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Harris County Jail Leisure Time, Texas

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Leisure Time

Interview with Julie, Inmate's Sister, Houston, Claire, Jim, Smyth, Ken, Charlene, Greg, GMan, Jamie, Leisha, Toby, Lisa, Consuela, John, Tiffany, Tom, nogboy, Rachel, Chris, Sandy, Ginger, Craig, Lesley and Ralph

JM: What types of facilities were available to help pass the time?
Julie: We had rec. either go to the gym or to the law library
Inmate's Sister: he's in school,church,and imate trustie
Houston: They had AA and NA meetings, church on Sundays, rec , and the law library.
Claire: There was the "gym" or rec room, but we only got to go in there once per week. I never went to rec because I didn't want to be subjected to strip searches any more than absolutely necessary. Each pod had a television (no cable, of course), and the library cart came by once per week.
Jim: Recreation and books to read
Smyth: 1 weight bench you didn't use unless you wanted to fight and one basketball court you didn't use unless you wanted to fight.
Ken: There was a large recreation room downstairs under the cellblock. They had a TV, newpaper, domino's. A few times per week you could go outside and play basketball or volleyball for an hour or so.
Charlene: tv that didn't work, 1 newspaper for the whole cell
Greg: TV and sleeping and eating, lots of fun for the innocence.
GMan: I was only there for 22 hours, so there were none.
Jamie: all
Leisha: you can only go to the law libary or inside reck,church ,no sunlight whatsoever
Toby: church, and outside recreation.
Lisa: A gym(mostly broken equipment), a conference room(AA meetings&Church)
Consuela: Dominos and chess. They sometimes let us go to the law library or to recreation but the chinese man in charge of recreation was a real asshole. He called us names and said that if we talked at all we would have to go back immediately.
John: The holding tanks didn't have anything available.
Tiffany: None. I was kept in one holding tank before court for 6 and a half hours. I was able to see my breath it was so cold. I jumped around a lot which probably kept the other 2 ladies I was in there with entertained.
Tom: There reading materials (books, bibles and other literature), chapel, rec and AA. There were also checkers and chess sets available.
nogboy: Television, board games
Rachel: Library, rec room. Only went once though because you have to be strip searched when you return to your cell
Chris: they have an empty gym that they keep relly overheated to try and discourage you from going to once a day . there is absolutly no type of recreation equippment available to use in the gym so people just hang out with whatever gang they are in or there racially segregated groups
Sandy: they did take you out for exercise and they give you access to the law library and books to read You were able to write letters and we were also able to make phone calls and you were also able to speak to other inmates but you were not able to get into their cell
Ginger: The only thing they really have there is a small gym which is inside; no outside access and there isn't much to do in there and not really worth it because you have to strip to use it. There is also a law library. Not much more than that except church.
Craig: A gym, several tables for card games talking, an upper tier to walk around provided the correctional officer let you, maybe a worn out chess board could be found or a custom made one, 2 TVs with about 10 plastic chairs in front of each, handball court in gym- handball usually not available because someone stole it.
Lesley: other than books and dominos the only thing we had was a trip to the gym 2 times a week we would have to get in line and not speak then the officer would walk us down to the gym for us girls to walk around in a circle for 45 mins. to a hour

