Prison has changed so much since the 1990’s, it’s a joke. Everything is gang oriented now. There’s a Blood shower and a Crip shower where only they can shower. There’s a Blood phone, a Crip phone or a Spanish phone — phones only those gang members can use. You stay in your lane. 

I think 70-80% of the prison population in Virginia is gang-infested or gang-related. It’s so overwhelming within a certain age group, it’s unreal.  Every young black dude, from a certain area, between the ages of 18 to 24, is in a gang. It’s become a cultural thing, where you’re almost a nobody if you’re not a Blood or Crip or G.D. or Vice-lord or Hoover or MS 13. 

Most people join gangs just to be accepted or needed. Or they want the feeling that they’re someone important. Or they want to be a part of something because they really had no real friends growing up. So they are clinging to something that gives them attention, gives them a voice or a purpose, but in such a small-minded way. That’s my experience. That’s what I’ve seen and that’s what I’ve been around. 

There are very few men with the strength of character it takes to not submit to gangs or not to fall in line amongst the gang members. But I am indeed one of the strong ones to the extent I don’t honor, or even like, half of them. I don’t belong to any criminal organization nor do I claim any kind/or type of gang affiliation so I draw conflict and envy and hate almost everywhere I’m placed inside the prison system. 

Me, I’m 43 years old and have never been gang affiliated and never will be. I have childhood friends that are Bloods, two that are Crips and I love them like brothers. I’ll never sit back and watch anyone do any harm to them. I’m loyal and I’ve jeopardized my well-being and my freedom for them in situations that I won’t discuss but I’ll never understand why they chose that way of life, never. 

I’ve learned to stay in my circle and mind my own business and if for any reason my world clashes with the gang world, if I have any kind of disagreement, then it is what it is. Violence is a given to resolve the issue. Any other way is unjust. 

But right or wrong, no one fights one-on-one anymore. If one gang member fights, they’re all supposed to fight. 

I feel like the majority of the gang members hide behind each other. There’s strength in numbers so they load up in bunches. If a gang member is isolated and forced to stand on his own two feet without the support of the others, they turn out to be cowards. Most don’t have the courage or the character to stand alone and stand up for what they feel — even if it means going against the norm. 

So for example, if I have an argument with a gang member and we start the fighting, I will get jumped AUTOMATICALLY, being that I am not gang-affiliated. I’m classified as a civilian. No one will fight me one-on-one. So as soon as I start fighting, two, three of them will engage instantly — even if I was in the right. 

I’m 5 foot 10 inches and a half, 243 pounds. I’m a pretty big fella and if I got into an argument with a gang member who is 25 yrs old, 5 foot 9 inches and 175 pounds, that shouldn’t be a fair fight because of the size differential. But that doesn’t stop these very same young, stupid skinny small dumb fuckas from picking a fight with a much larger dude, knowing in their heart they can’t win — JUST BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY WILL HAVE ASSISTANCE. And that absolutely drives me crazy.

It used to be back in the old days, if you have an issue with someone, you fist fight one-on-one and the best guy wins. All that shit is out the window nowadays, because of the oath and obligations these gang members take on to be loyal and to protect their own.

And no one understands that everyone isn’t gonna just accept this. Personally, if my well-being is put in harm’s way, I will take the violence to the extreme, to the point I’m trying to take someone’s life just to protect mine. 

So if any one of these little mafuckas try to jump me, I’m going to stick a blade so far in one of their necks, it’s gonna take a surgeon to remove it. And that’s the mentality a lot of older fellas have toward these younger guys living in this gang shit. 

I feel confident in myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin and no one pushes my buttons but me. I’m my own boss, and peer pressure doesn’t apply to a person like me. I’m that strong because I got a strong personality and character from my daddy — and from my upbringing, even though it was negative or street oriented. I still learned how to be a strong young independent fella.

THE LOUDEST ONE IN THE ROOM IS THE WEAKEST ONE IN THE ROOM.

SHOW ME THE FRIENDS YOU KEEP AND I’LL SHOW YOU YOUR FUTURE.


Antwan Johnson is serving 30 years for 1st degree murder in Virginia — and he is very eager to hear from his readers.


Antwan Johnson #1171427

River North Correctional Center
329 Dell Brook Lane
Independence, VA 24348