Nothing has been altered. No names have been changed. No one has been protected. These are real-life stories from real-life gangsters.
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YOU WEAR TWO HATS
The judge said two years. I sentence you to no more than two years in the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. I just stood at attention like a four star general about to receive his fifth star. The court deputy placed me in handcuffs and led me away through the back door of the courtroom to an awaiting jail cell.
They made me place my hands on a pair of painted hands on the wall and started to strip me of all my personal property: belt, earrings, money etc., placing them into plastic bags. The deputy asked me, "Were you in the service?" I answered, "No, just a battle hardened gang leader who's always cocked and loaded."
He led me down to a hallway through a gauntlet of court tanks that were filled with prisoners who all ran up to their bullet proof glass windows to get a better look at me.
Keep in mind I'm a 27 year gang bang vet, a one in a million street nigga aka gangster. They all saluted me with a simple head nod as I walked by each holding cell. I was 'geed' up, headed to a stairwell that would lead me to booking to begin the process to receive me back into the jail system and from there off to prison. I was out on a $250,000.00 bail and was relieved to start my time.
The process to receive me was the same as an arrest. They took me down 3 flights of stairs that lead me to the carport located underground from the court house. Here prisoners are received by police cars or transport bus and taken into the jail.
Going through a locked steel door for a booking photo and mug shot, then up to a window where I was asked if I felt suicidal and who to contact in case of my death. Again, I was patted down once more and placed in a phone tank with a blue I.D. bracelet with a booking number and digital photo of me printed on it.
In the phone tank is where you will get your last and only free phone call. Keep in mind 5 minutes ago I was a free man. Anyway, next came fingerprints, getting fitted for jailhouse clothes, and then off to be cleared by medical with a chest x-ray and T.B. shot.
"Grover, do you know what you're here for?", "Yes, I was sentenced to two years in state prison." One more stop classification then housing. Here they ask of your gang history like Blood or Crip if you ever been to prison before and if you have any enemies. Then and only then you will be assigned a housing unit. "Grover, you're going to tank 5, on the 5th floor with the rest of the most violent criminals and gang members."
I stayed on the 5th floor for three days, only because I requested to see the criminal psychologist, due to the fact that I felt the need to get help in containing my criminal habits. I do what I think and how I feel more so today than I did as a young gangster.
The criminal psychologist told me that she would be no help to me because she could only help people with mental health problems. However, she said, "I was very mature with the way I handle myself to ask for help."
She said, "Sorry, your problem comes from your childhood." She asked "Did you kill animals as a kid?" I replied, yes, with my 22 caliber pellet gun and the high speed chases on my motorcycle with the police.
These acts opened the door for a life of crime. Yes, I understand a fine tuned gangster from the streets. Ok, so I'm cleared to be transferred to prison on the next bus. Court Monday, prison Wednesday.
Awaken at 3:00am Wednesday morning with a Grover you're going to prison. Roll up was good news to me over my cell intercom. With no property to pack, I just brushed my teeth, took a piss and with mattress in hand I hit the intercom and my cell door was propped open. Off to the main gate I went. By day break I'll be on a bus to Donovan State Prison. When a prisoner is sentenced to state prison his first stop will be a reception center. A reception center is where you receive your state prison number. If you are on parole then you will be reprocessed with the same prison number that you were paroled with. At the reception center you will be assigned a counselor, who will work your case or file.
The counselor will review your case and place you in a prison according to the case and the crime you committed. In California there are 36 prisons from level 1 to 4. You won't just be placed in any prison you will be placed in a prison where the prisoners think and do similar criminal acts as you.
In prison there is a point system that will help the counselor place you. For example, a murderer will receive high points and will most likely be sent to a level 4; a thief on the other hand will receive low points, placing him in a lower level prison.
Also, the way you spend your time in jail is a factor; as to say, no fights low points. One or more fights and the points will follow you to a higher level prison.
Being in a gang will also send your points up.
