Inside Story

A day in the life of Pelican Bay State Prison

| November / December 2002


What's life like in prison? Ninety-nine percent sheer boredom and one percent utter terror. We essentially live in a bathroom with bunks and a steel door. It's noisy most of the time. Dirty, no privacy, violent (both us and the guards) and mind-numbingly dull. It ain't anything like on television or in the movies.

My day? I get up at 7 a.m. when the guards bring us chow. (It's usually cold and about as appetizing as you'd expect.) I eat, make a lukewarm cup of coffee (they took our "stingers"-immersion heaters-years ago), and put a chew (plug of Copenhagen, yup, nasty habit but who the fuck's kissing me anyhow?) in my mouth. I wash/brush up, make my bunk, and . . . read or write a letter or two. Then a little exercise and/or yoga and lunch. Maybe a shower if it's "our" day, whites/blacks alternating days, and then dinner . . . then mail call and . . . read until tired, followed by the next day.

Sound like Academy Award material? No? Looks better on HBO, I guess.

Jack Morris is incarcerated at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California. Reprinted from the anarchist-syndicalist journal The Rattlesnake (Dec. 2001). Subscriptions: $4/issue (free to prisoners) from 2822 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110.