“If you didn't get one earlier, that's too bad.”

Everything in jail (or prison, for that matter) is “that’s too bad.” Handed in your Visitor Request form a day late? Didn’t know they changed the laundry day that week? No more bread left at dinner? Too fucking bad. Complain to the guards? Yeah, sure. All you're going to do is piss them off for bothering them. That crossword puzzle they’re working on requires a lot of concentration.

“This was the sink I was sent to wash of the finger printing ink.”

Good luck washing it off. The sink, the soap, the faucets are all stained with the ink from the guys before you. Usually no more grade-z recyclable paper left to try to rub the ink off or dry your hands. No big deal, you’ve got ink-stained hands. The basic, necessary attitude in prison is Deal With It.

“You eat when they say, you sleep when they say, you go into lockdown at their discretion.”

You’re damn straight. The name of the game is Control. In the Spanish penitentiaries I was in, there is at least an illusion of free movement, in the courtyards and rec rooms. Of course you are constantly being watched, from centralized control modules and ubiquitous video monitors. In the German prison I was in, a guard was never more than 30 or 40 feet away from me.

“There is no privacy in the cage, and it's impossible to forget that you're in one.”

Especially if you’re in lockdown for 23 hours a day, which is common practice in German pre-trial incarceration. I didn’t know any prisoners who didn’t experience panic attacks in some form or another. At some random point during the day (more so at night), you feel the walls closing in and you have to get the fuck out. But you can’t, so your mind just shuts down or starts to rebel. Most suicides or attacks on guards occur during the first 5 days. After 10 days, the panic attacks tend to lessen in number and intensity, as the mind adjusts to the smaller space. I never got accustomed to the sound of the cell door shutting, either. Didn’t matter whether it was electronic or manual. There is a thudding finality, a sensation of being sealed off, every time they lock you up.

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