Raylene Brooks, age 44
I was incarcerated since I was 17. I was in CYA until I was 25 and then here on my 25th birthday. There is a pretty extensive drug scene here. When you are young there are people looking over you, but nothing like here. People run rampant here. The sexual stuff is out in the open. There is plenty of both, different sex and different drugs for different people. Here there are a lot of programs as well. They do try to get you to do positive things. But you still have to make the decision to do the programs. There were over 4,000 women when I came here. The population is less now. I came here from South Central LA. I have two life sentences. I have the opportunity for parole in three years. This is my third hearing. The first two were denied. If you are denied for parole at a hearing they roll you over. The max they can postpone you for is 15 months. I was involved in the homicide of a police officer. It doesn’t matter that he was an undercover officer. His brother is now the captain of LAPD Ramparts division. He had a campaign on the news to keep me from getting out.
LTOP is the Long Term Offenders Program. We have programs of victim awareness, family relations, and criminal thinking. We have 3 hour classes and an intensive look of how you are raised. Looking back to learn how to look forward. They have classes here in computer literacy, auto body, IDL… construction work (Inmate Day Labor). We get paid 85-90 cents/hour. We build some of the building here.
I raised myself. I had working parents. I was the youngest of nine children. We were left to fend for ourselves during the day and most of the night. My step father was an alcoholic. We were exposed to a lot of stuff in the home. He verbally abused the kids and physically abused my mother. I was molested by my sister’s boyfriend at 12 and that led me to the streets. I was affiliated with a gang. I was drinking. Living rough, but CPS was never called or notified. For those who want to improve themselves we have the luxury of all that here… not on the streets. These groups are not the normal for me. In South Central LA the norm is you just survive. Improvement is not an option.
Here we have about six women to a cell. Capacity is eight. There are four double bunk beds. There is a shower and a toilet in each unit. Breakfast is from 6:30-7:30. You have to go to breakfast to get lunch, which is a box lunch. No breakfast means no lunch. There is no big cooking in the units. Breakfast can be pancakes, waffles, French toast, tortillas. Programs last anywhere from 3 to 7 ½ hours.