This is my first time doing anything like this, and I’m not quite sure where to start. Being incarcerated changes every aspect of your existence so there’s a lot to talk about. Suggestions and feedback would be appreciated. You can leave comments below this article and they will be passed along to me from my friend on the outside who is running this site.

I guess I’ll start with how my day went. I normally wake up around 9:30 am. First thing I do is change out of the sweatpants I sleep in, make my bed, get my toothbrush, toothpaste, and face cloth to go to the bathroom and get myself together. After that I get my tablet and coffee mug, make myself coffee for the morning and check my JPAY (email service to talk with people on the outside) to see if I have anything new. We have a few different options for instant coffee, I drink Maxwell House select roast that costs $4.28 for a 4oz bag.

After I drink my coffee, I go outside to the small yard and use the phone if needed. Most facilities have a small yard and a big yard, which are usually open at different times. The facility where I’m at now doesn’t have phones inside the housing units (most do) but has 24 phones on the small yard and five phones on the big yard. With the yard being set up like that there’s almost always lines to get on a phone. It’s inconvenient because you can only get on when yard is open.

This morning the yard was opened later than usual, because they took five guys to the hole to strip search and drug test them. It’s not all that uncommon for the guards to do that. When they strip search people here, they video tape it, leave you handcuffed, and take your clothes off. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of it being done like this and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal.

Not long after yard closes the guards do count time where we must be in our cells and on our bunks for about an hour. During count time I usually turn on CNBC and see what’s going on in the stock market. I’m invested in the market and I see what kind of world news is happening.

Today I turned it on to a speech from Trump addressing the ballistic missile attack from Iran last night and he surprised me by being more levelheaded than I would have expected. Trump talked about imposing more sanctions and asking for help from the U.N. – instead of responding with violence. Besides watching CNBC during count time, I try to fit in some reading.

After count clears, we go to lunch. There’s three level two units where I’m at and it rotates which unit goes first. Today my unit was second. We had grilled cheese, salad, mashed potatoes, and either a sugar cookie or apple. The grilled cheese is pretty good, the salad is small, the potatoes were dry and plain. I also choose to get the apple. The portions aren’t that big and most of the time the food doesn’t taste all that good. You can buy a couple different seasonings (salt, pepper, soy sauce, and hot sauce) from the store list to help make the food better, but I never do. I make it a point to not go out of my way to enjoy the food in the chow hall. I’ve done so much time and have so much more to do right now, so I don’t want to forget where I’m at and become complacent with being in here.

I don’t ever allow myself to enjoy any part of doing time. It helps keep me motivated to think past being locked up and working towards having a better life. I think it’s a unique perspective. Most guys in here just want to do whatever they can to make themselves happy and pass the time as fast as possible without any real goals or plans for the future.

If you’ve got people you are cool with, you always walk to and from the chow hall with them. You’re not supposed to walk with just anyone though because who you are with makes a statement that you’re down to ride with them. In the higher levels there’s a lot more limited contact with other prisoners, so if something goes down, there’s a good chance it’ll happen during chow time. You basically want to make sure that you are there physically to help the people you’re close with.

I should make a note that prison is a place of psychology and everything means something. You should have a conscious reason for everything that you do. For an example, say someone new rides into your prison. You start getting cool with them and talking to them. Eventually, you walk to chow with them. However, you have no idea who they are, what they’ve done, who their enemies are, or anything like that. One day you might walk to chow with them and they end up getting stabbed.

This sucks – you have no idea what it’s over. Now you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You either help them, risk getting stabbed yourself, going to the hole and making new enemies. Or you don’t help and now everyone sees you as being a coward. And that’s if the guys even give you a choice. It’s not uncommon if someone’s going after someone else, they also get whoever they are with because it’s better safe than sorry. This is a place where your reputation is everything and it dictates how others treat you. Once you’re viewed as being a snitch, coward, or homosexual you’re going to get treated worse and have a much higher chance of being victimized.

After lunch, I started typing letter. Before I knew it, another count time at 4:15 pm started. I watch the closing bell of the stock market Monday-Friday at 4. I currently have a job as a unit porter on 2nd shift, I come out 15 minutes before everyone else during count to change the trash and sweep the base floor of my unit. After count, its dinner.

Today we had sloppy joes, hash browns, mixed veggies, and I got another apple. Sloppy joes are one of the more common meals that we have. When yard opened at 6:30 pm, I had to stand in line for an hour just to make a phone call. After that I talked to a couple pf guys, I’m cool with. We talked about nothing too important or noteworthy – just small talk.

After yard, I took a shower. One of the good things about this facility is that the showers are more private, than past facilities I have been at. There are two showers on each rock, with a wall between the shower heads. Most lower levels have a big open area with shower heads around the wall. After the shower, I laid down to relax and write more of letter.

After shift change at 10:00 pm there’s a guy that I hang with in the day room almost every night. We talk about a lot of different subjects. Sometimes it’s just about some TV show or movie. But we also talk about deeper stuff, like our personal life and our cases. I’ll save the more in-depth conversations from this guy for another time.

The unit shuts down at 11:30 pm and that’s when I get time to myself with no distractions. It’s when I can collect my thoughts. I try to find at least one TV series for every night of the week. After the series is over, I usually stay up until about 2:00 am. Tonight I’m going to bed early because we get store in the morning and I gotta get up at 8:00 am.

Thanks for reading,

Dakota Turn

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