From Bradley Schwartz, the creator of Prisonpath.com, as part of my sentence, I was incarcerated for fifteen months in the Maryland state prison system. During my journey through the Maryland State prison system, I encountered all types of individuals. I observed indifference, cruelty, and random acts of kindness from inmates and correctional officers. I memorialized my travels in a memoir titled “Prisonpath.” I will post an excerpt from “Prisonpath” every month. The excerpts are written snapshots of real prison life.
The point of entry for any new state inmate is the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic, and Classification Center located at 550 Madison St in Baltimore. This prison was the initial conduit for all other state prisons in Maryland. In Baltimore, the inmate would be assessed physically, mentally, and for potential risk to others and himself. Based upon the risk assessment and other criteria, the inmate was transferred to maximum, medium, or minimum security prisons. The lucky few would be assigned to pre-release centers.
I had arrived in Baltimore after spending two weeks in a local county prison. I was wearing my court suit, my wrists and ankles were handcuffed, and a metal chain around my mid-section was connected to the wrists handcuffs. All of the transferees including myself performed the chain gang shuffle exiting the van.
I made a mistake by not wearing socks. My ankle handcuffs cut into my skin. The temperature in the van was boiling hot. All of the inmates were hot, sweaty, and thirsty upon arrival at the prison in Baltimore. The sheriffs went inside and left us in the van. After forty-five long minutes, the sheriffs brought us into the building where they removed all our handcuffs and chains.
The building was an old prison that surely had seen better days many decades ago. The interior of the prison consisted of dark, dirty, narrow hallways. Women correctional officers were yelling at inmates and at each other. It was chaos in Dante’s Inferno. I was placed in a holding cell with nine other new inmates. We all looked shell-shocked. As I entered the holding cell, the other inmates gave me a quizzical look since I was the oldest inmate by far. I understood their looks because not only was I the oldest, but I was still dressed in my messy and wrinkled suit that I had worn in court. The other inmates were in sweatpants hanging midway down their behind or in blue jeans.
The inmates ranged from young black and white gangstas to rednecks. At various points, the whites would call out each other “Hey Dog” during their stimulating conversations. One inmate said “Hey Dog, what are you here for? The other inmate replied “Hey Dog, the damn PO violated my probation. I was tired of waiting for her to show up for our appointments, so I stopped going. What about you?”
“Violation of parole, Dog. My dumb wife complained that I was hitting her. I only hit the dumb bitch a couple of times. So I knocked out a couple of teeth. What’s the big deal? Now I have to do the rest of my sentence – 3 years. Yeah, and a new charge of assault.”
This conversation was repeated with different facts and scenarios, but almost all of the inmates were there because of violations of parole or probation. Most violations of parole even if minor in nature resulted in prison again. Many inmates were back in prison because they had missed appointments with their parole officer.
One by one, we were escorted into a cold room where I stripped completely, bent over, spread my cheeks, and coughed so that the Uzi machine gun would pop out of my ass. The correctional officer who performed the strip search had much in common with a proctologist. In my opinion, both had shitty jobs. After this strip search, an overweight, extremely tired looking, officer put my new prison uniform on the counter. I now wore blue jeans and a long-sleeved blue shirt. My business suit was mailed home. I was now dressed for my new world…