I went to Corcoran state prison last week with my attorney to meet a client. Corcoran is in the central valley, about 180 miles north of Los Angeles and 45 miles south of Fresno. To a good approximation, there is nothing in Corcoran. Except the prison.
(These photos are pretty bad but you don't really want to be seen waltzing around the outside of a prison in a clear attempt to get quality snaps.)
This was my first visit to a prison. Corcoran is a high-security facility housing about 5000 inmates with 1700 staff looking over them. We met our client in a meeting room with a one-way mirror that always had a guard behind it.
I can't talk about the client or the case obviously. But we spent the whole day with the guy and one thing that struck me was how acclimated he had become to prison life. While clearly he would've preferred to not be in prison, he was blase and even glib about elements of prison life -- the atrocious food, theft of one's belongings, threats on one's life, being put in solitary confinement (aka "the hole"). As if it were all just par for the course.
I guess if you're an inmate and you want to make it through 15, 20, 25 or more years without going totally bonkers, you have to accept prison for what it is to you: normal. In his words, "these are not positive people walking around here."
06 Sep 05