What Prison is Like in the Morning
There are many opinions about how to resolve the many problems of the American prison system. Why does the United States have more prisons and inmates than any other country. Why does the United States have a high recidivism rate? It may help the pundits if they had some familiarity with actual everyday life for an inmate. We have discussed previously “What is Prison Really Like”? Prison movies concentrate on the portrayal of the violence of inmates and the brutality of correctional officers. In the real prison world, most inmates are not violent and most correctional officers are not brutal. The movies and prison television shows do not show the actual every day life of inmates. Violence is part of the prison environment, but the prison life is composed of many different scenes.
A typical winter morning breakfast in Hagerstown, Maryland:
Breakfast was approximately at 5A.M. The inmate had a few hours of sleep and the decision was whether to go to breakfast. The decision did not involve putting on his clothes since he was fully dressed all night including his winter coat and socks for gloves. The cell’s window has been broken for months despite repeated requests for repair. The nights of 20 – 30 degrees turned the cell into an icebox. The prison regulations prohibited gloves for inmates, thus he used socks to cover his hands. The mystery meat for dinner turned the inmate’s stomach into a war zone for part of the night, but the thought of hot coffee propels him to go to breakfast. He usually made hot coffee from the water in the cell sink, but the hot water was not working for the past week.
As he exited his housing unit, there were streams of blue lines of inmates pouring forth from the other housing units walking to the chow hall. There were guards in the yard watching the inmates. The officers were obviously unhappy about their morning duty. One guard screamed at an inmate who wore only his t-shirt. The inmate argued that the cold did not bother him, but we all saw that he was shivering. It was the inmate’s way to show in this bizarre manner that he was still an individual among all of the blue coats. All of the inmates marched into the chow hall hoping that the guards would allow at least 10 minutes for breakfast. There have been meals where after 5 minutes, the guards smiled and motioned that the meal was over. During those times, as the inmates walked from their tables, they stuffed food into their mouths. Some inmates would hide food in their pockets. Depending on which officers were on duty, certain correctional officers searched the inmates and would confiscate the food. There were also other guards who would look the other way.
Breakfast was over and the inmate was back in his cell. He waited for the winter morning to warm up the cell.
Enjoyed reading this true life account of morning prison life.
by Ian–Will anything really ‘work’ when the USA imprisons 32% of the world’s inmates and the penal system is their second largest employer after its postal service? I despair when I hear of yet another MP or Mayor going over to the States to see ‘what works’ around gang interventions and reducing recidivism. They would be much better served staying closer to home in countries like Germany and Portugal which have seen declines in their prison populations.
By Kathy–Not helped by penal policies that embrace punitive systems such as 3 strikes and you’re out. Without diversionary measures/rehabilitation and an unwillingness to adopt less punitive attitudes, it is difficult to see how the USA’s obsession with incarceration will ever improve. My only fear is that the UK will follow suit.
By Karan– Mark, I do not know enough about what each person faces when they are released, but I do know from personal experience, what the children go through. The numbers show that 80% of a felons children end up as felons (that is 3 children out of four) and of those 3 children, their children will cycle again, so, providing they each have 4 children, you would have 13 people in prison over a pretty short time, the parent, 3 children and 9 grands. And the cycle does not stop there. And so, What we want to do is… Read more »
By Tami–Charlotte, many would agree with you … while many are too closed to even begin to hear the word of our Saviour. One must remember that each one of those men or women behind bars has a unique past – different, although perhaps sometimes similar in nature, to our own. Kairos Prison Ministry is indeed a vital link to attempt to reach those who are incarcerated … and those loved ones of the incarcerated … with the vital message of God’s love in the darkest place of their life. God’s love is there for them – perhaps the ones… Read more »
Arnold’s on the very front line of what America’s future looks like. Like the auto iurdstny with the unions, California pays its employees WAY TOO MUCH ($80K a year for cops and $60K a year for teachers) to ever be competitive in a global economy over the next few decades.Think about it, California has the largest US export in entertainment, high tech, tourism, and a huge agriculture base, and yet they’re nowhere near a balanced budget in the very best of times.Taxes will go up dramatically (up from 10% state income tax now) and expenditures will go down dramatically. It’s… Read more »
By Karan–Ok, I just looked at the sights that Mark placed here, they are awesome. I want to ask about it for anyone who knows or has an opinion; I have talked to many people about having a business for this purpose, Most will say something negative bc they like the idea but “not in their own backyard”, I am even having problems getting a quote for insurance for my shop bc I mentioned Felons. How are these businesses doing since they are open about what they are doing and who insures them? Does it do the business better to… Read more »
Laura,None of those countries lisetd are exactly paradises of freedom that we would like to emulate. What’s next? flogging people for chewing gums like Sigapore does? The ethnic Chinese countries (that includes, China, Taiwan, Hongkong and Singapore) have an irrational view towards drugs. The old Manchu Empire of China was the first nation-state in the world that banned drugs, back in the early 19th century, and they got their ass kicked by the British Empire, which enforced free trade with battleships. Over time, an anti-drug policy became a veiled xenophobia policy there by the local elites. The reality is that,… Read more »
By Liza&Harry–well…should not be shocked that a person’s mistakes follow them for much of the rest of their lives…and it real hard to find someone…anyone…that will give a former inmate a chance at beginning a new life after being locked up…yes, this ” not in my backyard ” is a big factor in all of this, but I praise all on here that are trying to turn things around. We have tried to get involved in the prison reform movement but it’s hard sometimes to just come up with the gas money to go to these meetings and give testimony… Read more »
By John–I thought “debtors prison” went out in the 1700’s under the Kings law in Europe. I am a landlord and sometimes it would be nice to have a completely unfair advantage over a tenant but the inhumanity, inequitable and unconstitutionality of this kind of law is outrageous and I am shocked that it has gone on for so long.
terri– likes your discussion:
What is Prison Like in the Morning – PrisonPath
Arnold’s on the very front line of what America’s future looks like. Like the auto irutsdny with the unions, California pays its employees WAY TOO MUCH ($80K a year for cops and $60K a year for teachers) to ever be competitive in a global economy over the next few decades.Here we go again! Another left-wing liberal shving the “global economy” crap down out throats. Unless you want to give up your job to work for $10 a day as they do in asia, shut yout stupid mouth.It costs $30k a year to incarcerate people and over 50% who are in… Read more »
California pays its employees WAY TOO MUCH ($80K a year for cops and $60K a year for taechers) to ever be competitive in a global economy over the next few decades.—cops and teacher salaries are not meant to compete on a global scale. You can’t hire a third worlder at $2/hr to police your city and not expect theft, graft, shakedowns, and get timely service.Same with taechers. people are people. if they feel that they are not getting what they deserve then they will not provide sufficent services. Civil service is NOT the same as building a car. If some… Read more »
By Sue–Texas has an organization called TIFA (Texas Inmates Families Association) http://tifa.org It is making a difference in that state. Other states should copy the idea and then voices will get stronger. Check it out. Collaborate. Team up. Unite your voices.
[…] a brief snapshot of a Maryland state prison. Another article discussed prison life in the morning, “What is Prison Like in the Morning”. The following article describes a typical afternoon at the Maryland Correctional training Center […]