04 February, 2020

Bachelor Pad? More Like Trick Bag!

I should've known it'd be something like this. The single-occupancy cell rumor I was excited enough to blog about (see "A Room of One's Own," from December) is a rumor no more. Unfortunately, its transition from the realm of speculation proves yet again that the hype often falls far short of the reality when dreams come true.

Half the wing gathered around the man handing out applications. Everyone wanted a form, probably out of curiosity as much as out of intent. Prisoners, more so than most demographics, transform into hungry wolves when free stuff's on offer. Ever the wallflower, I held back until the pack disbursed back to their respective dens. The ERDCC administration clearly failed to anticipate how desirable human beings might find the prospect of solitude — the guy was completely out of forms by the time I showed up.

My neighbor happened to get one, though, and it was he who granted me a look at the criteria. Common sense and eighteen years' experience in the DOC gave me an inkling of what the qualifications would be. Seeing them with my own eyes was still a downer.

Going five years without a conduct violation and showing "good institutional adjustment" seem obvious enough. More unexpected was the requirement that one attend an ongoing self-help group or education program, or that one complete a class in the ERDCC Learning Center every three months. Sure, fine, I thought.

Then I read this: "If removed from Privileged Dorm Status, (Single Cell) must wait 12 months for Honor Status, no wait for Pre Honor Status." Grammatically and logistically, this sentence barely makes sense to me — and I live here. However, having conferred with my fellow prisoners on the subject, I now understand. A resident of a good-conduct wing usually won't get the boot for one conduct violation but is out on his ass after a second within a year. Comparatively, a single infraction is all it'll take to land a lucky bachelor back in general population.

The situation sounds great but would be a little like performing a tightrope act. There isn't a single cell here that doesn't contain something, however piddly and inconsequential, that a searching guard couldn't write its occupants up for — too many books, a photo hung with tape peeled off an envelope, or a borrowed magazine, maybe. You'd have to be extra, extra careful. There's an everyday risk, just being in prison, of getting caught up in the midst of a situation you previously had nothing to do with. I can see how living in a single-man cell could lead to heightened concern — even outright paranoia. General population, with its twenty-hour-a-day lockdowns, few recreation opportunities, and iffy options for socializing, totally sucks. That'd be a loooooong way to fall.

After further consideration, then, I take back what I said about my eagerness to live the single life. Jeff's a good cellmate. I'm fine, living where I do at the moment. However, I reserve the option to re-reconsider my choice at a later date, should circumstances, or the rules of the single-occupancy-cell incentive program, change.

1 comment:

  1. So many arbitrary rules everyday, it sounds exhausting!
    Do you still have those Lemon cremes?


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.