An Interview With Prison Author Glenn Langohr

By Glenn Langohr

As most of your readers already know, you’ve spent some time in prison but have now turned your life around.  Can you tell us what happened to land you there and how your change/rehabilitation came about?

Two good parents raised me, but they divorced when I was 12 years old. Being a momma’s boy, I was brokenhearted when I didn’t go with her. I called my dad out for ruining everything and that didn’t work out well for me. I ran away. I got into selling drugs. The law interrupted me, many times.

I spent 10 years in some of California’s worst prisons with 4 years in solitary confinement for riots and investigations.

The prison system didn’t rehabilitate me, writing did. California has 35 state prisons and they are violent and gang riddled. While “doing time” it is all about surviving. I started waking up at 4 am to write before surviving another possible riot took over my being. Eventually, I built up enough momentum writing books to know in my heart that I had a new life.

You are obviously quite (rightly) dedicated to highlighting the plight of prisoners in the US correctional system (as well as the abuses therein).  Your personal experiences aside, anyone who has had dealings with it can understand why this is such an important cause to you, but most people don’t have any such experience. How would you respond to critics who would argue that prisoners get what they deserve – do the crime, do the time types?

First I would say that some crimes are worse than others. I think we are too easy on Child Molesters and Rapists. But, are we the Leaders of the Free World? No, we are the leaders of the incarcerated world. In California alone we have 35 state prisons that are bursting at the seams, with more people behind bars than any other country other than China! [Editor's note: Actually, while China does have a larger total prison population, we more than double theirs, per capita.] Why? Because we are locking humans in prison who are addicted to drugs, or who are below the poverty level, and therefore undesirable. That could be your kid, your mother, and your neighbor.

In prison, that addiction is bred into an affliction much harder to escape, where gangs are the solution, spitting out tattooed-down, displaced humans, without any job placement or anywhere to live.

So really, most of the prisoners are not getting what they deserve, because we look at drug addiction like alcoholism these days – like a disease. They need treatment, not prison. I am working on adapting one of my books, My Hardest Step, into a TV show about Addiction and Recovery. One of the girls who did a casting call has been to prison. It didn’t help. A drug treatment center did work. She has been sober for over 2 years and has her son back in her life.

What do you see as the way forward in terms of prison reform?  How does this come out in your books?

Prison reform isn’t going to happen until there isn’t enough tax money to keep the current system going. I’m just being real. The Politicians and Media promote the need for prisons to keep the rest of us safe. To get elected, you have to be tough on crime. To stay elected, you have to be tough on crime. This starts with the D.A. In one of my high profile drug cases, the head D.A. at the time had aspirations to become the Attorney General for the U.S., and for that to even be a possibility, he couldn’t look weak on crime, so he made sure he had a 99% conviction record. Ten years later, his son is doing time for heroin addiction.

My books take you inside of prison survival between the gangs and politics and what life looks like Inside.

If real prison reform were to happen, it would have to be extreme. How about work programs instead of prison? How about prisoners actually learning how to get a job while in prison with computer training, resume training, job placement, housing placement and a real chance upon release?

How about only sending people to prison for violent crimes and giving the rest programs for treatment and self-help?

It is also clear that you are a man of faith.  What role has that faith played in your work?  How does it come out in your characters?  How is it part of your ideas for reforming the prison system?

Thank you for bringing this up. I read the Bible in prison every day and found hope that God restores the hopeless.

My characters are divided into two groups, those who are trying to find their conscience, and those who aren’t, with a good cop verses bad cop theme as well.

In my books, my main character chases redemption by knowing he has to help other lost souls find hope and a new life away from prison and the drug war, yet just surviving takes almost all of his attention.

How have you been able to partner your efforts with research and/or faith-based organizations to spread the word on your mission?

Not that well. The church I attend is amazing because of a few things. The worship band is out of this world. Our teaching Pastor is amazing also. He loves my books. But they and most churches don’t want to face their own issues, drug addiction in their family and their community.

