Interview with Iyrania Hill
by Iyrania Hill

 labor  prison-life  relationships

Carolyn Watson: Iyrania, I’d like for you to tell me a little bit about the history of your life and growing up as a little girl and when you became involved in the criminal justice system.

Iyrania Hill: I say I started on drugs when I was probably nine, who knows, then I started smoking PCP, I smoked that from 14 to 18. That’s when I got in trouble, I first started going to prison when I was 18.

C.W.: Tell us a little about that.

I.H.: I had caught accessory to murder trying to rob somebody just to get the ten dollars for PCP stick. Me and my rap. Then, That’s how I ended up doing 20 years. I got 20 years in prison.

C.W.: You were 18?

I.H.: Yeah, I was 18.

Salome Chasnoff:How did you start on drugs when you were 9?

I.H.: Hanging out with the wrong people. Hanging out with my friends. I met these two girls that they did, smoked the reefer and drink, that was our first choice of drugs. So by them doing it, I felt like the outcast. By them using it, I needed to smoke reefer too.

C.W.: You were 9 years old?

I.H.: No, I’d say when I was 12, going on 13.

C.W.: Were you in school?

I.H.: Yeah, I just ditched school. I went in, but I came back in the other door.

C.W.: Can you elaborate on that? The age and the circumstances… and the progression.

I.H.: I say 13 I met these two girls. And they was my friends, but they was already smoking reefer and drinking, I wasn’t. And smoking cigarettes.

C.W.:What is PCP?

I.H.: That’s happy stick. I guess elephant tranquilizer, that’s what they say it is. It’s a drug.

C.W.: And effect that has on you?

I.H.: I don’t know it make you, spaced out I believe. You become spaced out off it.

C.W.: How do they treat you medically for that?

I.H.: One time I had, I guess, smoked too much. They rushed me to the University. You have to drink milk to bring you down. I have to be in a cold room just for the happy stick to wear off me.

C.W.: So you first went into the Illinois Department of Corrections at 18?

I.H.: Accessory to a murder.

C.W.: And you got 40 years.

I.H.: I got 20 years… 20 years on the murder, 15 on the strong arm robbery.

C.W.: and these sentences ran…

I.H.: Concurrent.

C.W.: and that means…

I.H.: I did 20, I mean 10.

C.W.: Tell me about coming in as an 18 year old.

I.H.: Girl, I was scared. I cried everyday, I wanted to go home. I was in 26th/California for a whole year trying to beat the case.

C.W.: Tell me about your experiences there.

I.H.:In the Jail… First, I was praying. I was scared. Because we had, I fought a lot because they used to make me hang up the phone because, I guess, I was new. They wouldn’t let me talk to my mother, so I started fighting. Then I started taking psych medication because I thought if I played crazy I could get out of jail. But it didn’t work. I was on psych medication and in county for a year.

C.W.: and what was that medication?

I.H.: I was on Eleville, and I was talking the hound dog. the two… just so I could sleep.

C.W.:and you were 18 years old.

I.H.: Yeah

C.W.: and they gave you all this medication?

I.H.: Yeah. I was playing crazy, just to try to come home.

C.W.: So tell me about your experiences, you know, what’s it like every day, day by day.

I.H.: Waking up, everyday you got to go on the row, and they have to tell you what to do. When to eat, how to eat, what time you eat, what time you got to bed. So I was young, I really didn’t know I did all that. For a whole year thinking I was gonna come home ‘cuz I was taking psych medication, and once my year was over in the county I got 20 years.

C.W.: You went before the judge, and he didn’t have any mercy?

I.H.: No mercy. Well, I’d say some mercy because the States’ wanted to give me 80. And he gave me 20. I had a bench trial. So I guess he had a little mercy, they went from 80 to 20 years.

C.W.: Do you remember the judge’s name?

