Living in Prison: A History of the Correctional System with an Insider's View

By Stephen Stanko; Wayne Gillespie et al. | Go to book overview

9

SURVIVING IN PRISON

Stephen Stanko


INTRODUCTION

The embarrassment and shame that I had brought on my family was evident when I was initially allowed to call them from the county detention center. The conversation was short and responses were quick. All of the apologies in the world would not relieve their pain at that time and have not helped much since then. During my time in the county jail, I was in a pod of some 200-plus men who were all in the same, or worse, position. It is no understatement to say that the anger, frustration, and tension in the air could be cut with a knife. Three men per six-foot-by-nine-foot cell with one stainless steel toilet/sink combination. Four phones for making collect calls were available only in nonlockdown time periods, and one television was available to all those involved. The channel, of course, was decided by the officer in the control room. Fights occurred on a daily basis for any and every reason. It might be over a prior argument in society, a good seat in front of the television, or a piece of corn bread. The only thing certain in all of it was the promise that it would be violent and over just as fast as it had started. The pod was like an incubator for growing fear and intimidation among men.

The isolation of confinement also breeds fear and uncertainty. Family and friends are seemingly out of reach and control. Doubt becomes magnified tenfold as spouses may not be right by the phone to pick it up on the first ring, and suddenly there are questions of loyalty. Mentally, it becomes an absolute struggle just to survive through each day. For those who accept the responsibility of their own actions, that responsibility begins to chisel away at them with every second spent awake.

The initial shock of my sentencing hit family and friends as hard, if not harder, than me. In less than ten minutes, a once permanent fixture in the family structure was now gone. For me, the entire family structure was now

-171-

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Living in Prison: A History of the Correctional System with an Insider's View
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Part I - Justice: Introduction, History, and Philosophy 1
  • 1 - Crime and Justice in the United States 3
  • 2 - Justice and the Origin of Corrections 25
  • 3 - A Brief History of Corrections in America 43
  • Part II - Contemporary Correctional Issues 61
  • 4 - The Context of Imprisonment 63
  • 5 - Women and Prison 89
  • 6 - Prisoners' Rights and States' Responsibilities 111
  • Part III - Living in Prison: One Man's Journey 129
  • 7 - A Prisoner's Narrative 131
  • 8 - The Prison Environment 149
  • 9 - Surviving in Prison 171
  • Index 187
  • About the Authors 195
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