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).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Week 9 Summary

Fast week as I hoped, thanks to the Memorial Day holiday.

Since federal holidays are visitation days, I was able to see my wife for four days over the holiday weekend. That was especially nice for 2 reasons: 1) I had not seen her in 3 weeks nor talked to her for 2 weeks (because I ran out of phone minutes) and 2) she will be in Europe with her parents the first 2 weeks in June, which encompasses 3 weekends. I won't see her for 4 weeks after this nor talk for 15 days.

Fortunately phone minutes renew on the 1st of the month so I was able to talk to her twice on Friday June 1 before she left. I also was able to talk to my oldest daughter who has left for summer session.

My wife and I were able to talk through some of the strains this has created, a topic I will write on later. Husbands and wives need to understand the distinctive stresses prison places on each spouse and anticipate and interpret changes in behavior appropriately in order to successfully survive.

Monday night was unique -- concert night in the base theatre. Three prison bands performed. I was impressed. One of the inmates was scheduled to leave prison immediately after the concert. Talk about a send-off performance.

Work was more of the same -- weed-eating, weed-eating, weed-eating. I am actually getting pretty good at this. Nice to know I have a fallback career!

I am continuing to work out and trying to figure out a way to get more protein in my diet, which is a little tricky in prison, especially if you can't quite stomach canned fish.

I have learned that a bag of trail mix (1400 calories!) and a quart of gatorade -- both can be purchased in the commissary -- give me all the energy and hydration I need at work. My weight is stable. Hopefully I'm adding some muscle.

As for medical care in prison, a scary topic I will write on later, the only thing I can suggest is DON'T GET SICK. I just developed a small chest cold, which is almost impossible to avoid in a room of 12 men. At the commissary, for cold or allergy-like symptoms, you can purchase: Claritin, allergy tabs, ibuprofen, nasal spray, cough syrup, aspirin.

I had not purchased any in advance as I rarely get sick so a friend gave me 6 aspirin to last the weekend. I'll just have to treat the symptoms and hope I beat the cold over the next week.

Less than 4 weeks to go. I feel like a runner who has just caught his second wind as he starts to sense the finish line ahead.

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