My writing has progressed from 10-Drug War and Prison books that are in Print, Kindle and Audio Book, to 4 Prayer Books, to my most recent self help books. My Hardest Step is based on the Twelve Step Programs.

My best selling Prison Book is Underdog, available at  Amazon. Click here to see a 2 minute video about it.

Most, if not all, of your books are based on real-life events.  How much did you write while you were still in prison?  How do you deal with the possibility of getting sued by people who may recognize themselves, particularly the more well-known you and your work become?

I spent 7 years writing my first book, Roll Call, in prison – on the back of my trial transcript paperwork. Once out of prison, I turned down a couple of big publishers to self publish. I got a review from Kirkus Discoveries Nielson Media out of New York, that blew my mind.  “A harrowing, down-and-dirty depiction–sometimes reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic–of America’s war on drugs, by former dealer and California artist Langohr. Locked up for a decade on drugs charges and immersed in both philosophical tomes and modern pulp thrillers…”

As for being sued for writing such raw and penetrating content, I use this quote in TV interviews: “I paint with the true colors of life on a fictional landscape to protect the innocent and the not so innocent.”

My newest Prison book, The Art of War: A Memoir of Life in Prison, is the most controversial yet. While I was finishing up my sentence at a hard-core prison on the California border of Mexico, there was so much violence, you just wouldn’t believe half of it. Being a White inmate where over 80% of the population is Mexican or Black, it wasn’t easy. We had a prison guard who gave us information about other inmates, one of which was a notorious “Child Molester”. You’ll have to read the book to see what happened. It is on sale for 99 cents, in Kindle format, at Amazon.

What one thing you would like for our readers to know about you?  Your work?

“Jesus is my landlord.” I got that quote from a homeless woman who told it to the police who were harassing her for living in her car. They stopped dead in their tracks and let her go. I used that quote in one of my books. God bless you.

“I went from obsessively pacing my cell to realizing that if I find a way to write what’s in my head, I can find a way out of this hole.” — Glenn Langohr

March at DeafInPrison.com

By BitcoDavid

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Interview With Glenn Langohr, Author of Prison Riot

By BitcoDavid

While reading Prison Riot, I was struck by how similar this story is to the classic Melville novella, Billy Budd. Of course, the latter was written in a much more stilted voice, and was built on Biblical allegory – but the thread of the story is very much the same.

Here we have a power struggle between a cruel and sadistic Corrections Lieutenant, and a fair minded but ineffectual Warden. The victim in that power struggle ends up being the innocent – the powerless everyman, whom in the Melville book was represented by Billy, and in Prison Riot is represented by B.J. and his friend, Giant.

Where the analogy breaks down however, is that Billy Budd was fiction.

Suspension of disbelief is not necessary when the writer actually lived through the hell of the California prison system. As a student of literature, I can think of no author, better suited to tell the story of incarceration than a former inmate. Glenn Langohr’s writing is filled with tension, vivid characterization, in the moment conflict and a true pathos that dispels stereotypical thought. The reader sees his characters as people – not just inmates.

From the entertainment standpoint, Prison Riot is filled with all the stuff that a good novel needs. There’s plenty of action, violence, conflict and tension. From the educational point of view, one can use this book as a blueprint for how to behave, should the reader ever face the misfortune of confinement in an American penal facility. For example, at one point in a conversation with a fellow inmate, B.J. is asked a question that he sees as a violation of his personal space – the kind of thing that just wouldn’t happen in the outside world. His response? “I know how to do prison time.” Of all the prison books I’ve read – and there’s been a plethora of them – I’ve never read one that delved so deeply into the social mores and memes of prison life.

The book is short – only about 30,000 words. His writing style is quick and terse. The words race off the page. One can read this book in a sitting, but the impact will stay with you long after you’ve put it down.

