Toilet paper and other things I lacked in prison
February 6, 2019 1:20 PM   Subscribe

In New York prisons, we got five rolls of single-ply per month. Which I'm sure is adequate if you're a dude. If you're a woman, it's only enough to remind you that you to feel like an eff-up. You learned to lock up your toilet paper in your locker and never bring the whole thing to the bathroom — lest you get toilet paper-jacked en route. (It is prison after all — some of your friends may have a history of jacking people.) You can't just nicely ask for more — they say they're not supposed to give it to you. So you beg, you plead. Once, I heard a woman offer sexual favors. For toilet paper. An essay by Keri Blakinger.
posted by Bella Donna (25 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I personally call that "cruel and unusual punishment."
posted by agregoli at 1:48 PM on February 6, 2019 [18 favorites]


"I'm sure is adequate if you're a dude. If you're a woman, it's only enough to remind you that you to feel like an eff-up."

I wouldn't think so. Dudes don't have menses to deal with but they still gotta use TP after pissing and shitting. Five rolls of single-ply sounds cruel for anyone but the most constipated among us. Prison is a cruel joke and the people commenting that if you don't like it, don't go to jail can really fuck themselves right into a prison to see how they like it. Most folks in jail don't really deserve to be there, certainly for not as long as they are, and conditions in US prisons are intolerable and inhumane. That's not even accounting for the millions of innocent folks stuck in prison.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:55 PM on February 6, 2019 [15 favorites]


I do not know many dudes that use toilet paper every time they urinate?
posted by agregoli at 1:58 PM on February 6, 2019 [13 favorites]


I was curious about the author and googled to discover she was interviewed on Fresh Air from a few months ago. Her story is pretty remarkable.
posted by something something at 1:58 PM on February 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


If you're using a penis to urinate, the old wisdom will always apply:

No matter how much you shake
No matter how much you dance
The last few drops
End up in your pants
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:02 PM on February 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


And look I want everyone to have toilet paper in whatever amounts they need.
posted by agregoli at 2:04 PM on February 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


It's fine! You can always buy a roll of 2 ply from the commissary for an 800% markup!
posted by youthenrage at 2:08 PM on February 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


Don't even get me started on how much toilet paper I require, especially if I'm not using medication to suppress my period. I don't want to think about what it's like to have IBS-D (or any other similar GI disorder) in prison, where you don't get much if any control over your diet, while they're rationing your toilet paper.

Thank you for that additional link something something, although I would have been happier not knowing this:
"They weren't giving people dentures and instead would offer to blend up regular mess hall food and put it in cups and give it to you. This has been their practice for about 15 years. Prior to 2003, 2004, they had a vocational program where the inmates would learn to make dentures and thus provide dentures for other inmates. But then that got cut in 2004 for reasons that were not entirely clear"
or this:
"At one point, I was in a bunk next to someone who had punched another girl in the bathroom for invading her dreams. She was in prison, in general population; she wasn't even in a mental health unit. And there was another example that stood out to me was in the horticulture vocational class that I took when we were making Christmas wreaths, the instructor at one point stopped and looked at this one girl and was like, "Do not put the hot glue gun in your mouth." At first I sort of laughed, but then I was like, "Oh, I think he's saying that based on actual past experience."

That's a really stark example of who we're willing to put in prison, because going into [prison] I had no idea that people like that would end up in prison — but they do, and a lot of them do, and the line for meds every morning is incredibly long."
As a society we can be so damn cruel to each other.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 2:16 PM on February 6, 2019 [18 favorites]


"I do not know many dudes that use toilet paper every time they urinate?"

