By: Dorothy Maraglino, Contributing Writer
Although I’ve been here 940 days, I have not had a trial yet. For two years, the D.A and the defense attorneys have been discussing penalty options. It turns out you can’t go to trial before the DA has determined what penalty to ask for, should they actually win the case. For now they are debating if they should elect to choose the death penalty, as a possible sentence, in case of a hypothetical guilty verdict of a trial. We can’t get scheduled, due to their debating.
My observation of the sentencing process reminds me of a cattle auction I went to. Its all bull, but you don’t know what you got until the papers are signed. At the end of the process everyone smells like manure but the bull is still the only loser.
ON CELLMATE ETIQUETTE:
My cell has hosted a large number of cellmates. I quickly learned the fine art of bunkie etiquette. There is the importance of courtesy flushing. Never touch anything that does not belong to you. Gracefully accept when your stuff is plundered. Don’t ask if your bunkie is ok if you suddenly hear rapid breathing. When in doubt, turn and face the wall.
The variety of persons placed in my cell helped to broaden my world outlook and skillset. I am now confidently able to handle a bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic outburst, against the unseen evil forces that, unbeknownst to me, had become the third resident in our two-woman cell. I am now capable of dodging flying paper, shoes, cups and toiletries, while calmly making a cup of instant coffee.
Let’s face it, when in a room with a batshit crazy humanoid, of which the staff is semi-confident is female, it’s best not to sleep much.
My bunkies have been gracious in sharing not just their body odor and drug-induced world philosophy, but also their working knowledge of criminal activities. My cell education has included how to properly pack a meth pipe, the importance of removing all air bubbles before shooting up, where to buy drugs, how to sell drugs, how to upsell a drug deal to include prostitution, the best place to shop lift and so much more.
Now does this go on my resume as formal training or tutor sessions? I thought it best not to mention my doubts in receiving skill training from persons whose skill level landed them in jail. So I’m not ready to embrace a career change just yet.
Our food here in San Diego is not so bad. You just have to get past the sight, smell, texture and taste. After that, it is gourmet Alpo. We have been lucky to have the former chef from Purina on staff.
I cannot imagine any chef from the Food Network doing the things our chef can with what I am sure used to be edible ingredients. We can spread our soy burgers as smoothly as pate. The proteins have been given such a makeover that I dare the most trained palette to guess the source.
I’m sure they consulted a rabbi to determine which rodent, feline and equestrian proteins are allowed before they are served as kosher. The rest of us on unrestricted diets just dig right in without asking.
The meals are so good you can feel and taste them for hours after you finished. Some meals stick around into the night. Our food here tries to escape. With deep concentration you can keep it from escaping your mouth. Sometimes it will catch you by surprise and race for your body’s southern exit.
But inmates here have the option to spend their precious pennies on nuclear winter-style food at high prices. That supports the prison economy, which benefits about 10% of the inmate population. If your family can take out a second mortgage, you too can be kept stocked in instant coffee and top ramen.
Confinement specialists got together and collectively agreed that privacy is an overrated luxury that only serves to remind a person of their former humanity. To help us acclimate to our new existence as social rejects, all efforts have been made to remove this reminder.
While unconfirmed, many believe the staff has been given special training to instill the importance of their role in this process. Well-trained staff will show up at your cell door mere seconds after you have nested your butt on the toilet. Staff that take their job seriously in regards to “de-privatizing” (yes, it’s a thing) will find that an opportune time to ask you a question.
Every conversation, written or spoken, is always with an audience, so inmates won’t have to adjust and re-adjust to even an illusion of privacy. An audience is present for conversations with medical staff, but promises to only half listen/read medical and legal conversations, as they’re privileged. The lack of privacy comes in handy as most staff remember, even before I do, when I’ll need extra maxi pads. It’s important to remember the removal of privacy is for our own good. We should embrace each humiliation with gratitude. The sooner one adjusts to no privacy the quicker that pesky humanity will fade and life as a reject can reach it’s full potential.
Our facility is preparing the inmates and community for intergalactic-based detention facilities by phasing out all human contact from visits. This is done by allowing only video visits for most inmates.
Dorothy Maraglino is serving time in California for 1st degree murder.