What housing is like

7-1-21: What is Housing Like in Prison

I remember laying in bed one evening a few weeks before I self surrendered to the Yankton Federal Prison Camp, pondering the likely variances between my then current sleeping arrangement and what Yankton would have in store for me.

Pre-surrender sleeping: The A/C is on, set to 72 degrees.  It is programmed to drop to 70 degrees at 2:00 am, then back up to 73 degrees at 5 am and then 76 degrees at 6:30 am.  I might have put just a little into programming that. The window darkening shades are closed, a fan is running for white noise, and I will have my salt rock lamp on- the perfect amount of lighting. Add to that my favorite pillow under my head and one under my knees. Plus a glass of water nearby and my phone is charging on the nightstand. Fresh sheets and a hybrid foam mattress round it all out.

Post surrender sleeping: Maybe I’ve adapted, or maybe I don’t feel like complaining or maybe it’s not all that bad.  I am in an 8 man room that is about 24’ wide by 16’ long (my best estimate).  Two bunk beds line each of the far walls, with 8 lockers in the middle “dividing” the room. The lockers are roughly 5’ tall. I sleep on the top bunk. There is no nightstand or reading lamp, although the commissary sells small LED lights.  The fluorescent overhead lights are either on or off. We are given a bedroll when we arrive. It includes sheets, a blanket and pillow with a pillow case.  Two pillows are a violation, a “shot” so that idea is out the window.

Between all the early mornings and exercise I think the mattress is comfortable enough.  The sheets make do and the pillow is better than expected.  Sometimes you have to fall asleep with the lights on, other times everyone calls it a night at the same time. There is definitely a benefit to no phones before bed.  Winding down with a book and reading until your eyelids get heavy is more relaxing than doomscrolling on the phone.

I don’t have a watch yet so I can’t check the time without going out into the hallway.  That will end sometime soon.  Counting my blessings that no-one in my room snores as well, that was a big win and I didn’t see it coming. Overall I’m sleeping better than I expected, but waking up earlier  than I thought I would.  Most days I’m up at 5 am and I read in the study room before heading to work at 5:50 am.  The after lunch nap ( if your work schedule allows it) is refreshing and the agreed upon modus operandi in our room.  It is sort of a socially reinforced time to decompress, read and rest. Something we could all use more of.

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