I.H.:Yeah, Judge Sereum court room 602. The lawyer was saying I had a rough childhood. I ain’t really smart, as far as education-wise go. I guess I was a slow learner, he talked about that to my judge. Where I growed up in low income housing. Stuff like that. So that probably helped me out a little bit too.

C.W.: So you’re going into IDOC, this is what, 1980 or something.

I.H.: 1987.

C.W.: And you’re 19 years old?

I.H.:Yeah, ummhmm.

C.W.: What’s it like?

I.H.: Hell, I was scared when I first got down there, too. I cried everyday because I wanted to go home. Knowing I got 20 years, I got to do 10.

C.W.: Did you know that right away?

I.H.:No. I ain’t know none of that. I thought I had to do 20 years, and I thought I had to do 15 years—all together I thought I had 35 years. I ain’t know none of that. Then I kept calling home telling them I had 35 years. But my mother’s boyfriend told me what it meant. I had the 20 and the 15 running together, and the 20 ate up the 15.

C.W.: So you’re doing 10 years. Did you go into psych?

I.H.: No. I just got back on the medication.

C.W.: at the uh…

I.H.: Like when you first get to the prison you go to quarantine. You know, to take all your tests. So I let them know that I was on psych meds at the county, so they put me right on soon as I got down there, as soon as I got to Dwight.

C.W.: So you go on regular unit or a psych unit?

I.H.: Naw, I went in a regular unit, I just had to go on my meds and get my medication at different times.

S.C.: How did they affect you, the medication, how did it make you feel?

I.H.: On the medication, it helped me sleep, it kept me calm. I didn’t really think about going home as much as if I wasn’t on the medication, I thought… I was thinking when I wasn’t on it. When I was on the medication it helped me sleep, calmed me down. It relaxed you, so it was alright.

C.W.: It wasn’t alright.

I.H.: I mean, it helped me sleep, I needed to sleep, so that’s why I took the medication, to sleep.

C.W.: So did you ever get any, uh, counseling, or, uh…

I.H.: Yeah I had an inmate chief counselor, it’s called a mental health counselor.

C.W.: OK, and…

I.H.: She talked to me.

C.W.: And did you get any help, you know, in terms of… what led to this behavior?

I.H.: Me going to prison and things?

C.W.: Yeah.

I.H.: I don’t know, I was just wild. I drunk, I stole, I snatched purses. I don’t know, maybe it was my childhood growing up right around in the big buildings over here, and that’s all I saw.

C.W.: In the big buildings? Where are we.

I.H.: We’re on 1342 W. 15th.

C.W.: What do they call this?


C.W.: ABLA projects?

I.H.: Yeah, CHA ABLA Homes. So that’s all I saw when I was growing up, is people using drugs, gang members, people shooting each other. So I thought that was part of it. I needed to get in just to fit in. So I started snatching purses, using the drugs.

C.W.: While you were in prison what did you do?

I.H.: Well I went—I tried to go to school when I was in prison. I tried to go to this sewing class that they had down there called Industry. And I just went. I got so used to being… I thought, I was institutionalized. Because it was like I was at home. I was so young when I went there, so I couldn’t wait to wake up to go to the rec yard, to go meet my friends. I had gotten institutionalized. I start just, that was home to me for 10 years.

C.W.:So you just liked to hang out with your friends. Did you get any schooling? Did you finish?

I.H.: No, I never finished. I always got in, I only last for a minute, then I get out. ‘Cause I’d go to another job, they had different jobs down there, that made more money.

C.W.: Then you don’t have to graduate from elementary school—never?

I.H.: No, I never graduated.

C.W.: So your life was just go to the rec yard. And what would y’all do?

I.H.: Play ball, play volley ball. That was my favorite sport, volley ball, softball. Listen to the music. Wait on some… some old people would come from other institutions and do concerts and things for us, so that was a… I basically woke up for the yard. And to meet my friends; I had good girlfriends I’d want to go meet.

