  Not really, but some seem that way.

Yes, I have been upset more than once.  Upset so much that I wanted to QUIT right then and there and that will happen at times.  Once I did QUIT and finally I came back and finally Did my Time and Retired from TDCJ.

And oh yeah, no Prison is the same.  None of them.  They all seem to have their very own uniqueness of a living character of their own.  And in the old days, some of them had Infamous Names attached to them-Burning Hell, The Snake Pit, The Gladiator Farm, and others.  They all seemed to have stunk back in the Old days, but those days have come and gone and now are the Good Ole Days.

And here’s something for Visitors-Yes, even you as you enter any Texas Prison or any Prison in the World.  Once you enter beyond that front gate, baby, You Are In Prison and once again, I cannot do your time and you cannot do my time.  And as you visit, even you must learn how to do your time within those fences or Walls. 

And your Visit is very Doable and I always Greatly Appreciated seeing families visiting their family member in the Prison where I worked.  For me, I realized the very essence and specialness and super importance of Your Visit to each and every Offender.  Your Visit goes without saying how important all of them are.  And all of those J-Pay Letters and Cards and personal Letters and phone calls.  They absolutely do make a difference.

But everyone can learn how to do their time and then what is the saddest of it all is this-

Officers and Offenders DO NOT PREPARE THEMSELVES for the Day when THEIR TIME IS OVER!  Many, many fail in this area for sure.  And it is one of the biggest reasons that many come back to Prison.  I do believe this.

Officers do not prepare properly for Retirement and may have to work one or more part-time jobs after they Retire or must Re-Hire.  Offenders do not Prepare properly for Getting Out.  More can be done by all Offenders and all Officers.  More can be done by everyone.

Before I left TDCJ, I learned and understood humanity on a level much deeper than I ever thought possible.  Seeing kids hug and cry after seeing brothers, fathers, and grandfathers as Offenders during Visitation and seeing their many tears in the eyes running down little faces on the children and tears of the Offender leaving Visitation after seeing his family does take a toll on your Soul and your Heart. 

You are either are human or not.  I was and I am a Human Being and I saw their pain and suffering. But one day, all will come to know that all of us are HUMAN and all of us can show a great deal more of decency to each other.

Did I ever cry?  Yes, I sure did.  And on those times, I went to the restroom and there I saw a man hurting inside like he had never hurt before.  Prison Life will take a toll on your Soul and your Heart no matter who you are and when you cross through the Back Gate or Front Gate, it doesn’t matter who you are-YOU ARE DOING TIME-and I can’t do your time and you can’t do my time.  But I did my time and I am now Retired and one of the lucky ones to reach this Goal in Life.

And Lord, I know I done seen things, gang things, good, heart-warming things, sickening things with people with diseases like cancer and such and learned all sorts of ways to talk to you in your own hometown neighborhood language and I want to say them, I want to say it,  I can talk the talk cause I earned that right, but that is not where my heart is in this writing.  I want you to be a good human being in life and not a mean person or ever go to Prison as an Offender. 

And I hope that if you are strong enough, you will become an exceptional Correctional Officer.  Both are lives that you can do.  But you must be strong willed for sure.  And if you are already an Officer or an Offender, keep yourself strong and know that your time in Prison will one day be over, and please prepare for that day is all I can say. 

Make the best of your situation and never let it overload your brain or emotions because no one is going to do your TIME for you.  But things can also turn sad at times for both individuals.  Lord, I did hate to see folks sick with cancer and tumors and such and it took and that stuff has its name on any of us for sure.

And for me, I saw many Offenders and Officers that had given-up and even just QUIT!  Completely gave-up!  They had lost all HOPE!  Officers QUIT and Offenders committed SUICIDE!  Sometimes, things will climb on a person shoulders and push down with such an immense weight that a person will simply Give-Up and Lord, I seen enough of them.  But there is a tomorrow and there is the day when the Prison thing will end and its not about telling the bad, but giving those in Prison HOPE that is the caring and smart thing to do.

