institutions, prison

Drugs, Chess, Books, Or Gambling: How To Fight Boredom In Prison

Daniel Genis in The Concourse about how prisoners spend their time:

Leisure time, unstructured and purposeless, generally makes up most of an American prison inmate’s day. Most convicts are just sent to the yard, where they socialize, exercise, play games and sports, and make their deals. Entire lives are spent in the incarcerated world, typified by the sexual compromises and prominence of violence that most free men and women never have to consider. But those extreme elements aside, prisoners eat and work and live as best they can within their limitations. A friend of mine sentenced to 25 years at the age of 60—he was once an actor, before drunkenly stabbing his best friend to death with an SS dagger, of all things (both were Jews)—came to terms with the inevitability of dying in prison and found peace. He began painting for leisure. It’s not a great life, but it’s a life nevertheless, and most death row inmates would beg for it.
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