Sentenced To A Violent Death

by Dish Staff

Daniel Genis, a former inmate, gets real about how going to prison raises your risk of getting murdered, and how little anyone will care if you do:

Obviously, incarceration increases one’s odds of a violent death. Living in a society openly governed by force with those who have demonstrated their familiarity with it increases the danger. There are steps to lower the risk: Don’t join a gang, don’t get high, don’t gamble or owe anyone—all fairly obvious. Also important: don’t join the dating pool or compete for the attention of homosexuals. If the most common reason for jailhouse murder is money, the second is jealousy.

I did 10 years without being scarred; I fought infrequently, only when I had no other option, and mostly in the beginning. Nevertheless, I saw a man die 10 feet from me in my first year.

I knew both killer and victim but not the reason. I knew only that the hit was commissioned; the man who took the contract was a specialist. He had come to prison with a parole date two decades away, but by the time I met him he would have to be Methuselah to ever see a board. With few other options, he became a hitman and killed many times. The victim was himself dangerous, and also the strongest man in the yard. He could lift a concrete table. But he couldn’t stop the shank to his heart. …

I was shown how much the value of my life had shrunk on my very first day in the state system. A notorious sex offender got off the bus with us. After processing in everyone else, the cops took him somewhere for a reminder of their thoughts on “rapos.” He was old, frail and handcuffed; 20 minutes later they had a crime to cover up. Something had gone wrong in that room and the guy was dead. His corpse was quickly re-shackled and returned to the bus. The paperwork was spotless: he had died in transit, the conjunction of a weak heart and long trip. I had nine years ahead of me and plenty of transit. Therefore I decided not to remember anything if anyone came investigating. But no one ever did.