When someone who has never been in the system becomes a part of it, they're scared. First-timers, they're called. Fish. You can see the fear and anxiety in their eyes. Some try and play that first initial walk on the yard like they're tough, but it's just a maneuver for not showing weakness. Coming to the yard or to the housing unit as a fish is like walking onstage. These aren't the eyes of adoring fans, however. These are glares of assessment. What can I get from this guy? What gang does this newbie run with? Everything is self-preservation.
The ones that have it particularly rough are the teens and early twenty-somethings who come in. The youngsters. This group is the most frightened, hence the most easily influenced. When someone needs to get hurt, or something needs to get shoved up someone's asshole, 9 times out of 10 it's going to fall into this demographic.
The funny thing is, most of the time they're not being forced. These newly-printed young adults are raising their hands to do the dirty work. They want the fame. The recognition of having status among the tribe. Rehabilitation? Not in these instances.
Teenagers, some of them fresh out of high school, have been thrown in among murderers and thieves. They aren't given any help or guidance in their abrupt introduction to this new, upside-down society. They just kind of have to figure it out. Unfortunately as a result, a lot of them end up in bad situations. Or the worst situation.
There was this kid everyone called Red. He had a head full of red hair. Total ginger; nothing original, as far as nicknames go. I don't remember what his real name was; just that he was an impressionable 18 year-old kid. Grew up with his grandma and always had that Awe, shucks look. The Woods, who represents the whites, got a hold of him, quick. He was gullible. These were the big guys, older guys, laughing it up with him, playing cards and hanging out on the yard with him. Taking him under their wing.
Introducing him to drugs.
Taking that used needle full of heroin into his arm for the first time. Oh boy. We've come such a long way in such a short amount of time.
So now it's, Hey Red, hold onto this for a minute. Red, they're gonna do a search-take this dope to the hoop (stick these drugs up your ass). Red, go check that fish's paperwork.
Red, want to go get high?
His sentence was short-16 months. The problem was, Red lived that lifestyle, literally 24 hours a day, for roughly 12 of those 16 months. He was in the most twisted boot camp you can fathom, and it changed him. He had a new routine, a new way of thinking. He also had a new habit.
We heard from one of the prison counselors that Red overdosed on heroin two weeks after his release. He had been doing very small amounts at a time on the inside, so when he was finally able to find some on the outside, he decided to do the biggest shot he'd done to date. It killed him. Chewed up and spit out, courtesy of the CDC.
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