Good News came on Dec 6th, 1990. I was elevated to Minimum Custody and it was time to leave 3 Wing. My red badge was swapped for a green one with the letters MIN on it. This badge was a key to more freedom than I had experienced for over a year. While gathering all my belongings, I took one last look around the cell that had been my home for the past seven months and said good riddance. This was a place I did not ever want to get too comfortable in.
Walking out of my cell and down the staircase a sense of relief came over me, at least for the moment. As I headed towards the wing gate, many of the inmates congratulated me and wished me luck in my new living arrangements. Leaving the wing and moving across the polished floor of the Rotunda, I took pride in my last steps out of the Castle and into the courtyard.
Breathing in the fresh cold December air, I headed toward my new home, building 466 or otherwise known as B-6. It was located at the opposite end, in the South-West corner of the courtyard. The three story building looked pretty good for being built in 1840. It was very long and painted a light yellow with a grey roof. The basement level floor was actually used for the carpentry, paint and masonry shops, while the second and third floors were for inmate housing. A set of stairs took me up to the second level and under a brick and stone arched entry way, to a set of doors.
After opening the doors, I stepped onto a hard wood floor inside of a square room. Near the doors on the wall behind me were phone booths like the ones in the Castle. On the walls to the left and right were openings that led into either side of the building. In front of me I was greeted by a large desk with a guard sitting behind it. I reported to him and he told me to sign in on a clip board with my inmate registration number. I had it memorized since it was my identity. A74780 and time in. Every time I walked through those doors, I would have to sign in or out, or face a D&A Board. Even with small freedoms comes responsibility.
Behind the desk was a staircase that led to the third floor. The guard told me to follow him as he headed up the stairs to show me my assigned bunk. At the top of the stairs, there was a recreation area with a pool table and some other things to pass the time. Some inmates who were hanging out in the rec. area noticed me coming in but it wasn’t like in 3 Wing. They didn’t have “that look”; it was more like sizing me up, not staring me down.
We turned left and entered a long bay lined with bunk beds, tall metal lockers and desks. Enough of each for every inmate. Most of the inmates were at the back of the bay sitting around a TV. It was weird to hear the sound coming out of the TV. since we didn’t have to wear headphones in B-6. My assigned bunk was around the middle of the bay and the guard left me there and went back downstairs. I secured all of my belongings in my new locker and familiarized myself with the bay.
There was a communal bathroom with a shower, maybe 5 or six commodes lined up next to each other and about the same amount of sinks and mirrors. It was weird to see a mirror made of glass. The mirror I had in my cell was just a piece of metal that was kind of warped and scratched up. Around the bay some of the other inmates were reading, writing letters, or listening to their radios.
One of the privileges of being in Minimum custody was that we could have a personal radio or tape cassette player. Eventually I would need one of these but I didn’t have enough money in my PDF account. Another privilege was that we could have a package sent from home at Christmas time. There were some pretty strict guidelines for what could be in the package and one hundred percent of the packages would be searched. Another small price to pay for a little bit of feeling normal. I had already sent a list home and was anxiously waiting for that package to arrive. It wasn’t because of Christmas that I was anxious. Even though it was only in a couple weeks, the holidays were just days serving time and I probably had to work. It was just cool to get something from outside the walls.
The bad news was, as I settled in, I noticed that the noise level in this bay compared to 3 Wing was constant and loud. In fact, it may even have been louder. It seemed as if I were never going to get away from it. Getting my scores up in Academic Day School made me eligible to take a college course and so I signed up for English Composition. After one night of class and then coming back to the bay to work on homework, I dropped the class. Once the noise level reached a point where I knew there was no way for me to focus on homework, I realized it wasn’t going to work out.
They did have a lights out policy but there was no regulation on having to go to bed, so many of the inmates would stay up late and talk. It was pretty hard to go to sleep. Someone told me that I could put in for a bay change and as soon as there were openings, the Officer In Charge of the building would consider it. I signed up the next day.
The good news was that I was moving up in the system, had some new privileges and some new found freedom. The bad news was that I could not escape the noise, I dropped a college course and I was still stuck in the mess hall.
No word on my request to change details.
So, I still had to go back to the Castle and work in the 3 Wing dining facility until further notice.