Prison Image: Unsplash
Prison Image: Unsplash
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A gray uniform flashed past my window. Then another. Then several more.
Corrections officers from various points on the prison yard were heading into my unit. I heard what sounded like a yelp, followed by scuffling noises down the hall. I stepped into the corridor with the swelling tide of other curious prisoners.
The wave moved toward the officers station, where the two wings of our unit met.
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When I arrived, there was about half a cup of blood splattered and pooled inside a roughly 10-foot circle directly in front of the officers station. Some smears and drops bridged the distance between there and the door.
Officers stood around the circle directing traffic. I returned to my cell so as not to add my body to the confusion; I wondered if I should use the bathroom in case they locked us down.
When I looked through the thick mesh screen covering my cell window, I caught sight of officers leading two handcuffed men across the yard. I kept watching to see which one went to medical and which directly to segregation. I didn’t know either of them.
As they moved out of sight, I picked up my coffee cup and headed toward the kitchenette directly behind the officers station. The bloody floor now sported three yellow, A-shaped “Wet Floor” signs. A prisoner bent over the mess, placing reddened paper towels into a bio bag.
It’s impressive how quickly the cycle progresses from inciting incident to cleanup. This efficiency betrays a familiarity that ought to be troubling. The officers don’t seem to notice as they return to their station and begin the paperwork. The rest of the prisoners and I step around the few remaining splotches of blood. We, too, return to “normal operations.”
I can only guess at how much emotional accommodation we’ve all had to make for the violence of prison; how dulled our empathy and human concern must be to collectively shrug our shoulders at splatters of blood, as if it were just a spilled cup of coffee.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.
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