||Mar 3, 2012
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Pelican Bay Riot is a compilation of four stories that take you into the most violent, deadly and bloody prison in California; where gang wars, drug debts, and prison guards who stage gladiator fights and fire unholy justice abound.
The author spent 10 years inside the most violent prisons in California on drug charges. Lock Up Diaries is a depiction of life inside prison and a look at the political landscape between races who are segregated by cell. The amazing details of prison life - code words that prisoners use, explanations of how they communicate from cell to cell - really make you feel you have entered a different world, or like you are watching a movie about prison life. The story shows how race riots that can kill prisoners can be started for very small and seemingly unimportant reasons, and how violence permeates every aspect of prison life.
Sergeant Torrez crowded our cell door with a smirk on his face with six I.G.I. Gooners behind him. We called the Inmate Gang Investigators Gooners because they wore similar uniforms to the regular prison guards but had additional black stitching on their shoulders and chest that resembled tattoos to signify they were in charge of deciphering who the gangsters were, usually based on their tattoos.
We backed up to the cell door one at a time and stuck our wrists through the slot to accept the handcuffs. After we backed out of the cell we had one I.G.I. Gooner on each side of us holding our shoulders to steer our direction. Sergeant Torrez led the way and just as we got to Traveler and Sinner’s cell he said, “Time to take some pictures of you to add to the gang file and have an interview out of hearing so you can really open up to us.”
I knew he was trying to stir the pot and make it look like we might yap our gums and talk. They were always trying to play the divide and conquer game to keep the prisoners fighting each other instead of uniting for a common cause, like finding a new life away from prison walls…
We stopped at an office and there were 2 other I.G.I. Gooners inside with cameras and a table full of files next to them.
Sergeant Torrez grabbed our files off the desk and handed them over. I read the nameplate from the first Gooner’s shoulder to receive our files, Valazquez, and noticed he was listed as a Lieutenant. The other Gooner to get our files was Perez, another Lieutenant.
Sergeant Torrez looked at us like a bully and said, “Strip down to nothing. It’s time to take some pictures to beef up your files. Let’s see those tattoos.”
I knew I would disappoint this branch of fault finders. I didn’t have any tattoos. Damon on the other hand was a sculpted banner of ink. They were going to have a field day with him.
I stripped down and stared at Sergeant Torrez. He looked even more frustrated. He said, “Turn around B.J.”
I turned around and heard him say, “Not one tattoo B.J? What’s wrong with you? Every other prisoner has tattoos. How do you have so much influence without them?”
I responded, “Who said I have influence? If I have any it’s because I’m not trendy.”
I heard Sergeant Torrez whistle and say, “Look at all that ink on Smith. We should be able to label some of that ink as gang affiliated.”
“Turn around Smith”
Damon turned around and looked at me with a sour expression on his face and I whispered, “Don’t say anything.”
We heard Sergeant Torrez pull one of the Inmate Gang Investigators aside and close the office door behind them. We listened and barely heard the Sergeant say, “We can put everything on Smith and write it up that he was the shot caller that provoked the riot…”
We heard the I.G.I. Gooner respond, “Yeah, I like that. With all of those prison tattoos we can write it up that he’s part of a prison gang and a leader. We should be able to keep him housed in Administrative Segregation until the Pelican Bay S.H.U. has an opening…”
The door opened and they walked back inside.
We turned around and I studied Sergeant Torrez. I was starting to hate him. He was a power tripper who was willing to do whatever it took to screw people like us. He grabbed one of the cameras and got close enough to Damon’s naked body for it to feel weird. The feeling intensified because his face took on a glow, like he was getting off on the process. With his face 6 inches away from Damon’s stomach he asked, “What does Rott stand for? Is that you’re A.K.A?”
Damon didn’t say anything…
“What about that banner of ink flowing across your chest with the Ace of Spades flying off the table with the dice? Does that mean you control the gambling in here?”
Damon remained silent…
“What about the 737 on your shoulder, what does that stand for?”
Lieutenant Inmate Gang Investigator Perez came closer with an excited look on his face. “That’s a gang tattoo! I know I have it in my files somewhere.”
The energy increased with Perez’s excitement and the questions came in rapid fire.
“What do they call you besides B.J?”
“What do they call you Smith?”
“Who do you run with?”
“What gang are you from?”
“What neighborhood do you represent?”
“Are you affiliated with the Aryan Brotherhood?”
“How about the Nazi Low Riders?”
“Are you Skin Heads? Are you Peckerwoods? Come on I know you’re someone!”
The feeling of doom intensified as the reports were scribbled faster along with the flashing lights from the cameras. It felt like we were on an out of control train about to get derailed.
Inmate Gang Investigator Torrez flipped the pages in his gang file and with excitement that bordered on glee, said, “See, right here! Look at the tattoo on this inmate… He has the number 737 tattooed on his shoulder also. When we interrogated him he admitted his A.K.A. is Casper and also admitted his gang affiliation as O.C.S, short for Orange County Skin Head. He also told us the structure of White gang leadership in prison starts with the Aryan Brotherhood dominating the Nazi Low Riders, who dominate the Skin Head gangs. He said a Roll Call list is taken on every prison yard in California to organize the power structure…”
On the walk back to our cells we passed Traveler and Sinner standing at their cell door watching. I remembered Traveler’s warning about the fishing expedition. It felt like we’d just been hooked and thrown all over the place. But where were we going to land? It felt hard to breath, like a fish out of water…
A RIVETING LOOK INSIDE THE PRISON SYSTEM
PELICAN BAY RIOT by Glenn Langohr is a compilation of four true prison stories that he lived to write about. This book is well written and fraught with details of violence, drug debts, prison guard brutality, race riots, segregation and demoralization. It's hard to phantom what these inmates go through day in and day out just to survive.
The 33 California maximum prisons have been in the media a lot lately, and with the recent hunger strikes, and guards instigating prison riots to justify overtime, more so. The author and former inmate for 10 years, will share his stories that will leave you shocked and angry.
This is what prison is like!
I have read many books on the prison system and studied prison history/penology and I can say, with authority, that this book has a special place in books of this genre. Rarely have I read a book that truly brings the prison experience to life. You can't get this information from a study or by some guy with a doctorate degree from Harvard, you have to go straight to the source! Glenn Langohr is the source, as he spent many years in prison and a great deal of time capturing his experience in this book.
Whether you are a scholar studying penology or just interested in the topic then buy this book, you won't be disappointed.
A fast paced page turner based on real events!
Mr Langohr's books are page turners that leave the reader wanting more. Not only is the book interesting and fast paced, but he writes for a good cause. The justice system in this country is a disaster and Mr. Langohr shines a bright light on the darkest corners of our Republic. Thank you!
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