The X Files

Posted: April 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

I had just gotten off the bus at Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI) facility in the Wisconsin Prison system (WPS), after having been staffed and then sent here from Dodge Correctional Institution.  I was directed to a door and then told to stand along a wall.  Two guards were removing our restraints.  Once mine were off I was directed to a room with stalls where the now all to familiar strip search was done.  I was then directed to the same hall, through a door and to what appeared to be a conference room.  There were chairs setup where inmates, including Ricky were already seated.  At the front of the room on a chalkboard was a very well drawn representation of what I guessed to be the layout of the buildings at JCI, along with the person who was obviously in charge.  It was hard to believe she drew that layout for every group that came in!  Once every chair was filled, she gave us her welcome speech and then started letting us know the basics about JCI.  The biggest points were that we would be housed in the barracks in “X Building” for 3 to 4 months prior to going to a general population unit and how to properly walk from one building to another.  The barracks are where lots of inmates are housed without the benefit of any kind of barrier or boundaries from other inmates or staff.  Basically its a room where all the inmates sleep on bunk beds until their turn comes up for a regular unit placement.  I was confident I wouldn’t go there due to my medical situation and Dodge staff having told me they had coordinated with JCI.  I was grateful too, because I have largely been isolated from people or noise since November 2009 and it would have definitely come as a shock.  The other part was we had to walk the long way around the circle of buildings even if where we were going was right next to each other.  That’s minor I thought. 

Once the presentation was complete, we were sent over to X building for lunch.  Somehow I ended up leading the group there.  I didn’t notice much because I was freezing and for the first time in 299 days, I breathed in the cold outside air instead of the central air system of an institution.  It was an exhilarating yet almost painful sensation and I had to focus just to keep my legs moving.  I heard voices in back of me directing me where to go and I opened the door.  This was the X Building barracks.  Everywhere I looked there were people, either standing, sitting or lying, and it seemed like one giant continuous roar of noise.  Once inside, an inmate we’ll call Freddy, got our attention and began assigning bunks and handing out bed rolls.  Sure enough, I was assigned a bunk, I remembered the transition paperwork between Waukesha County Jail and Dodge had not gone smoothly either so I though this will be more of the same.  I hoped anyway.  There was no one who looked like they could or would want to handle any kind of issue at this point, so I went and made up my bunk.  They then called lunch, which was typical prison grub.  I then went to my bunk and tried to block out the noise.  About 1 pm, Freddy got our attention again and handed out coats with a bright yellow X painted on the back.  We returned to the intake building.  I’m sure we were quite the sight to the other inmates, the bright X designation marking us as “fresh meat”.  We were led into a classroom type setting for our “orientation”.  The same lady as before was there and she was joined by another.  They spoke for quite some time, and it was clear they’d given this presentation a thousand times.  But they could have been Billy Graham and it wouldn’t have mattered.  I was already mentally on overload and actually wishing to be along again.  Just too much information and mental activity after 10 months of nothing.  I think the one thing that stuck?  Our money from Dodge may not get here for 2-4 weeks, that might cause a problem.  After they’d finished we returned to X Building where Freddy issued clothing and had our sizes taken.  I used the bathrooms and observed the open air showers.  At least the toilets had stalls for privacy.  If I needed to hide maybe that would be possible.  After supper, I laid on my bunk and borrowed a Bible.  My bunkmates, all in their 20’s, seemed to be having a good time. I just closed my eyes and imagined myself in better laces.  About 8 pm, I was sent to Health Services where I was told I was being moved, and that there had been a miscommunication.  I returned to X Building, tore up my bunk, returned the Bible and was told to report to Oxbow building.  Though I was drained, I sensed things were about to get better, and I thanked God for having his hand on me.

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