Prison = bad

This one’s for Matt P: IT in San Quentin. How do you set up a network when the buildings have three-foot-thick concrete walls reinforced by steel? (Drop ceilings are very unfashionable in prison design.)

I have spent a good deal of time in various prisons in Massachusetts (yes really) and my general observation is: Ick.


7 thoughts on “Prison = bad

  1. Derek, when i was 19, i once spent a day in a top security prison for rapists and murderers. painting jails bars (i painted through college).

    a vivid image i can still remember: looking THROUGH the jail bars to the svelt athletic inmates outside in the sun shooting hoops. i was inside painting THEIR bars. i really felt the moment…

    the second image, a fat man in the hall, watching a TV poised on a chair, watching ‘lets make a deal’

    Me: ‘Why arent THEY doing the painting?’ Now imagine a prison in Afganistan or Nepal or Columbia?

    ‘I think if they did it, they would make a real mess of it, if not cause a lot harm’. if i were in charge (and it were not America: “If you paint the bars, you can eat. If you deliberately make a mess here, you will be given a chance in a week to have more than water, and be given scapers and solvents to clean with, and be given ONE more chance. It will get done or YOU are done”.

    i bet there would be few problems among those still able to reason, watching the first body getting carried out due to malnutrion.


  2. Oddly (maybe not?) my current building is similar. A Harvard building circa 1960 that looks like any random middle school. All the walls are cinder block and radio waves go there to die.

    Fortunately, they contracted out the running of fiber-optic cables to each office before I started there.


  3. You’re hitting the Mark McGwire insight level with that post title (sans the bad grammar).

    @David: It’s almost like you think prison is supposed to be some sort of punishment.

  4. Matt – that’s funny. Amidst the beautiful architecture on the North Carolina campus (Greg – no comments necessary, thanks) there’s one Greenlaw Hall, constructed in the 60s or early 70s with the alleged intent of allowing the professors to lock themselves in during riots.

    Egg – There’s a career in being ‘master of the obvious’. It’s called consulting :)

  5. I could paint windows with either hand, fast, with no rag or need for scapping. a valuable asset in suburbia. I’d go home and read Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Braudel, Dilthey, Campbell, Eliade, Marvin Harris (cf. Cannibals and Kings), Mumford. no one knew what to do with me. i called this the ‘photographic mind phase’. once i had sex for the first time, it all somehow shifted to the heart. once i started to have full blown psychic experiences, i was verily forced into spiritual seeking. and when my mom was committed for her nervous breakdown, for three weeks, behind lock and key she was so bad, i had to really begin self integration. and when i made my first $100,000 life started to become a mess. then by annualized $280,000, it took a bottle of wine then ibupropin. then to get past that, organic beets, kale, cabbage, omega 3’s and salmon. today it takes laser focus on my creativity and living an authentic life, free of BS to fullest extend. someone once said, after age 50, life is about doing what you enjoy.

  6. …I’m not quite sure what David K is talking about. Anyway, Derek, what were you doing in MA prisons? Were you participating in the prison chess program led by Steve Frymer? Since I began reading Pinker, and after the Wamala episode, I became more interested in the psychological make-up of prisoners and the moral implications of prison. A few months ago I joined Frymer on a trip to MCI Cedar Junction (Walpole) for a 1.5 hour chess club meeting with the inmates there. It was an interesting experience, and I would do it again.


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