“Guards…The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”
I have been asked many times by you all about the guards, my experience with them in those 10 years in TDC. I can tell you there were some good, some bad, and some very ugly. I have had some good experiences with some of the cops/guards/screws, and some very bad. My 2 main hustles in prison were my running of gambling tickets and bringing stuff back from the chow hall, and garment factory. I have been caught many times and luckily only given a few minor cases, there were also times I was given a case for one to many socks in my cell.
I was caught red handed with gambling tickets and let go without a case, but on the other hand received a minor case for having a bag of coffee on my table in the day-room. The cops thinking was “why do you need a whole bag of unopened coffee in the day-room unless you are trading or gambling it”. See in TDC you “could” get a case for giving a buddy a single soup. Now most cops won’t go through the trouble of writing a case for that, but it does happen a lot, trust me.
See what many of you may or may not know is a cop can touch us, and little if nothing will happen to him or her even with witnesses. Whereas we, an inmate strike a cop and we will get a free world case, now not all situations are the same so please take what I tell you here with a very big grain of salt. I only saw what I saw, and heard what I heard. I cannot speak for others. I was by no means a model prisoner, but compared to some others I was an angel.
A big miscarriage of justice was the infamous “Code 20” cases. Without going into too much detail a code 20 is a masturbation case. Those are truly a non-proof needed and always guilty case, period. If a cop didn’t like you, that was a good way to stick it to you. I never got one, but knew some guys who had quite a few. Did they or did they not get caught in the actual act? I have no way of knowing that, but I did know a few female guards who loved to write those up.
God help those who were caught simply scratching themselves by the wrong guard. I was told by other inmates that Code 20’s were brought up at parole hearings. I leave this subject with this little thought, was it really that bad of a thing? Some of these guys have been locked up a long time, and some will never go home. Kept that in mind before anyone of you pass judgment. It was just one of those rules that were broken daily on every unit.
There were so many “dumb” cases, one for instant was an “out of place case”. Yes I agree that some of these cases were little and petty, while others caused problems on the pod or unit, let me explain. An out of place case could be as simple as standing at your buddy’s cell getting hot water or just talking. Usually the cop in the picket, which is the enclosed tower in the middle of the 3 pods in a section. The cop in the tower controlled all the doors to go in each pod as well as each cell door. Most of the time he or she would just say over the loud speaker to get away from the door.
But there were a few that would say “You bring your ID to the picket, and they would write you an out of place case. At times a little pleading and the cop may or may not listen. Another example of out of place is an inmate being in someone else’s cell for whatever reason with the door shut. Most of the time they were getting a tattoo. But again a rule that the cop could write up both parties and lock down the pod for a time. There were other out of place situations where inmates would go to other pods, sections, or some brave souls would venture to another building. A very chancy situation because all we inmates had color bands on our wrist to indicate which building we belonged on. One had to be very careful they didn’t do that near count time, unless another inmate from that pod, section, or building was covering for him in his cell. Believe me this happened quite a few times, and could get us if not the whole unit locked down.
One experience I had on the Allred Unit back in 2003 was by far the worse I had seen in my 10 years of how frustrated an inmate can be and get. His name was Bull, see most inside simply went by a nickname. Bull was as his name may imply a huge individual. I would guess about 6’6” and over 300 pounds of muscle. Bull could lift any amount of weight the yard had to give with little problem. He was truly a gentle giant. I remember working the kitchen on chicken day and Bull asking me to save him some chicken. I think I put about 10 leg quarters in a large empty can of peaches for him. He was so happy and to see him smile like a kid was worth the risk.
See Bull could all get very upset over little things, especially a much smaller guard trying to embarrass him in front of others. I think we all were like that too. To be bitched out by a much smaller person that we knew inside we could slap the crap out of in the free world. I think that is just human nature to a lot of us. Well we were being racked up for a re-count at count time, this happens a lot where the 2 cops counting us can’t seem to get the same numbers. Sometimes just our pod or section, and sometimes the whole unit.
As was custom upon hearing “Rack it up for re-count” there were calls of “no counting mofo’s” and other more colorful similar calls were shouted out, we could tend to drag ourselves back to our cells. Well this cop who to be honest I can’t remember his name decided to rag on Bull who lived on 2 row. He called Bull a lazy son of a bitch, to which Bull replied “My mom is not a bitch”, to which this cop replied “I’ll ask her tonight”.
This was common among some cops the way they tried to get a reaction out of you. Bull replied “Go fuck yourself punk”. And continued to go to his cell. But for some reason this cop decided he wanted to show his authority and ran up the stairs yelling at Bull. He got in Bull’s face and called him and his family every name in the book. I think the boiling point hit when he verbally attacked his mom again and how she molested him as a kid.
Bull grabbed this CO by the neck with both hands and threw him off 2 row. The table below breaking his fall. The sickening sound of bones breaking didn’t sound so bad. I know some of you may not like that comment, but this cop was a real ugly one from day one that I got on this unit. Of course all hell broke loose and soon the Ninja Turtles would arrived. The term Ninja Turtles is what we inmates called the al dressed up cops in football type helmets and gear and batons of course.
They usually didn’t use gas, instead they relied on old fashion beating the crap out of you. All eyes were staring at Bull as he just stood there looking down at the moaning cop. Calls over the loud speaker summoned all of us to our cells, all but Bull’s cell was opened. We knew what was coming and we had front row seats. Shouts from inmates telling Bull to just lay down echoed through the dayroom. “Don’t fight them Bull” was heard. He just stood and leaned on the railing as if awaiting his fate. Soon we saw the Ninja Turtles, I would say about 5-6 of them. They got close to the pod door and awaiting the cop in the picket to open it. I think to this day I heard one say “Shit” when he looked up at who they were about to encounter. See Bull was in a spot where really only one could approach him on both sides due to the fact that he was on a row.
