An essay written by John Neff, taken over from Nevada Prisoner Voice
The labels of criminals are slapped on us by the well-dressed criminals of a self-righteous lynch mob and a warehouse is the result of their efforts. This is a place built to rehabilitate and a place to learn from mistakes, but it has failed. Instead, it is a factory manufacturing wrong Its primary goal is now punishment. Sometimes this is the prize of being strong or righteous, but our justice system has no sympathy and doesn’t differentiate. Our prisons are now filled past overflowing with a population more volatile captured then free by a society overprotective of its citizens who don’t really know or understand that the same dangers present before still threaten their way of life today.
Being exiled in a world participating in its own systematic destruction is not the worst thing to happen to us, though. We are lucky while we are also examples made, because our circumstances save us from joining the “justified” machine trampling uncaring over everything in its way. No one seems to have the desire to stop it, because we are here. Outside these walls our culture-killers disguised behind pretty scenery and a mix of things dressed in gimmicks that oppose strength. They stand up against any unity and crush us for our pride. It is organized chaos be to discriminate against anything seen as obstacles to expedite change or politically correctness – such as creed, peace, and autonomy. It seems we are not really missing out on much by our confinement when we consider the place we left. Maybe we are actually being protected by society. Let’s call it a blessing of sufferance.
Loved ones concealable false hope trying to crush us into insignificance and can’t stop the jaws from collapsing. We are all helpless under the power of the mighty dollar and a blind world doing housecleaning. The cries of support for us go unheeded by the apathetic system even when their voices speak true. They see our fate and are forced to witness its slow methodical arrival with us. Every day, they are an audience to the disintegration of our civility. They are forced to endure our pains, even though we try not to show it and paint it in nonchalance. Society never thinks or cares about the victims it creates in its cleansing of its world still deceived by so many other problems. Our loved ones and the victims left in the wake of an ignorant world’s self-importance now have front row seats to a new kind of Holocaust. We are unable to console or aid them in their journey to stop it.
All our lives are colored in our circumstances. We are defined and transformed by our environment. We have to evolve or adapt, so the situation never overwhelms us. The arena within the barbed wire creates or ruins, but never makes us fit for society’s standards. Our uniformed captors wear smiles of cruelty often as they poke any sticks they can at the animals, because there only aims are to humiliate or degrade. We will always remain “animals” in their prejudiced eyes and they will play sadistic games just to make us bite back or to use an excuse to try to beat us into conformity for their amusement. For us to rise up in solidarity or purpose is their worst fear, so they do all they can to break hope or divide pockets of strength wherever they exist.
Guards play the role of dictators here, even though their power is nonexistent beyond these walls. Some cannot resist the opportunity to taunt or walk around drunk on their own perceived authority. Those who extend any compassion to us are outcasts or crucified while those who act superior but aren’t – still call the shots. Only a complacent majority recognize it, though, while the rest of us are forced to live or rot behind our standards as we rise to fight their tactics. We aren’t many D’s days, but we condemn them and those who confine themselves to being another’s model of an inmate instead of following the rules meant to define the straw and separate us from the world that doesn’t want us anymore. The powers that be here do not govern us all. They only try to persecute those who do not tread the path they pave. And we are guilty as charged.
Unspoken rules are always present – especially in prison. These differentiate right from wrong. Our minds must accept them or they will strip us of everything here. Society calls are ways wrong, because we often reward strength and squash weakness when it’s discovered. We “label” and form ranks behind our standards. People either stand with us or against us in this – we can’t have compassion to those who don’t deserve it. We are arbitrators of our own RIGHT. Cowards in circumstances like any type of sex offenders or those who aid our captors in our destruction, such as rats or the overly complacent, are enemies. Our iron fists will always try to smash them, because they have committed social suicide in our eyes and have shunned the mandates that come from being a prisoner.
We are creatures of survival out of necessity in here, because our credibility is often questioned by our captors and those who don’t know. We do things as our ideals mandate and the circumstances dictate. Charity is always welcome in most forms, but never a requirement of our existence or a reason to lower standards. This does happen sometimes in some instances to search specific goals and it becomes a burden of conscience to those who know better. Such undesirable actions are found in every social structure, but are more obvious in prison. We have to know the difference and not simply accept things unequivocally without reservations. We are sometimes forced to take objective unjudgemental views to preserve friendships, even though friendships are sometimes nothing more than creature comforts.
Many in here are predators by choice or psychological make-up that need to be recognized or acknowledged. Those who are confident and strong don’t have this need, because this shouldn’t matter. Personal accolades are secondary, but some use these things to validate their existence. A warrior heart speaks for itself just as a weak heart knows it’s inferior. Conviction in who you are isn’t something to prove, because those who matter will “know” and they will embrace those of similar ilk. This system of identification is already prevalent by evolution, natural selection, and the justice system. Like minds and birds of a feather are adages that apply to everyone – inside prison and outside. Eventually, all truths are uncovered. If you are a fraud or a charlatan, there is nowhere to hide from truth. The strong are always resourceful.
