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The Life of A Prisoner
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I wake up at 4:55 a.m. each and every morning. This is not true of every day mind you, as many things can change an individual’s schedule or routine.

I most often choose to eat plain oatmeal with peanut butter, (unless it’s Sunday when typically eggs, potatoes, and toast) are served, & bc I can afford to eat oatmeal (at $1.00 per pound)& peanut butter (at $2.15 per 16 oz. container) for breakfast.

Work starts at 6:00 a.m.& I regard myself as extremely fortunate to have what we call an industrial job. This is an eight hours a day, five days a week, job in the penitentiary’s industrial laundry. We process linen from the surrounding hospitals, colleges, institutions, etc. One million and a half pounds of linen gets processed through our facility every month. I work in the maintenance department, which is responsible for keeping the equipment running smoothly, maintaining operation of the machinery, scheduling down time for repairs, etc.

This job also pays exceedingly well (comparably speaking) as, instead of the average monthly income of around $45.00, I earn roughly $150.00 monthly. This has allowed me to maintain regular phone call contact w my family at 0.16 per min ($4.80 for a 30-min phone call), purchase some items to make life more with items from canteen/commissary, as well as pay off my restitution & court fees over the last 17 years of roughly $15,000. 

Typically lunch is around noon. Our menu rotates every three months (by seasons) with few exceptions & while that isn’t horrible for a couple of years, when you start passing decades by, it gets redundant. Between 1 to 2 o’clock I might try to get outside for some sunshine if I’m lucky enough, maybe some exercise, jog around the track or just walk some laps with someone who I need to catch up with. Otherwise it’s reading, studying for work & educational purposes, etc.
Dinner is around 5 p.m. I don’t want to suggest that food is so bad we can’t eat it, bc that’s not the case. Many here are well overweight. 

During the evening hours I try to write letters, read, call family & friends, if I’m fortunate enough, educational opportunities, youth outreach programs, etc. For many, however, it’s nothing more than watching TV or staring at a blank wall. 

When I’m asked about what prison is like I offer it is an extremely lonely place, where every moment of every day is dictated for you, & where there’s tremendous opportunities for self-reflection. 

In the movies, on TV, & through media coverage, you see individuals get swept up into the justice system & there’s this emphasis on the crime, the trial, entry into prison ... then there’s a few portrayed scenes and lastly the release and BBQs w family. In part that’s bc they can’t show the day-to-day loneliness, the feelings of exclusion, the shame & cowardice that accompany an individual’s incarceration. The realization that we’ve not only criminals, but we’ve additionally victimized our own families, the community, society as a whole, our friends & loved ones, everyone we come in contact with; the courts, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, juries, corrections officers, police, detectives, & the list goes on.

So what do I hope to get across here?  We as prisoners are humans, individuals who' ve failed society for whatever reasons & though no excuse relieves us from our poor life decisions, without hope and help to be better people, without redemption, society is all but lost in its entirety through our bad behaviors. In a discussion group with college students not long ago, after describing some of the opportunities available here in the penitentiary, one student asked me if we, as prisoners, deserved such opportunities. I paused & said  society wants us to have such opportunities, bc if we come out w no skills, we are destined to once again fail.

This is a day in the life of a prisoner ... one who considers himself extremely fortunate in countless ways & for just as many reasons.
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