By a single cell Pennsylvania prisoner (over 30 years served)
Confronting the politics of filling prisons to their maximum capacity has many dynamics that most of the victims thereof will not tackle face to face. Therefore, policy makers, social engineers, and profiteers will continuously exploit the ignorant and indefensible masses. Admittedly, figure generations will doubtlessly study how primitive and barbaric the era of massive incarceration was in the first quarter of the 21st century.
In general, policy makers approach prisoners with a one size fits all sort of attitude. For example, the biggest prisoner receives the very same portion or food servings as the smallest prisoner. Obviously when situations become intolerable and/or obscenely disruptive, concessions and the modification of other accommodations are occasionally sanctioned with a measure of reflected bureaucracy.
Double celling is abrasive to the human personality and it will have a profound impact on the life of those so-called cellmates in more ways than this article will permit me to expand on. Although it is needless to say people are very complex, and there is not a happy ever after when prisoners are forced to become cellmates.
Inevitably, prisoners come to terms with the fact that they would rather be housed alone rather than housed with a close associate or family member if given an option. After all, social relations experience strains and turbulences which obviously require distancing, to avoid any further escalation of trials and tribulation that make life’s circumstances more disastrous for all the participants involved.
Violent reactions are usually the first course of action that surfaces in unsettled conflicts within prison settings. The pettiest issues can forge the foundation of a perfect death-ground battle for close quarter combat. However, some attacks may be clandestine since cellmates have access to each others’ personal items, such as toothbrush, food, legal materials, mail, pictures, and address book.
The human imagination has proven to be unlimited, especially in the absence of other preoccupations.
Prison environments have always been composed of predatory and gladiator minefields which are not limited to non-staff members. Though the endless culture of silence, a.k. A “snitches get stitches, and put in ditches”, has caused many incidents to go undocumented. Therefore, out of 100 prison incidents involving an assault or fight, diligent guess-work is required — if you suspect far less than half, or less than 10 percent, your guess is as good as mine, because the margins of a niche’s confinement further shrunk to a fragile bubble existence that everyone learns to despise.
Social roles become blurred, so a lot of time is spent attempting to avoid foreseeable stressors, such as manners of respect in accordance with prison culture.
Double celling gives new meaning to things such as “cabin fever”, “sensory deprivation”, “domestic abuse”, “prison anxiety and depression”. COVID 19 is not even close to an equal comparison to the woes of double celling.
Imagine if you dare, two sexually repressed people compelled to occupy the same room for extended durations of time, i.e., days, weeks, seasons, and sometimes years or decades. At some point they are considered cellmates, though they are customarily members of the same gender, and the rituals of mating are not always consensual. Even when physical strengths appear matched, weapons and drugs along with other feasible resources can undermine once favorable odds that lessen certain possibilities. Many unfortunate prisoners have succumbed to a host of nightmarish schemes employed by predacious institutionalized stalkers who are well versed or seasoned in the so-called “house of games”.
Desperate cries for help can be muffled or silenced, and maybe ignored. I recalled hearing and seeing a female C/O scream at some little white fellow/prisoner, “Why did you have to wait until I’m ready to go home! Damn!” He was screaming for help, and began breaking his cell window to get out of the cell at about 0530 hrs.
However, the foolishly obedient hopelessly aspire to respect the authority of people with a role-play sort of power, even though they clearly wish to cause them psychological harm.
Now imagine being forced to witness every bowel movement that someone makes for the next few decades, or staring at where they have placed their dirty underclothes, or noticing how frequently they discharge bodily gases, and/or disturb each others’ restless nights of imprisonment.
The thought of personal space can be ridiculed by prison staff, depending on who they encounter. For the sake of clarity, personal space is defined as an area of at least six feet to reflect or inspect one’s self, such as using a restroom, a space to mourn, and/or awake to clean up from a nocturnal emission. But personal space is thought to be non-existent in double celling situations.