He soon became a self-taught legal advocate for other inmates - a so-called "jailhouse lawyer", as well as an inmate representative under the Duran Decree working with outside lawyers to monitor prison conditions during the nearly two-decade period of federal oversight."Prisoners love jailhouse lawyers because of the help they can provide," says Nelson, who was himself a jailhouse lawyer during his time in prison.The inmate declared that he was "tired of this place", and plotted that night with the other prisoners: When the correctional officers "come to do the count, if they don't lock the door, we're going to jump them and take over", the inmate had said. At the am count, inmates attacked the officers and took three of them hostage.Within minutes, rioters took control of the cell blocks, releasing hundreds of inmates from their cells and into the prison.
"But they should also remember all that happened afterward.Nelson, who had only arrived at the prison a month earlier, described how some of the inmates were getting drunk "as they often did" on homemade hooch."One of the fellas I used to play Eagles' songs with began hollering about prison conditions," says Nelson.Those in solitary would "get maybe an hour a day 'outside' in a yard the size of a dog pen.