You could call this place the Shock Capital of the World, because Lakeview is the largest shock incarceration facility on earth. The complex holds about 650 male and female shock participants, 50 miles south of Buffalo in far western New York; bordering near the shores of Lake Erie.
The property is split into two sections, a main campus and an annex. Housing for the inmates is in barracks-style dormitories, with a few prison cells. A 32-cell Special Housing Unit is a short-term lock-up for inmates who break prison rules.
Although fenced off from the rest of the institution, the maximum security section remains on the property, unconnected to the shock program. Its presence here sends a message to the shock inmates, all who are first-timers. The message is that Lakeview Shock is not the whole of the New York state prison system - buildings for maximum-security are on the compound; so think before you abuse any privilege you the Shock section offers.
Raphael took one glimpse around him and got pissed. His irritation came because the court pulled him out of school and shipped him here; to this dump far away from the city. His friends meanwhile and the love of his life, Eve, continued to live normal lives back home. Upon stepping out of the transport van, he suspected he would hate being here. The first person to greet him was a guy about 30 years old dressed in a drab, olive green uniform.
“Get in line boy,” he commanded, “and quit looking around. Your Mommy and Daddy aren’t here to help you. My name is Sergeant Cosworth and you will do everything I say; when I say so. I will take pleasure in crushing you if you decide not to follow my instructions.”
Raphael scurried to get in line with the other ‘inmates’ who arrived with him on the transport. Some black, some white, some male and some female. Each member of the group maintained a certain attitude. One of the older kids in the group, a tall white boy with bulging muscles, jumped out of line, as if to challenge Sergeant Cosworth.
“I got a Black Belt in Karate,” he said smugly. “I doubt at your old age, you can make me do anything. However, I can sure kick your ass if you want.”
“Oh, a tough guy, huh,” the Sergeant shot back. “What’s your name BOY?”
“My name is Ronald Wiseman,” he stated “and you will knock of calling me boy.”
“Wiseman, huh,” Cosworth continued, “how about Wise Ass? Do you like being called Wise Ass better? Well Mr. Wise Ass, why don’t you show me what a trained Black Belt can do. I’m assuming it’s something other than sitting down when you pee.”
Ronald reacted immediately. He contacted grab Cosworth by the neck. In one quick and fluid move, Cosworth moved to the left as his right foot snapped out and kicked Wiseman in the center of his chest. The crowd of inmates watching almost felt the air rush out of Ronald’s lungs as the kick landed.
Cosworth hadn’t finished with him yet. Standing back up in a tripod position, his left leg snapped out and swept both of Wiseman’s legs out from under him. The boy landed on his back. As soon as his bleary vision cleared, he saw Cosworth reach down, grab him by the neck and feet, and lift him up; a full ten inches above the ground.
“I’m going to let you down now BOY,” he advised. “Go ahead and take another shot at me if you like.”
Wiseman might show bravery on the street, but everybody recognized the fear in his eyes. He shook his head and got back into the line without another incident. Sergeant Cosworth stood facing the group; not smiling, but acting very authoritative.
“Does anybody else thinks they want to mouth off to me?” he encouraged. “Now would be the time to step up because today is a light day and I need more of a workout. From now on, your asses belong . Every day forward will be hell unless you get rid of your shit attitudes and follow instructions.”
Everyone stood silent. Cosworth glared up and down the line to make sure everyone understood him and upon confirmation, he directed the group to split up; boys on the left and girls on the right.
He took the time to show the group the proper technique in marching; showing the proper way to make a left turn, a right turn, and a halt. With his lesson completed, he ordered everyone to march, single file to the administration building at the end of the walkway.
“When you get inside the building,” he explained, “you will find two tables marked MALE and FEMALE. Here is where you will be registered. If anyone questions what gender they are, I will strip you down and let the rest of the group decide. Now MARCH ... keep you mouths shut and don’t screw up.”
“Ah ain’t marchin to yo silly shit honky,” stated a young black girl. “You can go fuck yoself.”
Cosgrove immediately slapped her across the face, grabbed her by the back of the neck and slammed her face into the side of the transport. A stream of blood gushed from her face as he tightened his grip on her.”
“I said MARCH, Cosgrove demanded, “and the command means you too bitch. Now get in line before I get pissed.”
Nobody said a word, again. Cosworth clarified things he took no crap from anyone; male or female. The group silently marched as directed and filed into the admin building. Lines of inmates formed in front of the two tables. One by one, they gave their names, addresses, phone numbers and the person to be called if they died.
Raphael freaked out. He assumed they would be strict here, but to imply someone might die? This ran beyond anything he imagined. Something told him this 6 month term might be the worst time of his life.
“Name?” the lady at the desk questioned.
“Raphael Franklin Hernandez,” he answered. “Can I nmake a nphone call?”
“No,” she replied, “Date of birth?”
Raphael answered her questions without further interruption. Upon completion, she handed Raphael an orange jumpsuit and told him to go into the restroom, change and return with his street clothes.
“What about nmy nphone call?” he demanded.
“You get a phone call when you earn a phone call,” she boomed. “Now get in the room and change and don’t give me any more shit.”
Wow! He thought. I know I do definitely not like this place. I might accept the attitude coming from a man, but not from a woman. What’s going to happen now? How can I get out of this? I want my Mommy.
Raphael changed his clothes and returned back to the desk. In a sick way, he thought the Orange Jumpsuit looked kind of cool. He brought his clothes up to the woman at the desk. She put them in a bag and marked his name on the outside. She gave him another jumpsuit and told him his street clothes would be stored until he got out; assuming he would get out. She gave him a tag marked with several numbers.
