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Interview with Tom and Barbara

JM: Did you find it difficult to get along with other inmates? Please give examples to explain why you did or didn't.
Tom: There are a lot of gang problems in Contra Costa. There are 3 Latino gangs, 3 black gangs and 2 white gangs so there is always the potential for violence. Staff does there best to keep all the rivals away from each other but with so many inmates having to be moved around alot it is hard to keep everyone seperated. Overall if you are not involved in gangs and not a snitch or sex offender it is fairly easy to do your time trouble free.
Barbara: sometimes it was difficult to get long with others-especially the hard timers and those who continously came back for other crimes. previous inmates knew what to get away with and picked on new inmates

JM: What types of things did you have to do to avoid problems or fights with other inmates?
Tom: Mind your own business and stay away from gang activity. If you are a snitch or sex offender you will have problems every where you go unless you ask to be placed in protective custody. The main problem is gangs and if you should choose to involve yourself in gang related activities you can count on having some problems. Also if you borrow something you better be sure to pay it back on the agreed upon time. And never get drugs or tobacco that you cant pay for.
Barbara: I usually kept to myself. I walked away from several fights. I kept eye contact and complaints to a minimum. I stayed away from the repeat criminals and stayed around those charged with white collar crimes instead of those with violent crimes or who constantly were put in lock down

JM: Were you able to choose an inmate as your cellmate if you knew one? How often would your cellmate(s) change?
Tom: This jail will pretty much house you according to the individuals race or gang affiliation. If the person you wish to cell up with is the same race or documented gang as you the cops will allow you to cell up most of the time. The cops are pretty cool here for the most part but will treat you bad if you give the problems. If you mind your business they will treat you well
Barbara: Usually we were not allowed to pick our cell mates. but those inmates who exhibited good behavior and got along well with specific inmates in their crowd were allowed to be cell mates. We changed cellmates every 3-4 weeks unless you were able to pick your own cell mate, then it lasted many months-usually only ending bc one of the inmates was getting out or transferring to another facility

Read about time off for good behavior in the Contra Costa County Jail

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