13 Jul 04
Sweat, suicide and death
I am still at the jail. A sudden spate of tragedies has compelled me to write this entry.
At the weekend, two inmates on my floor attempted to commit suicide. One threw himself off the balcony and survived. The other was discovered trying to hang himself.
Sadder still, an inmate housed in a medium-security pod was found dead in the shower. Inmates are often "smashed" in the shower area because it is out of view of the cameras. The jail has refused to release the cause of his death.
The temperature outside is 114 degrees. The trickle of air into our cells feels like hot air blowing from a hair dryer. We are soaked in sweat all day and night. It is difficult to write on this sweat-moistened paper. The majority now have skin infections and rashes, which persistently itch. My skin is so soggy from perspiration that when I scratch it the skin detaches and I end up with clumps of it under my fingernails. Between the sweat trickling down my body and the cockroaches tickling my limbs, it is impossible to sleep properly. Last night, while sleeping on my side, my ear filled up with sweat, and when I moved my head, the sweat spilled onto my face. I woke up, startled. It felt like someone was touching my cheek.
I once asked a guard how the jail’s administration gets away with this and his response was, "The world has no idea what really goes on in here."
When I was a small child, I imagined hell consisted of caves in which the damned were trapped, tortured and burnt. I imagined serpents and indescribable creepy crawlies tormenting the captives. I never imagined man's nature could be so hateful as to recreate these conditions on earth.