Updated: Feb 15
What one can observe on any given day within the confines of a pod on Death Row in North Carolina would, I think, both confuse and surprise most people.
The first thing that happens every morning when the cell doors open is a call for medications over the intercom. The drove files out to the walk-thru window with shaky hands extended and glands salivating. The drugs ("medications") vary from high blood pressure pills to heavy psychotropics. Tourette’s syndrome, depression, paranoid schizophrenics, it just goes on and on.
Now repeat this five times per day. Next you will be called for breakfast, the "sick call" occurs so individuals can be called down to either be seen for various ailments and illnesses, or to be assessed for more or different drugs.
Then one group after the other will be called for their one hour a day outside recreation, where they proceed to stumble and bumble around one another until they get tired or sometimes fight.
Maybe a canteen call or lunch is next, depending on if there are enough guards who showed up to work that day to run everything on schedule.
A day count between 1:45- 3:00 pm sees everyone back in their cells and there is a period of quiet until the doors open again for mail call and a medication call.
The supper call happens at 5:30. then you come back to stay in the pod for the rest of the night, unless you have more medication to take. A 7:15- 8:30 count, then its lockdown for the night at 11:00.
In between all this is when "One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest" plays on repeat as the unfolding daily drama that is life on Death Row. As an observer you hope everyone gets their dose on time and that the nurses and doctors remembered to keep it all stocked. Because even when the patients/inmates take it as they should, there are "episodes".
The not so funny, and quite often violent outbursts are the norm. It’s those few who have no reason to be prescribed anything that really are at a disadvantage, because no matter how used to it you get there are always instances you can just not prepare for. You are the odd man out.
The pacifier is the television, which stays on from the time the doors open in the morning (7:00), until the guards turn it off(11:00 pm). This distraction works in conjunction with the medications to keep the atmosphere calm and manageable, so any interruption is met with cries of protest and distress. If the programming is questioned it often leads to arguments and physical altercations.
The programming has the expected soap operas and gossip shows, Springer and Maury for a different kind of drama. What is surprising, and absurdly so, is the numerous court, cops and police dramas. Cops, divorce court, NCIS, ect. To see and hear prisoners laugh and be utterly enthralled by others getting arrested, beaten and taken to jail is a never-ending form of entertainment for those who have been arrested, beaten and taken to jail.
You see the molesters get agitated and nervous when gymnastics are on, and they are on because the ones who "hate" the molesters watch it too because they "appreciate" the athleticism. Unbidden, and often unconscious comments are uttered during any program.
Comments to the effect of what perverse or violent actions would be done to either this or that person, no matter if its man, woman or child.
Any discussion of a show, movie or music too often leads to a disagreement, verbal, then physical conflict. Even as little as not getting involved means you somehow think you are better, know everything and can’t admit you are wrong. There simply is no rational way to deal with the mentally disturbed, and conservatively, that’s 90% of the people here. Examples are: one individual can be observed at any time day or night to be addressing the court. "Objection your Honor", "move to strike", ect. Another is so negative and contrary by nature, yet so desperate for interaction and conversation, that no matter what your response to his comment is, the inevitable result is a violent temper tantrum that any ten year old would call shame for.
There are people here for child murder, matricide, patricide, fratricide, necrophilia, rape/torture, killings, serial killing, and mass murder, yet they get upset if you don’t want to socialize with them. To some degree you have to be at least civil to most, because you have no choice in being around them. Unless of course you restrict your freedom of movement and materials by going to a 23 hour lockdown custody level. Which is an entirely different and more extreme, existence than what I have already described.
There are even those in here who despise a person for trying to get into court to have their appeal heard, because it might cause other cases to move through the courts and that could cause executions to start back up. Well, should one man just sit here waiting when he could get help because another has no chance of it?
There are just too many insane examples of everyday occurrences to list here, but do you get a better picture of what a life can be? Anyone who can maintain their sanity in this place is a survivor, is a stronger better person just for it. Not everyone in here is guilty, and so not everyone in here should be treated the same. My observations could all too easily also be those of someone you love or care for. Think about that, think about me.