As a writer myself, what I like best about Langohr is his voice. He writes for readers, not for the dictionary, and he peppers his books with argot. In short, this book should be a College textbook for all students of Law Enforcement, and a users manual for the rest of us. Read this book, and internalize it, and you’ll be able to walk the yard with confidence – and you’ll never sit at the wrong table.

–BitcoDavid

***

The Destruction after the Fremantle Prison Rio...

The Destruction after the Fremantle Prison Riots 4 January 1988 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BD: You refer to the term “Block Guns.” Could you describe these? I take it from one of your paragraphs, that they shoot some sort of inert charge (apparently made of wood) or blank round, but can also accept live ammo. Can you expound on that?

GL: Great question. I didn’t explain it well enough in Prison Riot. The prison guards in California State prisons have a supply of block guns in the gun towers. Each building has a gun tower that overlooks the interior of the building, and also has a view of the yard where that building releases inmates. The block guns look like shotguns, but only shoot wooden blocks. They don’t shoot live rounds. The tower guards also have rifles that shoot live rounds – that legally, they are only supposed to use when inmates are using deadly weapons, not for fist fights. The block guns are used for fist fights.

The wooden blocks are compacted into a circular shape about the size of a silver dollar, but are a little thicker then a ping pong ball. The block guns are extrememly effective – in part because of the noise. In the building, or on the yard, the echo “booms” so loud that inmates inside every other building on the yard can hear it.

At Centinella State prison in Imperial Valley on the California and Mexican border, the prison yards are close enough together that inmates can hear the block gun go off on other yards. At Centinella it is an almost daily occurrence. As an inmate you become trained to expect it shortly after you hear the alarm go off, followed by a tower guard yelling, “GET DOWN!! GET DOWN!!” and then, “BOOM!! BOOM!!”

To give you a feel for the prison politics at Centinella, the Mexican inmates are ordered [by their shot callers] not to stop fighting until the block gun has gone off. Most of the time they keep going for about 30 seconds after the “BOOM” for respect and effect. That means you can expect to see a fight or stabbing on the yard, continue until the alarm screeches a whining noise – that rises and falls in decibels – followed by the order to get down; followed by a swarm of a couple dozen prison guards running to the incident, with about every third guard carrying a block gun.

At close range, block guns hurt bad and will knock the wind out of you and put you down. At more than around 40 feet, the block begins to come apart. Seeing it up close so many times, I can tell you that it breaks apart into circular rings and sizzles – burning  on the ground – on fire from the explosion sending it.

Prison Tactical Team (riot control)

Prison Tactical Team (riot control) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find it interesting that in your descriptions of the riot – you make it clear that the guards are seen as a lower priority then the “enemy” inmates. Did you find that to be the case? In other words, was it common that an inmate would attack even at a time when an armed guard was standing there?

With this question you are getting really deep into prison life politics. It is the most eerie feeling to know a prison riot is coming well before it comes. Now you are getting into a gang riot or a Race riot. The gangs are where the pressure and most of the decisions are coming from. The prison guards don’t matter at all, compared to orders. To give you a better understanding, pretend you are in a California prison and you are told by your race, “If you ever see another race attacking one of us, you have to help and fight. If you don’t, you will be considered weak and you will be attacked.” This is the common mentality of every single race and to me, an ex prisoner of over 10 years, understandable and respectable.

I guess to fully understand this kind of thinking you have to picture being housed race by race, as far as who is in each cell. To watch your own race get outnumbered, attacked and possibly killed, while you are just watching, is a guarantee that you will be attacked by your own race later, as a form of discipline and order. So in that regard, as an inmate, the guard with the gun in the tower, or even 10 feet away in the chow hall, isn’t there at all.

