TAFT — After a two-hour trip wearing ankle and wrist shackles, Patricia Spottedcrow and six other women, all dressed in gray, enter prison at 11:15 a.m. Dec. 22.
Officers conduct a visual, noninvasive strip search of each, and then provide a handbook of regulations. Visitation once a week and holidays. Telephone calls must be approved numbers.
“Do you know where you're at?” an officer asks.
“Yes, I'm at Eddie
Spottedcrow is a first-time offender serving a 10-year sentence for $31 in marijuana sales to an informant in her hometown of Kingfisher. Her young children were present during the sales. She was assigned to Dorm 3 and upper bunk No. 47. The dorm-style life means not having personal space and others always being nearby.
Spottedcrow received three pants, shirts, and bras, five T-shirts, socks and panties — everything bluish gray. A “care package” includes generic shampoo, soap, razor, toothpaste, toothbrush, a roll of toilet paper, deodorant, sanitary pads, shower shoes and eight pieces of paper and envelopes.
No makeup is provided, but mascara and lipstick are on sale in the canteen. Prices are similar to discount stores: lipgloss $4.63 and mascara $5.54. Clothing can be purchased: jeans go for $6 for plus sizes to $46 for Levis. Tennis shoes start at $19 and go up to $98 for Nikes.
Cigarettes can be smoked outside, with Newports selling for $7.37 and generics $4.16 a pack.
Inmates are limited to what they can spend based on their earned credits, ranging from $10 to $80 a week. No hair color is allowed, but perm kits may be purchased and applied by a prison beautician. Haircuts are free but cannot be exotic, said Sgt. Skip Taylor.
“It's a safety issue,” the guard said. “They can't do anything to alter their appearance
Spottedcrow dropped her bundle of clothing and supplies about halfway to the dorm, but two inmates volunteered to help carry the load. “I'm glad they stopped to help because I was going to leave that stuff there,” she said.
Inside the dorm, women milled around reading, knitting, writing, applying makeup and talking. Two women helped Spottedcrow make her bed. At certain times daily, prisoners must be in their bunks for a head count.
Inmates can earn enough privileges over time for an assignment to a cubicle where they may have a personal television with headphones.
For the majority, one community television is in a day room. It's on from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends. Corrections department contracts for local stations and nine cable channels such as ESPN, Discovery, CNN and TNT. No movie channels are included.
Women in the top two tiers of the four-level privilege system have a drawing supervised by staff for control of programming in two-hour increments. The lowest level inmates are not allowed to watch television, and women in the second tier may watch but cannot choose channels.
Meals are served in a large cafeteria. Produce harvested from prison gardens provides part of the meals, prepared by inmates and overseen by staff.
For her first lunch at Eddie Warrior, Spottedcrow was served pinto beans, pineapple, boiled cabbage and cornbread.
“I'm not going to eat this,” she said. “You don't realize the things you will miss … like the food. I'm a picky eater anyway.”
Spottedcrow was assigned to do basic maintenance chores. As she proves her work ethic and stays free of discipline problems, she will earn jobs with more responsibility and wages.
When case manager Ken Goodyear speaks of available education and self-improvement programs, Spottedcrow said she wants to participate in as many as possible. “Sign up, and get on the waiting lists,” he said.
Only Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous do not have a wait. “If you are patient, you'll be just fine,” Goodyear said.
About 2:30 p.m., Spottedcrow is left in the dorm with the other women. She goes into a nearby empty area of the day room to sit for awhile.
“I didn't sleep at all last night,” she said. “I'm so depressed.”