What is a dropout yard? It’s a term inmates and prison staff use to describe a certain type of facility. They are scattered across the US and are sometimes referred to as SNY or Special Needs Yards.
Who’s placed in these facilities? Former law-enforcement personnel, gang drop outs, and sexual deviants for a start. These inmates are placed there because there aren’t any politics in them and most inmates leave everyone else alone. They are supposed to be safe places, and most of the time they are. That isn’t to say some of the people incarcerated in these facilities don’t still have a target on their back for being a sexual predator or a snitch. They do, and they still have to watch their back even in the dropout yard.
In order to get transferred to one of these facilities, you have to be recommended for the transfer. Most inmates are sent there after being housed in the SHU or Special Housing Units in other facilities. It gets expensive to house people in the SHU, and they are overcrowded, so one solution is to transfer individuals to a dropout yard. Another way to get there is to debrief and drop out from your gang.
As they get older, some gang members get tired of the continuous drama in gangs, realize the futility and stupidity of it all, and just want to serve their time and go home. In order to do this, they have to debrief by giving information to authorities. Often this is dangerous for them, but there isn’t any other way to get out. (Most gangs adhere to the blood in – blood out rule.) They will remain marked as a snitch. This is actually pretty ridiculous, as the authorities already know who is who and what they are all doing anyway. What is told to them is already old news.
Dropout yards serve a purpose for those who just want to pay their dues and go home. Hopefully, these facilities will not turn into places where gangs and drugs thrive the same way they do in regular facilities.
My son spent almost three years in solitary at the North Las Vegas Detention Center, while he was waiting for his trial way back in 2009. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eleven plus years in a federal facility. Although he did all the programs, (Narcotic Anonymous, Alcohol Anonymous, etc.) and attended college classes, and worked at UNICOR in Edgefield South Carolina, he was sent to Beaumont USP. His points were low, but he had a detainer from the state of Nevada, so they sent him to a high level prison. From the day he heard about it, he was upset and afraid because Beaumont had a reputation for violence. Even his counselor said he should have not been sent there.
That reputation proved to be true and he had to continue his gang affiliations to survive. He is older than most gang members and was so tired of all the posturing and drama, he wanted to “retire” from the gang and indicated that to them. They did not like that and put a target on his back. To protect himself, he had a knife in his cell, like almost all of the prisoners there. Someone snitched on him and he was sent to solitary confinement. (The SHU) In addition, he was charged with possession of a knife and now faces 20 additional months of incarceration. Most prisoners caught with a knife only get an infraction (Shot) put in their record. He was also designated to a Special Management Unit (SMU) for those who have not yet learned to get along. Just when he finally tries to do the right thing, it gets worse for him.
His past is following him. He is being sent to Lewisburg for Special Management Training, which is a prison even more dangerous than Beaumont. According to a post from an inmate there, (Live From Lockdown) it is a terrible place where just speaking your mind can get your hands and feet shackled for 72 hours or more. It is inhumane treatment for anyone. The cells are extremely small (only one person can be comfortable standing in the cell at a time) and they put two inmates in the cell together, who are polar opposites, so they can “learn to get along”. I don’t care who you are, being locked in a cell with someone else 23 hours a day can and probably will get on your nerves if not drive you crazy. I am truly afraid for his safety.
I have written to the warden at Beaumont and to his counselor asking he be designated to a “drop out” yard for gang members who do not want any more to do with gangs, but I have not heard back. (Actually it has to be his request to be reassigned) There is also a downside to the “drop out” or Special Needs Yards. If he is designated to one of those yards, he will be targeted for the rest of his time in prison. There is no easy way out.