#120 Prison 101: Showers (retro)
Prison 101: Showers
I know I wrote something on this awhile back, but I cannot remember exactly when. But since I have a copy of almost every blog and post I every wrote, I know it is here somewhere.
Have you ever wondered how inmates take showers? Everybody has heard of the phrase “don’t drop the soap” and stuff like that, and we all know that there are real dangers in prison about rape and abuse. How much do you know about prison showers?
Let’s see if we can talk about that.
Before I continue, I wanted to encourage you guys to email me about my blogs. If you find that my writing is of a help to you, let me know. I also have a few prison books available, and I have my first of what may be several prison blog books. I also have prison cards, prison encouragement certificates and more. Just give me an email at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com and ask me about it, or you can jump back a few blogs to read my details on each of those books.
Also, if you have read a lot of my writings and would like to support it, I am always grateful for any gifts you wish to send. They do help in a number of ways, and allow me to focus more on writing here and my books.
Speaking of writing “here” I do have 7 sites currently online that features my blogs, and obviously if you are reading this, you are reading off one of them. Each of the seven has the same blog, so you’re not missing anything on WordPress if you are reading this off Blogspot. I try to check each one regularly for comments because people do have questions about prison. I got a friend request today from WriteAPrisoner from the myspace page, and to be honest, I was kinda pissed off at it.
This is the same prison pal site that banned me for talking about my books when I joined them awhile back. Some of you might remember that blog. I had joined WriteAPrisoner many months ago and started sharing some of my posts. I try to sign in one day and see this message that I had been banned for a week, their excuse was that I was trying to promote my business.
Now, that is just plain stupid.
If I went in on that site making a sell of my books, then I cannot complain about being banned. I know that you can’t jump in there and say something like that. In fact, let me give you two examples of promoting:
“Hi, my name is Nolaw97 and I wanted to tell you guys about this great book I wrote called “Grades of Honor”. It’s about my time in prison, and I wanted to invite you to email me for a copy. It’s only $25 and I think it will help you understand about prison”
“Hi my name is Nolaw97 and I just joined this site today. I have written for numerous of other sites about prison issues and wanted to talk about how an inmate might feel in his first day in prison. As a guy that went through that, I can understand how they might feel. I covered a lot of my feelings and beliefs in my book, “Grades of Honor” and I wanted to see if we can discuss that a bit here.”
Do you see the difference? Evidently WriteAPrisoner didn’t.
If I was making the “hard sell” for my books, that would be a legit reason to ban me. But if I only mentioned my books, or used it for a point of information or index, that is not promotion. I was banned from WriteAPrisoner for a week because I MENTIONED my book. Needless to say, I took great offense to it, so after that week was up, or actually the day I got the notice, I left the group.
And let me get this off my chest, what’s up with these prison pen pal sites that are so stuck up? First LostVault, now WriteAPrisoner. Is every prison pen pal site filled with self righteous people that can’t tell the difference between help and promotion?
It kinda pisses me off when sites like this talk about helping inmates, but when one comes into the midst they can’t ban them fast enough. Why is it that these sites TALK about prison support, but when an inmate wants to write a book so he can get on his feet, they trip him down? LostVault banned me because they assumed I was trying to just sell books, and the owner was foolish enough to read ONE post and figured I was trying to hustle her members. WriteAPrisoner assumed that just because I mentioned my book, I was trying to hustle them. Yet BOTH of these sites will kiss the ass of a prison book written by somebody who NEVER ever made a post on any prison support site, and claim that book to be as much the gospel as the Bible.
(you can tell I am upset now….)
So I refused to go back to WriteAPrisoner, yet every couple of weeks I would get some cheap email from them saying something like, “we noticed you have not come back in awhile, can we entice you to come back”
Answer: Hell no.
Now today I get a friend’s request on my space from WriteAPrisoner… they want to add me to their friend’s list…
Answer: HELL no.
Ok, now that I have bore my fangs (and I feel better now) let’s talk about prison showers (see you get more than just a couple of sentences when you read my blogs).
Let’s see if we can open it up to questions.
