“Pole-Barns”

I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have about prison is the liviv space. While most TV shows either depict the county jail or a higher security prison, where inmates are kept two to a cell, most level ones in MDOC consist of pole-barns. Each pole-barn is divided into two units, one on the right, the other on the left.

When you first enter, the officer station greets you. Towards the windows on one side are the washer and dryer; the wall directly in front of the officer desk is a phone bank. There’s a small day room in between the two halls, with benches to watch TV and tables to play cards/ dominoes. The other day room is by the back hall, and it’s got a hot water dispenser, two microwaves, two jpay kiosks, a sink, and about twice as many tables to play cards at. 

The unit is split up into two halls, comprised of 10 cubes each, with a security camera at both ends of each hallway (for a total of 4). The cube is our living space, a semi-private room essentially. I’d estimate it’s 18ft x 12ft, or thereabouts (fucking crowded!). Half the cubes in each hallway have access to a window, which doubles as a fridge in the winter.

In the middle of the cube is a metal table with two attached seats. Every cube is composed of 8 beds on 4 bunks: two on the back wall, and one in each front corner.

4 lockers separate the back two bunks, while a set of 2 lockers sit jus to the left and right of the entrance for the corner bunks. The top bunk in each of the front corners are the least desirable because your head is basically hanging out in the hallway. it makes you feel quite vulnerable (unfortunately this is my current bunk). Bunk numbers are stenciled in large up on the wall.

Near the head of each bunk is a thumbtack board for pictures, calendar, etc. Near your feet is a light and a shelf, for your TV, fan, coffee mug, books etc. These bunks are incredibly sensitive; that is, you’ll feel every time your bunkie turns over and adjusts himself to get comfortable. A lot of guys stuff rolls of toilet paper between the wall and the bunk to stifle the wobbling.

The walls between each cube dont even go up to the ceiling, leaving about a 4 foot gap. When I stand top my bunk, the top of the wall only comes up to my waist so climbing over to the next cube over would present zero difficulty. The partition between the cube and the hallway is even smaller (as I said, ones head is out in the open), only coming up to someone’s chest. There is no door or lock one needs to pass by to enter the cube–the entrance is simply wide open.

Atop the central partition, between the back and front hallways, is cage-fencing so one can’t climb into a cube in the back hall from a cube in the front. Apparently this use to be a huge problem, as guys would just wait until a cube was empty and hop over the middle, steal their stuff, and jump back over without walking by anyone in the hallways. 

Each hall has their own bathroom of 3-4 individual showers, a half dozen sinks, 3-4 urinals, and 3-4 stalls. The walls on the stall only go up halfway as high as the standard one in the world, and theres no locks on the door.

Another incredible vulnerable feeling: taking a shit as you look up and see some huge motherfcker looking down on you, if only for a second. For some cowardly gangbangers, when you’re taking a shit is the ideal time to attack you. I once heard a Blood brag about beating some dudes ass while he was on the can. 

Prison etiquette dictates that you never use the urinal or stall next to one already in use–always leave a buffer space. Above each sink is a badly scratched up mirror and a metal shelf to put your shower bag, tp, shavers, etc. (Sometimes a little bar of soap is jammed into the crevices of these shelfs for easy access, and for use after a piss, without making you go grab soap from your locker every time you have to piss.) 

There’s also a supply room with mops, garbages bags, cleaning supplies etc. that can only be accessed by a porter. The porters are in charge of cleaning the common areas during one of three shifts.

I’m blessed to lock with a porter in my cube, who habitually mops the cube every night. Much of your experience depends on your bunkie, your cubies, and your unit. I’d argue a terrible unit cancels out a good cube and a bunkie you get along with.

Still, the most common disputes will be between bunkies because you guys will be in each others way so often. e.g. you can’t both be in your lockers. And anytime something gets stolen, one of your cubies invariably is involved–hes the inside guy who facilitates the steal.

okay hopefully that clears up how we live in here. I’m sure you could’ve looked up some pictures online and that would’ve saved us all time…whatever, I know they’re still trying to claim they only assign 5-6 inmates max to a cube when that’s clearly not the case, ever.

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