Since we are getting so deep into prison life politics amoung races and gangs, I will explain it as it relates to other then race war and gang war situations. Lets say that I’m a White inmate and I watch another White inmate get attacked by a group of Black inmates – and instead of rushing to his aid, I follow the guards orders to “GET DOWN,” and just get on my stomach and watch the pummeling. For being in the area and not helping, I am in big trouble. In that situation, when the order is given to get me, the inmates will pick a spot to handle the business. That means that it will be done on the yard, as far away form the guards as possible. At times they – the guards, just can’t be avoided.  We call those suicide missions.

There has been a lot of discussion in the tech world and the media – over the past decade – of use of non-lethal but highly effective methods of stopping this kind of thing. Stuff like foam, high-pressure water, low frequency sound and pancake bullets – that sort of thing. In your experience, was any of this newer technology ever employed, or did the guards stay within the older framework of guns and gas?

While I was in prison from 1990, on and off through 2008, before I found a new path in writing books, I saw some changes in those deadly force measures. Keep in mind I’m talking California State prisons. First of all, the pepper spray works! It isn’t the kind of pepper spray you can imagine if all you are used to is what the police use on the streets. California prison pepper spray at one point killed a number of inmates because it was so pure that it stopped peoples breathing, caused shock and heart attacks. Somewhere in the mid 1990’s they finally toned it down slightly.

Don’t picture a little pepper spray bottle, picture a small fire extenquisher. Picture inmates drenched in so much pepper spray that it looks like they have been painted orange. I’ve seen white shirts and bald heads completely drenched in dripping orange fire. The pepper spray is so strong that if a fight is going down in the building, all of the inmates inside the cells will start coughing.  They will stand at the cell watching, with their faces covered with shirts like bandanas.

The next level of force was the old fashioned billy clubs. New laws changed the shape of them from the same kind the police use on the streets to higher tech ones that are spring loaded and eject a thinner steel outward. Those disappeared later. As mentioned earlier the guns start with the block guns and graduate to “LIVE ROUNDS COMING NEXT,” usually with that exact warning.

I have finally got around to writing about life at Centinella, where I spent my last amount of prison time and will use an example of a respectable gun tower guard. I had made it my business to develop conversations with gun tower guards, because I figured they would see me in a human light. I tried to pick their brains and make them laugh. One prison guard I talked to was an ex-military sharp shooter. When the Mexican inmates and Black inmates went off in a yard riot, that everyone knew was coming, that tower guard never fired a live round. That riot was a very serious one and prison made weapons were scattered all over the yard. More than a dozen inmates had puncture wounds from being stabbed. He probably should have fired live rounds, even if he only fired into the ground. But he had a lot of pressure on him to dance that fine line of which inmates can I righteously say are trying to kill. Later he was laughed at by many of the other guards as weak.

That Mexican and Black war was a long way from done. The next time they came off lockdown to wage another round, that same guard fired a live round in a smaller riot. He fired it through the middle of the basketball backboards right where the red square is.

I get the distinct impression that the guards’ reactions to you would have been no different, had you not been involved in the fighting. From your writing, I felt that they just kind of swept in and mopped up – paying no heed to innocence or guilt. In other words, even if you had hunkered down with your hands over your head, you still would have been tied up with zip ties and carted off to the SHU. Is that true, or am I missing something?

You have that part right on. In a riot like that they take everyone in the area and sort it out in ad-seg. To be found guilty of “being a combatant” it takes the written reports of eye witness accounts from the guards, pepper spray proof dripping off the inmate, injuries, hand evidence from punching or using a weapon and the very rare testimony from another inmate.

It’s clear to me that the financial rewards benefit the guards in these situations. Overtime, Hazard pay, etc. Bearing in mind that neither of us are corrections professionals, in your opinion, were the guards complicit in these riots? Did they see the financial benefits as incentives to foster dis-harmony among the many inmate groups?

Fantastic question and hard answer. Yes I have painted that picture in a number of my books that this is the case, and yes it does happen. However, it is rare where the guards do it in an evil way. For people who haven’t been there, this must be so hard to understand, but even the prison guards become affected by all the violence and pressure.