“Do all the inmates have to take a shower together?”
Uh…no. You’ve been watching too many movies. I am not going to say that NO prison is like that, but I am saying that by far most prisons are not like that. People think that when it’s time for a shower, the guards herd all the inmates in a big shower room and they have like 15 minutes to get clean.
Not quite that way folks.
There are a few different formats for showers in prison. There are communal showers, single showers and cell showers.
“What’s the difference?”
Well, a cell shower is in fact a single shower in an inmate’s cell. I am partly familiar with that because when I spent 17 months in jail, I was in a cell that had it’s own shower. Outside of that, many prisons have single showers, which simply is a shower for one person…and one person only. Then of course there are the communal showers which most prisons have. A larger area with several shower nozzles and a wider space for several guys. Most camps I have been on have that.
“Don’t you get kinda…weird being around other guys?”
Absolutely! Hey, it was the reason I had a hard time adjusting to prison when I first went in. Those of you who read my first “Grades of Honor” at Craven can understand what I am talking about…
(note, the above statement would have gotten me banned from WriteAPrisoner and LostVault because I mentioned my book….go figure)
I mean, I was not used to being…nude…in the presence of other guys. When I first went to prison at Craven, they had communal showers, and that shocked me. I was NOT going to take shower around a bunch of strange guys…no way!
“So how did you do it?”
Well, as written in my book, I had to sacrifice, and I admit there was a lot of foolish pride. I gave up dinner to take a shower, since there were almost no inmates in the dorm during that time. It cost me an empty stomach, but I got a much needed shower.
“How often are inmates allowed to shower?”
Well, really that depends on the inmate. I mean, some guys shower twice a day, some twice a week. There is no rule (that I know of) that says you have to take a shower every single day. However there are a couple of exceptions. One is that if you NEVER take a shower, that can get you a writeup. Each inmate is expected to keep himself in decent shape hygiene-wise. You can’t have guys in a dorm that haven’t taken a shower in a few weeks, that is unhealthy.
Also, more guys are apt to shower if they are involved in any physical activity. Guys who work on the road squad are obviously going to want to shower more than the inmate who just sits in the dayroom all day.
“I heard that those prison showers are filthy…how can you take a shower in that?”
Well, a prison shower CAN be filthy…but I don’t think it’s any worse than the average home. How can I say that? Because I used to clean the showers when I was in prison.
I have cleaned showers at Craven Correctional, and Pasquotank Correctional. These are communal showers, meaning many guys will end up using it. Imagine 20-30 guys showering up in that place, and what is left behind….
(yeah, I know, I hope you’re not eating while reading this…)
Anyway, somebody had to clean it up, and every camp has inmates who is responsible for doing that.
“So what do you do, get a water hose and rinse it out, and mop the floors?”
No, it goes much further than that. See, the assumption some could have is that the showers in prison are not important to anybody. Certainly not to officers since they don’t use them, certainly not to most readers because they are fighting the stereotypes of prison anyway. But those showers are important to every inmate that sets his foot in that shower area. It HAS to be clean for them.
You would not step in your shower if it was filthy, no different in prison. When I cleaned the showers, I took the idea that I wanted it as clean as if I was going to use it immediately afterwards. We had use of cleaning agents to kill bacteria and get the soap scum out. We had tile and grout cleaner, abrasive powders and other stuff to clean the floors, walls, shower mats and everything else.
Now, after a couple of dozen guys have use it, it won’t look so clean, but hey, that is to be expected. Most guys took that job seriously, because after all, they had to use that same shower.
“How many guys actually shower at the same time?”
That depends on several things. One is how large the shower stall is. A second could be the time of day. For example, a communal shower at a camp might have 6 shower heads, meaning theoretically 6 guys could take a shower at one time. But this rarely happens. Why?
There is on many camps an unwritten rule about spacing. Most times when you take a shower, you try to give the other guy space by showering 2 shower heads away. What do I mean by that? For example, if somebody is using shower head #1 and I come to shower, I am going to use shower #6. I want to use the one furthest away from him, to give him space.
