Thursday, 12 January 2012Interview with Glenn Langohr Ex-Prisoner, Christian, Author
I was speaking with Glenn Langohr, the author of five true-prison books: Roll Call, Upon Release from Prison, Drug Debts, Race Riot, and Gladiator, the latter three known as the Pelican Island Diaries. Glenn spent ten years in various level 4 prisons in California. It was during this time that he wrote his first book, Roll Call.
Glenn openly admits that he is an obsessive-compulsive addict, in recovery, saved by God's Grace, who researched the U.S War on Drugs so deeply, that he met and did business with Mexican Cartels, outlaw bikers and street gangs until the criminal justice system interrupted him. It was during his 10 years in prison that he wrote every morning at 4 AM, before the politics and survival in a variety of California level 4 prisons took over. Upon his release from prison, Glenn married his dream girl ballerina, Sanette, who was very much involved in her church. His vision is to help other prisoners write and publish their art and stories and God is blessing him in this direction daily with Lock Up Diaries and other works.
Question: Glenn, you have five books published by your company, Lockdown Publishing; what is the sequence of your books? I know Roll Call was your first, but which books follow, in order?
Answer: I wrote Roll Call during an eleven-year prison sentence. Upon my release from prison, I stayed at the Laguna Beach Friendship Shelter, a transitional living environment, and that’s where I began writing the sequel to Roll Call, Upon Release From Prison. After that came A California Pelican Bay Prison Story Vol 1 Race Riot, Vol 2 Lock Up Diaries, and Vol 3 Gladiator.
Question: In your books, you go by the name of BJ; is there a reason you didn’t use your own name in these true accounts?
Answer: I strive to write to find God’s will. When I write about myself, I get too invested in how I might look to people. Separating myself from my character is better for my writing and shows a bigger picture than just through my own eyes.
Question: What, or who, inspired you to write in prison?
Answer: God did…. That prison sentence was my fourth. It started in 1990 when my addiction to drugs turned into selling them. Three more prison sentences into the 1990s, I finally got out and decided to start a limo business which I named Prestigious Transport, just as the storyline goes in Roll Call. While starting the business I was going to church and got really close to the Lord. The terror attacks of 9-11 broke down the transportation business, and with my business failing, and a relationship falling apart, I started using drugs again. Facing a twenty-year sentence, every day in my cell I visualized what happened and how I lost my first ever taste of legitimate success. I realized God was blessing me and I overlooked it. I asked for his forgiveness in tears and He washed over me with love and peace. For the next week, I paced my cell back and forth and decided I was going to write everyday to get better at it. God filled me with faith and I knew it was going to pay off! Writing helped me see the spiritual nature of addiction, and I knew I would be able to help other people who were struggling understand addiction and the criminal justice system.
Question: What was the time frame of your incarceration, and when were you finally released?
Answer: In 1990, I did a sixteen-month prison sentence; then another one in 1993. In 1996, I got busted for dealing again. This time Orange County tried to label me a “Cartel level” dealer and added a “Fortifying” charge – which is the beginning of calling you an organized criminal under the R.I.C.O. act. I had to become my own attorney to defend those trumped up allegations and avoid a twenty-five year sentence. I got out in 1999, but I went back in 2002, and was incarcerated until September 2008.
Question: In Roll Call and Upon Release From Prison, there’s an ongoing story about a detective Pincher who became a drug addict; is that part fictional, and if not, what happened with the detective?
Answer: Going back to the trumped up charges, there was an overzealous detective who I named Pincher in Roll Call and Upon Release From Prison. There was also a great detective who investigated thoroughly and wrote his reports truthfully; I named him Maltobano. I did get a little fictional with Pincher becoming a drug addict….
Question: What is your opinion on the Hunger Strikes in 2011 and the victory for inmates rights?
Answer: Having been overzealously prosecuted, and knowing the California Prison system the way I do, I know that it breeds bigger criminals by locking up low level offenders, and addictions are bred into afflictions that are much harder to escape. I want to see more justice and rehabilitation for prisoners. The hunger strike is the first time in California that different races and gangs have come together for a common purpose, in this case to better their future and stop fighting. California has the most prisoners in the nation and the worst recidivism rate in the country. Seven out of ten released prisoners go back to prison within three years. We need to examine that and find ways to help prisoners turn their lives around while incarcerated. It will benefit the community more than current tactics.
Question: What is your opinion on the three-strike law and the fact that California has reduced the number of inmates to almost half? Where are all those prisoners going? Are they employable?
Answer: The three-strike law in California was propagated over a terrible sex crime near Santa Barbara. A little girl, Polly Clause, was the victim. Instead of focusing on sex criminals and other violent criminals, the three strikes law focused on drug addicts, petty thefts – a prior charge can be as petty as stealing a piece of pizza – and residential burglaries. Polly Clause’s relatives came out in support of changing the three strike law to focus on the right violent criminals and even warned the public in commercials that the California Prison Union would spend millions of dollars for ten times the amount of commercial air time to lie to the public that child molesters, rapists, and murderers, would be released if the law changed. It wasn’t changed. I was in prison while this was transpiring, and in Roll Call, I was able to show the public all of this, even to write about where the money to support the Prison Union’s campaign came from.
As for the prisoners being released from California prisons... The prisoners are being released because of a Supreme Court Ruling from Justice Scalia and others that with the prison population in California so overcrowded: approximately a quarter million inmates confined to what is supposed to hold about 160,000, it is Cruel and Unusual Punishment. The vital statistics indicate - 1 inmate was dying every 8 days to lack of medical treatment! Now the way California is responding is to take prisoners who are considered non-violent, non-sex crimes and non-arsons, and let those prisoners back into the county jail. Back to Roll Call and my life living through the 3-strike law. Those Polly Clause commercials where Mr. Clause was telling the public that the prison union was going to lie to the public... It’s ten years later, and besides some Harvard Lawyers who have backed up what I am saying in Roll Call, this also shows we were incarcerating too many of the wrong people. As for prisoners being employable upon release… The economy and the job market are in the dirt. Now, add the felonies a released inmate carries, the pressure to find a place to live, find a social life, deal with a possible overzealous parole officer, sheriffs department and court... It isn't easy. No wonder in California 7 out of 10 inmates end up back in prison within 3 years. We need to bring the community together to tie Church's, support groups, non-profits, job placement, more homeless shelters, and more compassion. We were headed that way until the recent budget cuts in California wiped it out. In my opinion, California created this mess a long time ago, when the most import thing seemed to be to lock every one up and keep the cost of real estate at a premium. That tough on crime was smart on crime.
Question: So Glenn, where do you see yourself five years from now? More books in the future and if so, what topics?
Answer: I want to be producing the number one rated TV show in five years, but I’ll be happy with whatever my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has in mind for me. This time, I am going to stay in His will for me and serve Him.
Glenn Langohr can be contacted at the following websites:
Kindle Store: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00571NY5A
Glenn's books are at: Glenn's Author Page on Amazon