A Lincoln County grand jury indicted Joey Patterson for the murder of Adrian Peterson’s son, Tyrese. After hearing the charges, I sat down and talked with two inmates to get a better idea about the life Patterson will live in prison being a child killer.
The news of Tyrese's murder served as a collective gut-punch not just to the sports community, but to anyone who heard the news.
Two people who heard the news were Jason Tyler and Mathew Beale.
Beale is a former Arizona inmate. Just like Joey Patterson, he committed aggravated assault and was sentenced to a prison term. In fact, Beale has been in and out of prison for most of his adult life, starting his first incarceration at age 16. He was recently released after serving a nine-year prison sentence.
The difference between Beale and Patterson, however, is that Beale’s victim was an adult, not a child. And that difference is monumental in prison.
It's common knowledge that inmates who commit crimes against children don’t have a pleasant life in prison, to put it lightly. But Beale provided specifics that are somewhat chilling.
“His fate has either been decided already or is being negotiated by the inmates as we speak, and he probably ain’t gonna make it,” said Beale of Patterson. “Not unless he has money.”
When asked about how money keeps Patterson alive, Beale explained, “If he can afford to stay on the yard, then he’ll have a chance, but if not, then he’s gotta go.”
According to Beale, and other inmates I spoke to, Patterson’s family members can send other inmates’ family members money each week, which may get him a pass.
But for how long?
“If they miss a payment, that’s his ass,” Beale said matter-of-factly.
Beale also said that Patterson may be placed in protective custody, or "PC." There are two types of protective custody: 1) where Patterson is on lockdown for 23 hours and gets one hour out of his cell, or 2) where Patterson gets on a "PC yard" and has a similar experience of being on a general population yard. The PC yard option may still be dangerous for Patterson, however.
"On the general PC yards, you have guys who have done similar things—molesters, child killers—but you also get 'normal' inmates who have 'tapped out' because of a money debt and their life is threatened. And those 'normal' inmates still may go after a guy like Patterson based on principle," Beale said.
Jason Tyler’s outlook for Patterson mirrors that of Beale’s outlook. And just like Beale’s outlook for Patterson, Tyler's outlook for the child killer is not promising either.
"He'll just be passed around in here—or whatever State system he's in—extorted for whatever his family can afford, beaten and then eventually killed when his family runs out of money. And because he’s linked to Adrian Peterson, inmates are going to think he has money.”
"Honestly, dude should just kill himself," Tyler said matter-of-factly. Tyler's words were simple, said without emotion, as though he was giving directions.
When asked about whether Patterson will be safe and live a decent life in protective custody, Tyler remarked, "Nah...We can still get to him. And they will. We just have to wait for the judge to send him to us." Tyler wouldn't elaborate on how Patterson could be got to in protective custody.
In a high profile case like Patterson's, prison authorities often ship inmates out-of-state to serve their prison term. The idea is that the inmate will be safer where the local prisoners don't know the new inmate and what crimes he committed (allegedly, of course).
Tyler disagreed. He explained how Patterson, and his crime, will be known no matter where prison officials send him.
"Each race in prison has a few guys who are responsible for checking out new inmates within their race. It's called 'getting ran,'" Tyler explained. "The new inmate has to show the 'checking' inmate his police reports and pre-sentence report. They are looking for four things: rapists, snitches, molesters and child abusers. If you have any one of those four things, cancel Christmas."
But then there’s the issue of Patterson being a different race than Tyler and what would happen if Patterson's race gave him a pass and let him stay on the yard (assuming he could pay, of course). Because in prison, there are strict political lines between the races.
Tyler, a member of the Arian Brotherhood currently serving a twenty-year prison term, had something to say about Patterson getting such a pass.
Tyler explained that if the Patterson received a pass, for whatever reason, then he still may “get got.”
Tyler's take on it is that the biggest “leg-hangers” of the AB (Arian Brotherhood) would meet and decide whether to move on Patterson if Patterson's own race didn’t do it themselves.
“It’s like this:" Tyler barked, "either they take their own trash out or we will.”
The only consideration or hesitation Tyler expressed was whether or not Patterson would be worth the aftermath that would follow from the AB assaulting someone outside of its own race.
“It would be chaos,” Tyler said. “Not just in the prison where it jumps off, but even afterwards in other prisons.”
Tyler clarified that after any attack on Patterson, prison officials would split the main members of the AB and whatever race Patterson joined up and send them to different prisons.
But upon arrival at the new prisons, the two races would continue to have problems with one another. That is, until the consequences of continuing to battle each other were outweighed by the need for revenge.
Tyler made clear, however, that “because of what Patterson did to that little boy, it’ll be worth the chaos. He'll get his, one way or another.”
Apparently, Patterson can “cancel Christmas.”