“This is your barracks and bed number,” she mentioned. “Everyday we do bed checks on the inmates. You need to make your bed every single day and are standing nearby when roll-call is announced. If you are not, or haven’t made your bed, you will be disciplined. If we hunt you down, you will be severely disciplined. Do you understand?”
“Can I nget a nphone call now?” he asked.
“I told you; inmates need to earn phone privileges,” she snapped. “That means you obey all the rules, get good grades in classes and most of all, don’t screw up. Do this, and you may earn a limited time to make calls. Now I will not explain this again. Go to your barracks and someone will join you shortly to tell you what your next assignment is.”
Raphael made his way to the barracks. As cool as the Orange Jumpsuit gave him style, he gladly would trade for home incarceration . He took his life on the outside for granted and this hell-hole rattled his system of reality. More than anything else, he wanted to be in the comfortable setting of his bedroom,
Classes? Nobody told him about classes. How would he replace what lessons he received at The Dalton School? They probably offered no kind of Art classes. From everything he determined initially, classes would be all boys. This really sucks.
The barracks cast a dreary scene. Rows of bunk beds lined the left and right walls. Overheard lights beamed like the sun and the entire room reminded Raphael of a locker room. He went to his designated bed number and found a clean set of linen lying on the mattress. Several bunks held other inmates, but they all slept .
I guess I’m supposed to make my own bed, he thought. He unfolded the sheets and found neither one fit to the bed like at home. He put one of the sheets on the mattress and tucked the corners in and next took care of the other. As he finished, a group of three boys came into the barracks in dirty orange jumpsuits.
“Hey look,” one of them chirped, “new meat.”
“E-ha,” yelped another. “Gonna have some fun tonight.”
“What’s your name convict?” the first boy badgered.
“Raphael ... Raphael Hernandez”
“Jesus,” the boy jested, “exactly what we need; another Rican. You got any money, convict?”
“No,” Raphael asserted. “They took nmy clothes at nthe desk and my nwallet.”
“Not only is he a Rican,” the boy mocked, “but he’s a hairlip too.”
“Fuck you,” Raphael shouted. “At least I’m white, fuck head.”
The boy made a move on Raphael. From his days of roaming the streets with Sammy, Raphael learned how to defend himself; at least a little. He quickly stepped aside, made a 360-degree turn and caught the kid under the chin with the back of his hand. The boy went down, choking all the way. Raphael didn’t let his response end at here. He turned his gaze on the other boy.
“Do nyou nwant some of this?” he stormed.
The second boy stared at his friend lying on the ground gasping for air and shook his head ‘NO’.
“I’m not npleased being here,” Raphael warned. “I won’t ngive anybody any nshit if nthey don’t ngive me any. Make the nchoice to npiss me off and I nwon’t nfeel sorry for nyou.”
“Hey man,” a third kid gulped, “we don’t want any shit. We get enough shit from the bulls. My name is Rick. That’s Casey; the one you clobbered and next to him is Mike. We usually hang together and keep an eye out for one another. You said your name is Raphael?”
Rick approached Raphael and held out his hand. At first, Raphael was distrustful because he thought Rick might try to sucker punch him. Finally, he relaxed and they shook hands.
“Are you afflicted with a speech impediment?” Rick wondered.
“My mom told me I nwould be getting my nmouth fixed,” Raphael admitted, “but now I’m here and not sure when I can go to the doctor. Are you going to mock me anymore?”
“No man,” Rick apologized, “I picked up on it because my sister talks the same way. She has a deviated septum. Kids mock her all the time; at least when I’m not around. What did you do to end up here?”
“I ngot caught shoplifting and I ngot an assault ncharge against me,” he affirmed. “My stupid nmother thought sending me here nwould be a ngood idea. She’s a bitch.”
“We finally finished our daily work detail,” Rick told him. “Since you’re new, they will probably assign you a job tomorrow.”
“You nhave to nwork?” Raphael questioned. “I nthought nwe all nwent to nschool?”
“Fuck,” Rick laughed. “I wish. We all work, play soldier and go to school. The day starts at 5:30 in the morning and isn’t over until after 6 at night. We’re back from work now and next we go practice marching like a bunch of idiots. Life really sucks here.”
Casey let out a loud groan as he got up from the floor. He eyed Raphael but decided he wanted no more of Raphael’s kind of trouble. Rick introduced him and Mike and they all shook hands. As the boys changed out of their jumpsuits and put on fresh ones, Raphael wondered what his tasks would be. The question became evident when Sergeant Cosgrove walked in the barracks.
“Hernandez,” he barked. “Get your ass over to the annex for orientation.”
“Where is orientation?” he inquired.
“In the little building to the left of the admin building,” he told him. “And make sure you arrive. I don’t want to hunt you down.”
Raphael put his other jumpsuit on the bed and left the barracks. He went to the annex, a building set up like an auditorium. A lady directed him to take a seat and listen to the lecture when the Sergeant came in. Soon, Sergeant Cosgrove came in and faced the class of new inmates.
He explained how this facility mimicked Boot Camp in the Army. Inmates are expected to follow the schedule explicitly. Daily routines would include military training, school and work details and everybody would follow the rules, or they would be punished. Inmates earned phone calls and time off by simply doing duties expected of them and not causing any trouble.
After the orientation lecture, Sergeant Cosgrove met with the new ‘recruits’ individually and gave them their work assignments. He explained today would be an easy day because they needed to get settled in. But tomorrow, they would putt in a full day. He ended the discussion by telling them chow call today began at 6:30 P.M.
Raphael decided he would not like Lakeview.