I want to start out by saying I’m no longer part of any white power gangs or organization, nor do I want to be. Those days have come and gone. I’m just here to tell you how it all works. 

Let’s start at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). I’m not there anymore, but I remember it like yesterday. How could I forget it? I saw more stabbings there than a person should ever have to. 

When you’re white and you end up in California’s prison system, you have to join one of the white power gangs. You don’t have a choice if you want to survive. The gang will protect you from trouble, as long as you’re white and don’t have a bad “jacket” (meaning you have a sex offender charge, a reputation for being a rat, or a few other things).  

Can you NOT join a gang if you’re in prison? Well, let’s say when I walked in the doors at Soledad for the first time, I told the shot caller that I wanted no part of anything gang-related in there and that I wouldn’t back them up if need be.  If I had stuck to that, it would not have ended well for me. No doubt I would have been stabbed to death.

My first day on the yard in Soledad, someone walked me around the place and we passed by one of the guys from my “car” out of Modesto. (A “car” is the group of guys you hang out with from the same race and the same geographic location as you.) He told me all the spots I couldn’t walk or go into and showed me where the whites had their own spot where I was allowed to go. I was told we only play sports with whites and Mexicans. 

And the whites hold themselves to a higher standard to others inside prison. They feel they are superior to all. White prisoners couldn’t eat at the same tables or take showers in the same showers as black prisoners . Don’t get me wrong, the black prisoners  in Soledad wanted it like this as well, so it worked out well for both groups. 

So within the first week of being in Soledad, you have to hand over your paperwork detailing what your charges are to review. And if it all checks out, you become one of the brothers in a tight-knit organization.

There are many different white power organizations inside prison. You have your “Skinheads”—who are considered the extremists—and your “Peckerwoods” or “Woods” who are much less extreme. Some are just white men who need a place where they fit in for protection.  A Peckerwood could be any old white man that got put in prison for a DUI or a OWI. In other words, not all Peckerwoods are even racist in the California prison system—some are, but not all.

The way you can identify a Peckerwood is by the number 23. Most Woods will have it tattooed on them in a noticeable place. The number 23 can stand for “White” or “Wood.” Skinhead extremists will have 23 and/or lightning bolts, SS, and/or swastikas tattooed on them as well. 

I was just a normal white guy, but by being white I had no choice but to be a Peckerwood. But… one wrong move and I could be stabbed by my own guys. For example, whites in California prison system don’t condone homosexuality or any out-of-race relationship. That kind of stuff will get you stabbed—at least on the yards for level 3 and 4 inmates. (I’ve never been on a lower level yard in California’s prison system.) 

I really didn’t worry about all the violence. As crazy as that sounds, I truly didn’t. I was just a young dumb kid—a nobody inside the prison system—but I had an army to back me up. 

That’s how it is inside the California prison system. White prisoners protect other white prisoners and black prisoners protect black prisoners and so on. 

In fact, it’s mandatory to jump in — because If you’re white and you don’t jump in to help other whites, you will get stabbed up for sure. No white man can sit back and watch a black or Mexican stab a white and not jump in.  In a level 3 like I was in, white guys have what’s called a “No Hands” policy, meaning you must use a weapon. That’s the rules for all whites on the main line — Peckerwoods, SkinHeads and so on. 

The fear factors that push this white power gangs inside California prison system is no joke. Don’t think for one minute if you’re a white man and you end up in CDCR you’re just going to do you. If you want to survive, you will get in line with the other whites and you will listen to them and go by all the rules they have.

White power organizations inside the CDCR’s Levels 3 and 4 (the highest) are big and unstoppable. This might give you an idea of just how big and unstoppable: whites only cell up with whites no matter what. So, if some CO tells a white prisoner to go in a cell with a black or Mexican guy, what do you think will happen? Well the rule for the white guy is he must attack the CO and try to kill him. 

So you have a big difference between a hard core system like CDCR and Wisconsin DOC. Joining a white power organization is not a must in Wisconsin DOC. You can be yourself. You don’t have to worry about hanging out and eating  with only whites.

At the end of the day, joining a white power organization in Wisconsin DOC is not a must. Your life does not depend on it.. My choice is to just work on being a better person. And I can’t do that with hate in my life. So the best thing for me is to pull myself away from any and all of that. I don’t want to be any part of a hate organization. It does nothing for me or my family. Family is what’s real. It’s too bad it took me this long to see it.