I spent a lot of time in the courtyard with 'Paul' (not his real name, he's the guy I met the first morning), playing tabletennis or just chatting. He was becoming quite a nuisance since I was there for my project and wanted to speak with other inmates as well. But everywhere I went, Paul followed me. I did manage to speak to a few guys (I tended to pick people who weren't very intimidating), subtly asking about their experiences in jail without making it sound like a regular student interview. Plus, I overheard a lot of conversations while pretending to listen to Paul, so I got a fairly good idea of how people experience prison.
The week went by faster that I thought it would have, even though the nights were long. I spent the second night looking out my window, observing the other wings. One guy in C-wing (aka Crazy-wing) kept turning his cell light on and off for hours. He would stop when the guards were on patrol and continued when they left. The screaming I mentioned in an earlier post wasn't tolerated by the guards, but they only patrol once every hour. They spent the rest of the nights in their sentry posts, behind soundproof safety glass watching movies they brought with them from home.
Days were filled with idling around, going to the gym, showering after going to the gym, working in the prison garden, reading in the library (the woman behind the counter told me autobiographies by famous criminals were most popular) and so on. The weirdest day for me was visiting day, when my mom came to visit me. Suddenly it felt like I was actually in jail, for real. And I got homesick.
Continued in my next post.