Ex-Inmate Interviews: Prison Life
Did you find it difficult to get along with other inmates? Please give examples to explain why you did or didn’t.
Toby: yes. this is the most difficult thing about jail. one can easily be bullied and intimidated. lots of racial tension. i was much older than most of the other inmates.
J. Friday: No, not at all.
Jeremy: Not at all.
Jenny: I seemed to get along with everyone. It was a small dorm that we were in. It held about 15 inmates. There was just a open room. Bed, dinner table, toilets, TV, and shower were all in this room.
Brian: It wasn’t playtime, get real please.
What types of things did you have to do to avoid problems or fights with other inmates?
Toby: I stayed out of their way, didn’t interact with them. stayed on my bed and read.
J. Friday: Respect other people’s space is probably the main thing. In jail, you only have so much of it. People like to sit in certain places when they eat, or others don’t like any one else on their beds. Don’t argue about the tv and understand that people get real loud when they play cards.
Jeremy: Just respected the other inmates.
Keith: Just let it go and they are such babies..
Lisa: Keep to myself and my opinions as well.
Jenny: Nothing really. If you got in a fight they moved the people till they could investigate what happened. Usually someone got moved.
Brian: are you really that dumb to ask this, commissary and TV are the hot topics.
Were you able to choose an inmate as your cellmate if you knew one?
How often would your cellmate(s) change?
Toby: no, we were placed according to the types of crimes we were charged with.
J. Friday: This question doesn’t make sense?
Jenny: No. It was all dorms that held a certain amount of people. Kinda like in some prisons.
Brian: I would have chosen the Easter bunny for a celly. I was fortunate enough to have a max cell with 5 other Irishmen and we got along fine.
Did you get off early based on good behavior?
Toby: no, i was waiting to go to prison.
J. Friday: yes.
Jeremy: Didn’t pertain to me.
Jenny: Yes. Pretty much everyone does. You get 5 days good behavior, and if you are lucky enough to make trustee, then you can gt an additional 4-5 days more.
What is the most time off you can receive for good behavior?
Toby: you have to work to get time off sentence. one day off sentence for every two days worked.
J. Friday: In Pinellas you get 5 days good time and 5 days for gain time every month.
Jeremy: 5 days off a month for good behavior and then another 5 days off a month if you get a job in there.
Lisa: Two months on a year. You do 85% of your time.
Jenny: 5 days for each month for just being an inmate. An additional 4-5 days for working as a trustee.
What types of actions do you need to avoid in order to get time off?
Did you ever witness somebody losing time off for good behavior?
Toby: don’t break any off the rules.
J. Friday: Smoking, smuggling contraband, assaults.
Jeremy: Fighting and contraband.
Lisa: Fights, do your assigned job, and follow all rules of the facility.
Jenny: You cannot get in any kind of trouble, nor can you have any contraband. Each jail is different as for what is considered contraband. But definitely no fighting or mouthing to the guards.
What types of facilities were available to help pass the time?
Toby: tv, books, cards, games, puzzles.
J. Friday: Basketball, tv, cards, dominoes, magazines, books and food is how you pass the time.
Jeremy: In Central there is a TV room and basketball court.
Lisa: Drug programs and self-betterment programs such as parenting, AA, NA, and HIV awareness.
Jenny: They had people come from outside for church group, or the rec yard
Did you have regular access to the entertainment or was competition fierce? Give details.
Toby: only the tv. fighting over what channel to play.
J. Friday: I had what I needed. You get things and trade those for other stuff. You’d be surprised how much stuff you accumulate in jail.
Jeremy: The rule among us inmates was that one TV was to be used for sports and news and the other was to be used for tv shows and movies.
Lisa: T.V. and games.
Jenny: There was TV and a few games to play. But we worked it out to where who cleaned up got to rule the remote!
Did you have a hard time staying in shape while in jail?
Toby: no, there was rec daily, and we could exercise in the cells.
J. Friday: I worked on the road crew. I was walking for miles every day.
Jeremy: No. You can play basketball if you want.
Jenny: Yes. There was not enough room to do any kind of exercising. And even if you got to go outside, there just wasn’t anything to do except walk around in a circle.
Brian: food sucks too fatty and no exercise
How often did you get to go outside? What did you do outside if you were allowed to?
If you were not allowed to go outside what could you do for exercise?
Toby: usually one hour per day
J. Friday: 5 days a week, 8 hours a day for work. rec is 1 hour a day.
Jeremy: Once. To walk to medical to take my TB test.
