Man In Prison For Over 40 Years Reacts To Modern Day Society


This is Otis Johnson. He went to jail in 1975 at the age of 25 for the assault and attempted murder of a police officer. It’s impossible to determine what the true circumstances were that lead to his arrest and eventual imprisonment, but one thing is for certain — police brutality in 1975 was, by all accounts, much worse than it is today, especially against African Americans. Back then a fair trial was unheard of and you were at a significant disadvantage if you were black.

That being said, a lot of people who come out of prison say that it has helped them — that they made the best of their situations, went through some personal growth, and really educated themselves in various fields — but there is a dark side to this industry as well. And yes, it is an industry, and I will touch on this later in the article.

What struck me the most about this particular video was his reaction to just how fast we’ve advanced technologically. It blew his mind to see videos on windows, and he compared people talking on their phones with an earpiece to everybody being a CIA agent.

The human race has made tremendous leaps technologically, and we are moving very fast, but whether this is good or bad is up for debate, since we use most of that potential for harmful action, like war. It’s interesting to see how someone who has missed out on (what some would call) advancement perceives the world today. It makes me think about how one would react if they were able to see what goes on in the black budget world. If the NSA was using operating computers with a processing clock-speed of roughly 650 megahertz in the 1960’s, what do they have today? Interesting to think about…

“It ain’t a secret don’t conceal the facts the penitentiaries packed, and it’s filled with blacks.” – Tupac Shakur from his song “Changes.”

The police brutality of that era usually occurred in the ghettos of America. There was no shortage of murders and race crimes, and a lot of survivors from these ghettos describe them like war zones. Death, starvation, drugs, lack of food and water — all of these and more were daily hardships people faced. And no, this is not an exaggeration. Something that’s not really considered is that corporate America perpetuated this. There is a great scene from the movie Boyz In The Hood where one of the lead roles asks the youth to think, “Why is it that there’s a gun shop in every corner of this community?” He was referring to the ghettos of Compton, California.

“Trigger Happy M***** F****** shooting and killing at will and get suspended for a week with no skrill that s**** is ill. They shot lil devin in cold blood, and left him stinkin in that automobile they showed him no love.” – Anthony Henderson AKA ‘Krayzie Bone,’ from his song “Crooked Cops

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the the information presented to us in mainstream media is tailored to cast police officers in a very negative light. There are a number of good cops out there doing their jobs, and doing them well, actually protecting and serving people and risking their lives in the process.

Tupac Skakur referred to intelligence agencies as the biggest gangs in America, and the truth is, these are the agencies that were responsible for the creation of these ghettos in the first place.  They brought drugs into these communities and perpetuated violence through the promotion of racism and more. They helped paint a picture of what it is to be black, creating harmful stereotypes that still linger today. This is no different from the mass medicinal experiments that are constantly being performed in African communities, or the experimentation that occurred on Canada’s first nations population during the residential school tragedies. The list goes on and on.

The America’s Wicked Prison. This is NOT Rehabilitation. It’s Enslavement.

I’ve always wanted to write an article discussing our prison system. If you want to help someone, if you want to rehabilitate someone, you don’t lock them up for 24 hours a day, for years on end, in order to do it. Is this really rehabilitation? We all know what happens in prison. We all know that the prison population is predominately black, and we all know that countless African Americans have been put away to serve lengthy sentences for minor crimes. And their voices are unheard. There are children and men in there who have been locked up for more than a decade…  for stealing. Is that really rehabilitation? Solitary confinement, commonly used in prison, is a form of punishment that is regarded as torture (and should be). The Center For Constitutional Rights states:

Researchers have demonstrated that prolonged solitary confinement causes a persistent and heightened state of anxiety and nervousness, headaches, insomnia, lethargy or chronic tiredness, nightmares, heart palpitations, and fear of impending nervous breakdowns. Other documented effects include obsessive ruminations, confused thought processes, an oversensitivity to stimuli, irrational anger, social withdrawal, hallucinations, violent fantasies, emotional flatness, mood swings, chronic depression, feelings of overall deterioration, as well as suicidal ideation. (source)

What about the stale food that’s often served in prison? This has happened many times, and probably far more often than we realize. For example, in April of 2008, approximately 300 prisoners at Florida’s Santa Rosa Correctional Institution became sick after eating chili. Here is an example of what these people are forced to eat.

Many prisoners are also forced to work real jobs for private corporations, forcing down wages.

Here is something that’s probably not thought of when it comes to prison from a very informative article titled “The Prison Industry In The United States: Big Business Or A New Form Of Slavery?

“ ‘The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,’ says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being ‘an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.’ “

Human rights organizations have long pointed to this fact. The prison labor system has its roots in slavery.

Prison is clearly the last place you want to put someone if you want to help them change.

Something Else Needs To Happen

Prison is full of amazing individuals with incredible hearts. The majority of these people are good, and we have absolutely no right to judge them. Crime is not a racial issue, it is a socioeconomic one, and we need to start treating the root causes of this issue. Prison has become a whole system of judgement that punishes mistakes instead of addressing the internal issues that lead individuals to making them.  Sure, there are extreme cases, and there are people guilty of horrible atrocities, but a large portion of the prison population is completely normal and sane. Even those who have committed murder have no right to be judged by us, and these are the people who are in need of the most love, care, and nourishment, not confinement and punishment. Punishment and judgement is not the answer, and neither are harsh conditions, terrible food, and lockdown. Regardless of the crime, these are still human beings and they can still be reached. Most often it is the ones who are hurting, who have taken on extreme pain in their hearts, that act out in these ways.

Prison as we know it has nothing to do with rehabilitation. It has become driven by profit and corrupted by racism. At the end of the day, we have to look at our environment and what factors are contributing to these massive spikes in prison populations. We have to be willing to look at those who have done ‘wrong’ with a loving heart. We have to show them that we care, and we have to show them that we want to help and are here to listen. Our approach to rehabilitation today does nothing but perpetuate hate and violence. I do not understand how anybody can call this system one of rehabilitation; it is nothing short of a major human rights violation, and the people in there, well… their voices remain unheard.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, many inmates have expressed that prison has been a big help, but there remain so many individuals who’s sentences are far too harsh for their crimes.

Thanks for reading.