C.W.: Did you all have scams and stuff that you all did in prison?

I.H.: Yeah, mostly in Logan. I was in Logan, too, as well as Dwight.

C.W.: Uh huh.

I.H.: So you had to sneak around the polices. Write kites, pass cigarettes, and stuff like that.

C.W.: Tell me about that. People in the world, they don’t know about that. They don’t know what a kite is.

I.H.:In Logan, a kite is a letter you might be writing your boyfriend. You sneak and have a boyfriend, cause it’s coed at the penitentiary. You write a kite, you find a way, you might stick it under a table with some tape and once you leave the chow hall your boyfriend knows that your kite is under there. And he go get it. He might leave some cigarettes somewhere at another table once they have lunch then y’all turn, the women’s turn, you go get your cigarettes.

C.W.: So you just kind of make a life.

I.H.: You make a life.

C.W.: Tell me about that life.

I.H.: Down there, I had a boyfriend at Logan. That was my real boyfriend. I see him, I snuck and gave him a kiss here and there, you know write him letters. I’d get up to see him in the morning times. He delivered the food, so I’d be up. Then like, say I was on unit 6, and there was unit 7 across from us, so we’d stand in the window all night. You’d draw love hearts. That’s how you’d communicate with your boyfriend, you’d draw love hearts, and you draw letters. So it was just a home away from home to me because I was so young, I went.

C.W.: So you stayed, stayed 5 years in Dwight and then you went to Logan.

I.H.: To Logan, to the, uh, Logan.

Salome Chasnoff: Can you talk about what kinds of jobs you had when you were at Dwight?

I.H.: OK, at Dwight I worked the chow hall. You know, I served, I did the dishes. That’s 15 cents a day. So you get $15 a month. 71 cents a day, $15 a month. And I worked the chow hall in Dwight. Then I was a house girl. That’s cleaning up the unit, cleaning up the bathroom, things like that.

S.C.: How much did you get for that?

I.H.: Same thing, 71 cent a day, $15 a month.

C.W.: How could you work at Industry? Didn’t you say you worked at Industry?

I.H.: Yeah I worked at Industry too.

C.W.: I thought you had to be a grammar school graduate to…

I.H.: No, I had friends who worked at Industry. But, I mean, I was so young that all the old people liked me, and they found a way to get in. I did, Applets, whatever them things is right.

C.W.: Applets.

I.H.: Yeah I did them.

C.W.: And so they got you in.

I.H.: They got me in. I learned to, but I couldn’t keep up with them. So I didn’t last long in the sewing department. Yeah, I went to…

S.C.: So how much did you get paid for that?

I.H.: It depends; it’s varied down there. For, um, I don’t know how much I was making in Industry. It was more than the chow hall. Probably $34 a month, something like that. You make more in Industry. ‘Cause you’re making uniforms for the correctional officers.

S.C.: Could you describe your cell in Dwight? Like what, could you, like, to the best of your ability describe the space you lived in?

I.H.: It was a small space with a bunk bed, a toilet and a sink that’s connected together, and that was it, that’s all we had in there. Then we had a shelf, if we want to. Three, three little departments in. And there’s 2 to a cell and we had to share.

C.W.: But when you were there you decorated, right?

I.H.: Not really, because if you put something on the wall you’d get a ticket. Like if I get a card from my mother I might want to stick it on the wall. But, if the officers see it on the wall they’d take it down, take your card, and then you’d get a ticket. You can’t really have pictures on the wall.

C.W.: Did you do any fighting in prison?

I.H.: Yeah.

C.W.: Were you in a gang?

I.H.: Not in prison.

C.W.: Right.

I.H.: Outside of prison.

C.W.: Yeah?

I.H.: I was in a gang.

C.W.: Tell me about it.

I.H.: I was a little gang-banger, the Disciples. I was in that. And I got in that cause my friends was in it. We was some terrible kids, all we did was beat people up, snatch purses, we did anything to get us money.