Respect can only be honorable and not a tool for deceit. It is defined as high regard. There is truth in respect, because it separates the wolves from the sheep. It is something to wear with pride like a badge, but never flaunted. Many few respect inside and outside prison as something automatic for fellow men or women. That is something destined for anybody or everyone and an inevitable part of life. It’s not a prize in a circus game, but we see the illusion of this belief every day. Those who have respect coming, deserve it and know that is more than just a word. The unworthy use it to curry favor while our captors here expect it from us, but their behavior elicits nothing so honorable and they do not get it. It is a joke to expect respect as the price of doing business. To think you have it just by saying it.
Respect can only be earned – never given freely without merit. Those anywhere who don’t know that, aren’t even deserving of uttering the word. It is not something ever to be taken for granted. Respect is something that makes others remember or know our names without us having to tell them. Respect makes a solid in mind and spirit, because we know it can never be taken away if we stay true to ourselves. In here, effort often becomes the key to respect – never compliance or complacency. Certainly not interaction or subservience. Do something “real” or try to pursue a righteous cause and respect is yours. The only catch is we must be pure of heart and not something inferior or unworthy of its title. It is no surprise that we expose the lichens who feed on false regard or respect leaving them to walk around here dejected without an ounce of respect attached to their name and their place in our world cemented. Once at the lowest rung, it is a hard task to rise above it.
Society has no clue that we can even be honorable. They have no understanding of the concept itself and they certainly wouldn’t believe we have any system of right or wrong. They cannot grasp our kind of respect and don’t care enough to understand us. They think us unfeeling monsters who can’t change, so they no longer want to help us educate ourselves or be ready for the world again. Cost too much money and they think it’s a waste. Instead, they leave us to fend for ourselves in here with only instincts amidst the full spectrum of what they label monsters, but then punish us for doing things we see as right. They persecute us for surviving in this world he built us, even though they are the catalyst that helped create our ways. Yet, they shrug off all responsibility for the nature of man that they know exists through evolution and natural selection – survival of the fittest.
Violence is the recourse sometimes – not something to fear as many do. Some even enjoy it and it becomes recreation while others only do it from necessity, but we must accept it or it will always be our bane. Those who renounce this cold hard truth can easily become victims of it. The policy of warehousing us leaves no other choices. Therefore, we must continually view the potential of our fellow man, gage his future against our standards of prison. And make the decision on whether or not it is deemed worthy. This is our classification process and our captors have made it a necessary thing, because they try to subvert strength or exploit it and our standards are slowly dying out.
It is as through our sense of duty — that our captors also exploit us. They constantly play games with lives to feed our aggression, even though they know the consequences. They tease us and often throw fresh meat to the wolves knowing we’ll attack. We are nothing more than entertainment and we are not blamed for this arena they want us to live in. It is why lockdown has become the norm now. They have used everything against us, because they knew it suited their designs. The violence is all we have, so our captors manipulated us through it by engineering ways through their system of punishment to keep us locked tight in sixty-square-foot bathrooms.
Yet, our all-knowing justice system and captors facilitate a new problem by their tactics that they have no intention of fixing or acknowledging, even though it is obvious. They are breeding contempt and hate. These concepts are our driving force and triggers to our violence. Prison is now a cesspool of this, because we have no alternative. Lonely locked down men have active imaginations. These thoughts can’t ever die when there is no outlet available, so we must dwell on it and breathe it every day. Men of violence and these things already go hand-in-hand, so it would seem logical to try to change this way of thinking or having something to allow those thoughts to relax. Our captors don’t care, though, because this is exactly what they want. They know exactly what they’re doing. It gives them all their excuses not to give us anything or have to spend money.
In prison, all the tools of our environments are used against us by our captors – things like our enemies, mentally deficient to can always extract anger and our natural tendencies or emotional triggers. They know how well these tricks work, too, and they learned how to use them to perfection. They constantly test us with these forms of torture and push our buttons daily, but wonder why we are the Way we are or want to hurt them. Or feel the need to always fight. They have made us want to be this way by their attempts to break us without any consequences – except from US.
We need more than prison, because in here we will eventually rot and die without a tear shed. Our standards and ideals will be buried with us. We need something more to be a part of outside prison. Our causes should have more meaning besides survival. We shouldn’t have to always bathe in the filth of our circumstances, because to fight in here is only tearing us down and letting our captors win on their battlefield. Our victories will always be minimal here and it’s not worth our efforts to die in a place that won’t remember us. The voice of reason must be heard, because it is there traveling in the wind for everyone to hear. Our lives do not have to be confined to our separate prisons. We do not have to die in the name of an unjustified system participating in the genocide of TRUTH and STRENGTH.
For letters of encouragement and friendship, please write to:
John Neff #54213
P. O. Box 1989