Typical Day In Prison: How Do We Spend Our Time?
I have noticed there are some drastic differences in inmates and how they spend their time. You might think that we would all do the same things. After all we have the same time, in the same place and with access to the same programs. That is what I thought when I first fell. So I learned how to play Pinochle then I learned to count the cards. That is what most men were doing in here when I came to medium custody.
If it wasn’t learning to be a card shark amid card sharks, it was football. Guys sit around here and memorize football stats all year long. The Superbowl happens and the immediately start working on next years Intel. Scanning the sports channels and magazines and news articles for any information their buddies may have missed. They analyze injuries and go and study up on them in the library and ask the medical staff here questions about the effects of each one. Then they make their team picks accordingly.
The other major theme amongst inmates is working out. It becomes an obsession like anything else. The whole world wraps around lifting weights or cardio programs or heavy laden routines and diets. Every waking minute is spent dissecting the previous days progress and how it can be improved. Though it rarely achieves what they want. Most want to become grotesquely large to intimidate and avoid confrontation. Not all, but most.
Among others is religious practices. Whether its Islam or Christianity or Asatruism or whatever, its all or nothing. No grey areas. Its live, breathe and sleep that, whatever it is.
That’s the majority. I’d say in my experience, about 70% engage in those things full time. That is definitely a choice they’ve made. I want to make that clear. Here is my take on it. I can’t stand it when all I hear out of someone’s mouth is sports stats. Unless your supporting your family on those stats, they serve you no purpose in life. What man in his right mind needs to count pinochle cards in the real world? I have this skill with no practical use. When most people think of pinochle they think of this annoying deck of cards that forces them to check the label of a real deck of cards for a camping trip. Its like the majority here goes on these binges sometimes for years at a time.
I have chosen to change this about myself because I noticed something I had never seen before. There were people who were doing some amazing things around me. Some were learning languages, writing books, developing curriculums for inmates programs they were proposing, doing legal work, writing essays and drawing and hobbies galore! These guys were usually in shape, had lots of friends, had good and positive interactions with nearly everyone including staff and were usually down to earth. They did the things they enjoyed doing.
I would sit back and wish I could be like them. I had never learned to do whatever it was they were doing differently. So I did the unthinkable, I started to hang around them. Then slowly I picked up on the characteristics I lacked. Like never remaining idle. Always have a plan. Do every program this place has. Even if its unpopular or unnecessary. Dedicate time to projects and have several of them. Never, never, never acknowledge the negative or defeat.
You start doing this day in and day out and something strange happens. You begin to have more confidence, you start having an idea of where your shortcomings are and the will and drive to fix them. Why? Because they are in your way. They irritate you because you have goals and they are prohibiting you from being the person you want to become. So you change them.
A typical day? Depends on who you ask. Me, I work 40 hours a week and I teach two classes, I attend workshops weekly to develop programs, I take classes that teach me new things 3-4 times a week. I work out 4-5 times a week. I read educational books, I do my own legal work, I am writing a book, I am writing my release plan, I draw portraits for others and my family, I am an avid LGBTQ activist and mentor and educator, I assist with special events, I write this blog and develop new relationships with people like you…I stay busy. That’s a typical day. There are not many here willing to do it and that’s how I now I am on the right track, I’m different then most. I am following the footsteps of the most successful to leave this place and I’m putting in work.
Jeff Utnage 823469