Getting my Feet Wet

Posted: April 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

The next morning at Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), I heard the familiar sounds of the trap doors in cells being slammed shut.  My cell is located next to those in segregation.  I didn’t mind though.  Soon it would be 6 am and time for “Early Line Breakfast’ which is suppose to be for those of us that go get meds at 6:25 am.  Oxbow, my unit at JCI, is divided into “A” and “B” sections.  Each side has an A1, A2, A3, A4, etc.  As the med line goes down, another section is called to come to the meal.  Being early I sat by myself until a guy with a long white beard sat at my table.  We’ll call him Tim.  He got my attention rather quickly.  He was in on an explosives charge, had been an active member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Gang, and had been locked up on and off since he was 19. Found out he was a former Sheboyganite like myself, though we didn’t know anyone in common.  We were joined by another old timer, we’ll call him Randy.  Apparently, they’d known each other in various prisons for years.  My impression of Tim was favorable as he seems decent.  Not so much with Randy.  The subject of my cancer came up and he said all he needed was a couple of moments alone with me and he’s have fu–ed that cancer right out of me.  I glared.  He said I needed a sense of humor.  I said I would have one if he had said something funny.  He was quiet from the on.  I wasn’t going to like Randy I was sure.  They actually served seconds at breakfast which was a nice surprise.  I’m always hungry.

I got ready to go up to the JCI Health Services Unit (HSU) which is to say I put a coat on.  Other units have a specific HSU cell but not at Oxbow.  At 6:25 we just sign out and go.  When I got outside that same cold knocking the wind out of me I felt at X-Building yesterday only it was worse this time guessing because of the early hour.  I got to HSU and sat in the waiting room, which consists of a concrete floor, ceiling and walls, with a concrete slab to sit on.  It was similar to the waiting room you might go to in one respect in that it had outdated magazines.  We waited for the diabetics to do their tests first in the waiting room, then get their meds and then the X-Building residents.  We filled Dixie cups of water and lined up to get meds from a guard behind a glass window.  We stuck our hands under the window, got the meds, took them, and then we opened our mouths for another guard standing to our right to make sure we took them, and then headed back to our unit.  I’m just so amazed how quickly I’d forgotten what cold would feel like!

Once I returned, I signed in and at 7:30 am the morning standing count was done.  At 8 am, I was told I had to go back to HSU.  I’m going to get used to the cold, and to this 400+ yard walk quickly I suspect!  Unlike Dodge Correctional Institution’s (DCI) HSU, even the guards are behind locked doors and heavy glass. Prudent measures I’m sure.  After all, we are criminals, right?  The nurse came and got me quickly and took my temp.  She gave me a temperature gauge to bring back with me to save me the two trips to HSU everyday, which I’d leave at the guard’s desk.  This made sense to me.  I returned to the waiting room.  Like many of you at one time or another, I waited over an hour to see the doctor.  It was just a meet and greet.  I got the sense he didn’t take the side effects from chemotherapy seriously but he seems like a good guy.

I returned to Oxbow.  It seems from about 8 am to 9:30 am, the guys in segregation have “day room” which means they can use the day room to watch TV or whatever.  Other inmates have to go to the other side or stay in their cell the whole time.  Of course, I went to my cell and read my Bible.  Habits from at Unit 19 appear to have stuck. 

After lunch, in which Tim and Randy joined me again, we had our standing count at 12:25 pm and it came time for our unit to visit the library.  As you might recall, I never did get to visit the DCI Library, so I was looking forward to this.  However; the library gods still wouldn’t smile on me.  Because I left X-Building so soon, I never got to go through the library orientation which meant though I got to visit, I couldn’t check out anything.  I have to put in a request with the unit social worker to get this fixed, which I did.  Another inmate, who saw what happened was kind enough to check out the book I wanted, “Plan of Attack” by Bob Woodward and let me read it.  In addition to the vulgar people like Randy, you’ll also find considerate people like him in prison.  I guess its kind of the same in your world too.



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