The First Time Going To Commissary


“I’d heard a lot about commissary. Guys were telling me that it was like shopping at a local grocery, which I found hard to believe. I mean, this was prison, c’mon really? That sounded ridiculous. Guys were always pulling pranks on each other, and this sure sounded like one.”


I had been at reception for a month now. The daily routine involved attending sessions where you were tested and evaluated in order to determine your security level and which institution you would be sent to. There were psychological and IQ evaluations amongst a battery of medical tests and immunizations. Then it was off to dental for examinations and treatment if needed. This is what every inmate goes through at the reception center, and it’s exhausting.

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The First Major Lockdown

It was my third summer of incarceration, and I’d spent it outside working out and running the Hamster Wheel as much as possible. I was a short distance sprinter in high school, and I was accustomed to outrunning most everyone. However, if you could make it 400 yards without me catching you, you had a good chance of getting away. That summer I’d told myself I was going to change that, and I set my sights running the mile. I remember watching a woman on television from Kenya shred everyone in the mile. She established a steady quick pace, and then sprinted the last 1/3 of the mile. Wow. That’s 1760 feet of balls to the wall fury. Absolutely inspirational. I told myself if she could do that in just under 4 minutes, then I sure as hell could run a 5:00 mile. It was something I’d never done in my life, and something most people can’t do. I was determined to prove to myself I could do it.

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The First Cellmate

Your cellmate is the most important person you’ll interact with while you are incarcerated. You are forced to live with this individual 24-7, and you will spend many hours locked in the cell with each other. It’s important that you afford respect to your cellmate (or “celly” as we say around here), for you must close your eyes at night with this person only a few feet away from you. No matter how big and tough you may think you are, sleep is the great equalizer.

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