Charly Centore


This journal begins in September 2000 when I had been incarcerated a little over a year.

I started writing it because of the encouragement of a family friend named Lynn who has since become somewhat of a second mother to me. I laugh as I read these entries. Just how naive and foolish I was comes rushing back to me in an instant. I also wasn’t a very good writer. While I have made great strides and improvements I still have a long way to go. Unless we’ve given up, we never stop learning.



images (60)I began my life under lock and key August 20th, 1999.

I always think of it as the 19th, but since I was arrested after midnight it was technically the 20th. I spent only a few months in county jail. The system set in place to make defendants take deals and avoid costly trials worked according to plan.

County jail was so bad I was looking forward to prison and they threatened me with so much time I was scared to fight. There was also this little inconvenient truth: I was guilty. This is now how the justice system runs. In my case it was decently fair. The only legitimate aim of a person in my shoes going to trial would be wasting state funds. The problem is my case is not typical. The legal system we are taught about in school no longer exists if it ever did. But I am going to get back to that later.images (2)

I arrived in prison December 1st, 1999.

The name of the place is Indian Springs, which has been dubbed “Springs” for short. Its real name is Southern  Desert Correctional Center. It is still operating to this day, but even in 1999 it was a dump. There I did one month in what they call the “Fish Tank.” This is a restricted movement unit where they look into your back round and decide where to permanently house you. You are pretty much locked in a cell all day except for a shower every 3 days and an exercise hour every 3 days as well. You have a lot of time to think. And think I did about the 4 (2-10 years) sentences I was facing.

Right away I began hearing the baloney I was to hear for the next 3,819 days. One big lie was: the prisons are all too crowded and the feds are about to make the states send everyone home. This one I was always a little skeptical about, but when I first came to prison I was trying to latch onto any hope I could. But the one that really got me was something called a sentence modification. When people heard how much time I had they always began to feed me this bullshit about a sentence modification.

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What none of them understood is there has to be a mistake made in sentencing for you to receive one of these. I looked into this pipe dream for about a year finally coming to the conclusion it was bullshit right around the time the journal starts.

When  I got out of the fish tank the Y2k scare was in full effect and we were locked down because of it.

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After that I got my first real taste of the yard.  

I also began to notice that none of the new people such as myself were staying at Indian Springs. Everyone was getting shipped to prisons up north where there was more bed space. Confused as I was , I wanted to stay. It was close to what I considered home, and I was still vicariously living through phone calls to my friends. I hoped I could continue this through visits. I even got hustled out of $20 trying to stay by paying that sum to get into a class this guy claimed would keep me there. A week later I was on a bus headed for Lovelock. You never could have told me then that it was the best possible outcome for the situation I was in.

I arrived in Lovelock on January 18th. The first 3 months were a blur as I joined a boot camp program. It was a humbling experience. And once again, you couldn’t have told me I needed to be humbled but I certainly did. Marching in front of other criminals staring at you like you’ve lost your mind is a guaranteed remedy for such false pride.

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After I completed the program I was sent to the main yard to start my new life for the next 8-40 years. Right away you could see this was a different place. In other joints PCs (protective custody inmates) and sex-offenders are nowhere to be seen. But in Lovelock that is not the case. When I first got there it was fairly rowdy, but it quickly calmed down and stayed that way. This will be hit upon in the journal time and time again.

images (63)Soon after I “hit the yard” I went to see the doctor, something I never do. I just felt tired all the time. They tested me for diabetes and other diseases but all came back negative. In reality I think I had 8-40 yearitis, a case of depression. But as I came to grips that the stories of the feds saving us and sentence modifications were bullshit I also got over my depression and got on with life right around the time I started the journal.

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I am going to correct punctuation and spelling, but otherwise I am going leave these pages as they are.

The writing is a little dull and dry at first. I miss many opportunities to talk about what I later realized people want to know about prison and what prisoners are thinking while they are there. I repeat myself a lot. This even continues as the writing quality improves. Maybe it was for emphasis, maybe I was trying to pound the lessons into my own head. Either way it didn’t work. But as the journal goes on I make up for my early oversights with observations I believe will interest people greatly.

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Before I get started I’d like to cover a couple more subjects. For starters, where I got “America’s Guest” from. This name was given to me by my father. I’ve gotta give it to him, he comes up with some shit that is pretty on point sometimes. Really I’ve felt like a guest all my life, but even more so after I moved from California at the age of 13. “Home” has been a very tricky and subjective concept for me. When I was 17 I lived with the family of my best friend for about 6 months. That is until I got caught trafficking dope while living there. Then at the age of 19 I lived with another friend of mine for about a year on and off. After I wore out my welcome there I lived with 2 friends which were brothers and their parents.

My father always wondered at how people were always willing to take me in. And at this last place he began asking to speak to “America’s Guest” when he called. Of course brothers loved it and thought he was the best thing ever. Even I have to admit it sounded funny with that thick Bronx accent of his. That stay lasted about 3 years with a couple of stints in New York with America’s Guest Sr. himself.


When I went to prison he did not miss the opportunity to point out that I was indeed America’s Guest in reality, and even more specifically Nevada’s. During my little year vacation as I’d like to call it (the first time I got out of prison) I visited him only weeks before I went back to being a ward of the state. During that visit he presented me with 3 silk printed t-shirts reading “America’s Guest.”

And the saga continues as I now type this in the home of another friend who was gracious enough to let me stay with him.

However, this time I’ve tried to be the best guest I can be by pitching in wherever I can. In that respect I can honestly say I’m a changed man. Really, I’ve made strides in a lot of ways. My criminal days feel firmly lodged in the past. But the name, I will never live it down. What can I say, it’s funny.

Writing is my dream. There may be some things I say in these pages that offends people that mean a lot to me. This is not my intention. I will change some names, but there are people who will still know who I am referring to. And there are times I expressed feelings about friends and loved ones I am not proud of. Even the best of us have all had times when we acted like pigs. Back then I was far from the best-I was far from even being ok. I wasn’t a very good person. I am going to leave the journal how it is because to me, without the good coupled with the bad it wouldn’t be a very good story.


One more small note: typing these entries has been sort of like reliving the past. In some respects it is frightening. In others exhilarating. Just through about 20 posts I can already tell what a profound experience it is going to be, whether people read it or not. For that reason I want to recommend that writing a journal should be for everyone.