The Routine

Posted: February 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

I woke up after my first night in the Wisconsin Prison System at Dodge Correctional Institution to a pleasant surprise – a hot breakfast!  After months in the Waukesha County Jail of nothing but a small Styrofoam cup of cold cereal, milk and fruit juice, the scrambled eggs I had were inhaled.  I didn’t care if they were green and of the instant variety and the fact I wouldn’t have even considered eating that a year ago didn’t occur to me either.  I was grateful for my green eggs!

I began to wrap my brain around their routine, which is now my routine.  [At 6 am, 12:15 pm, 5:30 pm, and 9 pm we are required to do a standing count, which is to stand by our bunk while the CO walks by and verifies we are present and still alive].  Meal times are at 6:30 am for breakfast, 10:30 am for lunch and 3:30 pm for supper.  And I thought I’d be retired before eating supper that early!  But again, I was pleasantly surprised to find the quality of food for lunch and dinner surpassed that of Waukesha County Jail.  We even got a piece of baked chicken once, which being able to eat meat off the bone would have never occurred there.  At meal time, inmates doors are opened a few at a time.  They walk up single file and are handed a tray by kitchen workers, pick up a glass of water and a carton of milk.  They fill the series of round tables in the middle of the room from left to right, sitting next to the person you were in line next to.  No interaction between tables is allowed, though the inmates play cat and mouse games with the guards on this.  Your allowed 10 minutes to eat.  You can’t take anything back to your cell unless you were given a piece of fruit, which is allowed.  You deposit your tray, plastic silverware and garbage and return to your cell.

Every day you get a change of shirt, underwear and socks (known as a 1/2 roll) and every other day you also get to change your pants, towel, and washcloth too (known as a full roll).  Medications are handed out 3 times a day by the CO’s, a task they make clear they don’t like to do at all!  I do wonder about the wisdom of this but with this many people, there’s few alternatives.  The frequency and schedule of all prescriptions are altered to fit the scheduled medication passes.  Narcotics prescriptions aren’t handed out this way.  You are sent to the Health Services Unit to get those.

Every other day, swampers are bring cleaning supplies for you to clean your toilet and floor.  The same mop water gets used repeatedly which makes “clean” really subjective to say the least.  But what are you going to do?

Once a week, bed sheets are changed.  If they actually fit your rubber mattress, you hold onto them as long as you can!

Showers are done every other day usually.  A shower lasts 4 minutes.  Inmates strip down to a pair of shorts and stand in line in front of several shower stalls.  The CO yells out a one minute warning prior to the shower going off.

This is the routine and I am learning to adjust.  The biggest change is the complete loss of the power to make any kind of decision in your life.  For the institution this is a necessity, for the inmate, acceptance of this reality, though humiliating, is required for any kind of peace of mind.  For me, it is all part of the consequences of my crime, that being that I have forfeited the right to have any say on a daily basis in my life.

  1. Mike says:

    Heck, in the Navy they gave us 3 minutes to shower. And 3 minutes to shave and use the head. Someone was always barking orders to do this or do that. Control over your own life? You really should consider giving control over to God. In His marching orders you do find rest. In the place you are in, you can be in God\’s plan. May you find peace doing what you are told by prison guards, and in doing what God commands. I did have my difficulties and had to face diciplinary action one time. I hope you never do.

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