17 posts by First Watch

Vicarious Joy

Vicarious Joy

It's enough to make me wonder, what if, when one entered prison, the attitude was, what do we need to do to get you home? What if prisons positioned themselves as a place where people who'd committed harmful acts could learn how to relate to society in more healthy ways?…

The Check-In

The Check-In

She seemed troubled, but not overwhelmed by the event. The rest of us in the group however, were devastated. One by one, the men apologized to her.…

Me Time

Me Time

Privacy is an extreme rarity in prison, I literally shower next to other men, eat, stand in line, go to group with other men, and even use the restroom in front of other men on the yard.…

Beneath The Panoptic Gaze

Beneath The Panoptic Gaze

"He is seen, but does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication." -Michel Foucault…

Sharing Freely

Sharing Freely

It disheartens me when I am expected to tell my most traumatic experiences at the drop of a dime just because some "guests" show up. It makes me feel like an "articulate" zoo animal on display.…

Healthy Guilt?

Healthy Guilt?

Today, I am in a healthy place, which is not void of guilt.…

The Case Against Rehabilitation (A Controversial Title, I Know)

The Case Against Rehabilitation (A Controversial Title, I Know)

In a recent post about the population changes at San Quentin, I wrote the line, "rehabilitative programming works," and a friend who is familiar with my thoughts about self-help groups called me on it. So here are my thoughts on the self-help offered here.…

Humor In Prison

Humor In Prison

"I was able to rekindle my relationship with humor and rediscovered my humanity through that." - Adnan Khan…

San Quentin Has Flipped

San Quentin Has Flipped

On any given prison yard, when the powers that be transfer one segment of incarcerated people out, and bring a new group in, we say the yard flipped. And in the last six months, San Quentin has flipped in a way that none of us have ever seen before.…

Anticipation

Anticipation

James King CDCR # V-69030 2–W–10 "They're coming in the morning." No need to ask who. In prison, "they" are the guards, and since we'd been on lockdown for five days at the time, it was also obvious what they were coming to do. Search. I learned very early in my incarceration that I lack the necessary imagination to successfully hide contraband. Early efforts at…

The Gift

The Gift

James King CDCR # V-69030 2–W–10 About a week after my cellie (roommate) turned 69, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations gave him a job working in the kitchen. Kitchen jobs are among the most contentious jobs in prison. On one hand, for incarcerated people who lack financial support, these jobs are an excellent means for them to eat a little more (Each incarcerated person is fed on…

The Concrete Ceiling

The Concrete Ceiling

James King CDCR # V-69030 2–W–10 Disclosure # 1: As an incarcerated writer, I find prison writing that focuses on the "talent" of incarcerated individuals in order to motivate people to support prison reform as short-sighted and demeaning. Disclosure # 2: I am not atcually an incarcerated writer; I am a writer who is currently incarcerated. Disclosure # 3: When asked by a Board of Parole Hearings investigator what type…

Re:vision

Re:vision

CDCR # V-69030 2-W-10 I like to believe that all writing is autobiographical. No matter what the author is writing about, their biases, personality, and interests are evident on the page for all to see if one simply looks closely enough. Take me for example, for the last year, I've been writing about criminal justice, identity, and community. I've explored these topics through Op-Eds, poetry, personal essays, academic writings, and short…

Seizing Opportunities

Seizing Opportunities

By Lawrence Pela #AB-5053 I would like to say I take advantage of every opportunity I have but it’s not true. More often than I’d like, all kinds of different opportunities find themselves slipping through my fingers. Opportunities to be funny, to make more friends, to maximize my time, to tell someone about Jesus, to do something different, and even opportunities to speak out go unfulfilled. Too frequently…

The "Criminal" Justice System

The "Criminal" Justice System

"Criminal" connotes activity. In other words, it says that far after a crime was committed and years and years into their incarceration, people are still active in crime. This further strengthens public fear, a fear that subtly creeps into the safety of people's subconscience.…

US versus THEM

US versus THEM

By Lawrence Pela. How do sensationalized depictions of incarcerated people affect US incarcerated people? Find out.…

"You're So Articulate!"

"You're So Articulate!"

By Adnan Khan. Words matter. What does being articulate mean and why does the reaction come as a surprise when describing people in prison?…