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 30, 2007


I expressed concern early on about how well I would sleep away from home. On the whole, it has been OK.

In the beginning, the room was extremely cold and I slept in several layers of clothing. Lately, the temperature has warmed and I can sleep comfortably in shorts. The beds have 9" twin spring mattresses which are reasonably comfortable, especially compared to the pads and metal tables inmates report sleeping on in other prisons.

The biggest issue I have now is an upper bunkmate who appears to have sleep apnea. He doesn't just snore; he explodes in fits and gasps. It is the loudest snoring I have ever heard. He will go silent for 30 seconds and then start gasping for breath. I don't know how he sleeps. I and another guy in the room have tried to tell him he needs to get it checked. It could explain why he is tired all the time.

I have had to resort to sleeping with my radio headphones on with the volume loud enough to drown out those sounds above me.

No comments: