Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Heat is On

                The heat is more than just a small 4 letter word. How can one express heat in a cage with little window openings. Let me give you the feel of a standard cell in the Texas prison system. The cell door is of course made of steel/metal and opens about 3 feet. On this door is 2 grids of mess/screen about 3 feet in height by maybe 5 inches wide. So as you can picture not much ventilation or circulation can pass through these openings. The typical cell is about 10x8 for the everyday offender. Of course those dimensions vary in AD-Seg and the dorms.
                As you enter your cell (depending on the left/right layout) I’ll use the right layout for this. To your right is the can/shitter/toilet. Above that is a steel mirror of sorts that gives one a distorted view of one’s self. There is also a sink. I still remember seeing myself for the first time in 10 years in a real glass mirror lol. So after the toilet area to your right is a writing table and round seat (great for the butt) nothing is padded in TDC. Above this table are 2 shelves, the top one for top bunk and the bottom one for bottom bunk. There is an unwritten code that says the table is divided in 2. Left side closes to the bottom bunk is his, while the right side belongs to the top bunk.
                Next of course are the luxurious accommodations provided by the state of Texas? I would say the bunks are about 7 feet long by maybe a little bit more than 3 foot wide. As you lay in your bunk there is a window that is maybe 4 foot long and 8 inches wide or so. These windows open with a crank type lever. They only open and 4 inches outwards. Oh ya did I mention there is also a screen on the window limiting the airflow. So with that all said you don’t get much relief from the Texas heat. Sure a fan is great at blowing the inferno back at ya, to help we would wet ourselves constantly fooling our self it was cooler.
                I had seen some pour water into the metal bunk rack housing frame and lay directly in the water. A thing that seem to help a bit was drenching your t-shirts and then putting it back on to have it dry again in about 30 minutes. When we received a lay-in to go to medical it was a joy for that area is being blasted with A/C. Strange was after a few hours you looked forward to the thaw out process walking back to your cell.
                Sadly in my “don’t mean anything mind” the state of Texas will never get A/C in the units. One reason and most important to voters and all the “good” people is the staggering cost to install and maintain those units, let alone the monthly bills. We are talking about pods that are 2 stories high. It would be an incredible feat to cool down each pod and 24 cells with a ceiling that high as well as cells where the doors are shut with little air flow. There is heating ducts and vents in each cell but again the cost would be great.
                The average “law abiding” citizen could care less about those behind bars. Another factor some of you may not be aware of is only store bought shorts and t-shirts can be wore in the dayroom. Not all inmates can afford these items and are left with TDC issued tops and pants. Some risk cases by pulling down there pants under the table to their ankles. Some don’t care and go shirtless. For the most part the guards will let it go with a case but will bang on the window of the pod with the “put your shirt on sign”
                By far this time of year breeds frustration and anger which leads to confrontation. On top of all that there will be or already has been a lock down during this time. I guess if I had to give an example of the heat and conditions is imagine the blast of hot air when you open the oven. For those who want to get another view, right now turn you’re A/C off till tomorrow. Go to a small room and open your window maybe 3-4 inches, then lay in your bed and wait for it to hit you. To make matters worse is those who work in the kitchen during summer.
                I worked the Scullery (dish washer) for about a year. That room is about 20 feet long by about 10 wide. On either sides are machines that wash all the trays and spoons. It gets so hot the trays can burn your hands and at times the water within actually boils. Not to mention the steams emanating from the doors. The cooking area is hot as well as most of the kitchen. Then after your 8 hour shift where you received a big fat nothing you strip down in front of about 100 other guys to walk back to your not so hot cell. You do get used to it.
                When you add up all the factors of prison life that I have talked about there is no wonder there isn’t more fights and stabbings. Some guys stay strong and play mind games, some just stare off into space and hope, and some go over the edge. To sit in the day-room and have sweat pour off you just reading, to stare out the windows and see trees, to see the cars in the parking lot. Watching the guards change shifts knowing they are going home to a hot home cooked meal, maybe a beer, the arms of a loved one, to play catch with a son, or watch a movie with a daughter.
                People then wonder why we acting like animals inside. Maybe it is because we were treated like animals, treated sub-human, treated like garbage. I don’t have all the answers hell I have very little of them. All I can try to do is shed light on the struggles that are going on right now as I sit in my very comfortable room, with an overhead fan and A/C blowing, getting ready soon to go to work and actually get a pay check.
                Do I feel guilty? Yes I do in some way, but there is nothing I can do about that. I was sentenced to 10 years and did all 10. I’m not a one big into praying now a days and always have thought that one’s strength comes from within and not a book. I have no problem with those that pray and those who send prayers. I still dream of inside and still can feel it. I taste it in every meal. Today I will drive to work and not put the A/C on, I will have the window cracked some, but I most never forget what it was like to live in hell for 10 years.

                Your loved ones will be OK, write to them and stay positive. Tell them happy stories, tell them of the memories you share. Tell them of the new memories you will share. Tell them to stay safe and stay strong, to stay the course and you need them very much. There are those who are tired of all this and no one will ever blame you if you choose to go in another direction. You have to live your life too. Now your life is on hold if you choose. You are in a sort of coma awaiting the day you wake up and this hellish nightmare is over. Again Thank You all for letting me share my small memories with you.

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