First Day in Prison: Unit 19

Posted: February 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

It’s still January 7th.  If you missed Part I and Part II, you can click on those links.  I arrived at Unit 19 with an escort, wearing a mask because of my low white cell county due to chemotherapy as a result of cancer. Once I arrived at the entrance, I was directed in to a room that appeared to have a control center straight ahead with 2 sliding doors on each side.  The doors are kind of a baby blue color and the walls are white.  The door marked “19” slid open and I was met by a swamper who had me sit at a metal table.  After telling me my mask freaked him out and I explained it to him, he said, this is how Dodge Correctional Institution works.  You are now on Intake status.  This meant no visitors, canteen, or time out of your cell.  It would be like this for at least 3 days, but likely longer for me because I was arriving close to a weekend.  Once this was complete, I would be transferred to an Assessment and Evaluation Unit (A&E), where A&E staff will evaluate me and make recommendations as to my placement within the prison system.  This process can take up to 8 weeks.  During this time I would get 1 phone call a week for 15 minutes, about an hour of time out of my cell for recreation (known as “Rec”) about every other day.  Then came the rules, most important of course was not yelling out of your cell to the swampers or CO’s, or communicating with other inmates between cells.  During the entire 8 weeks, no electronics of any kind would be ordered or provided to inmates.  This of course meant no radio or TV, which in the dark days at Waukesha County Jail, radio kept me going mentally.  I’m like well this is going to suck! 

Because of my medical status, I was placed on “single cell restriction” (no roommate).  I was given a blue book consisting of all Wisconsin Department of Corrections rules and told to learn it, and a yellow book with all of Dodge Correctional Institution procedures.  I was given a bedroll and a hygiene kit and sent to my cell.  It was the same setup as earlier.  A sliding baby blue door that when opened showed white walls.  At the back was a barred brown framed window.  A toilet and bed to my right, along with a scratched up table and bulletin board to my left.  On the table was a “New American” Catholic version of the Bible, the same as I had at Waukesha County Jail.  Though I was raised Lutheran (Wisconsin Synod), I had found this version of the Bible quite interesting.  Over the next few days, I’d thank God for this Bible over and over because there was no place else to go with my thoughts or anxieties. 

Questions like what is going to happen to me, the depth of the hole I’ve fallen into in my life, why did so many desert me, will anyone remember me, I have no where to go when I get out, what will I do?  The soon to be ex-wife and kids, are they ok?  Do they miss me at all and many others just raced through my mind.  When I could obsess on these things no longer, I would stop and open that Bible and lose myself in it for awhile.  Then the same thoughts and anxieties would return again.  It’s what my world has been reduced to it appeared, my Bible and my fear.  It would only get worse tonight for me for many other reasons as you’ll see, my first night on Unit 19.

  1. Mike says:

    I miss you, my friend. I\’m thinking about you. When I entered bootcamp they handed us the UCMJ, uniform code of military justice, and we had to learn it just like you had to learn the rules. Somehow I think the military and the prison system are run by the same people.

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