There are so many examples I can use of this but to be fair to how hard their jobs are, they can know a riot is coming just as well as the inmates – because a tiny percentage of the inmates send them written notes, telling them it is going to happen – yet they can’t stop it. What are they going to do, ship hundreds of inmates to other yards every time? I have been on over 25 different prison yards. In my experiences, I have seen guards get evil and instigate wars to continue, by what they say while we are locked down. When one side wins a yard fight in a big way – let’s say the Mexican inmates are attacked by the Black inmates and get their asses handed to them – and a Mexican veteran prison guard says things in the building like, “You guys aren’t getting off lockdown for years. You know that if you mess with one bean you get the whole burrito.” That is putting pressure on both races to keep the war going.

The prison guards and gun towers can pop cells open inside the building where both races are let out, in those situations, and the war reignites with what is called, on site orders. That kind of situation keeps the yard on lockdown and that hazard pay – time and a half continues.

Again, to be fair to the 99% of the prison guards who don’t deserve to be painted this way, it is a rare fact of California prison life. But, besides the extra money incentives, and overtime control, the prison guards are following a divide and conquer strategy because they would rather see the inmates fighting against each other versus fighting them!

There are 3 reasons that I can see for becoming a prison guard. A) One could have an anti-crime hard-on. Say one’s family or one’s self were victims of crime, for example. B) Money. It’s possibly the best paying and most in demand area of law enforcement. C) A genuine desire to help people turn their lives around. However, several psychological experiments conducted over the last half century would indicate that regardless of the motivations for joining up, the tendency is to move towards a culture of cruelty and corruption. Based on your experience, would you say you found that to be true? Were there any guards that you thought highly of?

Yes I found many that I respected and thought highly of. Most of those either usually looked like they could have been in prison themselves, and or they were militarily trained pros. As mentioned earlier I studied them like my life depended on it and this became getting to know them through conversation.

In California prisons you have regular prison guards, tower guards, free staff workers who work the clothing, food and other shops, Inmate Gang Investigators, Security Escorts, Special Teams for searches and cell extractions and Counselers that go all the way up to the Warden. They are hardly ever all on the same side themselves. Inmates are constantly studying this angle to find cracks in their structure. How do you think all the cell phones are landing in prisoners hands? How about a percentage of the dope and pretty much all of the tabacco? How about inside info?

For the most part most of the prison guards are there to earn a paycheck. On the serious level 4 yards where the inmate population is more then half lifers, there isn’t much room for a prison guard with a hard on to be disrespectful to inmates because he knows he will get stabbed. In a place where violence and pressure are a constant, moment by moment, 24-7 affair – 365 days a year, the senses are hardened and the culture becomes emotionless.

What is the relationship between I.C.C. and the store? You waited for a long time to get I.C.C. so you could buy essentials like toothpaste and deodorant. Why is it viewed as necessary for an inmate to be classified before he’s allowed store privileges?

Because an inmate has to be classified to a certain level for yard and store priviledges. I.C.C. is a collection of prison administrators mostly made up of counselors who do the paperwork. That part of the process is where they determine special needs situations. Lets say that an inmate gets off the bus and enters a prison, that person has to be cleared for yard before they get to go to yard and get store. I.C.C. looks through the file to determine if there are any enemies or reasons not to put the inmate on the yard. For instance, a well know rapist, police officer doing time, or even Charlie Manson, can’t just be put on a mainline prison yard because they are all consided, points to earn and will get stabbed. For that and many other reasons, I.C.C. keeps inmates locked down, without priveledges, until that process is determined.

Once determined, and you are on the mainline, and a riot or any form of discipline puts you in the hole-ad-seg (SHU), you have to go through that process all over again to get yard and store in there.

I get that it was terribly important for the I.C.C. to classify you as what you were – White inmates, but could you spell out for our readers why the Southern Mexican label would have been so detrimental.