JM: Did you have regular access to the entertainment or was competition fierce? Give details.
Julie: Yes we did we had certain days they we could watch things
Inmate's Sister: yes
Houston: The ghetto people doing some time always had first dibs. It was supposed to be whoever had the assigned cleaning that day , but it never worked out that way.
Claire: The inmates pretty much had free run of the TV remote (which was shared with the "B" pod) as long as we all agreed on what we wanted to watch. There were never any fights over the TV in my pod. The only thing I hated about that was that the deputies used the TV to their advantage. If they felt that we were "misbehaving," they'd cut it off. But we were a pretty well-behaved group.
Jim: it depended on the mood of the deputies
Smyth: Like I said.. if you want to fight use one.
Ken: No competition. The only issue would be what to watch on TV. I personally didn't care to get involved in dealing with that.
Charlene: no, no
Greg: sit on your butt and go to bed.
GMan: Not applicable
Jamie: no
Leisha: tv @ THE NEWSPAPER
Toby: no thre's only tv so thre's no competition.
Lisa: Gym time was at 3 am. Most people were not willing to wake up THAT early.
Consuela: It was fierce!!! First come first serve but even with that there was exceptions if the inmate that wanted the games or whatever and was senior inmate then you better let the person have it.
Tiffany: Hell no LMAO!!!
Tom: We had access and there was little to no competition for it.
nogboy: Everyone shared the TV pretty equally.
Rachel: TV but too many people to expect to watch the channel you want. Never really watched. Just sat in my cell and read
Ralph: In the dorm there was dominoes, checkers and TV. I had no desire to play dominoes or checkers. I tried watching TV a couple of times but it is always turned up full blast and never anything I want to watch.
Chris: some times we would get to smuggle in a deck of cards but the guards would always do shake downs and confiscate them . aside from the smuggled in cards that get confiscated a newspaper and television are the only other forms of entertainment besides the orgaanised fights that inmates sometimes have at nights and weekends.
Sandy: I did not watch TV I was in a really bad place and I was more concerned about my life and what was going to happen to me people did fight over the tv you could not here a thing and they had in a plastic container so that nobody would break it
Ginger: The only entertainment really was the tv and you have to be out there and take turns and most of what people watch is really stupid so I really just gave up on that. I stayed with the books that I could get my hands on which were few and far between.
Craig: we had 2 tvs but there were 98 people on the floor so you had to find a time that noone wanted and watch tv then. I didn't really watch tv though so it wasn't a big deal to me.i rather play cards or something. mno big deal to me
Lesley: we had no entertainment other than one small tv in the community room and a newspaper each morning other than that you may get a church visit or the law library personnel we pretty much were lock down 24 hours a day with no one trying to change it for the better

JM: Did you have a hard time staying in shape while in jail?
Julie: yes
Inmate's Sister: no
Houston: No, we worked out (most of us) regularly and ate mostly fruit.
Claire: Yeah, I did. All I did was eat. Especially once I started getting commissary. I think I gained 7-10 pounds while I was in there. That being said, whatever exercise you wanted to do, that could be done within the confines of the pod.
Jim: No
Smyth: No.. starved cause food was slop.
Ken: Yes, not that easy to work out, almost no cardio.
Charlene: yes
Greg: called motivation.
GMan: Not applicable
Jamie: `yes
Leisha: YES THEY YOU IN YOUR CELL BLOCK
Toby: well i'm not the type that works out so no problem there.
Lisa: No I wasn't in shape to begin with.
Consuela: Yes, with no real recreation and the high fat diet they have you on I gained 60 pounds. There is a huge problem with obesity among inmates. You will see skinny women go in and fat over weight women come out.
Tom: I wasn't in there long enough to worry about it. But, others were constantly doing push ups and situps.
nogboy: Yes, if you exercised you sweat, therefore you had to shower, in the freezing cold pod. the towel you are given is tiny. So you tried to stay as warm as you could
Rachel: Yeah, sitting around all the time will do that.
Ralph: I gave up on exercise in jail. I was very, very depressed to be there. So I did not work out or eat most meals.
Chris: no i did not have a hard time staying in shape because iam constantly working out doing pushups situps and squats.
Sandy: yes all they feed you is starches and food that is not good for you and you get fat there is nothing that is really nutriuos
Ginger: I didn't have a hard time staying in shape, but I am someone who works out a lot any way.
Craig: I walked daily, found a book on yoga & some Spirituality- I just took the Hathaway yoga suggestions from it, in the kitchen working I ate and ate burned it right off slaving there like I did by choice because ain't no way I could survive off those mediocre at best trays.
Lesley: extremely i gained over 30 pounds while i was in there so it averaged out to about 10 pounds a month i gained

