Locked Down for Having Dreadlocks

racism, injustice, prison life, California prison life, poet behind bars

Injustices, large and small, abound in prison. California prison inmate Spoon Jackson, a teacher and poet, is wrongly identified as a gang member and placed on lockdown.

I am on lockdown now just because I have dreads. Yesterday there was a fight on the yard between some crips from down south and some blacks from Bay area up north. So they locked all the blacks down to sort things out. However, instead of taking me off lockdown like they did all other blacks not from this groups, they kept me on lockdown and listed me Bay area, non affiliate, or non gang member. I have never been in the Bay area, 35 years ago I came to prison straight away from Barstow, San Bernardino county in southern California.

I tried to have them fix their known mistake. I am from Barstow and run alone and never have been a gang member. The prison officials, even knowing that as a fact, told me I must file a 2200 appeal form to get off lockdown. They know that will take a while to be processed. Besides, they know I am not from the Bay area and know I am not a gang member.

So today and tomorrow I’ll be deprived of teaching my classes. If someone was coming to visit me I cannot get my visit. How do they get away with such madness unchecked by any outside source.

Of course I will survive this. I hope whoever was coming to visit me didn’t let this madness discourage them. I have never run with any group in prison and administrators know that to be a fact. I wanted to get in as many classes and hang out with as many of my bird friends as I could before I am transferred. So this evil move by prison officials to place me in a box I have no business in has dampened my heart and spirit some. There need to be real oversight on prison officials when they do outlandish and unjustified actions on prisoners. Prisoners just doing their time. It is sad when an administration of prison officials know what the correct thing to do is, and not do it. They know what the honest and real thing to do is, and yet do the wrong.


This was previously published on the Spoon Jackson Realness Network.

Read more: Who Profits From Growing Prison Population?

Image credit: eye of einstein/Flickr

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About Spoon Jackson

Poet/writer/artist/teacher. In prison since 1977. I had two books published in 2010 “Longer Ago Poems by Spoon Jackson” and “By Heart Poetry, Prison, And Two Lives”, a double memoir by Judith Tannenbaum and me. I've been featured in films, plays, articles, books and music suites. I've found my niche in life despite being in prison for over 35 years. I have found that prisons are created internally and are truly found everywhere. I have also discovered that the secrets to break down prison walls are inside each person and I treasure sharing this realness with people. I keep my light glowing through expressing my inner thoughts, vibes and feelings in my poetry and prose writing. Write to me! Address on the blog: Spoon Jackson Realness Network.


  1. For a disturbing view on the use of solitary confinement in american prisons and how flimsy the “evidence” needed to throw someone into solitary confinement (which is classified as torture by the UN) for years at a time (one prisoner have been held in solitary confinement for 42 years) seen through the eyes of Shane Bauer (who was held in solitary confinement in Iran for 26 months) then read this powerful piece: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/solitary-confinement-shane-bauer

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