One Day in the Life of 179212: Notes from an American Prison

One Day in the Life of 179212: Notes from an American Prison

Jens Soering

Language: English

Pages: 116


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

(Not from retail source but retail quality)

To a correctional facility in Virginia he is known as Prisoner 179212. But to a legion of journalists and legal reform activists he is Jens Soering, a German citizen who has endured for the past twenty-six years the harshest and most unforgiving punishment this country can offer—a life sentence without realistic hope of release, which some refer to as "the other death penalty." Told with dry humor, One Day in the Life of 179212 provides an hour-by-hour survey of everyday life in an American medium-security facility with all of its attendant hardships, contradictions, and even revelations. Soering poignantly illustrates the importance of meditation and faith when confronted with extreme adversity, in addition to making a highly compelling case for prison reform. Although this inspiring, eloquent memoir recounts just a day in the life of one man, much like Alexander Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, it provides a powerful voice for the over two million men and women lost in the maze of America's prison-industrial complex.

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whites still feel so much of that collective guilt over slavery and discrimination that they're willing to grant blacks a little bit of revenge. But only so long as this vengeance affects only white inmates and not themselves! There it is again: the slavery that simply cannot be exorcised from the heads of blacks or whites. I greatly enjoy my conversations with Mrs. Jefferson, because my life is quite lonely, and—in spite of those complications—she's more interesting to talk to than virtually

learn and work, if only they were given a realistic hope of bettering their lives through education. A case in point: these days it's hard to find furniture repair shops in this country, which is why so few prisoners express an interest in that particular vocational course. Painters, however, are always in demand, and those who employ them aren't particularly interested in their rap sheets. A painter can pick up an easy couple of dollars even in prison. When the maintenance department in

secular, or other perspectives. In the meditation group I lead are several other older black men like Omo and L.A., although I don't know them as well. All of them were once known to be dangerous—real terrors of the cellblocks, “convicts” through and through. They are (or were) exactly the type of person whom even I would have argued would never be rehabilitated and should never be released. Nonetheless, these “monsters” now sit in complete meditative silence for forty minutes without moving a

directly below mine. He's quiet at the moment, but last night he was howling a wordless and uninterrupted Woooooooh! He's probably afraid of retaliation from the inmate he snitched on. The mentally ill prisoner had borrowed some cigarettes and gave the loan shark his necklace and cross as collateral. Because he later regretted the deal, the prisoner asked a guard for help: he wanted his Jesus back. The guard threw both of them in the hole, since both had committed a violation of Rule 227:

30, 2004; Marvin Mentor, “Pay to Play: Guard Union Spreads the Wealth,” Prison Legal News, March 2005, p. 5.; John Pomfret, “California's Crisis in Prison System a Threat to Public,” Washington Post, June 11, 2006. 33 Christina Nuckols, “Prison Supporters Rally,” Virginian Pilot, August 30, 2002. 34 Ibid. 35 Joanne Mariner, No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2001). 36 Brent Staples, “Fighting the A.I.D.S. Epidemic by Issuing Condoms in the Prisons,” New York

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