03 May, 2015

Getting Properly Wired and Hooked Up in Prison

There’s a popular misconception that prison life, especially in a maximum-security facility, is barely contained chaos — riots, brutality, and rampant criminal scheming. Other prisons probably do deal with such problems on a daily basis, but Crossroads is another species of penitentiary. Here, things are rigidly controlled and minor infractions are treated with relative severity. (Witness my trip to the Hole last year, which lasted thirty days, for making a three-way call during a podcast interview.) And every so often comes another tightening of the thumbscrews.

Last week the tightening took the form of a visit from the new housing unit manager — our equivalent of an overbearing landlord — who came on a tour of everyone’s cell, to ensure that all of us were in compliance with the posted regulations. His special peeves: paper bags used as trash receptacles, extension cords draped across cells, and sticky-backed plastic wall hooks adhered to any but three particular areas of one’s living quarters.

A few of us got advance notice of the walk-through. In my cell were a few unauthorized hooks still hanging where a previous cellmate left them, so I temporarily disassembled my fingernail clippers and used the handle as a prying tool to take the hooks off the wall. (Note the irony of making contraband to remove contraband.) My current cellmate had an extension for his headphones, so he could silently watch TV from the bunk. The cord was hidden behind his footlocker and resurfaced at the head of the bed but was nevertheless immediately seen and remarked upon: “Find something else to do with that, or it’s a safety violation.”

Now his headphone cord drapes across the cell, precisely in the way of my moving from this typewriter. This is somehow safer. I’m having a hard time adjusting to the new placement of my drying clothes, since the spot I used for hanging damp apparel this past year is no longer acceptable. What would the inmates at Pelican Bay do in this situation? Probably burn something. Being no pyro, I’ll just sit here and take it. There are worse obstacles and unpleasantries that prison can impose on a guy.

1 comment:

  1. I feel you, Byron. Funny how those stereotypes go. I can imagine prison life being more of a bother than violent, with the strict rules and all that stuff. Still, a man shouldn't have to be stuck in a jail cell. An accused should be given the opportunity to find more latitude and space, if not given a sentence that is more productive than being stuck in a place of some time. Take care!

    Eliseo Weinstein @ JR's Bail Bonds


Byron does not have Internet access. Pariahblog.com posts are sent from his cell by way of a secure service especially for prisoners' use. We do read him your comments, however, and he enjoys hearing your thoughts very much.