Friday, February 19, 2010

#52 Prison talk: Why do... (retro)

Prison Talk: Why do…

Well, since I have gotten back to regular blogging, and have doubled my blog sites, I might as well jump back and start talking about some issues.

Before I continue, I ask that you email me about supporting my works. For some of the newer blog sites, this may not make sense, but for those with over 700 pages of my writing, I think you understand how important it is for me to have support while I give support by my blogs.

Email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com…

“Why do you spell the email out like that?”

Good question. The reason why I do that is often times there are idiots out there who crawl the internet looking for email addresses to spam. I have found that when I share my email address (as many of you) the number of spams jump up big time. But if I break it up, it is harder (although probably not impossible) to crawl the internet and get my email to send crap mail.

If I used my regular email address, I might get 10 spam in a day. The way I do it now, I might get one every 3 or 4 days…I’ll take that any day.

Anyway, email me if you want to support my works, or visit my booksite after you finish reading my blogs. Let’s get to some questions:

“Do you have to take showers in prison?”

Uh…yeah you do.

Now before I continue, remember that I have not done time in every single jail and prison in the country, so obviously there are a lot of differences. And if you read anything in what I say, remember that every person does their time differently. Having said that, I am pretty sure that most if not all prisons require you to take a shower.

The answers are simple and obvious. First off, if you are in any contact with other human beings, you become a health hazard if you do not shower and stay clean. Second, you become offensive to other inmates, and that can lead to other problems. Third, for most prisons, it is an actual rule that you must adhere to proper hygiene. You can actually get a writeup for not taking showers!

When I first fell in prison, I was afraid to take showers with other guys. I mean, aren’t every inmate some 290 pound hairy beast named “bubba” that robbed 10 banks?

(isn’t that what you think?)

I spent a year and a half in county jail, and my cell had a shower in the room, so taking showers was never a problem. But when I went to prison at Craven Correctional, I found myself living in a dorm with about 60 other guys, and an open shower….I was NOT used to that.

In fact, if you read my first book “Grades of Honor”, you know how embarrassed I was about showers, either skipping dinner to sneak in a shower when nobody was in the dorm, or not taking one for days on end. It took awhile for me to get used to the fact that you just have to “man up” and get clean. But to answer your question, YES, you must take showers; all kinds of bad things happen when you don’t.

“Who do they put in those single cells?”

This is actually a more significant question than you know. I won’t get too much in detail on this now, but I will say this; Single cells can be common for many prisons. Some prisons house inmates in single cells, some house them in double cells, like the one I was in at Pasquotank.

But there is another way to look at this; in the form of punishment. There are many words for this, from “the hole” to “seg cells” to “isolation” and other terms. So if the question is “who do they put in those cells”, the answer basically are those who broke the rules.

If a guy gets in a fight, or an argument, or caught with contraband, he can be put in one of those seg cells. If two guys get in a fight, both guys can end up in separate cells. For the most part, inmates are put in single cells even before their hearing, which begs the questions of an inmate being guilty until proven guilty.

There are even other reasons why a guy could be put in those cells. An inmate who fears for his physical safety can be placed in administrative segregation. A person on suicide watch can be placed in one of these cells too. There are several reasons why an inmate can be put in a single cell. I spent some time in the hole on two separate occasions while in prison, but to me, I like the privacy better than being around too many guys. But that’s just me.

“Why do prison inmates get muscular?”

Well, I kinda wanted to come out all swollen too, but that didn’t happen. I went in about 170 pounds, and came about the same weight, maybe minus about 5 pounds or so. But some guys go to prison and inside of a year have huge arms and chests. Why?

Most prisons have weight piles, and many inmates use them to burn stress and have something to do. While lots of people might argue about having these weights around, I would counter that if you don’t keep those inmates busy with something constructive, the morale of the prison will drop…and nobody wants that.

“Why not? They did the crime, let them do the time!”

Well, that’s mighty cute to say, but stupid on a galactic level. Even if you don’t give a damn about the inmates…what of the prison guards…or do you care about them? See, the stupidity of society is that they expect prison to be an absolute chaotic hell, but after a man or woman pays their debt to society, they expect that same person to come out with a halo around their head. But if that same person applies for a job, you’d refuse him because of his past.

If prisons do not find ways to keep the morale high, the system of prisons will be a complete failure (though some argue that now). Guys need to burn stress, so weights give them some time to do that. With that comes a physical appearance and maybe some self confidence. Prisons are supposed to try to rehabilitate inmates, and no matter what society thinks, weight piles do help an inmate get through the day.

“How much exercise to inmates get?”

That really depends on two things…how much TIME they are allowed outside (or even inside) and what you consider EXERCISE.

For one person, that means hitting the weight pile 3 times a day, for another person, it might mean playing shuffleboard once a day. For me, I used to be pretty active. I love football, loved jogging and running, but wasn’t the best in basketball, but did play. But in prison, running anywhere except on a basketball court is not allowed, and some of the state shoes they gave were so terrible that you could burn the soles out in ONE game of basketball….

Believe me, it DOES happen…I did it.

Remember though that different prisons have different rules. Some prisons allow inmates out for 1 hour a day. Others might have different times for the yard. For example, when I was at Pasquotank, they opened the yard about 9am until about 11am, then again from about 1 to about 3 or 4. If there was daylight after dinner, it might open again for another hour or so. But it all depends on where you are.

Defining “exercise” is also a factor too. What you may do as exercise may not be exercise to another. I spent a LOT of time walking around the yard. If I had a dime for every lap I did, I’d already have a house in Hawaii, playing video games on a 75 inch television…

(there I go, dreaming again…)

Anyway, the idea of exercise is, in theory, important to every prison. Exercise allows inmates to burn stress, rather than having it continually build up. Sometimes the best thing you can do when you are stressed is to just get outside. If you can burn some calories, that is even better. Prisons understand that if you box in 500 or 1000 or more inmates for too long a period of time, you are only asking for trouble. No prison wants to be responsible for “pushing stressed inmates too far”.

Anyway, that kinda gives you some insight of some of the questions people ask about prison. I didn’t want to go too deep in those, because for each question there is much I did not say. But it gives you a start. Anyway, gotta get back to watching my NFL games…email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com to ask how you can support my works, or visit my book site. I can use your support.

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