Study Guide

Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison Chapter 6

By Shaka Senghor

Chapter 6

  • The next chapter heading takes us back to Wayne County Jail in August 1991, but the beginning of the chapter is a brief glimmer of hope. Brenda and Shaka embrace outside the jail, in their own home.
  • Bad news. That whole Shaka going home and hugging his girlfriend thing? Dream sequence. He's still in jail.
  • But Shaka doesn't seem too upset. He's happy when he wakes up, because he believes he's really going home soon.
  • He believes that because he's planning a jail break. G, the guy who got sentenced to eighty-five years, is waiting to talk to him. G says Gigolo and Jabo want to be in on the escape. G and Shaka go to talk to them, and the four of them plan to bust out five days later on Sunday.
  • The four of them gather as many sheets as they can find. When Sunday night comes, they slip out to one of the Plexiglas windows and start bashing it with the pipe segment they've been hiding.
  • It makes a lot of noise, and one of the other prisoners starts shouting for them to stop, but they eventually succeed at getting one edge of the window to give.
  • They use the pipe to try and widen the hole. They plan to tie a bunch of sheets together and lower themselves to the ground outside.
  • But when they try to figure it out, someone spots them from the outside.
  • They don't know it yet, but she's a deputy. Not so good for the escape plan.
  • Soon there's a police car with flashing lights pulling up.
  • The guys abandon the escape attempt and decide to head for their cells.
  • Shaka is almost there when he realizes they've left the pipe out in an obvious place. Shaka runs back and throws it out the window.
  • Then he rushes back to his cell and does his best to make it look like he's been there all the time.
  • The deputies rush in and start interrogating the prisoners. They even do a strip search.
  • They threaten to hit the prisoners with flashlights if they don't confess.
  • But the friends who tried to escape aren't giving anything away, and they've actually done a pretty good job of hiding their identities from the other prisoners.
  • The deputies are mad about this, so they tear the prisoners' belongings out of their cells and throw their stuff on the floor in the dayroom, where the broken window is.
  • This actually works out pretty well for the escape crew, because it means that all the prisoners now have broken glass on their stuff.
  • It's impossible to tell who the escape team was with the evidence confused like that.
  • Eventually someone rats the guys out anonymously, probably a fifth prisoner who had planned to go with them but then backed out.
  • Shaka goes back to his bunk, and it sinks in that he's stuck. He's been in denial, but now he starts to realize how bad his situation is.
  • Shaka winds up in solitary for a while, which sounds just as bad as everyone says it is.
  • He's so bored he watches the roaches crawl along.
  • Sometimes he can talk to other prisoners through the bars, and he realizes that most of them come from tough home backgrounds, abuse, and neglect.
  • He starts to realize that they're all a mixture of failure and potential.
  • Just one week later, Shaka receives a sentence of seventeen to forty years in prison.

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