Providing sufficient yard time for inmates is important for their mental and physical health. For most inmates, this is the time when they can get out of their 9 by 6 foot housing units and spend a few hours outside the sun. Unfortunately, several factors affect who get the most time and who doesn’t.
The question that you probably want to know is: what are the politics within the recreational yard?
Time of Release
As satisfying as it sounds to be able to spend time in the yard where air is fresh, some inmates prefer to stay in their own cells. This is especially true for inmates who are about a few months close to their release. Some offenders envy the fact that a certain inmate is soon to be released so they deliberately start chaos to get someone into trouble.
When an inmate goes out in the yard with about 200 more other prisoners and only a few officers manning the area, there is a high probability of trouble, so it is better to just stay away from trouble as much as possible.
Offenses committed inside the prison.
Knowing what the politics are within the recreational yard can also be associated to the charges committed within the prison. When an inmate attacks another inmate or gets in trouble with an officer, he will most likely not get yard time. If the offense is violent, he will still be given about an hour a day of yard time a few times every week. However, he will most likely not be given time to spend it with other inmates. This is done so that no further trouble can happen.
Prison officers make it a point to ensure the safety of the majority from offenders with maximum security. They avoid having maximum security inmates to interact with others. What they do is they strategically change the location of different offenders depending on their level. For example, they will give yard time to normal inmates while maximum security inmates are eating their meals.
The answer to what are the politics within the recreational yard is heavily determined by the prison gangs. Once all inmates start to get into the yard, the first one will position himself in one location. The other one with a different race will sit in a different spot and the same thing will happen to another inmate. They strategically position themselves according to their gangs. Remember that prison gangs are mostly based on ethnicity.
There will be scouts from each gang who will then report to their leader. All of these offenders seem organized and harmonized but in reality, gang members are sizing each other up. They are getting information regarding which ones are going to attack or which gangs have something to sell.
Prisoners will sometimes instigate fight just to see how prison guards will respond.
The existence of prison gangs requires a strict scheduling of recreational yards usage. Having prison gang members be placed in one area can be a precursor of violence. Normally though, if no one instigates a fight or any trouble, there won’t be any gang riot.
What to do in case of riots
If you find yourself in the middle of a prison yard riot, you really need to be more aware of your surroundings. If you see a couple of the inmates suddenly hit the ground face down and place their hands on their heads, it is best that you do the same. The prison guards will fire rubber bullets on anyone left standing after they tell the rioters to hit the ground. If you’re too confused about what’s happening around you, a volley of rubber bullets hitting your back will jog you back to your senses real quick.
You may not be a racist person when you go into prison, but you will need to adapt to the racially-segregated environment within the correctional facility, especially if you find yourself in a medium or high-security prison.
As mentioned earlier, prison gangs are usually separated by race. The Hispanics gang together, the Blacks do the same, and there are also White Supremacists. If one of these gangs find you socializing with inmates of other races, you can expect a couple of these gangs suddenly coming up to you in the rec yard and “educate” you about your “wrong” ways.
If you find yourself in a correctional facility that has high racial tension, it is best that you learn what are the politics within the recreational yard is all about and do your best to stick to them, even if they go against your morals. If a prison riot breaks out, you should never go against your own race. If you did, the gangs will find out, and they will “reprimand” you for your actions.
Respect begets respect
Even though there’s a saying that there’s “no honor among thieves” it is actually untrue when you find yourself inside prison. There is an unwritten code among inmates, and one of the most sacred is to not snitch on your fellows. Even though it may mean that you will get a couple of brownie points with the prison administrators, and possibly a reduction of your sentence, you should never rag on your fellow inmates.
It may seem immoral in your part, if you see someone smuggling drugs into the prison recreational yard, let them be. If you see someone getting beat up in the one corner of the yard that the CCTV cameras cannot see, don’t be a hero. It may make your stomach turn upside down to witness such atrocities and not do anything about them, but if you want to survive prison, you need to control your impulses because it might lead to you becoming the next victim.
These are just some of the things that you need to know about what goes on inside prison. Once you know what are the politics within the recreational yard are and what it is actually like, you will at least have a fighting chance to serve your sentence without so much as a minor injury.