This is a short series of posts I’m writing in response to a recurring question I’ve gotten over the years. Many people have wanted to know what things were like for me. Instead of repeating oft told “prison stories”, I’ve decided that a better answer would involve impressionism. So, these are my impressions of events…
by Alex King
Prison starts at the verdict. Once all the jokes, fears and horror stories of hell on Earth become an imminent reality, the psychological effects begin. A dark gulf yawns before you and you start to feel the weight of chains constraining your entire being. Depression and despair settle in for the long haul, continually threatening a devastating hopelessness. Shock can sometimes delay this effect, but not for long. This immutable reality will soon take you, and try with all its might to crush you, utterly.
This is just the onset of the tempest. It seems like the worst part only because of the contrast. Soon after comes sentencing. For some, the sentence gives a light at the tunnel’s end. For others, a light only exists beyond the vanishing point, or not at all. To be set on a path of torment, knowing it will not end for an incomprehensible length of time, can easily shatter all but the most fortified spirits. The longer the trek through that gulf, the easier it is to become lost.
Waiting for transport is torture. Nervous anxiety builds. It becomes harder and harder to smile. You begin to forget what it’s like to laugh. Many pace. Others fidget. When sleep comes, it’s restless and fitful, providing none but the smallest relief. Pity from those around you, from those you are in contact with, poisons you, corroding your composure. Each day, you hope it will end, and each day, you dread the end’s approach. Then, finally, the hammer falls. Your name is called. You are told to pack.
Transport and intake alike are a nerve-wracking mixture of whirlwinds blended with tense calm. “Hurry, hurry!” “Move, inmate!” “Wait there!” The clock runs, hours pass like weeks. Orders come to perform tasks. Orders come to wait for the next order to move. You hop to when called, so as not to attract notice. Those who are too slow are harassed. Those who are noncompliant are taken away. Certain atrocities committed in these places are carefully kept out of the view of the camera.
Relief and anxiety create a bitter blend as intake finalizes. An entire day of high stress with no hint of comfort, whether physical, mental, or emotional, leaves you exhausted. Your life has been drastically redefined, and this is only the beginning.
Groove of the Day