Doing Time

It’s sobering, the sound of prison doors slamming closed around you, being moved in single file along with the other new inmates to the barber shop for a buzz cut, striped for a shower, inspected for parasites, then given a gray cotton jumpsuit and floppy slippers to wear while being further processed. Low security risks get sent to the work farm outside the wall. Those staying inside have two basic security classifications. Some are immediately locked down in the high security cell blocks. The remaining inmates are assigned to one of the six large, two story dormitory wings running perpendicular to the main hallway. Each dormitory floor houses eighty-four inmates, in twenty-eight three-tiered bunk beds, fourteen on each side of a wide central aisle. I arrived at K-dorm carrying my first issue of prison clothing, bath towel, bar of soap, toothbrush, and a small tube of toothpaste. From that point onward, I would be required to purchase items I needed from the prison store on my one assigned day of the week. But I had no money yet in my store account. And, of more immediate concern, I had no cigarettes.

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