Incarcerated Reflections

Published date01 May 2022
Date01 May 2022
AuthorAndrew Kicking Horse
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2022, Vol. 38(2) 234 –235
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/10439862221096735
Incarcerated Reflections
Andrew Kicking Horse
After over 35 years of incarceration, in some of the most notorious prisons in California,
I can attest to witnessing just about every possible scenario imaginable in a carceral
world. Violence breeds violence within these captive walls and inside these walls lies
a different world than what society assembles its citizens to abide by. An oxymoronic
system of beliefs developed by those subclass of residents condemned to make resi-
dence there. For example, Good is bad, stop means go, empathy is weakness. . .don’t
show your vulnerability or you may very well become another forgotten statistic (vic-
tim) or one who condones violence which is acted upon in-concert by those whose
responsibilities, as well as job obligation is to prevent it.
Prison rape, murder, beat downs, stabbing, and suicides I have viewed over the
decades. The memories of each image stirring emotions inside my mental facilities
birthing trauma that cannot be wiped away, much less forgotten! It becomes the norm,
an accepted mode of survival that soon, all too soon, callouses the heart and decision-
making conscious.
Despite my attempts to remain some level of society, over the years I too have been
the catalyst perpetrating violence on occasion throughout this cycle of incarceration.
Initially, to prove my self-worth or loyalty to my race or to demonstrate my lack of
humanity to others as a means of survival to an attentive audience, “Don’t mess with
that Indian, he’s crazy!” Just one of the many labels placed upon me or hats I placed
upon myself over the years of wanting to be accepted.
Tortured voices singing in the winds that never dissipate yet linger on no matter
where I hang my hat or attempt to evade. It could be Folsom or Calipatria or Solano,
locations soaked and dripping in pious and distorted belief systems, raw violence, and
pure disenchantment with self. When will this nightmare end? Where can I travel to
find peace? How ill I make it would completely losing these final ounces of sanity or
empathy longed for in me.
Once I was in a great program located at a very fine facility. Sure, there were some
problems but all minor in nature and not serious. I was chosen to partake in the only
BA degree program in the State of California’s entire penological history. There were
approximately 40 of us chosen. Many eventually gotten communities from LWOP to
freedom because of the program or because they were housed at Lancaster and worked
in the “Paws for Life” dog program.
I was doing well there. I facilitated several self-help classes, ran Sweat Lodge
Ceremonies, kept a GPA of 3.87 with CSU-LA’s BA degree Program, and I was happy.
1096735CCJXXX10.1177/10439862221096735Journal of Contemporary Criminal JusticeHorse

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