C.W.: When you changed - when you got to prison there’s not gangs there?

I.H.: No, No, there’s not really gangs in the women’s prison. You might have a lot of friends, like it might be you and you might have four more friends. They might think that we in a gang cause we stick together, and we might fight together. But there really wasn’t any gangs.

C.W.: You’re still getting these meds?

I.H.: No, I don’t take no more medication.

C.W.: You stopped after say, the first three years or four years?

I.H.: Let me see, I say I stopped, like, yeah, three years after I was in Dwight. ‘Cause I had gained too much weight. All it did was make me gain weight and made me sleep. I liked the sleep part. But I was kind of fat.

C.W.: Did you get those meds three days…

I.H.: Three times a day, yeah. Morning, noon and night.

C.W.: So tell me the most positive experience that you had in prison?

I.H.: The positive?

C.W.: Remember an incident, a time something happened…

I.H.: That was positive?

C.W.: Uh huh…

I.H.: Only when I got a visit. I got a visit from my cousin I hadn’t seen in so many, I’d say about six years. And they surprised me on a visit.

C.W.: Tell me about that.

I.H.: That was the only thing. They called me for a visit, and I didn’t know who it was… ‘cause I meet a lot of people, they family might call me out, too.

C.W.: I’m saying, I know what you mean by they family might call you out, but nobody else know it.

I.H.: Oh, Okay.. (laughing) Okay, like if I met somebody in prison, they family might call me out, but this one particular day…

I.H.: Okay, well, I’m going to just going to say, one day I got called on a visit. And when I got to the visiting room, it was my cousins, two of my cousins. And I was real, real glad to see them cause I hadn’t seen them in so long. On that day, that was the best day of my life in Dwight, they came to see me, my family after so many years. And they had had their kids, they had kids. When I went to jail, they didn’t have no kids, and when they came to see me they had kids. So that was a good moment for me. And my other good moment was when I was leaving there.

C.W.: Tell me the worst experience.

I.H.: The worst experience when I had a fight with this girl, and I bit her. And after I bit her, they told me she was HIV positive. I got six months across the board, that’s six months in seg, six months C grade, meaning I can’t use the phone and I can’t go shopping once a month. That was my worst experience.

C.W.: How did that turn out?

I.H.: I did three months instead of the six months.

C.W.: Was she HIV positive?

I.H.: No. They just scared me.

S.C.: Can you tell us about your experience in seg?

I.H.: Seg… I went to seg for the six months and they take your TV, your radio, your fan… whatever you got, they take it. So when they took all that from me, I was crazy. I just felt like I was crazy cause you stay in your room for twenty-three hours a day, you come out for one hour. You got one hour to take a shower, wash your clothes if you got some clothes that need washing, comb your hair. You got one hour to do just some of everything. Then after the one hour’s up, you’re back in your room twenty three hours, no TV.

S.C.: What do you do the twenty-three hours?

I.H.: When they take my TV, I read some books. If I got some papers, I write letters to my girlfriends or something, try to find a way to get it out. And then just sit there and think and go crazy. I used to cry a lot because I wanted to get out of seg. Seg ain’t good for nobody.

S.C.: Do you remember some of the things you wrote in the letters?

I.H.: To my friends? Yeah, I remember my girlfriends I missed them, I wish they’d go get in trouble and come to seg with me so I could talk to them through the chuck hole mm-hmm. Yeah I remember those days.

C.W.: Did you have a lot of visits in prison?

I.H.: No. I didn’t have a lot. Not from my family, no, but like, my roommate might have a family member, they call her out there they’d call me out too.

C.W.: So you went in eighteen and came out twenty-eight?

I.H.: Twenty-six. Two months before I was twenty-seven.

C.W: So how many years did you do?

I.H.: Nine years and nine months.

C.W.: Oh. So how had the world changed since you went in?

