Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Current Schedule

My current status is A&O (Admission and Orientation). This will continue until I go through the full day orientation class and am assigned a work detail. My orientation will probably be tomorrow, but that has not been confirmed yet.

In the meantime this is my typical daily routine:


I stay in bed until most of the other inmates leave for their work detail. Shower and get dressed. Make my bed (military style). Brush my teeth. Take my vitamins and eat a granola bar. Straighten up my locker. Put an extra granola bar in my pocket for my mid-morning snack. Walk to the bus staging area (BSA) to meet other A&O inmates for my morning assignment. If I have extra time, I will hang out in the law library until 8a.


The CO drives over to the BSA in a golf cart and takes roll. Then he gives us meaningless work details for the morning (since we don't yet have a "real" job). Usually he has us rake leaves or pick up trash. This morning the CO didn't arrive; at 8:15 the CO in the control center called us over to the main desk and simply said, "Keeping it real guys, I just need you to get lost for the day." In fact, that is the real purpose of these work assignments - to keep us occupied and away from the dorms during the day; the actual work is somehow beside the point.

So Monday I walked 8 laps around the 1/2 mile dirt track while picking up nonexistent trash. Yesterday, I got in 6 laps in the early morning and 4 more in the late morning after my medical "call-out."

A "call-out" is an excused absence from your normal duties. So far, I have had one each for the dentist, psychologist, and physician. Each of these is standard for a new inmate to establish an initial file. Like virtually every other staff person (and many inmates), the PA started laughing when she saw I only had 3 months. "What a waste." Hmm. That word sure comes up a lot.

So today I got "lost" in the law library, my sanctuary of choice. Today I can use my radio headphones, which normally are not allowed in the library after hours, so it's not a bad deal.


I return to BSA so the CO can take roll and confirm no one has gone AWOL.


Lunch. I will post later on the food and the lines.


Return to BSA. The CO takes roll again and gives us our assignment until 2:00p, at which time we return, and he will take roll again and release us for the day.


I am free until the 4p standing count, when I have to be back in my room. Dinner is served in two shifts: the "short" line from about 3:00-3:45p and the regular line from 4:30-5:30p. This is much earlier than I am used to. I usually choose the short line and try to eat light.

Before the early dinner, I will either go to the law library and write or go to the phone house and call my wife or my parents.


The standing count is when all the inmates that are not still out of the camp on a work detail must return to their room and stand by their bed to be counted. This usually takes about 15 minutes, at which point we can leave our room, but not exit the floor. Men crowd the exit waiting to be released so that they can go to dinner or the commissary. The units are released according to their floor inspection rating each week. Last week, my unit was last. This week we are first.


This is free time pretty much every day. Since I eat dinner in the short line, I don't have to worry about the long lines for the after-count dinner. I only have to deal with the commissary.

On Monday, if I need stamps, copy card, photo card, clothing or money transferred to my i.d. card, then I go to the commissary after the count.

On Tuesdays, if I need to buy food, I go to the commissary after the count.

All other days, I am basically free to do whatever I want on the camp. My next post will discuss the options.

Of course, Friday evenings and Saturdays and Sundays are for visitation.

I have to be in my room by 10p for the next count. I usually go to bed then, which gives me 8-9 hours of sleep each night. You do not have to go to bed. Some guys go to the TV room; some do laundry in the dorm laundry room that is on each floor.

There are additional counts at 12a, 2a and 4:30a, but they just walk in the room and count sleeping (or otherwise engaged) heads.

That's it. That's my typical day.

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