Prisonpath previously discussed “What is Prison Really Like”. The posting offered 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 located in Hagerstown, Maryland. All of the postings are based on the actual experiences and observations of the author and founder of Prisonpath.com.
Breakfast was at 5 AM. Lunch was approximately at 10 AM. We would not have dinner for another seven to eight hours. This part of the day consisted of hunger and foraging for food. Actually, the entire prison day usually revolved around food. The prison food was often terrible. When the food was occasionally decent, there was very little of it. The required caloric quota was fulfilled by 3-4 slices of bread given with each meal. If you consumed every slice of bread with every meal, you would have health issues. Inmates supplemented their diet with food purchased from the prison commissary. Many inmates did not have any money or had very little money to purchase food from the commissary at their high prices. Inmate jobs paid from $0.90 to $2.00 a day. The majority of inmate’s families did not have the funds to send to their family member. An inmate could borrow from other inmates who had purchased food from the commissary, but the purchase price was high. If you bought any two items, you owed three of the same item. If no repayment – you risked a violent confrontation.
It was spring and our small cell faced the sun. By late afternoon, the cell was a tiny oven. I passed the hours reading or writing about our daily incarcerated life. Most days, the tier did not have any rec room scheduled for the afternoon. The rec room consisted of tables, chairs, one TV, and two microwaves. Depending on circumstances, certain tables were controlled by the gangs. There was little contact with correction guards during the afternoon except when the officers walked the tier counting the inmates in their cells.
If you had problems with your cellmate, the afternoon was even longer. Because of cell conditions, there was always the possibility of violence. The gangs always had contraband, drugs, and alcohol to use and sell to other inmates. A smart inmate was never curious about their sources. It was always best to remain separate from the drug-gang scene. For obvious reasons, difficulties arose when your cellmate was high and violent.
Even with reading, the minutes were endless. You would try to sleep away as much of the time and heat as possible. With dinner, you left your unit and walked outside for a few brief minutes to the chow hall. It was 5 PM and the afternoon was over.