I.H.: Since I went in and came out? When I came out, I wanted to be Malcolm X or somebody, I wanted to clean up the neighborhood. When I came home, I needed to clean the neighborhood up. I needed everybody to just get the drug dealers off the street, that’s I was on that type of stuff. And I knew it wasn’t going to work because I they wasn’t going to let me come home from prison and clean up their neighborhood, stop the drug dealers. And I was scared. I was more scared of where I lived than when I first went in. I was scared of the tall buildings, I wouldn’t go in any, you couldn’t pay me to go in the tall buildings. And that’s where they caught my case at.

C.W.: The people that were on the case with you- what happened to them?

I.H.: I had one person, he’s still in prison. I had got 20 years, he got thirty six. But he’s still in there, I guess he was getting more time while he was in the prison. But he’s still in there.

S.C.: Do you know how come they moved you from Dwight to Logan the first time?

I.H.: Because I became medium. You know, when you… You max, medium, and minimum. I was max for about three years when I was down there, then I moved up a grade so that’s medium. And they was moving the women that was medium and minimum to co-ed prisons.

S.C.: Can you describe how come you were max, and then how come you got moved to medium?

I.H.: I was max because I was, um, eighteen. And when you’re eighteen to twenty-one I think you’re max, automatically, when you come in the prison. And then the type of case that you have, and I had a murder, so they max you.

S.C.: Why do you think that women eighteen to twenty one are max automatically, even if they’re in for something that’s not so…

I.H.: I guess they think that because we’re young, we’re going to be wild. And the minimum people is laid back, crochet. We loud talk like the videos. Then it depends on what type of case you’ve got, too. You become max as soon as you come in the gate. Everybody else that was with me was medium, I was the only one that went to the max when I got out of quarantine.

C.W.: So you come out, you’ve got a three year parole?

I.H.: Yeah. I had a three year parole.

C.W.: Tell me about that. The parole.

I.H.: My parole was, I had to report in once a month. I had to go to mental health out there, too. Because I was taking mental health in the prison, so I had to go to mental health out here too. At Mount Sinai. I went only two times because they wanted to give me psychotropic drugs out here, and I didn’t want them out here. So I quit going there.

C.W: That was part of your parole?

I.H.: Part of my parole was to go to mental health counseling.

C.W.: So if you refuse to take um, the meds, what happened? Nothing?

I.H.: Nothing. I didn’t refuse to take it, I didn’t want to take it. I just let them know I didn’t want to take it. I didn’t mind going to the counseling, with them talking to me after my problems, why I was depressed and all that, but I didn’t want the medication.

C.W.: Did they help you?

I.H.: Well, they talked to me for a little bit. I told them when I first came out, I wanted to be Malcolm X or Martin Luther King or somebody, that I didn’t need help, I needed to help the world out here. That’s what I need to attempt, I needed to clean up the community.

C.W.: So you had a successful parole?

I.H.: Yeah, I did… no, because I went back to jail.

C.W: What happened?

I.H.:I had a possession. I tried to sell a pack. And when you sell a pack you get twenty dollars—so I wanted a case of Pampers for my son. But the first two I sold, I sold them to the police. So I went back to jail.

C.W.: Let’s slow down. You had a baby, when? Tell me about that.

I.H.: I had my son, I came home in ‘96, October, I had my son in September of ‘97. And he was um, eight months when I went back to prison. They gave me a year, and I had to do 61 days in Dwight.

C.W.: So you’d become a drug dealer?

I.H.: Yeah, a fake drug dealer. I didn’t know what I was doing.(laughter)

C.W.: And uh,

I.H.: I tried to be…

C.W.: No counseling, they just throw the book at you?

I.H.: Throw the book at me. So, I had a parole hold, but by me completing my mental health that they sent me to and reporting in once a month they feel I completed it successfully. So they didn’t violate it.

C.W: So now you got a son. Who kept him while you were in prison?

I.H.: My mother. I did sixty one days in prison the second time.

