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Prison experiences


Bodhisattva in Recovery
*strap in; there may be turbulence*

My incarceration began on June 21, 2021, and was nothing like what I expected. You see, the moment the bailiff slapped the handcuffs on me in court I was no longer a person in the conventional sense. I was a “client” of the system. My number was more important than my name.

Covid-19 helped ease me into the prison experience because I went through 15 days of isolation in my own cell. It was only a few days in when I saw on television news of a coming “heat dome”, as each cell was equipped with a 12” LCD TV mounted on the wall. There was crude air circulation and fans inside and I didn’t think the coming heat would get too bad. My, how wrong I was to be.

[Edit: I am at the bottom of the bright red island off the West coast, directly West of the American San Juan Islands.)


The heat dome hit from June 25 to July 1 and the first day was hot but tolerable until on that first night the HVAC system died. I think it took them about 7 days to get it back up and running but in the meantime the heat dome hit, and we cooked. Oh, and just for added effect, my cell was composed of typical reinforced cinderblock and so it was sort of like being in a Dutch oven.

I was lucky to have a nice enough view of the barbed wire fence and a hillside nearby, so I could see something at least. My cell, however, faced west and was on the 2nd floor. The first night without any HVAC was sweltering and the guards came by with extra drinks and Dixie cup-like ice cream. My cell was probably 35 that night and remained so for the rest of the week.

One of the first things I encountered in captivity is boredom. I don’t know about you but intellectually speaking, I can handle about 2.4 seconds of network television before my brain begins to rot and have not watched TV on a regular basis for about 25 years. Having the TV as my companion became a love/hate relationship as it never had anything good to say and I was also dismayed at what passed for entertainment in 2021. I kept wondering why anyone would want to willingly watch any of it.

I will say that my “mentors” gave me great advice and I was well prepared when that door locked behind me. I took enough money to seed my prisoner account so that I could afford pretty much anything I wanted to get from Canteen once a week.

One interesting thing was being introduced to an environment where there were so many First Nations men. For some reason they seemed to like me, and I was invited to sit at their table. You can imagine my alarm one day when this huge native kid, Wes, who was 6’ 6” sits down next to me and starts up a conversation. This is a scary looking dude! Slowly it begins to dawn on me that the biggest guy on the unit has picked me to hang out with, a guy 40 years older too… then another guy, Willy, comes over. We played Scrabble together and have some laughs. Oddly, I found the white guys were either druggies or just off-putting whereas the First Nations guys were quite approachable, if not downright friendly. Willy and Wes became regulars at my table, and we played many games of Scrabble, Crib and Hearts.

The routine.

Lights came on in the unit at 6:30ish am. Breakfast, for lack of a better term, was served at 7:00 am. Lunch, if you would like to call it that, was at 11:00 am. Dinner, for what it was worth, was at 4:00 pm. Lock down at 10:00 pm. In quarantine, I had a toilet in my cell but on “the unit” there was only a buzzer to get let out to use the bathroom, one at a time, after lock down, so there was always a queue of a few minutes. At 67 years of age, that was great fun.

Part of the daily entertainment was a Code Yellow, where one goes back to their cell ASAP for immediate lockdown because the cavalry is coming, and you do NOT want to be in their way. Some days we had two Code Yellows, which again is where some kind of physical altercation is going down and emergency response comes in, as in an overwhelming show of force.

Then there was the morning that the Storm Troopers arrived. Wow. I could almost hear the music from Star Wars as about a dozen men in full body armor and shields arrived to deal with 3 people who did not know they were coming. Keep in mind that staff are normally quite cordial, for the most part, but when they are not playing games, it IS obvious – lest there be any doubt how serious they are.

One at a time, the group went to each door and ordered the inmate to comply immediately and to follow their instructions – to the letter. I heard them shout, “Turn around and face away from the door, get down on your knees with your hands behind your back. Do it now!”

The first two rooms were cleared with no fuss, but the Officer had to say, “Do it now!” three times at the last door. Each time he shouted a bit louder. My eyes were like saucers as I watched the proceedings 20 feet away through a tiny porthole-like window in my cell wall.

The big guy that was marched passed my door and was visibly shaken as they led him away. I guess he wasn’t so tough after all. We found out later that the staff had decided that two of the men were potentially going to be a handful when they found out they were being transferred and so took every precaution to make sure things went smoothly.

Now, compare this to the day I was told I was leaving.

As I walked by the Corrections Officer at the front desk he looks up and says, “Get your stuff together. You are leaving in fifteen minutes.” In ten minutes, I was standing at the door ready for the next stage of this crazy adventure. I guess they didn’t consider me to be much of a threat even if I had put in a request to be transferred to the second facility.

I’ll end this part with a strange note. You see, in person, I am an exuberant, “upbeat” personality. One of the reasons I am a popular person to call in my groups is because I am so laid back that people find me easy to talk to. (I’m almost done.) So, you can imagine my chagrin when more than a couple of guys told me to “throttle back” on the rainbows and unicorns a bit in prison. They said it would not go over well.

I did “throttle back” on my Pollyanna personality (as much as I could) but still ran into difficulty 3 or 4 times while inside. It’s not that people don’t want to be happy or for another inmate to be happy. The problem is that when guys, who are not great at dealing with their emotions or reality (in general), saw me smiling or heard me laughing, it reminded them of how miserable they were. They didn’t like the reminder. While I was writing this, I thought for a moment that in real life I’m sort of like a Ned Flanders who swears and isn’t religious but is spiritual. I even use "Oakely dokely" quite frequently. The point is, you can imagine how I stood out because of that, LOL.

Part two will outline the 5 hour ride to the next facility.
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Twilight Hue

Twilight, not bright nor dark, good nor bad.
I know it sounds feeble but I never really understood freedom as being a priviledge before. I'm glad I got that straightened out. :)
Well as the saying goes, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time".

Maybe good advice to prevent any potential repeats.


Bodhisattva in Recovery
Well as the saying goes, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time".

Maybe good advice to prevent any potential repeats.
I really appreciate the thought, but as I was sitting here, this hit me. You allude to a good point too that I touched on in other post(s) about the general education/IQ level in prison. In order for instructions to be understood by as many men as possible they keep them as simple as possible. This does get mind-numbing at times but I saw that this form of Uber clarification was essential as a lot of the "clients" are inellectually challenged.