THE GAMES RUN DEEP
In the control unit you're creating your own monster.
PRISON WORKER AFTER MANY YEARS
WORKING A CONTROL UNIT
It kind of builds you into a monster, because it hardens your feelings.
DEREK JANSON, ABOUT HIS YEARS
OF CONTROL UNIT CONFINEMENT
I was certainly put on that assembly line for a manufactured human monster.
SAMMY ANDREWS, LONG-TERM CONTROL UNIT PRISONER
The first time I met Pete Owen, all I could see through the door of his control unit cell was his shaved head and pale young face, somewhat indistinct in the murky winter light filtering through the frosted window. When I interviewed him later in a visiting booth, the rituals of escorting and cuffing surrounded him, as they do all control unit prisoners, with an aura of danger. At that point he had lived in a control unit for over five years—the better part of his twenties—following his participation in a violent incident. Some time later, through efforts of staff I will turn to in the next chapter, he was released to a less restrictive unit. There prisoners moved and spoke with one another freely in an open day room. Free of restraints, wearing a T-shirt and jeans and carrying the key to the cell he shared with another inmate, Owen came without escort to a cluttered counselor's office. Asked to reflect on his experience of intensive confinement, he said, “For someone in one of those cells every day is extreme. It's like a polar environment— you're living at a pole. You develop a reactive armor. ”
Sooner or later most control unit prisoners negotiate passage out of the polar environment in which they have been contained. Some do so