C.W.: So that wasn’t a long time. He didn’t even miss you hardly.

I.H.: That was only sixty-one days.

C.W.: What was that like?

I.H.: Oh, it was miserable. I cried every day. And they didn’t understand why I was crying because they knew I had just did ten years. But when I did sixty-one days I had a son, I had my apartment, it was totally different. It wasn’t nothing like doing the twenty years when I was young, and didn’t have all that. I cried every day. Every single day. Because I wanted to come home.

C.W.: They put you back on the meds?

I.H.: Uh-uh. No, they just maxed me again because I had a parole hold.

S.C.: Where were you the second time?

I.H.: Dwight. I stayed in Dwight for sixty-one days.

S.C.: When they moved… the first time you were in Dwight and they moved you to Logan, what was that like?

I.H.: It was alright by me, because I was seeing men. It was different from Dwight, because I wasn’t seeing nothing but girls in Dwight. In Logan, I was seeing men, you could go outside with the men, you eat with the men, but it was still prison. We knew had to go to bed at a certain time and all that. But it was different from Dwight.

C.W.: How so?

I.H.: How so? Because it was the men. We had different little things, too, down there- like you might have Bingo, you could go down to the men’s weightlifting, you could go to the men’s basketball, things like that. We didn’t have that in Dwight. We didn’t have none of that in Dwight. We had volleyball a little bit.

C.W.: So it makes a social life.

I.H.: Yeah down there in, um, Logan.

S.C.: It also sounds like the men get a lot more stuff to do than the women.

I.H.: Than the women. Yeah, mm-hmm. It do.

S.C.: All the years you were in prison, did you ever contemplate suicide or anything?

I.H.: No, I faked a suicide so my mother could come visit me one time. But that’s just to see if she was going to come and visit. And she said, why did I write her and tell her I was going to commit suicide? And if I was going to do it, go on and do it. So she knew I was only playing. She knew I was playing. It didn’t work, because she didn’t come! So, I’m still here!

C.W.: At Dwight, did you have a tendency to see the women go with women?

I.H.: Yeah.

C.W.: In that situation, and then when they get to Logan they switch over back to men?

I.H.: No, some women go with the women and the men in Logan.

C.W.: Tell me about that.

I.H.: Like, when I did it, I switched over. I didn’t want to talk to the girls no more. I liked the men when I got to Logan. Yeah, but some of them, you’ll have your girlfriend on you tier with you, which is your unit, but then when you go outside you have to draw your boyfriend a heart. So she has to act like y’all don’t go together, like that. In Logan.

C.W.: Oh! Could you describe, see people are thinking you’re just drawing a heart on a paper.

I.H.: No, this is a heart. (Uses both hands to draw a heart shape) This is a little heart, out there in Logan. This is a heart, you draw your heart to tell your boyfriend that you love him.

C.W.: And you’re talking sign language. Yeah, I understand, I know.

I.H.: This is, I love you.

C.W.: This is visible. So they can see you doing it. Whatever you do.

I.H.: Yeah. You’re just drawing hearts.

C.W.: So what you’re saying is, you tell me- I’m walking down the road and, tell me.

I.H.: I might say, “Carolyn!” And then I’d draw you a heart. That’s a love heart, and throw you a kiss. That’s to the men. That’s how you do it down there in Logan. That’s your contact with the men. Then you’d write letters.

C.W.: They’d give you things. Cigarettes…

I.H.: Cigarettes, pants, they buy you gym shoes, buy you commissary, yeah, the men take care of you in Logan.

C.W.: How do they do that?

I.H.: You have to, like I might write in my kite, that I need some cigarettes or some gym shoes, and I have to find a way to give it to him, like stick it under the table. Or if I’m walking down to chow I might drop it, and he’ll see me drop it. He’s got to come by me and pick it up. I mean, there’s a way down there.

C.W.: But then how does he get you the shoes?

