I’m temporarily at a super-maximum facility. The most dangerous criminals in Arizona are housed in neighbouring "runs" (corridors) and lots of them are "lifers" (serving natural life sentences, or hundreds of years).
Our run consists of ten two-man cells, five upstairs and five down. There is a sixth cell on each floor containing a shower. I am not allowed out of my cell except to shower, or go to the Medical Unit.
7.00am: The guards open the trap on the cell door. Waking up, I raise myself from the bottom bunk and grab a breakfast tray. Breakfasts have included hash browns, French toast, oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, waffles and meat. A great improvement on Sheriff Joe’s green bologna!
7.15am: I am back on my bunk.
7.30am: The guards open the trap and demand the return of the plastic breakfast trays.
8.00am: I return to slumber.
9.00am: The guard offers us showers (three days per week). “Shower! Shower!” he yells. I awake, get dressed and grab my bar of soap and a towel. I am handcuffed through the trap. The door is opened and I walk to a cell containing a shower. On entering the shower I am unhandcuffed through the trap. Showering takes ten minutes but I am left waiting for up to an hour before I am handcuffed and escorted back to my cell.
10.00am: Lunch sacks are served through the trap. They contain four pieces of wheat bread, two pieces of cheese, bright-orange crackers, sandwich meat (still no veggie diet) and sometimes peanut butter.
10.30am: I commence reading, writing and studying.
2.00pm: A guard offers to dispose of my trash through the trap.
3.00pm: I am offered cleaning supplies. These consist of liquid soap, a toilet scrubber and a broom on a shortened handle; after usage, I return these supplies through the trap.
4.00pm: Dinner trays are served through the trap. Dinner is usually meat, mashed potatoes, wheat bread and a vegetable.
5.00pm: The trays are collected through the trap.
6.00pm: Mail is delivered. This is the highlight of the day for most inmates. Some inmates boast about how many items of mail they have received, and they taunt the inmates who have received none.
7.00pm: "Kites" are offered. Kites are forms we can use to communicate with the various staff members. Issues concerning classification, operations, inmate grievances, inmate store, laundry/linen, legal, library, programs, accounts, property, religion, security, warehouse and visitation may be addressed using kites. Staff response times vary from one day to up to thirty days.
10.00pm: Lights out. I place my outgoing mail and kites in the trap. The graveyard shift collects inmate correspondence. I commence a lengthy yoga session. Three or four inmates known as "cell warriors" yell obscenities at each other until 1.00am or 2.00am, preventing the less vocal inmates from sleeping.
2.00am: When the hurly-burly ceases, I quit yoga. Using pieces of wet toilet roll as earplugs (a precaution in case the banter resumes) I curl my blanket around me and attempt to go to sleep, which sometimes takes a long time.