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Hillsborough County Jail Inmates, Florida

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Interview with Aaron, Jessica, Walter, Margaret and Sherry

JM: Did you find it difficult to get along with other inmates? Please give examples to explain why you did or didn't.
Aaron: I kept to myself at first to scout out who was cool and who wasn't. My roommate was a real nice guy that had many friends inside so I was introduced to the right people when I started coming out of my shell. I got along with many people there because of my intellect and willingness to help people with their cases or just to listen to why they were in the same place I was. The people that I didn't get along with were, in all cases, those that I was never approached by for regular conversation. These were people that were accustomed to being around people that argued alot or were aggressive in their tactics of getting their point across. I also did not get along with those people that were always trying to con me out of food or items in my possession. On the most part I got along with people there.
Jessica: I kept to myself pretty much. Sat in my cell and read.
Walter: Not really. I get along with people fairly easily, especially where business is concerned. I was in for 4 months out of the 6 I was sentenced to and didn't get in a single fight. Generally speaking, give respect and it will be given back.
Margaret: I GOT ALONG FINE WITH THE OTHER INMATES, BECAUSE I KEPT TO MYSELF, AND DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING. ALTHOUGH A FIGHT DID BREAK OUT IN THERE, BECAUSE SOMEONE WAS NOT HAPPY WITH THEIR SENTENCE
Sherry: Yes it was difficult because you are with people who have committed some serious crimes and they dont have any respect for anyone, or morals or values even if you have made a mistake.

JM: What types of things did you have to do to avoid problems or fights with other inmates?
Aaron: Exercised or read in my cell. I also made sure that I was around those that I had a positive connection with when I ate my meals or watched TV. I avoided playing basketball with aggressive people that took things way to personally. Once I grabbed a few salt packets off of a table that I was not sitting at before I went to eat in my room since I was having one of "those days". An inmate yelled at me for not saying "excuse me" which he was right in saying but he took things too far and when I lashed back at him verbally for reacting the way he did we almost came to blows. We were cool before that instance so it was no problem for me to apologize to him later on that day. He admitted that he was also having a bad day and attributed that to the reason why he reacted that way towards me.
Jessica: I kept to myself, didn't really talk to a lot of people.
Walter: Hold my own and stand up for myself. If you let other inmates take advantage of you, it's something you'll never break. I was a POD trustee so I took it upon myself to look out somewhat for my fellow inmates. If they needed a clean towel or a garbage bag or a clean toothbrush or more soap, they often came to me because they knew I would help them out, so I was well liked.
Margaret: AS LONG AS YOU STAY TO YOURSELF, AND DONT ARGUE WITH SOMEONE, YOU WERE OKAY. SOME OF THE WOMEN THAT CAME THROUGH THERE LOOKED PRETTY ROUGH, SO YOU COULDN'T HELP BUT TO STARE. BUT THAT WOULD ALWAYS CAUSE A FIGHT. SO I JUST WOULDN'T STARE AT ANY OF THE WOMEN.
Sherry: Well, I signed up to be a trustee worker, so I kepted busy with work, and I also took some classes like GED even though I have my High School Diploma, I went to church on the weekends and I also did bible study and chat, I also read alot.

JM: Were you able to choose an inmate as your cellmate if you knew one? How often would your cellmate(s) change?
Aaron: No. I was put into a cell with a guy that had the cell to himself for three weeks. When he was moved to his own cell upstairs, I was given a new roommate. When that guy was transferred out of the jail, within an hour I was given a problem inmate as a roommate until he was kicked out of our pod for not going to work.
Jessica: No, roommates were assigned to cells.
Walter: There are no cells in FRJ. It is an open bay dorm styled jail. But on occasion depending on which Dep. was on duty and the mood they were in, it was possible to get in a "cubicle" with people you know
Margaret: I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO CHOOSE MY ROOMATE. EVERY WEEK YOU WOULD GET A NEW ROOMATE, BECAUSE SOMEONE EITHER LEFT, OR GOT BONDED OUT. THEY KNEW WHO TO PUT YOU WITH AND WHO NOT TO PUT YOU WITH.
Sherry: You don't have a choice on who is your cellmate, if you had a problem with your cellmate then they would change, and cellmates change often because people are being released all the time.

Read about time off for good behavior in the Hillsborough County Jail

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