Arizona Department of Corrections Christmas 2009 (by Shane)

Shane - After being denied psychiatric medication by ValueOptions, Shane turned to illegal drugs financed by burglaries. For stealing a few hundred dollars worth of goods, he was sentenced by Judge Ron Reinstein to eleven years. Shane is the author of the blog Persevering Prison Pages.

Christmas this year was an eye-opening event for me and other prisoners. The conditions, atmosphere, and overall attitude of the staff were a telltale sign of ADOC’s affairs, as well as the prisoners’ and personnel’s states of mind.

In the past, Christmas was still a “special” time of the year. Prisoners got visits with their family on Christmas Day. Oftentimes, a mini-family reunion. For too many prisoners this was their only visit due to financial hardship. Prisoners were permitted to receive three 25lb food boxes from their family and friends, which would often last until the next season. The commissary would add a wide variety of seasonal items at reasonable prices. Religious services were held for all of those interested. On Christmas Day, the evening chow was a large meal with real meat, potatoes, stuffing, veggies, rolls… We’d leave the chow hall stuffed. Even guys like me who are prone to depression during the holidays could find joy.

Christmas 2009. No holiday visits. No food boxes. A small price-inflated holiday commissary list, from which certain orders weren’t filled. No religious services. No lunch. A small breakfast and slightly enhanced dinner, including “roast beef,” instant potatoes, canned veggies, a stale roll, and a small sliver of pie. I slept through breakfast and dinner.

I tried to make the most of the evening. I gave away a few bags of mixed nuts, a couple of boxes of peanut brittle, and a few other commissary items to some less fortunate prisoners. Three other prisoners and myself all pitched in, and made a meal for us to fill in for ADOC’s lack of lunch.

It was a depressing and gloomy day. While many prisoners simply sulked, slept and idly felt every minute pass by, waiting for the day to end, some chose another route. A familiar one. A numb one. A route laden with disappointment, heartache, instability, chaos, and confinement. A route that begins with a needle. All to fill the void in time, and the hearts and minds of those sitting behind bars on Christmas Day.

Click here for Shane's previous story.

Click here for my last Christmas in prison

Click here for the Xmas Spirit of Two Tonys

Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

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Shaun P. Attwood


Anonymous said...

Jon, as someone who has spent significant time in jail, what is your opinion on this?

Good idea to those with nothing (not even freedom), or bad idea to remind the prisoners that there is a holiday that they wouldn't otherwise get?

leigh said...

did ADOC have holiday packages that families could order and have sent? GA Dept of Corrections did that this holiday season with Access Securepak. it kind of took away from personalization and added to the pockets of the Dept of Corrections.

why didn't they have holiday visits this year? was that part of pay/ hour cuts for the guards? i'm so sorry that you had to deal with that and glad that you were able to make some cheer by sharing treats with others. i hope your new year has taken a turn for the better and that you've not had more disappointment.

Jon said...


It's a great idea. I remember a group coming to our fence to sing carols for us. It really brightened our day.


This is all coming about because of the budget crisis in Arizona.