My daily grind at Eastern Correctional

Hattley, Matthew



Inside The Box A Prisoner Tells His Tale By Matthew Hattley My Daily Grind at Eastern Correctional Hello, dear readers... I'm back. For those who have been following this series of articles, I hope you are gaining a clearer understanding of what actually occurs behind the wall. For those who are reading my material for the first time, welcome to my world. My objective is to broaden understanding and alter some of the negative views of "offenders" within the walls. And so, to a typical day for me. After breakfast, I go out to the yard and wait for the CO to announce over the PA system, "Maintenance workers, report to work," around 8:30 a.m. We then enter the building as a group. Once in my shop, the day will be determined by how many work orders are waiting. After reviewing these -- to see if I need additional tools -- the civilian in charge will open the tool room and allow me to tag (a metal tag with my assigned number on it) a tool-box out. The box is inspected and secured with a lock to ensure every tool is accounted for, prior to my leaving the building. I will then head to the area(s) requiring my services. A work order request form must be completed and submitted to the Maintenance Department prior to any work being done. This form provides a date, name, telephone extension and location of the person requiring assistance, along with a brief description of the actual problem. The work order is reviewed by the maintenance supervisor, who enters it into the system and assigns it a log number and then sends it to the respective shop -- carpentry, electric, general mechanic, mason & plumbing -- which will take care of it. Now, my assigned program is Maintenance: General Mechanic (AM/PM), I service and repair a variety of equipment. No two days are alike, and there is always something new to learn, which is why I honestly enjoy what I do. It's all about growth and development. In any given day I may repair and service A/C units, refrigerators, electric mixers, electric/steam skittles, steam kettles, dishwashers, toasters, ice makers, hot boxes, ovens, microwaves, coffee makers, food slicers, fans, door hinges/closures, buffing machines, water fountains, washing machines and dryers, and leaking faucets and valves. I also replace ballasts and light bulbs, wheels on various carts and chairs, and dispensers of toilet tissue, hand towels and soap. As you can see, I stay busy through the day -- idle time is the devil's playground. More importantly, this is a marketable skill which I can utilize upon my release. My previous instructor, now retired, wanted me to make the best of my incarceration. He went out of his way to ensure I was well trained and certified. Thanks to his advice, support and persistence, I now possess an HVAC Technician Certification. I am truly grateful to him. You should know that this effort on his part is not the norm inside, but rather an exception. But it also proves that not everyone will judge all offenders solely on their past actions. After all, everyone makes mistakes. We are only human and we do change as we grow older. I am absolutely not the same person I was nineteen years ago, and neither are you. Every day behind the wall is a learning experience. We can either progress or stagnate. The choice is undeniably up to the individual. The first step to improvement is to actually change. That means both in our actions and in getting rid of negative patterns of thought. I chose to better myself as a person, years ago, and I do not regret it. I have learned valuable skills over the years, yet I desire more knowledge. Unfortunately, trade programs are extremely limited. The state should implement programs with a modern curriculum (computers) and start preparing offenders for their eventual release back into society, after all, the majority of us are not going to be in here forever, a fact that some politicians seem unable to accept. In fact, as you probably know, most street crime in New York City is down as much as 80% from what it was in the 1980s. Today, offenders are receiving shorter sentences and many fewer people are entering the New York Prison System. However, the Department of Correction maintains the largest state agency budget, $3 billion annually. Look for a different aspect of the prison experience shortly.

Author: Hattley, Matthew

Author Location: New York

Date: October 13, 2011

Genre: Essay

Extent: 1 pages

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