May 1, 2014 As I mentioned in my last post, after spending over a month on Unit 5 I was transferred to the education range on Unit 6. At that time I wasn’t happy about moving for a couple of reasons. A.) in jail being uprooted and then forced to adapt to a new environment is exhausting and often traumatizing and B.) Unit 5 is a good place filled with good people. Subjectively speaking it is a more down-to-earth, “real” jail experience with plentiful amounts of solidarity amongst prisoners. While on Unit 6 my time slowed to a snail’s pace despite beginning classes and having a bit more freedom of movement. It may have simply been that I landed on a boring range, however, my theory is that the inmates behaved differently due to the methods of control utilized by the guards. The staff there constantly remind inmates that they are in a place of privilege and threaten to send them back to Unit 5 if behavioral standards are not met. For example, after bringing a water bottle to class for days without incident, a guard arbitrarily decided to one day forbid me from taking it with me. After some back and forth, I was told I had a disrespectful tone in my voice and that if I didn’t like the rules I could always go back to Unit 5. I said that to me it seemed that certain rules were being made up spontaneously. The guard responded, “If you don’t like the rules you shouldn’t have decided to come to jail in the first place.” There isn’t really room for healthy debate with someone who enjoys total power and control over you so I sucked it up and left my water bottle behind. I saw similar situations occur between guards and inmates where those who fall out of line are reminded that they are lucky, then are threatened with transfer back to Unit 5 if the “undesirable” behavior continues. This also creates an environment where inmates begin to police one another’s actions. For example, I created a piece of workout equipment and was encouraged by another inmate to get rid of it because the guards wouldn’t like it. Instead of pushing the boundaries and pushing for more rights, inmates walk around scared and engage in self-policing which I find pitiful and toxic to be around. A quick lesson on jail lingo: inmates who do the work of the jailors are called “birds” and are generally less “solid” if they forsake the prisoner’s code of solidarity. Despite my discomforts, I started to settle into a routine and form bonds with the other prisoners around me. Then earlier today, out of the blue, a guard called me over and said, “Pack your stuff, you’re moving to Unit 1.” I was told that because I am a foreign national, I would have to do my time in the remand jail pending my deportation back to the United States. Remand jails are widely considered to be a more unpleasant and chaotic experience than sentence jails. Folks are usually stressed about their cases and don’t know what they’re futures hold. This can lead to tense situations. So as you can imagine, I was devastated to hear that I would be spending potentially the next 10 months in such a place. The reason for my transfer didn’t make sense because my sentence has only just begun, but ultimately I had no say in the matter. After a customary strip search, I was escorted from Unit 6 to Unit 1 where I waited in the holding area until assigned to a range and cell. I waited and waited. It turned out the staff had some internal disagreements as to where I should be placed. Because I am both sentenced and a foreigner who will eventually be deported, there is ambiguity about where to put me. Eventually, they decided to return me to the sentence area of the jail. My fate: back to Unit 5 where I began my Penetang experience. The main reason I was spared months of suffering is because of the kind and good-hearted staff on Unit 5. When I arrived, they explained that they advocated for me to do my time on a sentence unit because it was only fair to me with so many more months ahead. It was one of the first times since the start of my incarceration that I was treated like a human being and not a number. I thanked them thoroughly for their kindness and I am still grateful. I found that the guards on Unit 5 are generally quite respectful, and in such an environment, it’s easy to return respect. They were even kind enough to give me my own cell with a view ot the TV. After such an exhausting day moving around it was touching to finally be treated humanely. Apparently, even in jail the arc of the universe bends toward justice.