Life in Prison: Let’s Act Like Men, Shall We?

By Christopher Zoukis

Today I put a water container — like a plastic shaker cup — down on a table in my prison’s housing unit and walked over to the computer area to check my email.  I was on the computer for perhaps 10 minutes, then I returned.  Upon my return I was very disappointed to find that someone had broken the plastic which connects the water container to its lid.  Since nothing was missing, the only motivation for doing so, that I can imagine, is that some inmate in my housing unit was feeling like being sadistic.  That someone was feeling like making another’s day a bit worse, for no other reason than to do so.  While this is not new to me, I still found it disappointing.

A lot of the work I do is thankless work.  I advocate for prisoners and their rights.  I do so for free and am often disconnected from the response to the work due to being imprisoned and not able to be online or use normal email.  While I have had a good response from those outside of prison, inside prison is a different story.  Inside prison I’m just some young white guy with red stars tattooed on his hands.  Inside, I’m simply some sort of target which fellow prisoners feel that they should try to take advantage of, not because of the color of my skin or because of my age, buy because I’m a fellow prisoner.  For some reason, prisoners seem to feel as though it is ok to screw one another over because we’re in the same position.  It makes no sense at all to me and it is very disheartening.  It’s as if the guards aren’t kicking you or putting you down, a fellow prisoner is more than willing to fill the void.

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