Every person must learn humility.  I cannot give it to you, it will come to you one day and when you least expect it.  And no, it won’t be found in a book.  It comes from living life and being the best that you can be.  But all of us fall short of that best that we can be, don’t we?  I know, I do.

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(October 12, 2019 @ the Texas A&M-Alabama game at Kyle Field on the Texas A&M Campus with my son, Brandon who was also with TDCJ as a Lt.)

Twice I was fortunate to help stop a SUICIDE attempt in the actual Act and in both times, their faces were the color of a strange looking purple color and there was no breathing at all and then it was a MIRACLE and their CHEST JUST BURST upward in a sudden unbelievable manner and they sucked air back into their lungs as if GOD Himself had decided it to be LIFE and not Death by His Own Hand-Not mans.  A blessing for sure.

One was hanging in a Dorm and that was the strangest of all.  And the other was hanging from the bars.  But, again, I was fortunate and GOD kept me from seeing a successful SUICIDE.  Yes, I saw the knife fights too and those are a thing of the past and I have not heard of any of those in over 15 years.  It is past news for sure.  It is Old TDC and not NEW TDCJ.  NEW TDCJ has got it going and it’s nothing like the past at all.  It is a place where both Offender and Officer can do their time and then leave.  

A Texas Prison is one of the best human learning environments in the World.  And a person will come to learn a great deal about the Human Element for sure. 

I have the deepest R E S P E C T for all those that work at any Texas Prison or any that are Offenders.  But I see an Offender as a human being and I never wanted to learn what any Offender did to be put into a Texas Prison and that is where all Officers should let it go at that except for certain Codes that are needed to help in transportation of certain Offenders.

But if you got a name and Unit, you can find out what any Offender did to get put into any Texas Prison.  It’s the way of the New whatever.  And yes, I did look from time to time or someone I knew did and he let me then know, but I don’t advise it to anyone if you are an Officer.  But oh well.

Families can do a great deal to help prevent their loved ones from becoming overwhelmed by being in a Prison.  Phone Calls is a Super Source of Life Loving Words and can keep an Offender calm for weeks, months, and years.

It is very difficult for an Offender to See what is going on to his or her family inside by just letters or phone calls.  Physical Visits on the weekends is a special help to all of them on making like in Prison more tolerable.  IT is.  And please do not take it for granted that your loved one does NOT NEED A VISIT.  If you can visit, then please visit.  It is a good morale builder.

So, Offenders and Officers are not evil people most of you thought and yes, some do super stupid stuff and by their actions, it does not make the entire barrel of apples rotten by a long sight.  

Giving-up and with no HOPE is why I wrote A Panther’s Father Book Series and right now, the books have not made it into the Texas Prison System, but that was my GOAL! 

TO GIVE HOPE TO THOSE WHO HAVE LOST IT.  SO, if you can, purchase the books and give them to your loved ones in Prison.  Yes, I am a Crakar or whatever name I already been called cause I don’t think that you can come up with a name or group of words I hadn’t already been called and I am Old and I am now a Retired Texas Department of Criminal Justice Correctional Officer.   

I did My Time and I am now Retired.  And you can do Your Time for sure.

And when you read these books, they are not about Texas Prisons at all.

They are about Hope and giving Hope to those seeking it.  Sure, I could have talked about tons of other things like the gangs and such, but that is not what needs to be promoted.  I want to Promote the Individual and his or her struggles to make it a Texas Prison no matter what color of clothes that a person wears or any other of those so called differences that stupid people slap on all of us. 

Okay, enough said.  Good Luck!

God Bless…the living breathing James Brown

author of

Handgun Safety, A Panther’s Father, A Panther’s Father II, and A Panther’s Father III. 

Back Book Cover (1)-USE THIS ONE

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All three books are over 1300 pages of reading…

 

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