Nov. 29, 2010
by Opollo Rey Johnson (author's profile)


My days are spent reading, studying and working out. Most days start at 5:30 A.M. I awaken and stretch in preparation to run, the cell door is unlocked at 6 A.M. sharp, though most days the unit officer is running 10 minutes late. At 6:15 A.M. there is a recreation yard movement, which means that anyone who wants to use the rec-yard has 5 mins. to get there. After this time, at the top of every hour for 10 minutes, you're allowed to travel to different parts of the prison, which are limited to dining hall, medical, education, laundry, chapel, commissary, and rec-yard.

I start the exercise routine with a nine minute mile run, then move onto the major muscle group that the day calls for: Monday - chest, Tuesday - legs and back, Wednesday - incline & decline bench with arm curls, Thursday - shoulders, Friday - off, with the weekend reserved for abs and light running, usually 3 miles Saturday and 2 miles windsprints Sunday. With so much free time I decided to stay in shape.

At 9 A.M. I return to the unit where I shower and prepare for the day. At 10:30 A.M. it's yard recall, which means the entire population returns to their units and get ready for lunch.

I share a 12 by 7 foot cell with one other person, though at times with the overcrowding issues there have been 3 of us in here. My cellmate's name is Oliver, he is 56 years old and has spent 36 of them in prison. He is full of wisdom and observations but unfortunately he does not use it in his own life. But he is good-hearted and admits that he's been his own worst enemy throughout his life. He spends his days reselling candy purchased at commissary (peppermints & fireballs), 3 for a single stamp, as here on the prison compound stamps are used as currency to buy other things - handcrafted items and the like, but mostly cigarettes or specially made food from prisoners who work in the dining hall, because four days out of the week the quality of the fare is much less than desired...

After lunch, about 12 noon daily, I set up shop in the prison library where I throw myself into whatever assignment my professors require. As of today, 11-23-10, I have completed my thesis for Writing and Rhetoric, 10 pages of painstaking research supporting my perspective of the "War on Drugs". I have considered posting a copy but for some reason I find myself reticent, so we shall see...

There are 1,100 men confined to this compound and 7 very ragged and ill-functioning typewriters between us, but for assignments I have no problem obtaining access; guys here respect that I attend college, and most days actively work to make sure I have access to one. Too many men here lack education or are vastly undereducated and so have a deep respect for who are. As a result I find myself the reluctant arbitrator/mediator for all manner of disagreement from history to sports (which I have to often confess I know nothing about) to pop culture. For the most part disputes are good-natured and harmless "simple one-upmanship" but every so often they can turn nasty and violent. As someone unconsciously uses debate to relieve the stress of incarceration. Fortunately though these times are rare indeed...

At 3 P.M there is again yard recall, where all prisoners return to their units for mail-call and afternoon census count at 4 P.M. sharp. By this time the is almost at its end for prisoners, dinner is called sometime after 5 P.M. with 3 hours more of free time. Depending on the amount of schoolwork I return to the library or stay in to watch the evening news.

All the while checking my e-mail (yes! we have e-mail provided through trueline-corrlines...a company that provides the communication system for this prison). Thing is though, we have to upload the contact info from here, and the receiver has to accept via their e-mail address.

The night here ends at 9:15 P.M. with lock-down for the evening. I often stay awake until 11:30 P.M. or so, in contemplation, either introspectively or about what the future holds in store for me...

Letters can be sent.

Opollo R. Johnson 11326-021
P.O. Box 699
Estill, South Carolina 29918


Replies (1) Replies feed

mnuman Posted 13 years, 5 months ago. ✓ Mailed 13 years, 5 months ago   Favorite
who knew all you needed was a blog for! i am learning so much more about your life and what you encounter on a daily basis...well said big brother...well said :)

We will print and mail your reply by . Guidelines

Other posts by this author


Get notifications when new letters or replies are posted!

Posts by Opollo Rey Johnson: RSS email me
Comments on “Untitled”: RSS email me
Featured posts: RSS email me
All Between the Bars posts: RSS