This is my second behind the scenes post. Many don’t realize at first, but there are two prison receptions: the initial reception center and orientation at the “main camp”. These are crucial times. They dictate whether or not your sentence will be unduly difficult, at least in the short-term.
by Alex King
Intake has left you exhausted. As you reach your dorm, however, you quickly realize that resting is not in the cards. Stepping through the metal door has the feel of breaking through icy water. Everything is surreal. The dorms are alive at night, and now you are a part of that society. The evening lasts forever. Seconds crawl by. You’ve made it to prison, and now is when you will see first hand if you are capable of making it through.
Shock doesn’t last long. As it wears off, basic needs begin asserting themselves, and you realize you have work to do if you are going to see them fulfilled. You become aware of the place you have been consigned to. Danger lurks everywhere threatening a debilitating paranoia. Entering “prison politics” is a lot like walking into a tornado.
In the reception center, the first thing you notice is the prevalence of salesmen. Nearly anything can be had, at a price. Everything is being sold, from hygiene items that aren’t in the canteen window and books, to pornography and even drugs. One of the first pitfalls is being swindled. Whether the many salesmen or faux friends, you’re surrounded by people trying to make a profit.
The other aspect of reception comes in the form of gangs. The pressure is on to conduct yourself in a manner that doesn’t make you an easy target. Who you associate with, what you say, how you say it, even how you hold yourself, your demeanor and the way you act, if any of that paints the wrong image, you could easily find yourself involved in something bad.
All of this creates a weighty pressure you carry around all day and makes sleep fitful. This environment, these people, it spins you around, bludgeons you, leaves you battered and bruised, bleeding so badly that, by the time you’re called to pack up, you’re relieved to be out, even if it means going to someplace far worse. Your number’s up. It’s time to go. Transport is rough. Intake all over again. You’re searched, then processed. Follow the line. New dorm, new people. Orientation at your main camp is about to begin.
So far, the road has been difficult. You’ve had new experiences and you know from this what prison really is. You finally feel as though you’ve weathered the worst of it and came out standing on your own. By the next morning, you realize how wrong you are. The reception center was full of hunting lions. You made it out of the den only to walk into a forest of spiders.
The people around you have lived in this place for years. They have developed an unnerving patience. They know you will be here for a long time, and the worst of them are betting on the end game. Navigating this new world is treacherous, at best. For an unfortunate few, it’s lethal. You’re caught in the vortex. All you can do now is pray you land on your feet.
Groove of the Day