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Typical Day

McScotty is up at 6:15 and, after a quick shower to wash yesterday's inmate sweat off his body, he's back to work. He pulls up outside the Shmoopville Correctional Facility just before 7 and is immediately on the clock. He does his rounds, making sure that everyone is where they should be and that he doesn't have a Shawshank situation on his hands.

He walks about three miles, down long halls, checking off prisoner by prisoner on the list—nobody has escaped. In the process, he keeps a keen right eye on the lookout for flying objects, mainly feces, the eternal weapon available to the prisoners McScotty barely believes are human. After finishing his count at around 9, a senior correctional officer follows by double-checking McScotty’s numbers. In essence, the job of all of these people is to maintain status quo—i.e., days when nothing happens are a victory. Each clock tick is a clap of applause for a job well done. When nothing happens....

After the morning count, McScotty accompanies a group of inmates to a classroom, where they are taught basic English, hoping to earn their GED/high school equivalency exam so that they can become a tradesman after they are released in a few years. These are the lucky and motivated prisoners who still believe they have a life. Most of the others are just playing poker for cigarettes and other favors. A few others—the murderers on Death Row—are hanging with the prison priest, asking about the afterlife. Yet another group is learning how to work car muffler molding machines—at some point they will be released from jail and try to get a real job, i.e. something that does not involve knocking off 7-11s. Maybe working the counter of one instead.

After lunch, McScotty does another set of rounds, shaking down a few prison rooms. He tears apart the bed, the wall socket, the sink faucet receptacle, and every other nook and cranny in which contraband might be hidden—drugs, weapons, dirty looks. There are gangs and fights all over the complex and he's trying to protect the innocent, or relatively innocent, from getting killed. He and his comrades exchange inside dope on what Prisoner A has been doing to Prisoner B and they share info on the last surprise raid done by the Warden. The raiders found drugs and knives and other paraphernalia in the jail cells so a bunch of guys are now in double-trouble as they head downstairs to lockdown, and let’s just call it a big fat "Time Out" in solitary.

In the early afternoon, there is movement on the compound. Group D gets their bi-weekly showers. Lots of things can go wrong in there and McScotty is on edge as he waits, waiting for a scream in which case he has to enter the private areas, albeit with his eyes partially shielded. Other prisoners get moved to the sports yard for their two hours a day of physical "education." That is, they lift weights to get more buff, some day hoping to use that muscle in some...productive way. Other prisoners get moved from the health care facility back to their primary cells—some just had colds, while others had nosectomys from a fight. With nostrils replaced, more or less, they return "home" for 5-10 more years.

McScotty escorts a dozen or so inmates to the hair salon for their monthly haircuts. A big ball of hair is a great place to hide a nail so it must come off. A small argument breaks out—a dude who has decided that for religious reasons he must keep his hair is putting up a fuss. He swears he'll sue. McScotty knows that he will—he has all the time in the world and that it will cost the state $15,000 to defend this lawsuit regardless of the outcome. McScotty quietly curses the stupid politicos making the rules above him. He diffuses the situation before it turns ugly. Or…uglier. After all, there are scissors nearby. 

He sits in on the afternoon strategy session to discuss two fights among gangs that happened at a nearby prison—they are to be on high alert for retaliations. They also note new techniques of bringing drugs into the prison—high altitude drones which hover 20,000 feet above the prison at night on windless evenings and are able to drop little rock-filled baggies in the yard. They discuss civil rights and listening/snooping abilities. Then they mourn a last time the death of another guard who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and took a long walk off of a short ledge courtesy of a captured drug dealer. The guy had a wife and kids, and McScotty wistfully wonders who changed the whole "eye for an eye" thing. Prison life has turned him dark and cold, but all the more resolute that these people should be kept behind bars as long as possible.

He clocks out at 4 and that's the end of his day at work—short and sweet. Well, short anyway.