In the true story I wrote, Prison Riot – I was involved in a massive riot that made the news at Solano in 1998. The southern Mexicans were outnumbered by the northern Mexicans and my friend Steve Smith, also known as Giant and myself decided to lend a hand to the southern Mexicans because we were friends with many of them.

Let me make this very clear, I’m a White man who doesn’t gang bang or claim a gang, and I helped them because I don’t like to see people bullied or outnumbered. Giant felt the same way. The problem with being 2 White guys in the midst of almost 100 Mexicans at war in a riot is that the prison guards had to assume we were what is called, Sleepers, who were Mexican gangsters. The massive problem for us as White inmates to be classified as southern Mexicans in the hole, is that when our SHU term ran its course, we were going to be housed as southern Mexicans. That is a massive problem.

Imagine getting off the bus at a new prison, being put in a cell with a southern Mexican, and having to tell him, “Look I’m sorry to disturb you but I’m a White inmate so please don’t tell me about who you guys are stabbing tomorrow.” On the other side of that coin you are also going to have to explain to the rest of the White inmates that you are indeed a White inmate!

I’d be very interested in some of your views regarding the impact of America’s drug war on these racial politics within the prison system. Could you give me a brief paragraph showing a connection between the Drug Culture in the U.S. and the struggle as it is currently playing out in Mexico – and could you tie that to the California prison system?

Perfect question to add to the last one, to show you how crazy it is –because of the drug war and the direct connection to it, breeding more violence and gangs, under the current policy where we incarcerate drug offenders!

In California prisons southern Mexican inmates are under enormous amounts of pressure to straight up be gangsters, and that breeds an army of gangs. That is also the case for every other race, maybe to a lesser extent. The amount of gangs in southern California is staggering and their reach is long. By not getting to the root of the problem – drugs and poverty – prison is the breeding grounds. People see the news that the Mexican cartels are powerful and they don’t understand that in California’s prisons, those cartel members don’t have the most influence. So if I’m in a cell with a southern Mexican all of those politics are crossing into a White inmate’s loyalties.

Back to the drug war breeding gangs. By incarcerating low level drug offenders we are turning an addiction into an affliction much harder to escape, where gangs and violence are the calling cards. The problem gets bigger when these displaced, tattooed down, harder to get a job, mentally taxed from post traumatic stress, human beings get released without any job training or housing placement.

Now you mentioned Mexico’s drug war also. Most people don’t know this but in Mexico it is legal to have up to an ounce of Meth, Heroin, Cocaine etc. You just can’t bring it to sporting events or sell it! I used to hear this on the radio in my cell in Centinella, on the border of Mexico, and scratch my head in exasperation. But guess what. By decriminalizing drugs you take the power out of them! Look at Canada, their policing of drug addicts is more of a nursing program to get them into treatment. If we treat drug addiction as a disease, which it is now looked at like alcoholism, we are being not only smarter, but more humane. We shouldn’t call drug addicts criminals. For those of you with kids who have become addicted you understand.

English: Aerial view of San Quentin State Pris...

Aerial view of San Quentin State Prison, in Marin County, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kind of a side note here, but the homemade lighter you spoke of is actually called a carbon-arc lamp. It was one of the first lamps used for film projection in the 1890s. Necessity truly is the mother of invention. Can you think of some other prison fabrications you created that were of equal technical interest?

The Asian inmates are the most advanced, go figure. They made lighters with batteries that were almost like a regular lighter! We also used salt water lighters. Inmates can make cell phone chargers and so much more, but I personally am not that talented.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Should We Decriminalize Drugs to Take The Power Out of The Drug War and The Mexican Drug Cartels?

