Courtesy: Chase Burnett

Courtesy: Chase Burnett

One of the most dangerous places in the whole prison system is the outside recreational area, known as “The Big Yard” or “Outside Rec.” It is here that the whole prison population is allowed to be in one area at the same time and it’s the place where the guards are definitely outnumbered by the inmates. So there really isn’t adequate supervision.

I remember years ago, on a hot, sweltering summer day, I was standing in the yard watching all the seagulls dive to pick the food out of the garbage cans stationed throughout the yard… when all of a sudden I heard that “special quiet” settle over the yard that comes just before something BIG is about to happen.

You could tell something bad was about to happen because everyone just started getting quiet. Everyone stopped moving around freely like they normally do at rec time and just started stationing themselves on the outer parameter of the yard, waiting for it to happen.

I quickly found my friends and found myself also stationing myself on the fence to see what was going on as well – and to keep myself away from whatever was about to happen! As soon as I found a spot, one of my friends said, “Look over there! It’s about to pop off!”

As I turned my head to see where he was pointing, I saw about six people all fighting and trying to kill each other!! And the animalistic attitudes of some of the people around me (as they were looking on like this was “entertainment” or something) kind of scared me. I remember thinking to myself, “Really; this is what ‘excitement’ comes down to in these places?” But with life in prison usually being so mundane and boring, I guess it was.

As I watched these men go at it, I saw one start to bleed from a huge gash to his face!!! Then I saw another pick up a rock from the ground and bash one of the other guys in the head with it!!! And all the while the C.O.’s are screaming for everyone to get on the ground; running from every direction to try and break up the fight … and it was then that things got even worst!

With all the commotion going on, the guys fighting weren’t about to listen to the guards yelling at them to stop fighting… so one guard takes the night stick from his belt and bashes one of the guys fighting square in the head! He hit him soooooo hard all you could hear was a sound I can only describe as sounding like a watermelon hitting the ground. And then the inmate he struck hit the ground, blood oozing from his head, other guards all trying to break up the rest of the fight, everything chaotic!!!

No one is exactly sure why these people were fighting that day. Some say it was over one guy owing the other guy money for a drug transaction gone wrong. Some say it was because one guy told the other one to “suck his d—.” But the most credible reason in the prison grapevine was the one I believe myself: that one guy snitched on the other one because he wouldn’t sell him some drugs he wanted and sold it to someone else. Whatever the reason, neither one of them were seen again. All I know is I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Prison violence will never end unless the prisoners themselves stop it. I mean, the guards prefer that we try to kill each other anyways, because they think all prisoners are animals. So it’s up to us to show them otherwise. But in order to do that, don’t we first have to believe it ourselves?

Stop prison violence! Stop it by being the first one to say, “I won’t be thought of as an animal today.”

Chase Burnett is serving 1-3 years in New York for grand larceny.

We send all comments to our writers on a weekly basis but if you’d prefer to contact this author directly, please write to:

Chase Burnett #11A-2699

Clinton Correctional Facility

PO Box 2000

Dannemora, NY 12929