Needless to say, all your actions both on the streets and in jail will be placed in your prison file for your counselor to review. In the holding cell for Donovan transfers it was only six prisoners some with big time and some with not much time at all. We all waited for the rest of the prisoners to be gathered up throughout the jail.
Then we were shacked up in pairs of two and it's off to the awaiting bus for transport to prison, which is only a 35 minute ride from downtown San Diego. We had one stop and that was to pick up prisoners at George Bailey Detention Facility.
George Bailey is only about 500 yards from Donovan. Now the transport bus is full. The sun was coming up from the east. Down one hill at the top of the next and we're there, pulling up to the main gate at the level 4 reception center at Richard J. Donovan State Prison, stepping out of the transport bus two at a time.
A line of correction officers led us on a path straight into cell block 16. We were placed up against a wall in the cell block and ordered to take off our county blues. County "Blues" are the jail's issued clothes you are given upon entering the county jail. At this point, I was asked for my shirt, pants, and shoe size, given a new fit, which was orange and black, with size 9 slip on shoes. It was now 7:00am.
An orange prison jumpsuit meant you are a fresh body on the line.
Next I was sent to a height bar and a picture was taken of me for my prison I.D. card and a new prison number AE 3972. You must keep this card on you at all times.
Move it down the line, it's a lot more prisoners behind you. Next I picked up a cup that had a short toothbrush and powder toothpaste in it. It also had a roll of toilet paper, bed roll with a blanket, sheets and towel, all brand new.
After that I was placed in one of three fenced in enclosure that contained black prisoners only. Next to it was a cage of all Mexicans, and the whites had theirs. We waited here to be cleared of any medical problems, along with an interview with a sergeant.
The sergeant asked if I had any enemies, prison escapes, fights with correctional officers or ever been caught with a prison made knife. I responded, "No, No, No." "Have you been to prison before?" "Yes!" "What number?" "D04496!" One more stop, dental.
"Grover, all your teeth are fine, you're also cleared to be housed." "What do you prefer, Bloods or Crip?" "Crips only thank you!" I was placed in a cell with a non-affiliate in cell block 16, cell 113 lower bunk. My cell was hotter than fuck. I stripped down to cool off and made myself at home.
Things seem to have quieted down for me, until I heard a gangster yell out. "Nigga, this is West Coast Crip." "Cuz I'll beat your ass nigga!" "Say something ... what nigga?" Looking out my cell door slot, I saw a gangster from the West Coast standing in the doorway of a cell he was to be housed in. The cell was preoccupied by a blood gang member that just stood inside the cell. The gang member doing the yelling was a gangster named, Bully from the West Coast. He took his shirt off and said, "I'll beat yo ass, cuz." The gangster in the cell said nothing; he just stood there in fear. A correctional officer was only 15 feet away, but said and did nothing. Only after 2 or 3 minutes he split them up and took Bully to the other side of the cell block and placed him in cell 150, the last in the cell block.
As Bully was led away he kept saying, "I'm going to fuck you up on the yard." Before Bully went off on this gangster, he kept yelling to a gang member from Long Beach, "Fuck Long Beach, fuck Long Beach cuz."
Bully had york's and West Coast tattooed across his back in 4 inch block letters. This combined with a rock solid jaw made him live up to his name. This would not be the last time I see this gangster. Chow time: fed in my cell; I ate; and off to sleep.
The next day I awoke to a nice breakfast. "Shit on a Shingle." This was ground beef and gravy with two slices of bread, oatmeal, a pack of coffee, carton of milk and a bag lunch for noon.
After I ate, my cell door popped open and the guard from the control tower said over the loudspeaker, "Push your tray out."
I did as I was told. I opened my bag lunch to view its contents: four pieces of bread, a pack of peanut butter and jelly, one orange, sunflower seeds and some Jim Jones juices that you had to add water to.
