Last night I popped in a movie that someone had told me about called Felon. I had an idea as to what I was to expect, boy was I wrong. Not wrong about what I thought the movie was going to be about, but wrong about the emotions that I might feel watching this movie. It was so overwhelming at times I had to pause the movie to take a break with the tissue box. I have seen a handful of movies about prison but by far this one depicts what prison is like. Well, big boy prison. Not camp snoopy medium and minimum yards. Yards like SMU. During the time my husband was awaiting DOC's decision as to where they were going to put him he had to be in SMU special management unit in Florence. The Eyman complex to be exact.
My fist time visiting SMU was pretty scary. The CO's were very helpful there and made it more comfortable but as I am led towards the belly of the prison by the visitation officer down that long sidewalk my heart starts to rapidly accelerate. From East to West there are grey buildings where faint voices yelling are coming from. I walk into the visitation area and there are two rooms that you can enter through a doorway that is painted blue gray the department of corrections' favorite color. There are visitation booths on both sides of the room where inmates are waiting for their visitor. I can feel their eyes on me as I are search for our booth. A few times I have been there before him and I have to watch while he comes up cuffed and leg shackled to the honeycomb metal door. The CO opens the door for him and closes it before removing his handcuffs. He slides his hands through the food tray pass through and he is released from the handcuffs. He is wearing a bright orange jumpsuit with an orange t-shirt, the top half of the jump suit is off and tucked around his waist to keep it from falling off. I am sitting in a very uncomfortable chair, while his is sitting on a round metal stool attached to the floor with bolts. The thick glass window between us glares my own reflection and I have to put my hand up to block the light so that I can see him better. There is 2 phones on either side of me and one on his side. The visitors around us are talking in elevated voices because the phones do not work very well. I pick up both phones and put them one to each ear to block out the sounds around me. I can hear his voice clearly in surround sound. We put our hands together on the glass as we talk the entire time. What seems like minutes is two hours and the visit time is over. I have to leave him behind that glass to wait to be cuffed up again to be taken in shackles to his cell. I can only imagine what it looks like in there. Pelican Bay in CA is set up very similar in structure and floor plan. I have watched MSNBC's Lock Up and have seen the Pelican Bay episode, so I have a good idea how it looks in there. The fishing lines that are thrown about to send Fritos or tobacco, notes and other items. My husband tells me that he's a good fisherman...I'm sure he is. A few times he was able to make phone calls on a cordless phone that is passed around until the battery is dead. I can hear the other inmates there calling out to each other through the ventilation system. The profanity and the callousness of the other inmates bother my husband. He reads the Bible aloud and the pod quiets down. As he is taken 3 times per week to shower, he must be cuffed and shackled as he walks by other inmates yell profanity at him since he is still undetermined protective custody. There is a stigma in prison for the PC cases. Although, Brian was involuntary it doesn't matter. He is considered the lowest of the low in prison by the hard core prison politics. He takes a shower alone, one of the only times that he can be alone. Sometimes he has to wait an hour for a CO to come and get him from the shower. I'm sure this was one of the things that he could look forward to doing, just a simple shower and shave. He was moved from one cell to another on his shower days preventing him from a shower for 9 days straight. But it was better that he get moved since he was having to force every cellmate DOC was trying to house him with out of his cell to keep the politics off his back. Once he was put in a cell with someone that was PC things were much easier on him. He endured 6 months of SMU and he told me that had he been to SMU from the beginning he'd never step foot in a prison again. It was an experience that he or I will never forget.
If you would like to see a small glimpse of what we have been through and what prison is truly like watch this movie.