Bob Shell: Letters From Prison 2018 #3


Bob Shell: Letters From Prison


Letters From Prison: Part 3, 2018


Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018


Maybe my readers will be interested in what a typical day in prison is like. But of. course I’m not really in a prison. Virginia doesn’t have prisons anymore, they have “correctional centers.” The organization is no longer called department of prisons or something similar. It is now the lofty-sounding Department of Corrections and the state spends a billion dollars a year to run it. That’s right, billion with a “b”! The Department of Corrections is the single biggest item in the state budget. But the taxpayers don’t mind because we’re “tough on crime.”. So all that money has “corrected” me for ten years now. How do they correct us?
Here’s a typical day. They wake us up at 5:30 in the morning by yelling at us over the loud intercom and yell again in 15 minutes just in case we missed the first time. Then they make us stand up in our cells to be counted just in case someone disappeared during the night. Then we sit around doing nothing until about 6:30 when they open the cell doors and let us out into the pod. A pod is a big common room with cells in two tiers on three sides. So we go out into the pod and do nothing again until they call us to chow. Breakfast and other meals are served in the chow hall, a big room with metal tables, each with four stool seats permanently attached. The seats are round and hard, like sitting on an old auto hubcap. Breakfast today was waffles. Two frozen waffles with syrup, waffles we eat with a spork? Yep, a. spork is a plastic cross between a fork and a spoon that combines all the worst features of both. It’s like eating soup with a fork or meat with a spoon. Anyway with the waffles we had home fries (a scoop of semi-cooked potatoes) and cooked apples. Also a serving of oatmeal. Not surprising, since they spend less than two dollars a day to feed each of us. The idea that some people have that we get gourmet meals is wrong. Just after the Civil War the Federal Bureau of Prisons spent 75 cents a day to feed its prisoners, something like twenty dollars in today’s money! Some meals I simply can’t eat, so I eat food from the commissary. I’m very fortunate to have friends who send me money so I can buy commissary food, while many are not so fortunate and have to eat the state food.
Anyway, after breakfast we come back to the same boredom unless we have morning classes. I don’t have any right now, so I usually take a nap for a. couple of hours, then listen to music on my MP3 player and read. Right now I’m reading Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins, one of the major exponents of atheistic Darwinian evolution. I think he’s wrong, but this is not the place to argue that.
Back to the story: After breakfast we return to our pod or cells to either join one of the regular card games, work on a jigsaw puzzle, play chess, or sleep until they lock us down for another count until time for lunch.
After lunch I go to our law library for more research on law. I’ve been doing this for ten years now and have. learned a lot about the law, and am now a “jailhouse lawyer” member of the National Lawyers Guild. I’m also taking a Microsoft computer class later in the afternoon. After all this I have to go to pill call and stand in a long line to get my medicine. The pill line is outdoors and we stand there no matter what the weather. Then dinner, back to the pod for lockdown and another count, and more boredom until 9:30 bedtime. Then the same all over again the next morning. That’s been my life for the last ten years, and for something that never happened! More on this later…..


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th years of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here

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