Spoiler alert, I didn’t get sexually assaulted. I recall having an argument with someone, my brother I think, about how soap can never be dirty. I challenge anyone who believes that to use soap off the floor of a prison shower stall. It is a cardinal sin to even step in the showers without shower shoes on, for they are so vile.
Needless to say, I left it there for a scavenger to collect for recycling. Surely to be resold at cut rate prices. I suppose the age old addage applies here, “you get what you pay for”. I’ll spend the extra $0.36, thanks.
Despite being so gross I have to admit the showers aren’t so bad, unlike county jail where the only privacy you had was a 4′ divider on either side of you; and water that shut off after 60 seconds. Here in prison there are shower curtains for each individual stall, fully surrounded by walls, and you can shower for as long as you’d like whenever you want. Excluding count of course 4:00 PM, 9:30PM, 12AM, 3AM, and 6AM.
Keeping it short this time,
Comissary is the prison store and one of the prison’s main sources of income. Want a $0.30 plastic cup? That will run you $3.00 in here, but you don’t have a choice. Much like the coal mining towns of old.
Books refers to your available funds. For phone and email access, comissary, and any fines the prison decides to impose on you (damaged clothes, bedding, medical visits, etc). It’s basically a bank account.
If you have the misfortune of being sent to prison make sure someone, anyone, puts money on your books – day one. You won’t be able to call, email, or send letters to ask for money without first having money. That is, unless you want to be indebted to someone – which you don’t.
Here’s that I recommend you get right away.
- cup – there may be water fountains in your unit but they will be broken and/or dirty. Which leaves you with two options, either drink 3 times a day at the caffeteria or get a cup and drink faucet water. Or, if you’re lucky like me, we have an ice machine and filtered hot water dispensers.
- Deoderant – pretty straight forward, you don’t want people to hate you in here. Also, if the prison does give you the free stuff, it doesn’t work – people use it as glue
- Bowl and utensils – you will get hungry and you will miss meals either because you sleep in or because you’re called to another obligation such as orientation, work, school, etc.
- Ramen – your bowl is useless without food and ramen is the cheapest most versatile thing in here. Especially in a pinch.
- Toe nail clippers – you can use them for your fingernails too, if you must. I didn’t have any until my 11th day in here and it was miserable
- Stamps – Just in case you need to reach someone and other forms of communication are shut off (like now, for me) you’ll want these on hand for emergencies
- socks – At this point, you’ll live, maybe not comfortably but you’ll manage. Socks though, if you can get them are truly a god send. Prison issued socks come in one size so they’re always too big or too small.
This place is gross, there’s just no way around it. Maybe it’s human nature or perhaps adaptation but no one seems too bothered by it. No one but me that is, a proudly self described germaphobe.
In the restroom there are two soap dispensers which ran out 2-3 days ago so people simply stopped washing their hands, ew. Fortuneately on my second day here someone gave me half a dozen bars of soap. Each morning when I wake up I take a bar, break it in half, and leave the halves on the sinks to combat the inevitable spread of disease that’s sure to afflict me. Prison is bad enough already, I don’t want to be sick too.
To give this nex part context I must first point out that literally every urinal has piss on the floor; I don’t know why or how but there is. Further, the showers spray over their thresholds soaking the entire bathroom floor thoroughly – mixing with everything. Obviously, this means it’s impossible to walk out of there with clean shoes and as such the floors throughout the unit are filthy.
Someone whose name I shall omit, someone I consider a friend was tearing away at a piece of steak (more on that another time) when it slipped out of his hands and landed on the floor. Laughing and without hesitation he picked it up, said “30 second rule”, then continued to eat it. I feel nauseous even writing about it.
The thing is, that’s normal in here. On the same day I witnessed someone cook 15 pounds of rice in a stained, and I’ll assume dirty, mop bucket before serving it out to a half dozen people. Ashamedly, myself included – I didn’t want to be disrespectful. Yuck.
Making it through,
I didn’t sleep well, due in part to the fact that we’re not allowed to have pillows (which I think is inhumane) and also because they give you this very thin knitted blanket and max out the A.C.
Still, eventually I was able to fall asleep and despite waking up bruised on both hips from the joke of a mattress they gave me (imagine folding two sheets together to form a pallete) I was fairly content. For a brief fleeting moment each morning I wake up thinking I’m at home in my bed.
That first full day in prison was the hardest, it seemed to drag on forever and it was the first moment I really had any doubt in myself being able to endure this place for 3~ years.
It got much easier very quickly. The days just seem to fly by at this point and each time I see the date I’m shocked to realize it’s already the 10th when it feels like the 3rd. I’m going to be out of here before I realize it. I just hope I can do something productive in the mean time.
Beyond that I read my first book since I was 13. It’s called Ready Player One and it was awesome; I finished it in two days. When I’m not reading I’m taking long naps and writing letters. It’s a simple life, but there are no bills or obligations to worry about which is nice. I just miss my family and friends, and my GF of course, but I’ll manage! =)
To be continued…
We left my house at around 8:00 AM on March 29th, it was raining. As I walked to the back seat of the car my brother shouted and said “You don’t want to sit in the front?”. This suprised me since despite me being 27 and him 30 we still play that stupid game where the first to shout “Shotgun!” gets to ride in the front. He always wins so I don’t even bother trying anymore. I realize it sounds insignificant but the notion was symbolic and it meant a lot to me. I accepted his offer.
The three hour ride was pretty standard. Nothing but garbage on the radio, mom and brother arguing over the pettiest things, me and him egging her on, her slamming the brakes constantly and switching lanes every 30 seconds. Only two things make me motion sick – some VR roller coaster game I can’t recall the name of and her driving. I wouldn’t of had it any other way, if I could survive that car ride then prison was going to be a joke.
Honestly I wasn’t bothered until the short stretch of road leading to the compound. They dropped me off, we hugged and I said a brief goodbye before walking off. Drawing it out or having them go in with me would of just made things harder. I think they were dissapointed but understood.
After telling a guard I was there to self surrender I waited in a waiting room for at least an hour. Eventually someone led me back and began the intake process. Standard affair I assume, a pile of paperwork, interview with several people, and fingerprints by the rudest lady I’ve ever met. Oh, also a “squat and cough” which I was mortified of, but when the time came I didn’t give it a second thought. Adapt or be broken.
A guard directed me to my assigned unit and upon arriving there another inmate led me across the hall and to my bunk. Initially I was pretty anxious because I would be staying in this open room full of strangers. I was very on edge and within a few seconds people began to approach me asking where I’m from and what I’m in for.
After that uncomfortable interogation they bombarded me with ramen, coffee, cups, bowls, soap, etc. I tried rejecting the donations because I assumed strings were attached but I realized it was futile. I returned and repaid everything A.S.A.P just in case, I don’t want to owe any favors.
I read some Wired magazines until the final count at which point they turned off the lights and I went to sleep.
To be continued…