day in bravo
by jane d
lives in Bravo pod in a county jail. She has been sentenced to 15 years
for vehicular homicide. She has been incarcerated for 15 months, sentenced
only last month. She was allowed one contact visit with her husband
for Christmas. Other visits are limited to closed circuit television.
Besides the jail staff they have contact with 12 Step Programs and a
church service once a week. We feel very privileged to be allowed in
for 1½ hours every two weeks for our storytelling/writing time.
The women’s prisons are greatly overcrowded and she must wait
for a bed to open up to her. In prison she will have much more freedom
than in her current situation. She still manages to show her hope and
humor in her words. I have added footnotes to explain the jail jargon.
another Monday in Bravo!
As the lights come on at 6:45 a.m., I roll over and cover my head to
keep from being blinded from the brightness. I can hear the jailers
come in as they do the usual head count, as if someone has escaped during
the night. Sometimes as they pass I glance at my window and wave to
them as they go by. Other times I’m too sleepy to move.
After a while, I can hear the incoming door open again and I know it’s
breakfast. I make myself get up, put my oranges1 on, grab my cup and
stumble downstairs to start another day. As I get downstairs I can see
the other sleepy heads starting to line up to be fed. I can hear someone
in the background hollering, “Where’s that ole mail at,
Mindy?” Of course, it’s Lori eagerly waiting to get her
fan mail or should I say another one of those “well, we won’t
go into that” letters.
is eating and reading their mail, I get the mop and broom and clean
my room, then I eat later. Today’s breakfast consists of pancakes,
sausage, hash browns, applesauce, toast, coffee and milk. After breakfast
I go to my room and read my mail. I have gotten a card from my husband
and shared it with my roommate whose name is Jackie. I like her. She’s
a lot of fun. We have some good times together. We talk and laugh for
a while, then she goes downstairs and cleans the pod.2 Jackie is our
cleans we have inspection and stay in our rooms until 10:30. Then I
usually take a shower, wash my clothes and just relax in my room. I
try to keep my room neat but it’s hard living out of a box, which
holds all my clothes and hygiene. I like where my room is and being
upstairs. I like being on top of things.
comes lunch, which is the usual sandwiches: cheese, bologna, peanut
butter or tuna. Today it is tuna and grape kool-aid.
eat we get to go outside in the rec area for 2 hours. That’s the
part of the day I like most. To be able to smell the air and feel the
breeze, watch the butterflies and just feel at ease. It’s a relaxing
time for me. Then we come in and everyone more or less does her own
thing. Me, I just go with the flow, doing whatever I want like reading
my book, which is a thriller-killer book. I love those kinds of books.
is Monday we have church this afternoon, which is held here, in the
pod with the chaplain and his wife. We all talk and listen to music
and then the chaplain delivers his message to us. After church it’s
time for dinner. Tonight’s special is, of course, beef. It’s
what’s for dinner along with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables
and red kool-aid. By the way, all our dinners are TV dinners. What I
miss the most at dinner is candlelight, fine wine, soft music and my
handsome husband! I can dream big, can’t I? Well, here comes head
count again. It’s time for “the changing of the guards”.
I’m almost finishing up my day
have to say my roommate is losing it. She has been working on her math
for school4 Thursday. I told her I was going to hide that dam math book
before we both lose it. I told her it’s hard to figure the answers
out when one is dumb and other is dumber! I told her to quit school
and get a job. That solved that problem!
As I regain my sanity, I decide to take a walk around the pod if the
traffic’s not too heavy. After walking I go to my room and write
my husband and sister a letter. Jackie decides to write her granddaughter.
On the envelope she draws a beautiful flower and butterfly. She’s
a very good artist! What’s that I hear? Oh, it’s Mr. “B”
on the speaker saying “Lock down NOW”. I know it’s
11:00 and it’s time to go to my room for the night. After I brush
my teeth and get ready for bed the lights go out in “Bravo”
I lie there talking and laughing with my roommate. After a while it
gets very quiet and it’s that special time I talk to God. I know
another day has come and gone. As I drift off to another place, I say
goodnight to Bravo!
1 Oranges are the standard outfit for those jailed. They are coveralls
and come with matching fabric sandals as they are not allowed to have
2 The jail is divided into pods. The writer lives in Bravo pod with
23 other women when it is full.
3 The rock is the designated person for cleaning the common area of
the pod. She is selected by the jailer.
4 GED class offered to the select.