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).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What Will I Truly Miss?

I suppose it is natural (at least, I hope it is normal) to starting thinking ahead to the events one is going to miss while away. I will be incarcerated March 30 - June 29. During that time, the following events are scheduled:

1. Masters Golf Tournament
2. Easter
3. Wachovia Championship (PGA Event in Charlotte that I have two tickets for the entire week and have attended each of the first 4 years)
4. My wife turns 50 on May 9
5. I turn 47 on May 21
6. French Open Tennis Tournament
7. Mom's birthday on June 2 (see Mom, I didn't tell them how old you will be)
8. Daughter turns 18 on June 6
9. US Open Golf Tournament
10. First week of Wimbledon Tennis

Of course, I will probably be able to watch the golf and tennis on TV anyway (and they're certainly shallow indulgences compared to the birthdays of the significant people in my life) but it is sobering to think of time not in days and weeks, but in moments. In fact, I think we generally chronicle our lives not so much in linear time but by the significant events that leave an imprint on our consciousnesses.

I fully expect prison to be one of those significant events. In 10 years, I will likely remember little of these few events I have listed, but I will no doubt be telling -- and retelling -- stories, and the lessons learned, of my brief time in federal prison. While I can't fully fathom what the experience is going to be like, I can't imagine that it won't have a lasting impact.

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