Christmas, season of love, rebirth and of forgiveness, but what does the season hold and brings for men, women and children locked up away from the rest of humanity?
Christmas like every other religious celebrations tend to have a different hype and type of meaning to prisoners; reflections on several Christmas spent and more to come, joyous/spirited attitude of gratitude for surviving till that moment (anything fatal can happen in Prison at anytime, most #PrisonViolence occurs when guard is let loose), and for many, Christmas is the moment of lamentation, especially the newly arrived jailbird; welcome to The Joint, The Slammer, The jungle, also known as The Belly Of The Beast!
But one thing I know; sooner or later, as they are hauled in and with fresh money, they can always have a very merrily and jolly Christmas in Prison.
Hauled in, sometimes and most times without charges, which might never come or if ever it comes after three years behind bars, one has to adapt and adopt to the life on the inside. #NWO
Life inside prison is one of a personal or individual choice, despite our unwritten rules of engagement, every prisoner decides what and how he will spend his prison time during his incarceration. Sometimes, forces beyond one’s control could impact your would-be decision and therefore influence your decision on how to spent your precious prison time 😉 . Lucky to have a cell, some cells got laws that are more stricter than those of the prison and pavilion – curfew; when the cells are locked, no visitations from #PrisonBuddy 😉 and hygienic laws that every cell members must adhere to. Then you must adhere to such laws, there are also unwritten rules of engagement in some cells; in and they see you as weak, they prey on you. Then you have to adapt and adopt.
Christmas, celebrated by christian and non-christians in disguise ;), In prison, with or without permission from the authorities, prisoners tend to make the best use of their #ChristmasTime like they do with their #PrisonTime; well dressed, good food, well rolled joints, incessantly flow of liquids (mostly prison-brew lethal liquor or #moonshine) , enough white lines to snort, and food from outside and those cooked within the pavilions?
No matter how hard it’s been all year round, by december and specifically on 24th, the prison’s kitchen will be emptied and everything sold out to those with cash 😉 makes one’s Christmas a true Merry Christmas – but, only if you have money to shop whatever comes around the passages. The locals get more busy on the run up to Christmas as money is needed to support families outside; thus, lots of ‘wheeling n dealinng’, both on legal and illegals substances 😉
Business amongst prisoners, and between prisoners and wardens or cops thrives most in december as everyone need money to make good of their promises to their kids, missus or mistresses 😉 – sidekicks – sidechicks.
Deal are struck; unwritten, nonverbal, but understood by all parties – live and let live! No knifing, gunshots, fights and bloodletting – we will let you guys be in peace and no disturbance. But then, with an overcrowding population of 630 prisoners in a building built for 216, tension will not end, even the cops don’t need fights or gunshots to keep them on the edge, the overcrowded population is enough to give the ones in the towers sleepless nights – they shouldn’t even be sleeping as they are meant to watch out for #PrisonBreakPanama 😉
For me, another Christmas means, I’m rounding up another year behind bars. Quite a long journey, which seemly look like it had no end, but deep within me, I know there’s an end to this one long journey. An end that might want to look gloomily, but the strength incurred from hard knock experience in the institution is enough for me to walk out and turn things around. And the end is around the corner 😉 . For me, it’s not the end, but the beginning of a new phase in my life; one that has gotten my hands on the plough and not looking back, when I will ever look back, will be to take stock of how well I’m doing after time behind bars.
Christmas, the season of good tidying and peace. Inside in prison and outside in the world, doesn’t look like that; it’s war and fighting over meaningless ideology. It beggars belief how prisoners are also caught up in this ideology thing; different #PrisonGangs with different belief, prisoners who professed to be Christians with contradictory beliefs, fighting over what they friggin believe and forgetting that they all have one thing in common; they are all friggin condemned crooks 😉 – crooks with Bibles and knives!
Lines drawn, every inmate knows his boundary, not to step over those invisible lines of prison gangs war; that’s how many survive what they believe awaits them after stepping on toes before incarceration.
Christmas tend to lighten the hearts of even the most hardened ones amongst us. Even enemies or frenemies tend to look on the other side if they meet on a prison ball; that we do have on regular basis, never any reason to drink and celebrate life or rather our misfortunes. Then, everything is done cautiously, as this is prison were beef, turf wars rages and control for market share can cause one his life.
