THE REALITY OF A PRISON FIGHT & THE PETTY POLTICS OF PRISON LAUNDRY Part 3

There are two ways to get you laundry done in prison. You can wash your clothes yourself by hand and wait patiently for them to dry. The other way was to have it done in the prison laundry. The prison laundry was a small room with 3 machines that were washer-drier combos. You signed a sign-up sheet, were given a number and the other number was attached to the mesh laundry bag that inmates receive they get their prison uniforms. When I was in D dorm our laundry was late Tuesday and early Friday. When I was in room 12 it was the same. My laundry was done so late one Tuesday that on Wednesday morning I had to ask Ms. Perkins assistant, North why my laundry wasn’t done. In A dorm it was different laundry was early Monday mornings right after 5 am count and Thursday afternoons which conflicted with lunch. Beatrice did laundry on Thursday. I always came straight from UNICOR to sign up for laundry on Thursdays. There was always a line to sign up for laundry. Beatrice always made us wait but not that long. It was long enough that you would get into an argument with the c.o. doing lunch who complained that so many of us came late to lunch after signing up for laundry. Occasionally I ‘d get high number on the laundry list like 17 or 12 or 21 but my laundry would always be done after 25, 32, & 41. As long as I got my laundry back by 9pm I was ok. I was actually number one once but I was still after # 13. If you brought Beatrice $5 in commissary, you laundry would get done first and be folded. She would do alterations if you needed them as well.

Altering clothes in prison is a serious issue. To save money the majority of clothes that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) buys are men’s clothes as women only make up about 6% of FBOP population. You can get short sleeved t-shirts and longs sleeve t-shirts. You get gray on commissary and white t-shirts come with your prison uniform. If you want a sleeveless V-neck or a t-shirt that comes to your elbows you need a good seamstress. Especially seeing as how you can only sew with a needle and thread in prison. Beatrice was a good one. You could tell people who had been hoodwinked by a seamstress the V-neck would have a 2nd v been the first v and the neck line or the elbow length t-shirt would have uneven sleeves.

Beatrice was crazy and mean. One Thursday after I signed up, I went and got my laundry bag. Ms. Perkins, popping her gum in mouth, was in the laundry with the lieutenant from down the hill. Beatrice complained to Ms. Perkins that my laundry was too heavy. Ms. Perkins told me to remove some of the clothes from my laundry bag. I wanted to explain myself and she repeated herself. I removed the clothes from the laundry bag. If I didn’t, I was going to be sent to the SHU for disobeying a direct order.

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