I.H.: Like, if somebody on my tier goes to college, and he go to college, when you go to college you’re in the same classroom. And he might just slide my stuff to the girl that lives on my unit. She’ll put it in her bag and bring it right to me on my tier.

C.W.: Is there a charge for that?

I.H.: I might give you two packs of cigarettes or something for bringing it. For taking the risk, because you could get in trouble. Get a ticket.

C.W.: Did they have drugs?

I.H.: In Logan… in Dwight? I don’t know. I didn’t feel there was drugs down there.

C.W.: Well, was it or what?

I.H.: Yeah, I’d say it was. There was one girl that OD’ed down there. Off of drugs.

C.W.:You ever see anybody die?

I.H.: Yeah. This girl that lived on my tier died. Off of OD.

.W.: What on?

I.H.: She had tooted to some ah, heroin, and I guess OD’ed, it was too much or something. She had asthma.

C.W.: So, what happened? Did they come and check everybody or check to search the cells or…

I.H.: Yeah, everybody was on lockdown.

C.W.: Tell me about that.

I.H.: Everybody was on lockdown for about twenty four hours and three polices come in each person’s room and search you down, you squat, and they look all through all your baby powder, all your lotion, all your clothes, to see if you had drugs in your cell too. Yeah, they search you.

C.W.: Did they bring dogs?

I.H.: Yeah, we had the dogs sniff through everything, sniff the whole unit to see could they find narcotics.

C.W.:And did they?

I.H.: No, they ain’t find none.

S.C.: So how do people get the drugs?

I.H.: I would say on a visit. The only way you could get drugs in there is on a visit. If you’re on a visit. That’s the only way you could be able to get drugs in. Unless you know some CO’s or somebody that going to bring you some. You might know them, there might be some um, crooked CO’s in there too.

C.W.: If you could change anything about prison to help the women, two things- tell me two things that you would change.

I.H.: To help the women? Um… some of them get like—like once a year you get a visit with your kids on the grounds. I think I would want them to see their kids every weekend instead of once a year. Because kids spend the weekend with you. And um, I don’t know what the second one is.

C.W.: I’m concerned about schooling. I’m concerned about you doing all that time, and no schooling come out of that.

I.H.: I went to school. I kept going and getting out. I might go for three months and stop going and find me another assignment. That’s all I was doing. I might want to see my boyfriend- he might go to the school. So I’d go to the school just to see him. It wasn’t going to learn, it was to see him. Then I’d change my assignment again.

C.W: I understand that you learned how to work the system for yourself, basically.

I.H.: Yeah.

C.W.: For the top good. But the underlying, the big picture, it really hurts you.

I.H.: Being in prison? Yeah, it hurt. You miss your family, then if you got some kids you really miss your kids. But that’s something you have to try to, you can’t focus on that because you will be crazy in there. If you try to focus on that and you have to do a bid, you got a bid to do.

C.W.: What was the hardest? The white people there? How they treated?

I.H.: The white people were treated the same as the black people. Now, the CO’s, I always used to say they was prejudiced against the black people. But everybody treats us the same, I mean, you is in prison.

C.W.: Did you have a lot of white roommates?

I.H.: No. Because I was doing so many years I figured I could pick my own roommate. So if I got a roommate I didn’t like I used to find a way to run them out of my room.

C.W.: How?

I.H.: I might tell all my friends to they throw their trash in the room, leave the window open in the wintertime, argue, have somebody to threaten them and then they’d leave my room. Leave my cell.

C.W.: So that’s anybody. You want to get them out and that’s how you do it.

I.H.: Yeah, that’s anybody. Mm-hmm.

S.C.: Could you describe your room in Logan? What it looked like? Like, every detail you can remember.

