One of my valued readers made a comment about a lack of emotional connection in my writing.
While there are some areas that I do not feel able to share in this forum, I want to spend some time putting forth the point that I exist in an environment that while in theory claims to benefit those inmates that do strive to better themselves and stay out of trouble, it is in practice the exact opposite.
What ends up happening is that while there are certainly consequences for bad behavior and there are enough rules to break, the system responds to those occurrences and deals with them, but the ones that are lifting themselves up bit by bit do so with little or no help from the system.
One example of this is the food served here. While on the whole as I left Club Fed they were working their food plan to less original meat; pork chops, roast beef, sausages etc., you still were able to fill up on salads, beans and other vegetables. At breakfast you could have all the milk you wanted.
Here in the NY State Prison System, all items are portion controlled, and the main filler food is of the starch variety, white rice or potatoes. I know that if I limit myself to eating only what is served at the mess hall, my cholesterol raises, I feel somewhat less sharp intellectually and while I might lose a few pounds, I end up feeling weak and tired and do even less physically.
Were it not for the financial support I receive from Mom and Dad, I would not be able to keep on my high protein, low fat diet. Without the outside support, I would not have all the books I read, the typewriter, the blog, my keyboard etc., etc., etc.
The point I will be dissecting is at what point do you say to a person incarcerated, okay, show us how you are going to be a law abiding citizen when you get out.
If you are of the thought, look, you broke the law, though, you are still alive, we are throwing you away. Then why not just kill us all now and be done with us?
Okay that is a little over the top, but now that I have written that, let me calm down and say, at some point it the prison system should begin to say okay we have punished you now let us work on lifting you up. We all need to have someone in our life to let us know we matter.
Here in prison and somewhat more so than my experience while at Club Fed, if you have no contact with the outside world you are left floating in a place with very little emotional support or even activities that you can do to lift yourself up.
Please do not start posting comments about no one but ourselves put us in prison. This is true. One of the many questions I would like to throw out there is what happens once you put someone in prison.
One of the inmates I work with was talking about how this was his fifth prison sentence. He is not a stupid person, has a supportive family on the outside, but obviously his time spent in this taxpayer financed secure locations has not changed his behavior in ways that would keep him out of here.
One major difference between the Federal and NY State system is the view on weight lifting. In the federal system they are working toward a recreation program that all but outlaws any muscle building activity with the exception of cardio type exercise.
The newer federal prisons will not only have no weights of any kind, even chin up bars and incline benches are not being provided. Here in NY not only do they have a full shed of weights and exercise bars, one of the few organized contest is a power-lifting contest.
There is a sizable portion of the inmate population that gear their recreation schedule to which set of muscles they are working on which day and then come back after the workouts and spend their time flexing and posing in the bathroom mirrors.
This last part is not all that coherent and is not the last work I want to write on these issues, I have just wanted to get back to putting something meaty back on the blog and hope if nothing else this will get me going.
If you want to add your two cents feel free, but please I am not writing this to evoke a Pete Pity Party. Please do not dump on me, I am hoping to be able to provide a broad critique of the system and not solely focus on my personal plight in the system.
This is just the beginning, and hopefully the follow-up to this post will be more coherent and insightful.
Thanks for reading the blog and go out and enjoy life.