By Glenn Langohr

We now look at drug addiction as a disease in government and medical institutions, so when are we going to end the War on Drugs and how will we? The War on Drugs has only made drug use more desirable by making them more taboo, thus creating an underground culture where it is cool to avoid detection. Fast cars, fast women, flashy tattoos and jewelry and being the man, or woman, that can supply the need is what spurs the desire to be involved and it makes it cool. There is a social structure involved that includes sex, money, power, control and greed. So if we decriminalize drugs we take the power out of them and the rest of this underground culture. Vicente Fox in Mexico has come down hard on the cartels and 40,000 drug war murders have been the result. In- fighting between cartels like the Sinaloa, Juarez and Zetas has been over how to get the most money from the U.S.’s demand for drugs.

Recently, some problems with an operation the ATF dubbed, Fast and Furious, has made headlines with over 2,500 machine guns that our government gave the cartels in a sting operation and have since been used to kill our own law enforcement in Arizona. This is just another example that proves the joke is on us, in this War on Drugs. Another problem, the pharmaceutical giants who sell legal heroin to our kids in pain killers like Oxycontin. The kids smash up the pills and snort them for a quick high. This is leading to the more raw form, Mexican tar heroin. In south Orange County, California there have been 80 overdose deaths in a few years and finally reporters like David Whiting, chief editor for the Orange County Register, has started writing about these very issues.

The solution to this War on Drugs is many fold. First we have to make drugs look less enticing. A mass media campaign must be followed by success stories from those who have turned away from drugs and got their families, careers and lives back. We have to show the public that it is a spiritual war since drug use divides every blessing possible, like families, marriages, freedom, jobs and everything else that is forgotten about during drug use and all the aforementioned are broken and divided to nothingness. Second we have to attack this problem with our over crowded jails and prisons. We have to give these inmates something to turn their lives around while incarcerated, like helping them learn how to write all manner of scripts, along with job and living placement upon release. In Nevada released prisoners are offered jobs in sanitation and released prisoners find meaning in work, getting their families back, fitting into the community and realizing they can survive. Nevada has the lowest recidivism, rate of return back to prison in the nation.

Militares del Ejército Mexicano a su llegada a...

Militares del Ejército Mexicano a su llegada al estado de Michoacán, México. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To check out my complete list of books in print, kindle and audio book go here~ http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00571NY5A

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/641696

“I went from obsessively pacing my cell to realizing that if I find a way to write what’s in my head, I can find a way out of this hole.” — Glenn Langohr

State Crime Data Log Is Lacking Due to Drug War

By Glenn Langohr

The criminal records system California relies on to stop child abusers from working in schools, and violent felons from buying guns, is so poorly maintained that it routinely fails to alert officials to a subject’s full criminal history. The other side of this issue is that a list of possible matches appears, denying work or gun ownership for those without a criminal history, or one that has been expunged. Imagine trying to get a job, in an already depressed economy, and the background check returns a bunch of possible arrest and convictions, that aren’t even accurate.

Information from millions of records buried at courts and law enforcement agencies has never been entered in the system. This overwhelming amount of information is then haphazardly rushed into possible matches and isn’t accurate. Tough on crime platforms have destroyed the criminal justice system because for a District Attorney seeking to climb the ladder or enter politics a soft on crime look will stain their reputation or get them fired. In Orange County, California, a ninety nine percent conviction record is where the bar is set but look at the fact that six out of ten convicted cases that reach the Supreme Court are overturned for reasons like ineffective councel, leading the nation. This means justice has been thrown out the window and the right to a fair trial and the right to adequate defense is no longer viable. In other cases brought before the district attorney, police officers are trained to charge the suspect of a crime with as many possible charges relating to one charge as possible to make it easy for a plea bargain, also helping keep that ninety nine percent conviction ratio. Imagine just being released from jail or prison after not being defended properly or over zealously prosecuted, and now you are trying to find employment and the background check the employer runs shows a list of possible crimes not even committed!

Image courtesy Google Images - Public Domain photo.

Image courtesy Google Images – Public Domain photo.