I.H.: The rooms in Logan’s is bigger than the ones in Dwight, you get two beds, but their not bunks, they don’t become bunks no more, you have the beds side by side. And in the middle of the beds, they separate us is dressers. Dressers separate the beds. And us from each other. Then we had a big window, you could see, and another. We didn’t have bathrooms in the bedrooms down there. You had to go out the room to go to the restroom.

S.C.: Could you describe the bathroom?

I.H.: It was four stalls for to use the bathroom, four shower stalls, and four sinks.

S.C.: The toilet stalls- did they have doors on them?

I.H.: Uh-uh, no. There wasn’t doors. We didn’t even have curtains no more in the showers.

C.W.: Take one day and take me through the day. Because you had took me through count times, I know they got some kind of unit…

I.H.: Okay. I get up in the morning, I go to breakfast. After I come from breakfast, I’d come back.

S.C.: What did they have at breakfast?

I.H.: They might have powdered eggs, and a little small box of cereal, and some milk. And I come from breakfast, then I’ll take a shower-

C.W.: What time was this?

I.H.: Breakfast is at 7:00. I come from breakfast- chow probably cleared by eight. Then I come from there, get back to my unit, you’d have to take a shower. Now, you’d get counted first. After you’d get counted, then you could take a shower, then you got go to your assignment. Like assignments are probably at nine o’clock, I had to be at security maintenance when I was on Logan. I’d go to security maintenance, I’d stay there until lunchtime. Lunchtime is about twelve.

C.W.: What is it?

I.H.: Security Maintenance? That’s buffing and stripping floors. Waxing and buffing. Stripping floors. In the tiers. In the unit.

C.W.: And that’s called Security Maintenance?

I.H.: Mm-hmm. Then after you’d do that, you’d go to chow. That’s at about 11:30 or 12:00. Then after you come from chow, you’d go back to your assignment until 3 o’clock. Then everybody have to be back on the tier at three ‘cuz it’s three-thirty count. You get counted again. Once you get though getting counted, you get counted about three times, four times, after you get counted three, then you go out for chow again. That’s about four-thirty. Then after chow, that last dinner, on the tier your playing spades, playing pool, something like that. Doing somebody’s hair. And then after you get through with that, it’s time to count again at ten o’clock. Then I think you go in at twelve o’clock. Back to your cells.

C.W.: Are you locked in?

I.H.: No, you ain’t locked in, because the restrooms is outside the room. You locked in in the, no, that’s the county. No, You ain’t locked in in the um, penitentiary.

C.W.: Then you got another count.

I.H.: That’s in the middle of the night. But, you’ll probably be asleep when they count, that’s like at three thirty in the morning. They do another count.

S.C.: How many times a day do they count you?

I.H.: Four. Four times a day you’ve got to get the head count. To make sure, I guess, you’re still in the prison.

C.W.: The worst part, you didn’t say was when the judge gave the years. What did you say the worst part was? What was the worst?

I.H.: I told you—the years, I knew I had those coming. Because I did something. I’d say the worst part was when I had that fight and got them six months. When I bit the girl they told me had the virus.

C.W.: But you believe that you killed somebody?

I.H.: No, I was an accessory to a murder—I created it. I started it off by saying, I created the problem. I said, “Stick up don’t make it a murder.” That’s what my rappie became, then he killed somebody.

S.C.: How’d you do that? Can you describe the situation?

I.H.: When I caught my case? I was playing, I had my finger, and I had saw this drug dealer, he sold PCP, and I was saying, “Stick up don’t make it no murder. Give me your money or your life.” This me saying this to him, then he, my rappie, came up out the blue, and said, “You think she playing?” And he shot the man for real. So I created the problem. I started it off.

C.W.: So you didn’t think he was going to shoot him for real?

I.H.: No, I still didn’t think he shot him. I told him he was playing. When he was shot. Until he put his jacket in his hand and showed me a lot of blood. I didn’t think he was going to shoot him.

S.C.: And what happened to him?

I.H.: He had got thirty six years. He’s still in prison. I guess he got in more trouble.