Not too well rested from the transfer the day before, I heard "Grover, roll up!" "You're going to cell block 18. Pack up your shit!" a guard yelled to me as I sat on my bunk in this hot ass cell. It was pitch dark with no sunlight coming in or going out. With all my property packed up in a pillowcase, I just waited for the guard to return.
He yelled out to the control tower, "Steel 113 open." This means open cell 113.
I stepped out my cell and was placed in a line with other prisoners who were also being moved to a new cell block. We were headed to cell block 18 on the same yard. It was 8:00am, but very hot. The sun felt good on my bald head. I was last in line with my pillow case in hand packed up with all my belongings inside.CHAPTER 2
CELL BLOCK 18
We exited the Westside of cell block 16 through the main entrance and on to the facilities four reception centers' yard. Prisoners were at all points of the yard under the watchful eyes of correctional officers and guards who were standing in designated areas for the best overview of everyone outside.
Prisoners were playing basketball and handball, doing chin ups and dips on the dip bar. Some were just walking the track for general exercise. Each race had their own private space or table for comfort.
You can tell the blacks table because when they braid their hair and clean out their combs the dead hair would blow away in the wind only to be caught up in the dead dry vegetation that lined the yard.
It looks like black cotton. Fresh bodies on the line, move out the way.
At this point, I felt good taking my time as I made my way to cell block 18. We entered the cell block under the watchful eyes of the gunman who was standing over us with a block gun in his hands. A block gun is a gun that shoots wooden blocks. It looks like a hand grenade launcher.
The gunman was looking out of a window like a cuckoo on a cuckoo clock above the main entrance that led into the cell block. We entered the building.
Cell block 18, the prisoners call it the Thunder Doom. It's an all concrete building about 40 feet in height. It was built for 200 prisoners max, but due to the overcrowding 100 day room floor sleepers were added. They sleep in the day room under the TV.
The day room has no walls and sits in front of your cell. There are two TVs: one on the Eastside of the cell block, and one on the Westside of the cell block. It has eight 3 feet round mirrors, each one hangs down from the ceiling and gives the gunman a full view of all blind spots. There are 100 two-man cells that house 200 prisoners. Your name is printed on a sheet of paper above your cell door. If you're white, your name is printed on a white sheet of paper. If you're Mexican, it's on a green sheet of paper, and if you're black, it's on a light blue sheet of paper.
There are five tables on each side, five on the East and five on the Westside of the cell block. At a desk in front of the entry door is three guards who run the cell block. It has four staircases that lead to the 2nd tier.
One on the west end two in the center and a fourth on the east end. It has two fans overhead of the floor sleepers, six showers, and a gunman control booth with a blue light beacon. In the center of the gun tower on the outside wall, painted in red letters are the words, "No Warning Shots", "No Tiro De Aviso", in both Spanish and English.
Walking down a long corridor that looks like the entrance to a gladiator ring, we were met by the prison guards two sitting in chairs with one on the edge of a desk. They were on the opposite side of a yellow out of bounds line painted on the floor. We had to show each one our prison I.D. cards as we came in one by one, each of us was assigned a cell.
The cell block had 200 cells, 100 on the 1st tier and 100 on the 2nd tier with 100 dayroom sleepers. A dayroom sleeper is a prisoner who is housed in the day room. 50 on each side of the cell block. They have two 50 inch flat screen TVs placed on the walls out of reach.
After waiting just a few short minutes, I was sent to cell 118 assigned to the lower bunk. As I made my way to my cell, a gangster homie I met in George Bailey Detention came up to me. It was Blue Light; Blue Light was from the West Coast. With his hands open for a handshake he said, "What's up D-Man?"
I replied, "What's up homie; they got me on a new case." He said he was the cell block porter and if I needed anything, just ask. Cool! It was time to receive payback for all the soup, cookies, chips, and game I gave him when we were in 6B at George Bailey Detention. Another thing is C.O.s wear green uniforms and guards wear black combat gear that looks like SWAT officers; both perform the same duties and tasks. Cell 118 is on B side, as in A, B, C. With my pillow case in hand, I started to make my way to my cell. "I'll get at you later Blue Light, I won't be going anywhere." Standing in front of my cell, I could see my soon to be cell mate movements through the 4 inch glass slot on the cell door. "Pop 118 steel." The doors slid open and I stepped in. "What's up homie? I'm D-Man from Bloccide Crips."
