The following was written by Chris Yingling, reflecting upon the three years he spent in California State Prison, Corcoran’s Security Housing unit from 1994 to 1996. He was subsequently transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison “when the Feds set up shop at Corcoran because of the gladiator fights.” The “gladiator fights” were the subject of federal investigation following widespread reports of prison guards setting up fights between rival prisoners, fights that Yingling reports he was a part of. He reports lingering psychological difficulties resulting from his time in the California prison system. “I suffer depression, and harbor some serious resentments toward our corrections system. I have rage. Every once in awhile ill come to tears over the way humans treat each other,” he says.
Yingling contacted Solitary Watch after reading an article about the 2011 suicide of Pelican Bay administrative segregation inmate Alex Machado. Yingling and Machado had met each other in the California Youth Authority in the late 1980s. He told Solitary Watch, “I read this article just prior to reading my kids a bedtime story and it brought it all back. I know more stuff about Alex that I saw that no human should have to endure much less a 15 year old kid. He did not have an easy life. May god rest his soul. I will remember Alex. I am no longer in chains.” –Sal Rodriguez
In white jumpsuits chained in groups of four
they pulled our bus onto the yard
made to face a concrete wall
two gunners and many a guard
10 toes, your chin and chest
keep upon that wall
unlock your knees it’s a 105 degrees
if one goes down you all fall
welcome to the SHU this is hell
you committed a crime in CDC
don’t fuck around we’ll put a bullet in you
In a very short time you will see.
What is your name? Why are you in the shu?
I caused Great bodily injury in a riot.
He slammed my face against the wall
The rest of the line still and quiet.
One man was pulled right off the chain
He was surrounded and beaten a long time
Great bodily injury caused by the cops
Apparently isn’t a crime
they removed the waist chain choking me with a stick
the cuffs bit into my hand
they pulled my jumpsuit around my knees
“now do you think you’re a man?”
What I experienced for the next 3 years
Made me wish I could die
Although physically I left in one piece
Parts of my mind did not survive.
Men were shot, men were stabbed
Some guys lost their minds
We had to fight while they shot at us
Hit with baton rounds eleven times.
I’m not trying to whine not trying to cry
Because my life is so much different today
I was 21 years old when I stood on that wall
It seems like a lifetime away
Not trying to act tough or exaggerate the facts
Just wanna get out what’s inside
I was only a kid trying to get through
They made me hate and hurt my pride
There’s a huge system right in societies face
That is just another criminal enterprise
I understand these people did bad things
My own part I now see and realize.
These are our brothers and these are our sons
prejudice and mistreatment is not an answer
our society doesn’t just doesn’t have a cold
we got mother fuckin cancer!
So I lean toward the left in my political views
Because I saw too damn much of “the right”
Biases interfere with things of this nature
If you think that I’m biased you’re right.