The richer ones will spend and show off; apparently, prison ought to be where all is reduced to equals, but not here, where money does brings and make some differences. Money can get you the best and state of the art cells and bunks, latest telephones or any electronic gadgets, can even buy you warming belt to lose your love handles without moving a muscles 😉 – friggin lazy men! Money can also buy you foot soldiers, back up security (standby soldiers and weapons of warfare) .
Most importantly, Christmas is when every inmate knows he’s clocked another year in the slammer, and he’s either looking forward to his release date or to more time for those just hauled in before the D-Day and many will be coming in on the days before Christmas. Due to our overcrowded conditions in the pavilion and in the prison, all newbies are been sent to the new prison. For sometime now, I haven’t seen any new face amongst us, still doesn’t make any difference as most faces still look new to me; in a sea of over 600 faces, hard to keep everyone looks. Those that train in the gym and some old inmates are those I know personally.
It’s 12:42:31 PM on zo 20 dec. 2015 – exactly five days before Christmas and four days before when they pavilion is always set ablaze; Latin Americans unlike Europeans celebrate 24th like they are bringing down the heavens. In all my six years behind bars, 24th December is celebrated with ‘pomp and pageantry’; properly dressed and good food, either from outside or cooked inside the prison.
Since the 1st of December, it’s been fiesta after fiesta; booze, joints and white lines all consumed in super large quantities unlike any other time throughout the year.
With time we have perfected on ways of surviving and living life larger than what prison dictates; we can make our beers, more ovens churning out breads, cakes and other pastries, more frying and even the occasional barbecue of assorted meats 😉
Our distilleries are still on, making batches after batches of our potent-lethal liquor; I was the only one who distilled, infusing flavours of fruits and spices to create and give different taste to the bland liquor, but the lads weren’t keen about drinking liquor with flavours, so I stopped and stick to brewing fruits wine or #moonshine. For the first time in many years, I used raisins to brew and it came out as a bomb, hitting the lads right in the spot- within 24 hours I was sold out; they bought everything I had. Nothing left for us in the cell; had to prepare new batches, wouldn’t be ready before 24th, but will be good as gold before 31st night; another night of rumble in the pavilion.
For sure this will be our last Christmas in the pavilion as the authorities are bent on emptying the pavilion for renovation; sending everyone to the dreaded new prison; Mega Prison!
The news of that transfer doesn’t stop the lads from living their lives as they have always done; life itself goes on. From intel coming from the new prison; things might a bit harder, but life continues as inmates and corrupt officials still get about their #PrisonBiz; helping each others meet their desired needs – one good turn deserves another 😉
It’s likely this will be our last Christmas spent in this depleted pavilion. And for many of us, it might be the last in Panama’s prison as many will be going on repatriation to their different countries and other released after many Christmas and birthdays behind bars. Hope, they don’t come back as others have done; couldn’t last a while on the outside before being hauled back in.
Few days before my 6th year and 7th Christmas on the inside; gone fast, but not furiously as I lived and still doing my time with good faith and hoping for the best. Actually one of my best as I generated enough cash from sales of my skillfully brew moonshine 😉 , many are dying to get my recipes, ain’t sharing; the magic lies on knowing what goes into the concoction, something the lads don’t know. And they won’t know as they don’t read ;-). The internet has been of great help with my research for the best and knockout brew of #moonshine – full of recipes ;-), one can literally brew with anything; fruits and vegetables 😉
We will enjoy the last of it as the curtain is drawn on us; sooner or later, pavilion 6 will be history, but before then, the lads are going down or out with a bang. Meanwhile, sending us foreigners away will be a big blow to prison business as the locals depended on our buying power to generate #PrisonIncome for their families who depend on them for survival; crazy world, that prisoners are the ones supporting families outside – they are just sheer lazy people 😉
Year 2015; the prison has seen a bit of notoriety from our pavilion – two serious #PrisonBreak that made news, which got the president talking, few made it to their #LongWalkToFreedom, others were recaptured and hauled back in to continue from where they took a pause, what awaits them, no-one knows, but they are sure enjoying their time.
Yuletide, season of joy and could be a time for rebirth for many prisoners; but many always get too sober that they made a act of it, resolutions made and broken right on the 1st of January ;-). Despite the joyous atmosphere, as prisoners and soldiers as many call themselves, we are always on guard of the known and unknown enemies and mostly against unforeseeable circumstances which tends to befall many prisoners.
Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. – Harriet Beecher Stowe
Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. – Earl Nightingale