Prison Pete

Wednesday, October 03, 2007
  So you want to know what it is like to live in prison?
I received your letter today along with the comments from AD and David. I certainly agree that the blog has been lacking in excitement of late.

It is funny how individualistic comments can become. One of my newer pen pals mentioned that while there are some questions that he may have, he did not want to become “just another voyeuristic hanger-on.” Then comes AD's comment and bingo, he wants to live vicariously through my experiences.

Personally I find parts of Jons Jail Journal short on the reality of prison life. Talk is very cheap in prison. And even among "friends" a wrong word spoken on a bad day and fists start flying.

The last nighttime brawl we had in our dorm was between two neighbors and friends. I am not sure what started the trouble but after one inmate jumped over the cube wall to start beating on his erstwhile friend on and off over a fifteen minute period, the officer finally caught wind of it and the two were carted off to the sergeant’s office for interrogation.

The bottom line was the two combatants ended up not going into the special housing unit but were simply moved to two separate dorms.

So for Jon to allege that he can talk shit to other inmates and not be shanked or have his nose flattened, he either has one hell of a ring of protection around him or he is full of bull.

Now I do not want to start a pissing contest over which prison blog is more real. Part of my hope for the blog was to enable me to speak my mind and vent without suffering any physical repercussions if I made some of the same statements to my fellow inmates here at Camp Run-A-Muk. I also pride myself in not using the local dialect to express myself in the blog.

Do you want to know what it is like to live in prison?

How many readers of this blog go to bed each night wondering if any of the inmates that have just moved into this dorm will decide they can prove how tough they are by swinging a “lock in a sock” at you while you are asleep?

How about the fear that someone will decide you are to be the third inmate in this dorm to have his bunk set on fire. We are now tied at one and one. One cube fire started while the cube was empty and one while the inmate was asleep on his bunk.

At the time of the second fire, the superintendent took me and another inmate aside and told us to pass the word that he was not going to tolerate any more fires. He mentioned he could understand an occasional physical altercation now and then but the fires had better stop or else.

While hard information is tough to come by and rumors are full of inconsistencies, the physical damage done to some inmates this year has include several hospitalizations, and at least one or two spent time in an intensive care unit.

The inmates who have been seriously injured have had various criminal backgrounds. Most fights are spur of the moment type affairs. Very few are planned over a period of days. Most inmates just do not have that long an attention span.

I do not know how much you heard, but a penitentiary near us was locked down for over a week a little while back and tear gas was used twice within the week on the Rec yard there.

I am not saying any of this to illicit a pity party. This is just what my reality is. Talking about it makes it more real and makes me less able to control my day to day emotional involvement with the chaos that exists here.

I spoke to one of the deputy superintendents today about my newspaper delivery problems. He was puzzled that I should have any problems, as he said "it is all the news that is fit to print." His first comment when I mentioned that I received the paper was, “Boy that is expensive.”

When I mentioned I still had not received last Sunday's paper he agreed that it was not right. Today I did get last Tuesday and Wednesday's papers. But still not Sunday's.

Ironically they misdelivered a Wall Street Journal on Friday to our dorm and the date of the paper was Friday. Same day service! The question is: am I being singled out for delayed delivery? It is incompetence? Who will I piss off by now pressing the issue?

There are no unrelated issues in prison. Something as inconsequential as telling one inmate you do not have any extra popcorn to sell, but then giving one of the other inmates who has done favors for you in the past your last bag till you go to the store could very well be the start of something ugly.

I am not complaining about the comments on the blog. I take them to heart. The problem is that given the interdependency of the prison world it is really hard to know which things I write that may cause me problems down the road. And what those problems may be.

But in a never-ending quest to satisfy the thirst for the goings-on behind the bars and razor wire, stay tuned, lets see what I can come up with.
As much as I do enjoy jon's jail journal, I get the same feeling that some of it sounds sketchy from time to time. I've never been in jail or prison, but the way he as a well spoken englishman seems to be chummy bosom buddies with all these hardened crazy ghetto inmates just doesn't ring true. Also, all the educated references and quips his friends make just sound a bit too highbrow for me to believe. I would get the feeling that he would have been a target for abuse from the beginning. Among people like the majority of inmates in jail, it seems that any hint of education or civility would be perceived as "gay" or weak.
AD, what you say just might be true...but i also believe that while jon's journal may contain non-factual and sometimes unbelievable information, it's def worth the read and maybe get a glimpse into the jail/prison system.

Also Pete, you bought up the question do I want to know what living in prison is like. Absolutly not! I hope i never get to imagaine that fate. My point was how is prison life like for YOU. I find it difficult to believe you created a blog for any other reason. If this is the case, maybe it should be retitled to something else. No disrespect intended.
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