The inmate who did time at Hampton Jail in Iowa wrote another letter, and this time he enclosed a picture! See below:
Well, I got discharged a few days ago. It was a complex experience, and there are some things that you always knew, but become so real in the lockup.
The place is absent of any measure of time. There are no clocks, nothing to mark the passage of time. Sure, there is a clock tower nearby, but the building air conditioning and the sound of other inmates drowns out those reminders. You wonder, is that the morning light that you see through your narrow line of sight, or is it just the nightlight? I was fooled more than once. Natural daylight has a different hue than light from a bulb, but the grayness of the cellblock paint seems to be very effective in taking what warmth from natural light and turning it into something a bit more soulless.
Many of your senses are dulled, but others just seem to be heighted.
When I got home, I could smell it — the lingering odor from the jail uniform. The uniform, made of a heavy cotton almost denim like quality. The smell stays with you. You can smell it on your skin. And with that smell, you carry the marker of a prisoner — an almost DNA-like connection to all the other men who have worn that uniform before you. You might think of it as a brotherhood, but that is not really it. It is more of an ethereal chain gang that connects us all, the smell of the steel doors and the aged paint, the inklings of dust.
Also, you come to understand the power of the cell door, both as an element of confinement as well as symbol of security. The security to keep you where you are, and the security perhaps of where you are supposed to be. The night in the hole — which I spent because of my bad attitude — was jarring. I slept, but I kept being constantly awakened. Each time, I would test the door, to see if it was still locked — somehow thinking by magic it would not be. Oddly, though, it would be a disappointment if it was unlocked.
The jail experience is one of constant redundancy and routine. I stopped counting the number of times my hands were cuffed and uncuffed. I learned to accept the ankle shackles as the way things are going to be. But also, you find that you yearn to be cuffed, as a proxy to just interact. When the jailer leaves, he closes the door behind him. You are there on your own, in a mental solitude that is just a controlling as a physical confinement in solitary. Your mind wanders, and then in time you begin this odd sense of bonding with your jailer. He holds all the keys, all the power, and all the options.
My experience was at times unpleasant, gripping, soul-searching and frustrating. I learned that doing time means that time moves very slowly.
Your actions, your choices, or decisions not to decide are all in front of you. You make your prison. You realize that you think you are own person when you go in, but in the end you understand that you are just something to be counted, controlled. You are just a number.
Metal would like to thank the inmate for sharing this information and picture!