When I was originally arrested, nearly fifteen years before, there was no statute of limitations on drug offenses in Indiana and you didn’t get time off for good behavior either. There is still no statute of limitations, but you do get time off. Still and all, I’d be looking at a decade or better in lockup. Years later, during the time I was in the Matrix and LBJ, I had no clue that I would be free today. I thought I was in for the long haul.
That first night in Lower Buckeye Jail there was a ruckus
just after lights out. Two guards came on the POD and entered a cell
about three down from mine. I could hear a fight going on and then
they hauled a man out by one arm and one leg. He wasn’t moving. I
fell asleep wondering what he did to make them come in and beat him
in his bed and drag him away. I thought about all that hooch in our
Next morning, the Woodhead asked me to walk the floor with
him. He reeked of Corn Nuts and Coco Butter. He explained he liked to
get to know his men and asked what I was in for. I told him “Freeing
. “I read your booking sheet” he chuckled.
“Fourteen years, Jesus, and you didn’t get into any trouble in
all that time”?
“Not really, I had a few close calls”.
“Why’d you give up? Just get tired of running”?
much, I haven’t seen my daughter in nearly ten years”.
should just let you go”.
“I agree, but I’m not counting on
it. Muncie Indiana’s a whole different world”.
about the politics of the POD, how the three Heads weren’t rival
factions but institutions who worked together to keep things running
smoothly. He explained to me what I could expect from him and
informed me of my responsibilities; protocol, contingencies in the
event of trouble, and the proper method of addressing grievances
against the guards or inmates. The DOC was responsible for providing
me with certain documents and processes vital to my case, The
Woodhead facilitated these processes. Whatever I required of my
captors, I was to request in writing and submit to him after morning
Internally, any loan between inmates required his consent
and was only approved within the races. I could give something to a
Bro or Piso, but not extend credit. Only the heads could extend
credit, they kept current copies of everybody’s commissary forms.I
could make direct purchases from anybody, but only with approval.
Gambling was done by writing a personal note for the money and
showing proof that amount was covered in the commissary account. To
play poker, chips were purchased that were squares torn from worn
decks of cards. Woodhead had a lieutenant who was never out of arms
reach. He carried the books and kept the chips, neatly stacked and
held together with rubber bands.
The Heads were allowed such
authority because they also acted as enforcer for the guards. There
were rules we could break, within the established protocol and
performance guidelines, and rules we couldn’t. We didn’t want the
guards coming on the floor to bust people and they didn’t either.
There is always the potential for things to get out of hand. Each
Head had soldiers who acted at his request, and stopped any
infraction that wasn’t allowed or wasn’t executed properly.
appeared to me, at first, to be an example of extreme racism and
segregation was actually a pretty effective form of jailhouse
government. The guards gave the Heads authority because they
maintained control. We gave the Heads authority because they were
fair and beneficent mediators. They took care of us. They kept their
position by appeasing people on both sides of the cage.
about the guy they removed the night before and the Woodhead said
“That was unfortunate”. The guy was wearing a cross he had made
from threads pulled out of blankets and clothing. He went to sleep
without tucking it in and the guards saw it. If the guy would have
been caught with the necklace before lockdown, the Woodhead would
have been told and he would have handled it. Roger had let his bling
show, and it wasn’t the first time, so he had to do a couple days
in solitary. When he returned, the whole POD rose and applauded. It’s
a ritual of welcome and acceptance to give a man food, candy, and
sodas when returning from the hole. It helps his attitude and builds
I saw several examples of this crocheted jailhouse
jewelry. The multi colored designs were intricately knotted and
beautifully made. The hippies could learn a thing or two from these
I got so sick of the smell of Corn Nuts and Coco Butter.
The whole joint reeked. To this day I can’t stand either. If I went
to the beach, I’d probably throw up.