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Mercurial. That is the best word I can think of to describe the nature of memories. They even have a dualistic nature like that of the Roman god, Mercury. Some of my strongest memories are those of places I considered home as a child. We moved around a bit, so the homes of my grandparents and great-grandparents have more solidity in my memories. I remember the layout, where everything was, the atmosphere...and the scents. Scents seem to trigger memories associated with them and solidify them, in my experience.

The scent I associate with April 20, 2013 is that of blood. Coppery, cloying, all-pervasive. A wounded animal scent. The smell of blood is something everyone recognizes on a deep level.

Memories are such mercurial things though. Some memories of 4/20 are so clear, like the look the Vice Lords had on their faces as they realized their brothers on other pods had started fighting. The realization that they would have to fight, too, and how they struggled to work themselves into that frame of mind. Other memories of 4/20 aren't so clear, such as who tried to stab me -whether it was purposefully or mistakenly. We all fought, though. Offensively or defensively. Actively or passively. For an hour and ten minutes we fought for our lives while guards and SORT officers looked on.

As dangerous and deadly as the fighting was, there were still moments that stirred the streak of dark humor in me. When you see grown men throwing TV and microwave parts at each other, using trashcan lids and microwave doors as cannot help but shake your head at the absurdity of it. But it was no laughing matter that Demond Flowers lost his life during all of this.

Back and forth the battle went for over an hour, until there wasn't a place you could step that wasn't splattered with blood. Finally the SORT officers tossed in tear gas canisters -which the prisoners tossed back and forth at each other. Then they came in firing their crowd control guns. At me. I'm guessing I make a good target or something. They herded us into cells and locked the doors. Most likely you will never know what it is like to be locked in a cell with 14 other bruised and bleeding men, covered in mace and pepper spray. I hope you don't. We were alive though, and things could have been much worse.

Since 4/20  I have had time to reflect on what happened, and I want to point some things out. Surviving in prison has a lot to do with being aware of patterns. Humans are creatures of habit. The first tell-tale sign something was amiss that day was that someone in admin had turned off the primary satellite descrambler, so all the TVs showed an error message on the screen. On the West Hall, we found out later that they had let them out, then locked them back down before allowing them back out. On the South Hall they did not let us out of our cells until right at 10:00 A.M.; about an hour later than normal, even by these chaotic standards here. Patterns. The administration at WCCF knew of the potential threat that morning and chose to disregard it.

So now the entire prison conveniently stays on lockdown status until CCA's contract is completed and someone else takes over the responsibility. Business as usual in the world of the prison industrial complex.

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About Me

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Steven Farris is a prisoner who has been incarcerated since a month after his 16th birthday in 1998. Currently serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole, he is seeking to educate the public about the true nature of prison and the widespread and negative effects of the prison industrial complex. Steven has worked with both the National Prison Project of the ACLU, as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in furthering this effort.

You can contact him directly at:
Steven Farris #R5580
P.O. Box 1889
Woodville, MS 39669-1889

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