Excerpted from CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness.
Frank, Mikey and Vince, entered Stateville prison in Joliet, Illinois, on September 13, 1968. Frank found the conditions there to be much harsher than the Cook County Jail or the House of Corrections, where he’d previously done time. To survive in that environment required mental and physical toughness. And having some equally hard-nosed allies didn’t hurt.
The inmate population in Stateville was predominantly black. There were fights, stabbings, and rapes. It was a very hard place for white inmates to get along in, especially if they had to go it alone. Fortunately for Frank, there were several Italians in the prison and they stuck together and looked out for each other. But for the other white guys, it was a terrible, terrible place. With Frank’s extensive criminal background one could argue that he deserved to be there. But being incarcerated for something he hadn’t done caused him to become a very bitter man. The time he spent in the penitentiary made him a more cautious and intelligent crook, but a worse person.
After a while Frank made friends with some of the blacks. There was a group of them called the Blackstone Rangers that he became tight with. The Rangers had their own moral standards. They treated him right, but were cold blooded killers.
Inmates were able to work in the prison. Vince went to the barber shop and Mikey worked in the receiving area clothing room outfitting new inmates. At that time it was Frank’s intention to go straight when he was released and he wanted to learn a trade he could get into on the outside. He hoped to get into a program that would teach him more about electronics, but there wasn’t an opening for him. That resulted in an initial assignment to the coal pile. Later he was transferred to the barber shop as a clerk. His job there was to give tests to inmates that wanted to become barbers after they got out. Frank didn’t particularly care for those duties and kept an eye out for something better.