On to Oxbow

Posted: April 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

It was after 8 pm that I arrived at the Oxbow Unit at the Jackson Correction Institution (JCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison system (WPS). I was by this point mentally and physically drained from the activity that day.  I, among others, having been staffed at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) to JCI, had arrived here earlier that day.  I’d been moved from the X-Building barracks, where everyone else had been assigned, to Oxbow due to medical issues.  I felt like a zombie and my feet felt like concrete blocks encased them.  The guard took my paperwork, and then took me to a closet and gave me a bedroll, a cell assignment, a key to my cell, said I would need to pick up things as I go, and told me I wasn’t ever allowed to walk by the inmates in segregation so I should use the far stairwell.  I know I acknowledged but I must not have understood as I did exactly what I wasn’t suppose to without it occurring to me I’d done something wrong.  That same guard came up after me I’m sure as confused as I was why I’d done that.  I apologized.  After he walked away, I used the key he gave me from my cell and it didn’t work.  I’m like you have got to be kidding.  One of the inmates saw this, and said something to the guard, and then the lock worked.  I assume they did something at the control desk. 

The cell itself was very similar to the cell on Unit 19 at DCI except the bunk bed and desk had switched sides.  This cell though had been setup for two people so on the right were 2 small desks with 2 cabinets separating them.  I tried to make the bed but the sheets were too small, so I gave up and just decided to use blankets for the night.  I probably should have stayed put but I wanted to look around.  I hadn’t gone 5 steps when an inmate approached me and asked me to ask for someone to be my cellmate.  I briefly explained I was on medical restriction for a single cell.  He quickly disappeared.  I noticed there was a TV I could see and hear from my cell if I stood in the window.  That might bother you, but months with no TV, hey, I like it!  As I walked down the stairs I looked at the day room.  It wasn’t anything special just tables centered around 2 TV’s.  Lots of card playing, chess and quite a few eyes on me.  I tried to look confident but losing my balance on one step didn’t enhance that idea I’m sure. At the bottom were phones in back of me.  I noticed Freddy, the laundry guy from X-building at a table and he motioned me over.  He asked what many there were thinking.  Why am I at Oxbow without staying at Building X at this hour?  I gave him the 2 minute version.  He offered me some coffee and had me sit.  We got on the topic of my birth control glasses, and he mentioned there was a way to order glasses, TV’s, radios, clothes, shoes and all sorts of stuff through catalogs.  I said no, not really.  He then asked if I knew anyone that had a credit card that would?  Now I get uncomfortable.  I said no.  Freddy went on to say he’d pay me back in canteen if I could do this, but he didn’t want the money on his books for child support reasons.  Freddy also reminded me my money from DCI wouldn’t be here for 2 to 4 weeks.  I said I understood.  He left and returned with 2 shot glasses worth of coffee for me.  I shouldn’t have, but I accepted the coffee.  Everyone here had spent 3-4 months in X-building and had gotten their funds, clothes, canteen and electronics in that time,  prior to coming to Oxbow.  What little canteen they didn’t throw away was still stuck in Property and they didn’t order canteen again for another 2 weeks.  So, no money, no canteen, don’t know what’s going on, and I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.  But I was so grateful to be out of X-building.  Plus my time of isolation at DCI and Waukesha County Jail had strengthened me.  I’ve gone without canteen.  I’ve gone without my own TV or radio.  I certainly had gone without people, whether genuine or hustlers.  I resorted to my old standby.  I asked Freddy for a Bible.  He seemed happy to give me one.  If it was part of his game I didn’t know and I didn’t much care.  I returned to my room, using a key to open my door, that now, thanks to Freddy, was attached to my ID badge.  How long has it been since I controlled my own door, I thought?  I started to read, and about 10 minutes later, I was drifting off already.  I thanked God for getting me out of X-building and asked for the strength to cope with new people, places and things. I think it was about 20 minutes and I was out cold.

  1. nosnooze says:

    I was wondering if you remember in X building how soon you are able to use the phone and if there are restrictions on using the phone there?

    • lifewps says:

      Hello nosnooze,
      Inmates can use the phone immediately upon arrival at Oxbow as long as their is money on the phone number they want to call and dayroom is open (they are not locked down). Calls are supposed to be limited to 10 minutes but this is often ignored. Waiting for the phone is the biggest challenge. If there is not money on the number being called he will get a one minute call to that number from which the person he calls will then be connected to the billing service. They should have a credit card ready.

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