Are we creating laws faster than good sense provides in the interest of tough on crime political stances? Are all these new laws creating a police state and only beneficial to people who have government jobs and unions to push even more law and early retirement benefits? When considering that unemployment in California is leading the nation at approximately ten percent and then realize even those numbers don’t show the percentage of released prisoners who aren’t even on the radar. The unemployment numbers are actually much higher and the result of too many petty laws putting too many people in jail or prison and completely forgetting about redemption or rehabilitation.

“I went from obsessively pacing my cell to realizing that if I find a way to write what’s in my head, I can find a way out of this hole.” — Glenn Langohr

November at DeafInPrison.com

By BitcoDavid

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

An audio engineer at an audio console.

Just thought I’d throw this in. The boards nowadays make this thing look like a table radio.

 

A Review of Glenn Langohr’s “Underdog”

By BitcoDavid

Who better to speak to the horrors of a broken prison system than a former inmate? Glenn Langohr’s inside view of life behind bars, in some of California’s most brutal prison facilities, is an eye opening, day in the life view that no other author could provide. Through his eyes, we see the inner workings of a system that few of us ever see, and all of us dread.

His opening salvo is a hat-tip to my other cause celebre, the mistreatment of our most unfortunate of fur children – shelter animals. He uses this chapter though, as a lead-in to a story of brutal torture, inept administration, racism, deception, derision, divisiveness, prejudice and injustice. In Underdog, Langohr makes the point that the time spent breaking inmates could be much better spent, building – or rebuilding – Human beings.

List of criminal gangs in Los Angeles, California

The 37 page book – more a novella, really – takes the reader on a first person account of a prison riot, triggered, both by a power vacuum within the heavily segregated racial schema, and the rampant Heroin use that has become such an integral part of prison life. From there, we’re made privy to a lockdown in the hole and the rabid need to classify all inmates as gang members. We’re told in exacting detail, the methodology used by gang investigators to determine an individual’s status – tattoos, self-identification, and the word of other prisoners. No burden of proof, no advocacy, no defense. You’re branded a gang member and thrown into solitary without so much as a how do you do.

The first demand the prisoners wanted addressed was the process Pelican Bay uses to validate gang members to SHU terms without end. They went on to say that prisoners are accused of being active participants of prison gangs using false or highly dubious evidence, where in the isolated SHU, their only way out is to debrief and that it provides false information, wrongly landing other prisoners in the SHU, in an endless cycle.

English: This is a picture of a Latin King sho...

This is a picture of a Latin King showing his Latin King tattoo–a lion with a crown–and signifying the five point star with his hands, which stands for the “Almighty” in the “Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation”. Public Domain photo.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Underdog, we’re given first hand views of several California facilities ending with the infamous Pelican Bay, during the height of the hunger strike that made the name of that institution a household word – the Western Attica.

I found Langohr’s voice to be open and brutally honest. His prose is neither stilted nor flowery. He writes about his subject in plain English, and peppers his work with the argot of the places that had so much impact on his life. Through Glenn, we learn the meaning of terms like off the shelf and IGI Gooners.

There is a marvelous first person tension to his writing. He’s not an academic writing about the prison system for a college text book, he’s a former prisoner and activist, writing about it for you and me.

I felt handcuffs placed around my wrist and heard the noise of them being tightened and then felt the steel bite into my skin. I was pulled backwards out of the visiting booth and steered in a half circle.
I said, “What are you going to do, arrest me for finding out you torture prisoners?”
Parker responded, “We’re escorting you off the prison. We’ll get you when you come back to prison, almost all do.”

You can contact Glenn Langohr via Email: rollcallthebook@gmail.com
Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00571NY5A

But best of all, Glenn has agreed to become a contributor to DeafInPrison.com. We look forward to reading many great posts from Glenn. In summation to this review, I’d say that if he writes for us, half as well as he writes in his books, we’re in for some great reading.

English: Pelican Bay State Prison, looking wes...

Pelican Bay State Prison, looking west, taken July 27, 2009, from 6,500 feet MSL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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