The rows were maybe 3 foot wide, not a lot of room for 5-6 guys to attack. Two or so went up one stair case while the others approached from the other stair case. Batons at the ready they moved in on my friend Bull. One of the cops who I guess knew who Bull was called to him “Bull, lay down with your hands on your back”. This of course happened over 10 years ago and I may not remember all the words exactly, but I’m close. To my amazement Bull got down and didn’t resist at all. They cuffed him and took him away. We had heard sometime later they had roughed him up pretty good in a cell, but I have no way of knowing that for sure. I never saw Bull again.
I have seen guys argue with cops in the bowling alley, the front desk area and get gassed for no reason at all. They did not make a move toward the cop, or really indicate that they posed a threat. I have seen many a cop get gassed by their own hand too. Gas is a funny thing especially if you have it aimed at yourself instead of the inmate. Some cops get real close when gassing and end up getting gassed too. It’s not a good feeling to be gassed, your nose, eyes, and lungs scream out for air and water.
I have heard of cops planting items in cells to write guys up. Not weed or tobacco but items that would be considered contraband, like bleach or sugar. It’s sad when an inmate can’t wash his clothes with bleach to look good for a loved one on visit day, but yes bleach can get you a case. Some cops will just take it or flush it down the toilet, but some love to put “paper in your life”. A term we used inside.
I remember my own “Ugly” experience with “Grey” one day coming back from work at the garment factory. A real pain for us inmates was the stripping down going to, and coming from work every day. There were good cops who let you strip down to your boxes and a quick snap of the waist band was good enough for them. There were some bad cops that wanted you to strip down all the way to your boxers and socks, and then there were those ugly cops who wanted you to preform athletic moves to show them you had nothing hidden anywhere on your body.
After this ritual was performed the call of which building first was to exit. I think they did it on purpose to change the order daily. So the call rings out for 7 building and I make a move thinking he said 4 building. It gets loud in this space of maybe 40 feet by 40 feet with over 100 inmates. My fault or not, what happened next almost got me a free world case, and to this day still eats at me.
My band is green, being 4 building, and all those outside are blue, being 7 building. So I excuse myself and go back in the big building. See as the cop calls buildings he counts the number of guys against what went in earlier and if it doesn’t match there could be a missing inmate. So yes this could be a big problem. But today this top cop decided to scream and call me a dumb ass to which I said “No need to be disrespecting me”. He said something under his breath and told my dumb ass to go back in the building at which time I thought it was over. Well he told me to wait after all the other inmates were gone and back to their houses. The door was shut and about 4 cops come around me. I told myself “This was it and I will fight back, I had, had enough”. At this point I had maybe 2 years left on my sentence and really didn’t care anymore, but this could get me a free world case, but I had hit my boiling point.
The free world boss who was told he could leave said no he would stay, this surprised me. I was always cool with Mr. Guzman and if any of you have had loved ones who worked the garment factory they will know of Mr. Guzman back in like 2006-2010. He would later quit after a big argument with the powers to be on the Hughes Unit, over what I never found out but he always seemed fair to us inmates.
So going back to my story this cop laid into me about how stupid I was and all this and I just stood there listening up until he happened to “by accident” fling some spit at me. I kind of went off calling him a few choice words, until a pretty cool cop took me outside and told me to go home. As I walked away I heard Guzman call me and I thanked him for sticking around.
What I’m trying to say today is there are some good cops and bad cops, like anywhere in the world, but it’s those ugly cops that make life hard on us inmates. It’s those cops who seem to get pleasure out of making the inmates life miserable inside. Those cops who seem to get off at making our time harder than it has to be. I always thought that most TDC guards were frustrated wanna be cops who couldn’t make the cut in the police force so they took a job in the prison system.
Of course this doesn’t apply to all of them but I’m sure there are quite a few it does. Another theory I had was that some of these cops may have been a victim of bullies in school and wanted to take it out on bigger, badder guys in prison. Again just my own observation. A lot of guards inside were ex-military and some did still go overseas. I remember as I got close to my end date, and doing the whole sentence gave me the attitude I needed to pull off a lot of frustration that had added up over 10 years.
I told more than a few cops to kiss my ass and go fuck off. I had a few ask “when I was going home” They knew the ones who had nothing to lose and I wasn’t stupid enough to hit one of them. My power was in my words not my sword. I had fun with a few calling them bitches in front of the other inmates and they would laugh and call me the same, they knew I was days away from leaving.
I know most of what I wrote today won’t give most of you any comfort knowing there are some really bad and ugly cops in prison. With time and knowledge you try to avoid those and do as little as possible to piss them off. Right or wrong that is just life in prison and there are ways each inmate can try to make it better, but there are some guards that just love to mess with a stick of dynamite of one day they may encounter a Bull. I had a few guards wish me luck when I was leaving and even shock my hand.As it is in all walks of life there is good and bad, but it’s the ugly we have to look out for and stay out of their way unless we want confrontation. In prison sometimes that’s hard to do. For you all on the outside it can be very frustrating to hear the stories of what goes on behind bars. Letters and calls make it easier for those inside, try to stay positive and stay whatever the course you have chosen. At times those inside may not mean what they say or write, it is out of frustration either brought on by a guard, another inmate, or just being locked up. Stay Strong