JM: How often did you get to go outside? What did you do outside if you were allowed to? If you were not allowed to go outside what could you do for exercise?
Julie: none
Inmate's Sister: everyday
Houston: Funny. never
Claire: We did not go outside. The closest we got to outside was going to the "gym," where there were a couple of large windows (with bars over them, of course), where sunlight could come through.
Jim: the roof is the outside rec. It depended on the deputies
Smyth: Probably an hour in 3 days if you're lucky.
Ken: For an hour or so a few times a week
Charlene: none
Greg: I whent to Conroe and came back, really now, u don't see anything until your realeased.
GMan: Not applicable
Jamie: none
Leisha: NEVER, ONLY WHEN YOU GET RELEASED; THAT'S WHEN YOU'LL SEE DAYLITE
Toby: i never did.i only spent 13 days there.
Lisa: Never
Consuela: Never. I was in jail over 6 months with natural sunlight or fresh air.
Tom: We did not have access to the outdoors
Rachel: Only for court and that was just the walk between the jail and the van. Twice I think
Ralph: I never saw the outside during the entire six months that I was there.
Chris: i never got to go outside . there are no outside recreation at the harris county jail . for exercise i did pushups situps and squats.
Sandy: no we were not allowed to go outside you did not know if it was raining or the sun was out and you did not know what time it was unless they were bringing you food
Ginger: I never got go outside at all, but there was a small gym inside which was pretty poor quality and they had a few dilapidated basketballs.
Craig: About as outside as there was the gym was open air via cages about 25 ft off the floor, and a road trip to a magistrate court topped the outdoors.
Lesley: closest we got to outside was the gym and most weeks we were hard pressed to get both visits to there they were alway making excuses why we couldn't go

JM: Did the jail offer church services? If so, what were they like and when were they held?
Julie: no they did not
Inmate's Sister: sundays he states thats the only thing that keep him going in there.
Houston: Yes , people repenting and crying . It was rather upsetting.
Claire: No, not that I was aware of. It's rather unfortunate, but I guess they figured no one would have attended, anyway.
Jim: Yes the were quick
Smyth: Yes.. that is where all of the gays go to chat with their girlfriends on different blocks.
Ken: Yes, they had a pastor come into the cell block and meet with inmates.
Charlene: yes, but I was released before the time came up
Greg: Yes, but they need to offer everyone bibles.
GMan: Never
Jamie: yes all
Leisha: YES ,GOOD
Toby: yes they did they have them mostly on sundays but on wednesday too.
Lisa: Yes. However I am a practicing Pagan. The church's were mainstream Christianity.
Consuela: Yes, it was mostly catholic and the Pastor was very nice but he did give us what we needed to hear at the time. We only got to go to church once in a while.
Tom: Yes. Services were held once a week, but I didn't get a chance to attend.
Rachel: Yeah but I never went
Ralph: Church services were offered. But it was never the same day or time. So I was never ready when they called for inmates who wanted to go to church. Thinking back, I wish I'd gone to church at least once or twice. I did meet the chaplain. He was a very kind and understanding man who never passed up an offer to pray with inmates.
Chris: yes the harris county jail and the jail chaplain offered religious services of various kinds at the dorm and in other places in the jail.
Sandy: Yes they did but I did not attend I am Jewish I did not attend any services I was really upset and like I said I am Jewish so I do not attend church
Ginger: They did offer church services. They were held in a room and lasted about an hour and were held by whoever volunteered to do it.
Craig: Weekly Bible study on each pod by a chaplain volunteer, church service once a week based on a schedule, additional religious needs met upon request like for kosher meals & stuff.
Lesley: saw like bible study in the rec room a couple of times ad once we got to go to another room

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