My brother has been in prison for almost 4 years. (btw, 22 months left! holla!) When he was first arrested there was this new show, Jail, I never had any intention of watching it because I really did not want to know what goes on behind those bars. He keeps me pretty much in the dark about the bad things that go on. I have no idea if he’s been in fights or been hurt in any way. And I’m ok with that. In fact, it is what allows me to sleep at night. I mean don’t get me wrong, I am afraid for his life because he is in prison and it is a dangerous place to be. That is an undeniable fact. But not knowing if he is or has been put in any kind of danger is perfectly ok with me.
And then this lady I work with mentioned this show “Lockdown.” She was talking about it and I was all “I do not ever want to see that show. I just do not need to know. Please don’t tell me anything about it.”
And I had no intention of watching it. Ever. I didn’t want to see inside that life. I just don’t.
So why in the hell did I go and set it up on my TiVo?
Because I suddenly got retarded. And suddenly I just had to see it. I searched it. And hesitated a bit. I read the descriptions about the episodes that showed up. None of them were in Virginia so what could be the harm?
And they recorded. And I saw them on my list, but didn’t really know if I would actually watch them. I thought about it. I pondered. Do I really want to see this? Probably not. So I let them sit.
And then I sat down to watch some of my TiVo. And I had quite a bit. I watched a few shows, still had more, did not have to resort to watching Lockdown. But I did it. And OF COURSE the episode I watch? First timers. Glutton for punishment I tell you.
And, honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But it was definitely an eye opener. I did not cry. Which surprised me some. Some of what they showed I knew about (the routine, the way the blocks were laid out, the yard, the basic stuff). They talked about gang life in this particular prison. Which I knew was a possibility, but never really thought about. They talked about how people had to prove themselves, and generally did that by lifting. Which is when it occurred to me how (and why) my brother started lifting weights all.the.time. and got pretty strong pretty quick. And one of the boys they featured was about the age of my brother when he went in. And this poor kid is serving 15 years, and honestly based on his crime, I think that sentence is way too long. But the 1 hour episode spanned the time of about 1 month. And he was ridiculed, and possibly beaten up (for which he got time in the hole for his protection). They showed him asking for a job, which he was told would never happen, and it made me remember back to when my brother asked for things (a job, to go to school) and he was told it would never happen. It made me think. About how my brother fared when he went in. The thoughts that went through his mind that this kid verbalized on this show. It also made me thankful that my brother has never landed himself in the hole. (the hole, btw, is basically solitary confinement, they spend 23 hours locked in a cell with no window and receive yard time for 1 hour a day, at night, which they are also locked in basically a pen. It’s pretty bad and no one wants to go there). My brother has talked about the hole, but never from first hand experience. He’s mentioned it as in “so and so went to the hole” but other than that he hasn’t had to live it. For which I am grateful, because I don’t think he would fare well. And I don’t think I could go that long without a phone call from him.
But it was strange. To watch that show, after having someone I love in prison for 4 years with 2 to go, and realizing that there was so much more that I did not know. I still don’t want my brother to inform me of those aspects of his life, but I think I will watch this show. Maybe not regularly and I most definitely will not be having marathons. But I will probably keep watching it.