- Faith & Family
On the streets, lawbreakers are hauled off to jail and may possibly wind up in prison. If they get sent to prison and decide to break any institutional rules while in open population, they will be promptly escorted to a confinement unit – a building that both inmates and officers call the prison jailhouse, also known as “the box.”
Making a transition from being allowed to roam around freely in an open population setting to suddenly being confined in a two-man cell may strike him as an awkward experience reminiscent to a scene straight out of the Twilight Zone.
Since every cell in the unit is furnished with two banks, there may already be a cellmate inside of the cell upon his arrival, probably a familiar face from the compound, yet someone who he has never spoken to before being sent to confinement.
Experience has taught me when you are forced to live with them. And more often than not, when there is a moderate level of compatibility between two prisoners who have gotten themselves in a jam, the peaceful coexistence of two human beings in a confinement cell can certainly help to alleviate the feeling of doom and despair, trumpeting the old saying that misery loves company.
When inmates are placed into confinement, the first few days may seem to move at a very slow pace. As more and more days go by, time will gradually start to have no meaning and the inmate, his cell partner and everything about the cell in which they have been placed in will all become as one.
After the days have turned into weeks and the weeks have turned into months, an officer will appear at their cell door – perhaps a few days before their sentence in the box is set to expire – ordering them to “pack up, you’re being released back to the compound.” Although they may have loss a couple of pounds and their complexion may have gotten a few shades lighter due to lack if exposure to the sun, most inmates are still excited about knowing that they are being released back into open population and will soon have the liberty of going the inmate canteen, barbershop, calling home and drinking a strong hot cup of coffee – things that they could not do while in confinement.
When the cell door is finally rolled open and the time has come for the inmate to be expelled from his confinement experience, the feeling of being reinvented and re-energized will surely come upon him as he steps out of the confinement unit, and he will indeed take with him a new attitude, hopefully one that will keep him out of the box for a very long time.
By Arthur Lee Hall, Jr.