|Inside the West Easton treatment center|
One fellow in the Big House was given a bunk mate his very first day, a dude from Philly with ten children from eight different women he calls his baby mommas. In his adult life, he's spent a total of 81 days on the outside. He obviously makes the most of it.
He might be promiscuous, but was very bashful about going to the bathroom on a toilet with a cell shared by others. Eventually, he set up some kind of curtain and assumed the throne. ... For an hour. Grunting away. He basically shit out a CVS pharmacy. He spent the next hour or so, happily cleaning off little plastic baggies, inside which his goodies were kept. One of them had tobacco, which could be rolled into toilet paper. Another had loose matches and a flint. Then there was an odd assortment of all kinds of drugs.
My friend was offered a cigarette, but passed.
After this fellow returned to the City of Brotherly Love, a second inmate took his place. After exchanging pleasantries and learning that this guy had turned himself in because he wanted to go straight, this fellow suddenly had to take a shit, too. This time, a Rite-Aid pharmacy was produced from yet another assortment of plastic baggies swallowed the night before.
Once again, my friend passed on a shit-flavored, toilet-paper wrapped, cigarette.
When they smoke, whether it's tobacco or weed, they blow the spoke into the toilet bowl and flush.
We read about contraband rings, but most of gets in through the stomachs of new inmates. If corrections officers required inmates to take their first two shits in front of them, using a strainer, they could probably reduce contraband by 90%.
Nothing is free. Whether it's brought in from your stomach or served as a meal. If you don't want your breakfast, and chances are you won't, you can't give it away. Not even a cookie. Otherwise you destroy the market in a prison economy in which inmates barter and sell everything.
A cookie, incidentally, is worth 25 cents.
Food at the County jail is horrible. It is common for inmates to go a week or more without a bowel movement because the highly processed food lacks any nutritional value. That lousy food, and the lack of exercise, ruins your health at a County jail. It's not something County officials fret over, to be sure. But that's short-sighted because the County must pay all medical costs incurred by an inmate. Even Medicaid stops once someone is incarcerated.
Inmates inside a County jail are mostly unable to read or write in cursive and are unable to do basic math. I don't know whether this is because they are stupid or went through a lousy educational system.
Most inmates on work release have no jobs. They are given a few hours every day - I believe it is five - to find work. If unable to do so after three or four weeks, it is back to the main jail.
Five hours is not a lot of time. Most inmates have no cars, so they rely on buses to do their job hunting.
In Easton, that might be OK, but in Lehigh County, it's a disaster. A 6:30 AM bus takes you to Broad and Guetter, the main bus hub. It's next to impossible to do any realistic job hunting in the time allotted. So many inmates just make up places they visited for jobs. When they get caught, it's back to the main jail.
In jail, the message an inmate gets at all times is that he has no value as a person, and the only way he an get anywhere is by playing the system. This is why treatment facilities like West Easton are so important. Inmates must start getting the message they have value as human beings.