In this new article, I would like to share the repercussions I faced before leaving the medium security institution and all the difficulties I still face after my release from prison.
Life behind bars: maximum security
When I left the maximum security facility to meet him, the facility seemed very strange to me. The bus taking us from the prison had to stop about three times. When I arrived at the medium security facility, I was given an orange uniform to wear. I was used to wearing a red uniform and the difference immediately struck me. The sunlight, blue sky, white clouds, green grass and trees around me all seemed very strange to me. You can imagine how difficult it was for me to look at the sky; the sun was too bright, but I was grateful nonetheless. I took a step closer to going home after my intermission and basically went to the cells.
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Transition to medium security
The medium security configuration was completely different from the maximum security configuration. It was a different environment with different inmates and different protocols. The cells were much smaller and had windows. The lights went out at night which was a blessing. My experience with violence in medium security institutions has been much less severe than in maximum security institutions. I was wrong to assume that. The violence in maximum security was more drastic.
During my stay in maximum security, I was constantly in single cells. I had a reputation for stabbing and fighting, and was almost charged with attempted murder again while in prison. My daily routine consisted of waking up in the morning and going to my usual spot to collect my knife for protection before the guards even opened the doors for breakfast. Then, I carried out the morning welcome of new arrivals, called “sico”. I was waiting for my sergeant, and he was asking me if everything was okay and if there were any abnormal issues. After that, I would have breakfast and see what our plan was for the day. If there were numbers involved, I had to defend my position as a member of the gang.
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A violent turn of events
One morning, as usual, things got worse. All of a sudden, a fight broke out, involving members of different gangs, and before I knew it, there was chaos. People were being stabbed, including inmates, correctional officers and cooks. It was madness. I remember stabbing two people that day, and in the evening I was lying in bed thinking about what had happened throughout the day. I couldn’t fall asleep, knowing that I had caused an inmate’s suffering and death.
In the morning, I was summoned to the head of the prison office. He wanted to discuss yesterday’s events and whether I was involved in any of the stabbings. One inmate died and another was seriously injured. He also mentioned my history and background, implying that he believed I was involved. I told him the truth, that I was not involved in any of the stabbings. He made it clear that there would be an internal investigation and the truth would come out.
During the internal investigation, they interviewed witnesses and anyone with information. A reward was offered and an inmate decided to tell the police that I was involved in attacking the two people. I was questioned several times by the police, who claimed to have evidence of my involvement. I asked to see the evidence, but nothing happened.
My brother took it upon himself to deal with the inmate who had informed the police of my involvement. When I think about it today, where I am in life, I realize that I would not have accepted the consequences and repercussions that the inmates had to endure. Whoever was stabbed, thank God he’s out today. I speak with him frequently on Facebook. As for the one who died, I tried to take revenge and console the family after I was released from prison.
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Reflection and redemption
Sometimes in life we are placed in situations where we have to do things we don’t want to do, things that make us uncomfortable, things that cause pain, injury and sometimes death . I live my life outside now and try my best to stay away from any form of violence. I respect life itself. Thank you for reading my article.
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DISCLAIMER: Submission published as received
RESTORE is an NGO based in Cape Town, South Africa, which offers prisoners Pollsmoor Prison with restorative justice opportunities.
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