How Do You Prefer Your Prisoner: Rare or Well-Done?

On a 90° day like today, prisoners are not just cooking — they are rotisseries.

An Op-Ed by an anonymous prisoner at NJSP.

Yes, that title may sound a little humorous. What isn’t humorous though is the heat that prisoners must deal with, like today (June 11th, 2017), in administrative segregation (“ad-seg,” solitary confinement) housing inside New Jersey State Prison.

Picture this — when the sun hits a brick building all day, those bricks heat up significantly. Inside of these bricks is concrete and thin steel, which both heat up as well, creating an oven effect. Now inside of the steel are smaller ovens that have humans inside. And a ninety degree day outside like today, creates about a hundred and five degree day inside these ovens. Now, imagine, these humans are naked as can be, sweating and cooking as they try to lie in bed, but the mattress is plastic covered so they stick to it. That makes each person constantly rolling over to unstick themselves. Now they are not just cooking, they are rotisseries.

It may sound like a funny cartoon in your head, but I assure you, it’s real. I’m marinating in my own juices as I type this from ad-seg in New Jersey State Prison. And, I’m not the only one sweating! The walls themselves feel my pain because they are sweating right along with me! Everything is sweating! That, or, everything is crying for mercy.

I’m one of the fortunate ones, too. I have the two permitted 8" fans. Now, if you’ve ever had these small fans, you’d know that 8 inches does no justice at all in an open environment, let alone an oven. In fact, my cell has just been converted from a traditional brick oven to a conventional oven.

This is a real circumstance. I implore you to contact the New Jersey Department of Corrections in order to force them to give you a tour. You will see it, and feel it, for yourself.

This isn’t exclusive to ad-seg either. Realize that the old part of New Jersey State Prison is all like this. Even 6wing, because it and 7wing are nearly identical in most ways. But every wing has this level of heat, the same level of poor ventilation, the same level of bad air circulation and the same level of horrible cleanliness. This creates a formula for disaster. But at least in General Population you can get a shower every day, and cool down showers when it’s a heat advisory. In 7wing, we do not get that. In a five day span, we only get two showers.

So, while we are being basted in our own juices, we should smell delicious shouldn’t we? Nope! You can poll officers and the nursing staff who passes out daily medications, we smell more like rotten fruit than a delicious entree to be served up by our jailers.

So, I pose the question… what will they do? The rumor is that NJDOC is going to shut 7wing down and renovate. Will they add windows and at least a minor air conditioning system? Or, will they just do as they did in the past and slap a fresh coat of paint OVER all of the problems and sweep everything else under the rug? I suspect that they will be doing the latter.

To add insult to injury, the rumor has it that NJDOC will be relocating us to Northern State Prison’s ad-seg units, which thankfully have air conditioning, but have every other bad characteristic of New Jersey State Prison’s ad-seg unit. Therefore, what is actually changing? They need to shut all of the facilities like these down and properly renovate to ensure that housing is humane and not merely necessary because of overcrowding. One bad circumstance isn’t corrected by sending us to another bad one. That just doesn’t seem logical.

But, to NJDOC it does! All of this makes perfect sense in their eyes. So, why are blind people in charge?

ANON is a prisoner currently held in administrative segregation (“ad-seg”), a solitary confinement unit at New Jersey State Prison (“NJSP”).

There are approximately 400 other prisoners currently housed in ad-seg at NJSP.

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