Are they wiping the toilet with their hands?!
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:32 PM on February 6, 2019


Yeah, they don't feed people enough in prison either. Google "ramen noodles prison currency" some time.
posted by Melismata at 2:37 PM on February 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Rationing of toilet paper, regardless of where it is, is evidence of some sadistic dickhead having been promoted way past where they should have. Enacting a policy of rationing toilet paper should be grounds for dismissal and evidence that no one should employ that person anywhere, ever again.
posted by krisjohn at 2:46 PM on February 6, 2019 [19 favorites]


Wiping...the toilet? Yeah, I would venture to say no, they aren't.
posted by agregoli at 3:04 PM on February 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


Did I not see a button I was supposed to click somewhere? That was no essay, barely an article, and I'm seeing quotes in the comments that weren't in what I read.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 3:13 PM on February 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


There's never been a bathroom discussion I've had online that didn't leave me disgusted with the other humans.
posted by GoblinHoney at 4:05 PM on February 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


In the British Army, in the old days of National Service, new recruits got three squares of toilet paper per day: "one up, one down, and one to put a shine on".
posted by verstegan at 4:16 PM on February 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


"I do not know many dudes that use toilet paper every time they urinate?"

TMI, maybe, but being over 50 means that's part of my routine now, along with patience.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:03 PM on February 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


Could be a difference, I am barely under 40. Fair enough!
posted by agregoli at 6:11 PM on February 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


“That's a really stark example of who we're willing to put in prison, because going into [prison] I had no idea that people like that would end up in prison — but they do, and a lot of them do, and the line for meds every morning is incredibly long.

I’ve had occasion recently to watch the criminal justice system in motion. There was a case in which a young man, in the midst of a psychiatric episode, attacked and injured his mother with a knife. He had a history of schizophrenia, had not slept for days, and thought she was sent to kill him. In family violence cases, it doesn’t matter whether or not the victim wants to press charges; the state automatically intervenes. The prosecutor admitted that jail wasn’t a good place for him, but was bringing assault charges anyway. She shrugged and said that most people in jail have some form of mental illness. This is just what happens to them. She said it without any hint of doubt or emotion, the way you say something that is both patently obvious and incapable of being changed. From a legal standpoint, there was no question that an assault had been committed. The system has exactly one solution for that, and once the gears start, they don’t stop until they’re done.

I have also, in an unrelated capacity, seen the inner workings of a state forensic psychiatric facility. It is probably a better place for these types of individuals, in the sense that a pair of pliers is preferable to a toothache. But most of the people sent there stay only until they are stable enough to stand trial or go back to jail.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:08 PM on February 6, 2019


Oh god, I don't think I can read this
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:32 PM on February 6, 2019


Hi, I wipe the toilet, because I'm in a household with two ladies who never see what's under the seat.

I'm also very very glad we have a bidet, because the UK only imports one day's worth of bog roll sales at any given time. Post-brexit, there are going to be a fair few more rashes on this island.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:20 AM on February 7, 2019




abolish prisons
posted by Gymnopedist at 4:18 AM on February 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


Yeah, our prisons are absolutely full of mentally ill or impaired people. One of the upshots of our marvelous health care system is that these people are often more likely to see police than doctors.

Even when they're brought to trial and they can prove that a hospital is where they should be, that may mean they've just accepted a virtual life-sentence in a forensic hospital (which, as has been pointed out, might just mean the State's largest jail) when their sentence would have been 5-10-20 years.

The mention of prison reform was the bright spot of Trump's SOTU for me, because at least it's an indication that the idea may be mainstreaming.
---great article, btw. don't mean to sway too far off topic
posted by es_de_bah at 6:55 AM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


"That's what underpants is for." -- Some penis-having folk who don't use TP when they pee.

I can only focus on the trivial, here, at the moment. Soap that won't kill your skin, etc., there's so much we deny folk in prison.
posted by allthinky at 7:16 AM on February 7, 2019


Wiping...the toilet? Yeah, I would venture to say no, they aren't

I have heard that guys in prison specifically take toilet cleanliness more seriously than a lot of guys outside, though, because a.) they are sharing close quarters with a toilet and another dude, and b.) there are a few "off-label" uses of the toilet which are easier to stomach if it's clean.
posted by atoxyl at 1:21 PM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


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