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).

Monday, July 2, 2007


[This was written my last week in prison]

I was concerned I would not be able to sleep when arrived in prison. That concern was fortunately not realized. Instead, however, I should have been concerned about sleeping before I get out of prison.

It is Tuesday night and I am stoked. I have no idea how I am going to sleep the next two nights. In fact, I have slept poorly for the last several nights, waking every couple hours even though I feel like I had been asleep for much longer.

Tomorrow I am assigned to "Unit Run," referred to by the inmates as the "Merry-Go-Roiund." I will write on that separately once I actually know what it is. This happens to be my first experience that other inmates can't tell me about first-hand since, of course, they wouludn't here had they already been through it!

In any case, I hope I can find a way to sleep. Tomorrow night (my last night) I might just stay up all night and watch TV alone in the TV room (which is just a few steps from my dorm room).

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