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Interview with Hugh, Jennifer and Johnny

JM: Did you find it difficult to get along with other inmates? Please give examples to explain why you did or didn't.
Hugh: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Sometimes you have to pick sides regarding gangs and politics. I mostly stuck with friends from the outside.
Jennifer: No, it wasnt difficult. As long as you were respectfull and minded your owen buissness you were fine. My cell mate was sentenced to 15-life for a murder at first it was kinda scarey but i lucked out becuase she knew my brother.
Johnny: It was daunting to get along with some of the other inmates and easy to get along with some of the others. I was challenged and threatened with a fight on several occassions, which may have been due to my personality or demeanor. However, for the most part (perhaps 99% of the time) the other inmates were cordial and friendly. We were in the same situation, which helped me to empathize and sympathize with the other inmates. We would watch TV together or play cards; sometimes we would talk about life or religion or sports. The other inmates often would stick to themselves during certain times of the day; there were quieter times, particularly in the morning, immediatley following breakfast, and in the afternoon. In the evenings and at mid- morning there were often other inmates in the communal areas watching TV or playing cards or talking. At times there was a sense of testosterone-driven animosity when we were let out into the yard. The inmates would play handball or do push-ups; there was a sense of dangerousness in the air.

JM: What types of things did you have to do to avoid problems or fights with other inmates?
Hugh: I mostly stuck with friends from the outside.
Jennifer: Well if they start to get on your nerve read a book or draw, write do something else that requirs you to do alone. so you both get some down time and let the moment of frustration pass. i personally read or ate lol. I never really got into fights untill the end of my say but it was just an argument. they put me down in IRC for 4 hours untill my release. But I did See some grew- some fist fights.
Johnny: I tried to be nice but aloof to avoid problems, fights or other conflicts with fellow inmates. There was an incident when I was too friendly with a fellow inmate and he got up in my face and challenged me to a fight. The police on guard came in before the situation could escalate. There was another incident where an inmate and I got into a shouting match. The policemen on guard intervened and diffused the situation. In general, I tried to forge friendships so that I would have someone to protect me if a challenge or a threat was thrown my way. I found that it was fairly easy to commiserate and get along with my fellow inmates.

JM: Were you able to choose an inmate as your cellmate if you knew one? How often would your cellmate(s) change?
Hugh: Where I was housed was a 50 man dorm. Further on I was moved to an 8 man cell.
Jennifer: You dont get to choose your roommates, My cell mates never really changed i was with. The girl i was with was going to be there for a good minute as was i and she fought with every one else. since we got along we stayed cellies.
Johnny: I was not able to choose an inmate as my cellmate. In Unit B, I was on my own in my cell. In the dorm-style unit, I was sleeping with up to 51 other inamtes. How often inmates arrived and departed from either Unit B or the dorm-style unit that I was in was perhaps between 0 and 5 a day. I did not keep track of how often inmates arrived and departed from either unit.

Read about time off for good behavior in the San Luis Obispo County Jail

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