Lisa: Once a day for an hour.
Jenny: It depended on the weather. But usually 2-3 days a week
Did the jail offer church services? If so, what were they like and when were they held?
Toby: services were available and well attended and good.
J. Friday: They did, and I declined.
Jeremy: Yes. But I didn’t attend any.
Lisa: Yes. To me it was awful. They always talked about people and their sexual preference. Depending on the building it was either in the dayroom or library.
Jenny: Some. They weren’t really all that good. It was more like a bible study class, and it was only maybe once or twice a week.
How many meals did you get per day?
Toby: 3 meals.
J. Friday: They feed you 3.
Jeremy: 3. Breakfast is served at 3 am. Lunch at 10 am. And dinner at 4 pm.
How would you rate the food? Please give details of why.
Toby: bland and unappetizing
J. Friday: Bad to poor mostly. However, there were a couple of things I liked.
Jeremy: On a scale of 1-10 I would give it a negative 45. It sucked!
Lisa: AWFUL and cold.
Did you have any favorite/least favorite meals?
Toby: the meat ang gravy breakfast on Wed. and Sat.
J. Friday: Shank and cereal was my favorite. and nasty ass macaroni with ham bitts was by far the worst. They only served it once a month thank god.
Jeremy: Didn’t have a favorite, but the Shank and cereal for breakfast was tolerable.
Lisa: Breakfast was my favorite. Anything else was small portioned and cold. Barely edible.
Were there any other snacks offered outside of meals? What was commissary like and how expensive was it?
Toby: no, unless you could afford to buy canteen.
J. Friday: Whatever you wanted off the commissary list. Candy, chips, ramen noodles.
Jeremy: Only through the commissary that you can order from twice a week.
Lisa: Yes…commissary if your family sent you money to buy them.
Did you always have access to necessary medications?
J. Friday: No. If you need something, you fill out a 62 form, and about 8 days later the nurse calls you.
Jeremy: Yes. But didn’t take any.
How did you get your medications?
Toby: nurse visited block at regular intervals throughout the day and evening.
J. Friday: the nurse comes to the POD door twice a day.
Jeremy: Nurse comes twice a day with medications.
Lisa: When the nurse came around to give out prescribed medicines you could ask them for Ibuporfin or Tylenol.
Jenny: a nurse came around to pass them out
What types of punishments were incurred for abuse of drugs? Did you ever witness this?
Toby: you could pick up extra charges.
J. Friday: I’m not sure?
Jeremy: You could pick up another criminal charge and be placed in solitary.
Lisa: Disciplinary reports and confinement.
Jenny: I think it was punished with new charges, and or lock up. I’m not sure. Never knew anyone who got in that kind of trouble.
What clothes could you have brought in to wear in the jail (underwear, socks, etc.)?
Toby: 2 piece prison uniform and flip flops. tennis shoes boxers, and white tee shirts
J. Friday: The only clothes you get. State issue pants, shirt, white t-shirt and/or a wife beater shirt.
Jeremy: Everyone where the same jail issued uniform.
Lisa: Orange scrubs for sentenced inmates, blue scrubs for those that were there for misdemeanors, and green scrubs for those that were there for felonies. The central building had maroon scrubs. Kitchen workers wore white scrubs.
Jenny: Uniforms were worn through the day, and shorts and t-shirts at night
If you had a set uniform, what did it look like?
Please be specific about each piece of clothing issued to you.
Toby: 2 piece. blue pants and pullover blue shirt
J. Friday: Orange pants, orange shirt. ID card clipped to the front pocket with a white t underneath. I wore an orange jumpsuit for my job.
Jeremy: Yes. Grey with a red stripe down the sleeves and pant legs.
Lisa: Yes. I wore the green scrubs.
Jenny: Yes. Just the usual. They were kinda like medical uniform pants, and top. Don’t remember the colors.
Were there any assigned clothes i high demand that an inmate should look for when getting clothing assigned?
Toby: the blue sweatshirts were in high demand because a lot of inmates were cold in the high a/c.
J. Friday: The ones with the fresh color. Not the worn-out stuff. Normally it doesn’t matter what you want any way.
Jeremy: No. You don’t have a choice in what you can wear.
Was the clothing different between men and women?
Toby: no, the same
J. Friday: No. Different colors only means different security level and sentenced/non-sentenced.
Jeremy: Its different depending on where you are housed at.