BY KEVIN COCKMAN

Prisons are not built, designed or run with “correcting” in mind. Prisons aren’t correcting anyone. These places are put here to destroy hope, break the spirit of individuality, demean, debase, and strip a person of his dignity. Prisons are the world’s incubators of hate and evil. This is the daily battle I have to fight while attempting to grow enough mentally that maybe I will not bring myself back to this insanity again.

I do not blame my childhood for being incarcerated. I can say with all truthfulness that my drug use is what eventually led me here. Take away the drugs — and criminal behavior (excluding traffic violations) goes away.

Some people will think that putting somebody like me in here is a solution. “Sober him up for a few years and he is good to go.” There is an apt old saying, “Sober up a drunk horse thief and what do you have? A sober horse thief.”

Locking people up with addictions and mental health issues is not taking an honest look or approach to a societal problem. Here I am, a meth addict in prison. Locked up with other addicts, dealers, thieves and drug manufacturers. We spend 12-16 hours a day interacting with each other, discussing drugs and talking “the game” (street slang for a criminal lifestyle) and sharing how to do things without getting caught the next time. And dreaming about making the next big score.

I have learned to avoid this by staying to myself and being extremely selective about whom I choose to be around.

Now let’s start adding in some of the “stressors” in prison, such as having to watch everything you say, because some overly sensitive dumb ass is going to take offense and try to assault you, threaten you, or “punk you” out. Another stressor:  the mental health patients who are not on their meds, or, are on any psych meds they can get a hold of, for a high. Additionally, you have the undercover gang bangers. These are not prison gang members, but the street gang members that the gang unit does not recognize as a security threat. This is not only in your living area, it is everywhere you go.

Then come the folks who are employed here. Imagine your boss coming into your home, cursing you, and you can’t reply without negative consequences. This person randomly comes into your space and tosses all your property around, often taking it, throwing away your mail, denying you food because they don’t like the way you shaved that morning. Only being allowed to sleep for 3-4 hours at a time before someone wakes you up. Having overhead florescent lighting being turned on and off at different times every night during your sleep time. Having the people in “authority” bragging about taking more psych meds than the mental patients you live with. Maybe I am too dense to realize where the “corrections” is in this scenario.

This is a typical day in this place. Now do this for years on end — with only a chance of getting released, decided by a few people you will not get to talk to — and tell me you won’t start to develop some “issues” with authority.

I am coming up on my fifth parole review in the next 60 days or so. The time I spent in my first four totaled less than 10-12 minutes combined.  In those four parole reviews, I have seen three different parole officers. (And I hear we have a new one this year.) I am not holding my breath this time around, either.

Yes that is the sound of my hope dying, a little every year.

Kevin Cockman is serving 20 years in Texas for Burglary.

We send your comments to our authors, but if you’d like to contact Kevin directly, please write to:

Kevin Cockman #1609934

Neal Unit

9055 Spur 591

Amarillo, TX 79107-9696