Can you imagine going to "the box" (the prison within the prison) for taking extra grilled-cheese sandwiches? No, I can't either, but that's what happened to "Little Jay," a baby-faced, hapless, twenty-one year old kid who lasted in our dorm not quite a month. I'm not sure what crime brought him to Mohawk, but other than his walkman, which he treasured, he didn't have a pot to piss in.
My friend Jon -- whose company I enjoy more each day -- out of the goodness of his heart (something you don't see in prison too often) decided to take Jay under his wing and guide him through the minefield that is prison life. Whenever Jay seemed to be on the verge of doing something stupid -- which was practically every day -- Jon would quickly put him straight. You could almost set your watch every night, waiting for the inevitable "you moron, you can't be smoking in your cube, 20 feet away from the C.O." Jon would yell. I'd chuckle to myself and think, "That poor kid is never going to make it." But Jon stuck with it, hammering away, getting him to see the light a little bit. They had meals together and Jay, walkman in hand, would shuffle over to Jon's cube at night, like a lost puppy, begging for a cigarette afraid to make a move without his input. Jon was breaking the #1 rule they explain to you upon coming to prison ... don't stick your neck out for anybody!
But guess what, it seemed to be working. Sure, Jay hadn't become a model inmate, he still messed up, but there was a resemblance of hope that he could complete his 2 year sentence without any major infractions. Jon was feeling somewhat proud of his, okay a bit of a stretch here considering what he was working with, dare I say it, protege.
Then this past Tuesday, as quickly as you can say "I'm hungry," Jon's project came to a crashing halt. Because this kid thought taking a few extra grilled-cheese sandwiches from the mess hall was a good thing to do, he'll now be waking up Christmas morning in the box. He was sent there minutes after getting caught, (lying to the C.O. didn't help matters) all his belongings (within the hour) were packed up and shipped out of our dorm, and he's looking at probably 30 days in the box. Was it worth being strip-searched (videotaped while it's performed), thrown into the showers -- the last one he'll have for a week, no phone calls, no walkman or books, and being alone in a cold cell, where they keep the light on 24 hours a day, was this all worth a grilled cheese?
This being a cruel place, no one has sympathy for him, just ridicule. How could you be so stupid, of all things to end up in the box for?
Of course, Jon feels bad for him; feels somewhat responsible but I know that shouldn't be the case. He did as much as he could, more than anyone here ever would have done.