28 January, 2021

Hopes about Art, Dashed

Did it seem too good to be true when word came down that ERDCC was easing restrictions on what art supplies prisoners could buy? Sure, it did. I started out skeptical, but even the deputy warden confirmed that paints, fabric, measuring tools, and so forth would be allowed from now on. Everyone I know grew more and more excited, eager to put our hand to all kinds of new media. So great was our enthusiasm that it inspired a big meeting among the powers that be.

Admin meetings rarely seem to have positive outcomes for the facility's population, and this one was no exception. Yesterday's memo from the warden's office reached the media center, where I work, and instructed us to add an "In-Cell Hobby Craft" slide to channel 64, the institutional information channel. The only approved hobby crafts approved are still drawing and origami. So much for my fantasies of painting with acrylics, drawing with decent pens, and learning how to sew and stuff my own tentacular, bead-eyed, hideous Lovecraftian plush monsters.

Now, guys who availed themselves of the policy by going crazy with art-supply mail orders have sixty days to dispose of their treasures before the stuff will be considered contraband again. What the hell.

The whole misunderstanding arose from a confusingly written policy. This is what happens when a document is edited too many times, by too many bureaucrats who don't understand the particularities of life on the ground. I imagine the same thing happens all the time in corporate America, the military, and various state legislatures. The more-permissive hobby craft policy that everyone was going off of – the one that confused even the deputy warden – supposedly applies only to lower-level Missouri prisons, not to level-five institutions, where people are in for murder, rape, and possession of methamphetamine.

Except not. See, my friends Zach and Jim transferred to Western Missouri Correctional Center after the 2018 Crossroads riot. Both of them are serving life sentences in a level-five prison, the same as me; both of them report that WMCC allows all that stuff that we here at ERDCC were so jazzed to order. Why the discrepancy? Someone should form a committee and find out. Me, I'm going back to the drawing board – except, wait, drawing boards aren't allowed here. Shit.


  1. Siiigh...sucks really. Would have been super to have all thta great stuff.

  2. So sorry to hear this. I hope you get a refund on your purchases somehow. However that doesn't sound very likely. Drats.


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.