Rafael Le Croixs Prison Wisdom

Damn, we African-Americans already go to prison far more than any other race. It's about to get worse. Even though the state's general population is leveling off and Da Gov is facing a $35 billion budget deficit, he says he's still gonna build more prisons. Ain't no secret why: the prison guards' union has given him $3 million. So besides saying he ain't gonna follow the lead of Illinois Governor George Ryan, who just commuted the sentences of 167 death-row prisoners, Gray Davis wants to expand our death row and stuff even more young brothers into new cells.

Since many of you will soon be making your first trips down, you fishes got to get schooled on how to survive the life. Follow these tips, collect your Department of Corrections points (1 day off your sentence for every 2 good days served), and you'll find your bid ain't no thing:

•Who you first run with determines who the brass and the bulls think you are. It's best to keep to yourself and avoid gangs. You can get time tacked on just for being associated with them.

•Avoid any wolf who offers to "take you under his wing." He's a booty bandit, and once he becomes your Daddy, you'll have a rep in here as a pole smoker. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

•Don't take nothing on credit. You'll be pimped out, beat up or shanked. Permanently shanked.

•Don't start no fights, but if drawn into one, you gotta be a hog and fight hard. But don't win: survive long enough for the bulls to break it up.

•If you don't want to get raped, spend as much time in your cell and as little time in common areas such as the yard as possible. If you are raped, you must kill the attacker immediately—or your rep as a pillow biter will follow you from prison to prison, just like your priors.

•Stay physically fit, but dribbling ain't gonna get you nowhere. Hit the iron pile. And stay away from hootch, squares, tit, bud and mud.

•Hold onto family relationships, which is extremely difficult because—after slavery—the penal system has been the most powerful force White America has used to destroy the Black family.

•Don't watch too much TV; it'll rot your brain and distort your self-concept with its endless parade of White intellect, beauty and peckerwood superheroes.

•Manage your time. Learn to rise early, stick to daily schedules and set goals. Knowledge is power, and getting a free education courtesy of the Man is the best way to beat the system.

—Matt Coker>

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