My cell mate introduced himself as Dee from Oceanside. I asked if he banged and he said, "No." Anyway, if he did, he would be a Crip, because all gangsters from Oceanside are Crips. Nevertheless, I was glad he had no affiliation in his back ground. He said he was about money and was on an 18 year ticket for armed robbery.
Gangsters that do time for robbery always make good cell mates; they don't like to bring any unwanted attention to themselves. Before I could set down my property, a voice came through my air vent. "D-Man, what's up nigga? What the fuck are you doing in prison?" "You're the last nigga I thought I would see."
I said, "Who is that?" It's me Stixs, from the Blocc. Stixs was a gangster who sold dope from one hood to the next. He claimed Eastside Piru but mostly hung out in Encanto on 61st street. Often I would see him in my hood buying dope to smoke and from time to time sell for the homeboys from Bloccide. They called him Stixs because he looked like a bag of sticks.
Anyway, the nigga was a Gee at banging and knew every gangster that arrived at the facility four yard. Nevertheless, he was a cool nigga and kind of close with my son Baby Stinky from the Blocc. I always kept my eyes on this nigga, but never found a reason to run him off ... with bullets, of course. When gangsters would walk the yard that I didn't know, I would go to Stixs and ask him, "Who is that nigga?" and he would put me up on whomever it was. "D-Man, I look different don't I?" "Yeah, nigga." Like you just did 500 push-ups just to come out and take a shower. What the fuck did he ask that for? I yelled back through the air vent, Stixs, I'll get at you later.
I'm still introducing myself to my cell mate. Besides, I don't like to holler from my cell door or air vent to other niggas; it makes me say stupid shit just to get away. Nigga I'll talk to you on the yard.
I only was at Donovan for one day. The cells in cell block 18 are the same as the cells in cell block 16 two-man cells; both the walls and floor are cement. With a steel bed welded to the wall. It has a steel desk and stool that's welded on the wall as well ... It faces a 4 inch by 3 feet bulletproof glass window that looks out toward Tijuana Mexico to the south and the prison parking.
With this view I can see all the prison visitors as they arrive. I can also see the number #26 gun tower in full it sits about 50 feet from my cell. The mattress on my bed is very thin, I sleep in pain. My toilet is steel and on top of it sits my sink. I'm housed with only violent felonious offenders aka gang members. Nevertheless, this is where I will be staying till I see my counselor. It should take about three months.
My counselor will give me my release date and let me know what prison I will be sent to. That will be later but for now I strip down to my underwear and socks only, fold up my clothes and place them in my steel locker. I laid down and tried to catch a nap before the evening dinner came. With the sunlight coming in my window, I feel good, strong and worry free of my stay at Donovan State Prison.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Fighting for Your Life Inside"
Copyright © 2018 Derek Grover.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 VYOU WEAR TWO HATS, 1,
2 CELL BLOCK 18, 10,
3 COCK AND LOADED, 20,
4 DAYS TURN TO WEEKS, 30,
5 MOST OF THEM BLOODS, 39,
6 THIRD DRAW CANTEEN, 52,
7 FUCK THIS TRAY, 68,
8 RAIDERS VS CHARGERS, 81,
9 THE TRANSFER, 91,
10 ARE YOU FROM SKYLINE?, 99,
11 MAGNOLIA HALL, 114,
12 A TURNING POINT, 125,
13 THE LAND OF CAN'T, 133,
14 DOMINATE AND HUMILIATE, 146,
15 FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, 156,
16 THE BODY SEARCH BEGAN, 163,
17 A SUNNY SPRING DAY, 175,
18 ANY SIGNS OF BLOOD, 189,