Lots of mental health issues here in prison.
Actual observations with randomly selected prison numbers.
Prisoner number 437198 was a slim but tall young man with empty holes in his earlobes where he use to wear gauge earrings. His priorities in life were hegemonic pagan spirits, prescription pills, and any form of alcohol, be it hand sanitizer or homemade prison brew. Boredom created good natured dare contests of eating a cockroach or a slug. Other challenges require catching a rodent (rat or mouse) or a flea infested nasty smelling wild rabbit. Frogs were no fun.
Prisoner number 339628 drank from the prison day room water fountain. This combined with his shiny new prison clothes clearly indicated he was fresh off the prison chain transport bus ( F.O.B. = Fresh Off Bus). No one drank from prison water fountains. No one drank water in prison. It was rumored the contaminated water fountains held the cure for covid, E.coli and the common cold. The FOB hand small hands, almost tiny, no doubt his fighting skills will be tested by some obnoxious prison bully. He moved unsure of himself clearly knowing not to make eye contact with other prisoners. Having no place to stand or sit, and to appear to have a destination with purpose, he proceeded to the queue for U.S. mail distribution. He wanted to appear to belong. It was impossible for him to have mail for at least a week, more likely two weeks. Many prisoners never receive a stick of personal mail during their entire time in prison. He had no other destination so he stood there isolated, trying to fit in, amongst a group of convicted felons. With the preemptive knowledge of knowing no one in this setting, with his head on a swivel, he delicately mimed searching for someone he knew. In his heart he expected a letter from the free-world life he left behind. It is past tense, free-people he knew will never contact him again. He has been rejected by society and abandoned by his friends and family. He is waiting for a letter that will never arrive. He will write letters with the empty, false hope with an expectation of a response, any response. He begs a god he doesn't believe in for a letter from anyone. A few other prisoners receive letters, magazines and books. Day after day he receives nothing, his head hangs lower as despondency saddles his ravaged soul. He misses mail call one day. His self-preservation survival instincts inundate him with images of imaginary letters waiting for him. In his mind he can almost read the return address on the white pre-stamped envelope. Excited and anxious he impatiently rushes to mail call to receive several letters. There is no mail for him. Nothing.
In his chair, prisoner number 373241 leans uncomfortably towards his hometown in the north. For entertainment, I wait to see if he slumbers too far and falls out of his seat. Maybe his head will hit the wall first and he'll slide unceremoniously to the floor. His fugue state has him mimic smoking an imaginary cigarette. His blotchy red face is slack, and drool drips from his unshaven stubble covered face. His unwashed hand, with dirty fingernails, snakes inside his shirt to scratch his armpit as he snaps to a upright sitting position and attempts to stand. His slurred giggle muffles his mumbling as he talks incoherently to the nonexistent person in front of him. It must be close to his time for another dose of his prison ordered experimental mental health medication.
Prisoner number 773372 clothing is disheveled. A protruding big white belly hang from under a dirty T-shirt with large hairy feet hanging from the ends of plastic shower shoes too small to keep his toes from touching the dirty prison floor, made him appear to be a beast of burden. Filth caked under his uncut but jagged fingernails and toenails, and his swollen hands didn't appear to bend at the joints. He had a bright red nose matted with moist dripping hair hanging from the nostrils. The prison guard was yelling at him to put on some socks. He looked at the guard with eyes that couldn't see, ears that couldn't hear and a mind that couldn't process the donning of socks. He grunted at the guard and shuffled his feet as he walked away. He never did put on any socks.
Prisoner number 383192 was a large older gentleman who claims to have flown around the country dealing in real estate and art. It didn't ring true as elderly successful prisoners do not land in state prison, maybe federal prison, but never in state prison. State prison is the ghetto of prisons. It is for poor people who can't escape racism, colonialism and police oppression. Also, his laughter was not infectious but rather simulated a mutilated soul who rejected the call of God. Love and understanding were specks in his rearview mirror, but he was always confused. He was alone, lonely and a victim of society. His fake prison friends enjoyed listening to him tell lies about his travels and successes, a professional storyteller. After relating an epic saga he would ask to borrow a ramen soup and a cup of coffee. He never paid anyone back and no one expected it. "Borrow" in prison is a relatively loose and irrelevant term. He was agreeable in most matters with no stalwart or negative opinion, but with zero funds. His claims of success on the streets should at least translate into him being prison rich. He wasn't even "prison rich", which requires a case of ramen soup and a small bag of instant coffee. He wasn't trying to make a name for himself, nor make his "bones". He was merely trying to survive a quick ride through the criminal justice process with the least amount of problems. He appeared to be an alcoholic homeless person, who infrequently dabbled in illegal drugs, coming into prison for a drying out period during the cold winter months to get a fresh start in the free-world in late spring. Prison was his winter sanctuary.
Grace, mercy and peace.