Prison Life

The Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla, or as it is known now West Complex is experiencing one more in a continuos string of crisis.

Two weeks ago there was an incident on the Small/Unit yard in G-Unit. This situation arose because of an indivdual failing to adhere to the unwritten guidelines that are an accepted way of life in prisons across America.

(Whether this means certain phones, tables, or showers are to be used by a certain group of prisoners or not “Snitching”, these are considered proper “Code of Conduct”)
What began as one man failing to adhere to the daily routine and ritual of the morning workout, and allowing those individuals to keep up with that, he felt comfortable enough, that when asked Respectfully he not only was willing to disregard the request, but also to disrespect those that had asked him to make way for their exercise routine.
Of course this was responded to with violence. Because he was a Black Prisoner and the offended group was Hispanic this quickly became another in a trending of racial incidents at the West Complex.

It involved around twenty people with the Hispanics greatly outnumbering the Blacks.
We were immediately placed on a Lock-Down status. Despite being in another Unit. The fact that I am housed in a “Sureno” or “Southern Mexican” Unit is enough cause for the Administration to take precaution.It didn’t matter that we there were Black and Hispanic prisoners on the F-Unit Small yard, when this incident happened in G-Unit, and it did not cross over to F-Unit.

After what I consider a brief period of confinement the Administration began allowing us out for showers, phone etc. In small groups, between ten and fifteen prisoners at a time. Next they sent us out to the BigYard, where I presume they were prepared to use the Gun Tower to quell any further group disturbances.

Once on the yard, it became clear that this was an incident that had to do with an individual and disrespect, rather than race or gang.

There was clear understanding that this incident was over with. The Blacks did not seek to pursue the issue and the Hispanics stated that what happened in G-Unit did not have anything to do with the Hispanics in F-Unit other than their affiliation to those in G-Unit.
It was over with.

Not for the Administration.

They sent out a memo restricting Morning Exercise. More than anything this was targeted at the Hispanics, who most often work out in the A.M. in pairs. Many of the Black inmates prefer to do “Bar Work” using the pull-up and dip bars, while the Hispanics do calithstenics.
The Administration has chosen to respond to incidents at the West Complex by placing further strain on an already extremely tense environment.

My experience since arriving at the West Complex two months ago is one that has revealed to me the drastic changes of the System over my twenty two years of incarceration.

There is no longer any respect designated to prisoners by the Administration. Merely the idealistic dogmatism of a group of people Superintendents, Captains and Program Managers who have lost touch with the Line Staff, “Officers”, and Prisoners. So they sit in their offices and discuss prison and policy with little concern for those affected. What the main concern consists of now is appearances.

“How did they respond?”
So this morning, the prisoners, all races, Black, Hispanic, White, Native American, and Asian in an attempt to show solidarity refused to go to the Unit Yard. It will not be long before some prisoners will be taken to the hole as “Instigators”, of these peaceful demonstration. Mind you it is only the Unit Yard that prisoners are not Utilizing. All other forms of recreation be it Dayroom, BigYard, or Gym will be utilized.

The response to this was to again lock the doors. It appears that the only people who are being allowed out of their cells are those on Call-Outs to work, school, medical, etc.
Showers and Jpay have been suspended as of now.

The issue here is far greater than just this yard situation. It can be traced back as far as the removal of tobacco products, pornography, personal clothing, the loss of jobs, the drastic decline in quantity and quality of food(despairingly so since the introduction of C/I).

For those of you that are unaware C/I or Correctional Industries has taken over food service and distribution within Washington State facilities. This company is a for profit business and that profit comes by way of forsaking our meals. I can assure you that just because the menu says we are eating Chicken Alfredo or Schezaun Chicken that is not what arrives on my tray. Unless you accept that is what it is because they say thats what it is. Furthermore, we receive each night a plastic bag containing a cardboard shaped “boat” with a cold cereal, bran bar, peanut butter and jelly, two slices of bread, a muffin(cupcake size), and powdered milk. This is called breakfast, and distributed with dinner. Every day. Occasionaly we are also given lunch as well. Which means at five o’clock I just received my three meals until the next evening at five. Lunch is similar to breakfast except there are two pbj sandwiches t a brownie and a bag of chips.

So we are being faced with many problems right now. I do not know what the response will be to this, but I am confident it will not be reasonable or beneficial to anyone except those that believe in “lock em up and throw away the key” Attitudes.

I will keep you up to date as more restrictions are applied and we are herded further into the corner.

Samuel Hawkins
DOC #706212

2 replies »

  1. Food containing no vitamines/minerals make a person go nuts and sound insane and rambling. What a downwards evil spiral form incarcenate persons, who are striving they way out of that path.


  2. Thanks for the information about your situation. At least you can communicate with the outside. It is disgraceful that we treat our fellow human beings like this. Keep the faith. I will pray for you.


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