Hello bookish people out there! How are you guys? I hope you are all in a pink health and reading loads of good books. And here today at my blog, I'm so delighted to welcome CJ West, author of The End of Marking Time with some bit of his experience to share with us. I enjoyed reading his book and I fully recommend it to you. You can read what I think of his book HERE. And you can see how to get a free e-copy of his book at the end of the post.
My Trip to Prison
When I was writing The End of Marking Time, I visited MCI- Cedar Junction in Walpole, Massachusetts. Being the upstanding guy that I am, this was my first time inside the big house. Since most of you probably haven't been either, I thought I'd share some random thoughts and try to string them together into some sort of narrative.
My invitation was part of a program for journalists that the Department of Correction in MA runs each year. Since this is an annual thing, I expected 10-15 other journalists to be coming along. NOT. It was me, the tour guide and a liaison from the state media office. This says a lot about the state of journalism today, meaning cutbacks and the focus on prison stories.
Getting out of prison is hard. Getting in ain't no picnic either. The only thing I was allowed to bring inside besides my clothes was a few tissues because I thought I was getting a cold. This makes sense because incoming contraband is a huge issue. But imagine, no camera, no pen, no notebook, no car keys, no identification except the little badge they give you.
The good news, dressed in my white dress shirt, I stood out everywhere I went.
To get inside, you need to go through something that surpasses airport security by far. Then through another two sets of doors. From there you step into a long corridor that bisects the facility. Every so often, the corridor is walled with huge floor to ceiling iron bars. These walls often have sections that can serve to hold inmates in case of a discipline issue or an emergency.
There are Corrections Officers (don't call them guards, they hate that) every 10 feet in this main hall. The first thing that struck me was the politeness of the inmates in the halls. They were walking around and at first I got nervous when one came up behind me. Soon I noticed that inmates defer at the choke points (doors in the huge iron walls that cut the hallway). They won't press through a door when someone else is coming the other way. They were exceedingly polite. I heard "excuse me" from inmates at least a dozen times in my 1.5 hour tour.
In the maximum security area, inmates walk through a metal detector. Staff and visitors like me avoid it, but as I watched, every inmate walked through the detector on his way down the hall.
The living arrangements seemed peaceful enough. The inmates were subdued, but of course it is very hard to tell what daily life is like from a short visit. One interesting thing. In a housing unit with 40 inmates sharing a common room, there is one, uno, 1, Corrections Officer in there at all times. No thank you to that job.
The department has some interesting technology and procedures for keeping everyone safe. I won't bore you with the technical, but I will say there is a focus on keeping the inmates in a housing unit appropriate to their behavioral history. This and work seem to be the big rewards for anyone in the system. In the medium security unit, the inmates can make their own coffee and toast. One thing they were clear about on the tour, there is no solitary confinement in Massachusetts. There are disciplinary units and observation units, but inmates are never cut off from human contact.
One interesting observation. I watched one inmate in a holding cell (by himself) playing air guitar and singing. As we walked along I wondered what impact being observed all the time has on someone. This guy hasn't been alone since he's been locked up. Me I like to close my door once in a while. Of course I still hear voices, but I only sing when it's just me and the kids.
The End of Marking Time introduces you to a world after the prison system has been abolished. Imagine a prison with no walls that is even more terrifying than being locked up. Meet Michael O’Connor, a felon who has been through an intense reeducation program. Listen to his story and decide what his fate should be.
The End Of Marking Time is free for e-book readers from www.22wb.com.
Please give it a try.
About the Author
C.J. West has written 5 thrillers. His latest, The End of Marking Time, pits a gifted housebreaker against a futuristic prison system then asks you to decide his fate. Sin and Vengeance, the first book in C.J.’s Randy Black series, is currently in development for film with Beantown Productions, LLC (screenplay by Marla Cukor).
C.J. hosts a Blog Talk Radio show which features interviews of contemporary thriller and suspense writers. CJ also hosts creative book tour events. Past events include an advanced driving course, firearms training for women, winery tours, and murder mystery events both online and in person.