Now, what if there is a guy on #1 and #6? Then I will use the one in the middle, #3. Again, this is about respecting a person’s space. It would look mighty weird if I see a guy in shower head #1 and shower head #6, and then I go to shower head #2.…
(think about that…..)
So what do you do if there are guys on shower heads #1, #3 and #6? You wait until one of them is available.
“Why don’t you use the other ones?”
Because that would be a violation of space. If I am taking a shower, I would feel “invaded” if a guy came and started taking a shower too close to me… and many guys feel the same way. Since most showers last about 15 minutes anyway, I can wait until someone is done.
But there ARE exceptions.
Sometimes when the shower time is nearing an end, many guys try to get that last shower, or sometimes when road squad comes in, they want to get a shower before dinner. Sometimes many guys will need to shower as soon as possible. If so, the unwritten rule is waived because everybody knows that they are all just trying to get a good shower before dinner, or before the showers close.
Sometimes if it isn’t based on time, a guy might come in, needing to take a shower but not seeing one that gives you space. If he has to have one, by rule he can take the one right next to you, but if he HAS to, sometimes a guy might acknowledge you by letting you know that he doesn’t mean to take your space.
He doesn’t have to apologize, just simply acknowledge that you were there first and that he really needed to take the shower now. No harm, no foul.
But you see, a lot of this can be avoided if the inmate is aware of the shower times, and takes advantage of the best times to shower. For me, I always looked for the times where the fewest guys would need to take one. Often times that was early on a weekend morning, around 9am or so. On weekdays, I usually waited until after chow, where often times guys would be on the yard, or maybe a little later at night, when many guys are occupied by watching tv or playing cards in the day room. You just have to get a feel for it.
“Have you ever been…advanced on, in the shower?”
That’s a hard question, because sometimes you can be watched by another guy and never know it. If you are asking if some guy every came to me while I was in the shower, I would INITIALLY say no…but then I remember a situation while I was at Sanford Correctional. I had just finished taking a shower, and a couple of guys that worked in the kitchen with me had been “teasing” me and making advances…whether they were sincere in that I don’t know, but I had a feeling that one of them might have been.
Anyway, I had finished taking a shower and one of them came in the bathroom (the shower area was at the back of the bathroom) and was making jokes about me just getting out the shower…you know, the kinda jokes about “oooh, you just got out the shower” and all those jokes.
Uncomfortable to hear, yes, but the only thing I could do was just finish drying up and get some clothes on. I cannot completely avoid some guy wanting to make an advance on me, but I can minimize it by being aware of the best times to take a shower. You just have to keep an eye on the best times to take a shower with the most privacy.
“But doesn’t that increase the chance of being raped, when there are fewer inmates in the shower?’
Technically yeah it could, but there are other factors that argue against that. Now again, remember that I cannot speak for every shower in every prison, because obviously I have not been in them all, but on a general level, there are some things that offset that.
One, every shower is, or can be, monitored. Most prisons build showers so that any officer can look in that direction and see the shower. Don’t get confused here, that does not mean that the shower is out in the open like a fire hydrant. There is levels of privacy but it is also made so that there is no “hidden view”.
Although there are a few exceptions…but I won’t get into that.
The greater chance of being raped in prison does indeed lie in the abuse of privacy. A guy wanting to take a shower alone might unfortunately have a stalker watching him and might take that opportunity to take advantage of him. Sadly, it can happen.
Sometimes the better way is to use a “buddy system”. Sounds corny, but IF there is a possibility of an inmate being advanced on, sometimes timing your shower about the same time as a few others is ok…as long as you still respect the space.
I realize this might just be the tip of the iceberg, but it may be a start for some of you that wondered about showers in prison. I could have talked much more on other subjects with showers, but I think I better give it a rest. These subjects will be discussed more in my books, as I describe what prison was like for me.
(note: the above statement would have resulted in me being banned from sites like LostVault and WriteAPrisoner….go figure)
Anyway, I gotta go, I am sending out my next batch of books at the end of next week, so if you have not made an order, you might want to do so soon, or maybe wait for my next mailings. Email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com.
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