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Prison Blueprints by Peter Spektrum


This news story was published on March 13, 2011.
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I remember I was in the countryside of Vermont and came across a prison being constructed. It was Sunday – no one was around. I drove my car into the site, decided to get out, and look around. I rehearsed a story in my head, should a state trooper or construction boss pull up. “I’m doing a documentary on prisons in America and am scouting potential sights for a shoot”. I got out of my car and made my way into the concrete forms thru a door less entryway. It opened into the main chamber. With a large congregational meet and greet, surrounded by four walls of prison cells, and second story balcony with banister rail, it looked just like one of those TV prison reality shows. It one day will be a prison reality show for some. I continued deeper in and found the prison guard area; no doors had yet been placed. Stepping into where the guards would one day hang out, behind thick glass like a nurses station in an inner city psyche ward, I noticed the electronic brains of the operations had been installed…wiring, lights, switches and circuits, one day which will open up cells, and stand between men and their freedom. I noticed prison blueprints sitting on a metal table, and a steel ladder that climbed up an open roof hatch. It was a narrow fit, similar to something found in a submarine or ship. I climbed up and walked around the roof and looked around. I could see HVAC systems, guard towers and prison fences in the distance. There were other buildings in the compound as well, with a few acres acting as an outdoor “green area” for the prisoners to roam around, and one day beat each other, like animals do when they are too close together. I gathered it probably to be a medium security level prison by the use of two layers of chain fencing– with only about 15 feet between them, – minimal barb wiring atop. I climbed back down the ladder, out of the guard area, and went into a prison cell off an annex wing. It was almost finished. It had a stainless steel toilet and a single metal bed that was bolted on sideways to the concrete cylinder blocked wall. Above a small metal sink was a polished metal mirror. The cell was small, only about 10′ x 8′. There was still some construction debris on the floor. I sat for a moment on the bed frame and imagined: “Could I live here? Would this be a better, simpler life? Three square meals and always doing what you’re told?” I snapped out of the fantasy realizing my Geo Metro was still sitting in the parking lot, cognizant of the fact that if a trooper pulled in and didn’t buy my story, my fantasy may soon become a reality. I’d better get going. As I left the chamber I passed the guard area again, with those blue prints sitting on the table. I rolled one of them up and quickly hustled off to my car, fantasizing some elaborate future prison-break scene in my head. It just added to my already perked up adrenaline. I continued down the Interstate until I got back to Burlington, where I had been living. I remember thinking to myself….”If only society would spend this much time, money and resources helping people BEFORE they end up as criminals”. It was a nice sunny Vermont day, on which I had a wakeup to what is commonly known as the Prison Industrial Complex. I saw it perhaps as an alien would have seen it, curious as to why humans on such a beautiful planet would construct cages for themselves.

Peter Spektrum|

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