Prison Medical Checkup

Victor Becerra
1969 Journal of Prisoners on Prisons  
T oday, I had to go to the clinic to get a medical checkup. My ducat was for 7:30am. I arrived at the medical wing at about ten minutes passed seven, anticipating an overcrowded waiting room. The guard at the entrance checked me in and told me to take a seat in the waiting area, a cage smaller than a two car garage. Inside the cage were eight long benches. Each bench sat three men comfortably, but sometimes I had seen over thirty prisoners crowded in there. To my surprise, there was only one
more » ... waiting there before me. He was complaining that he was there to check his blood pressure, but that the nurse was trying to take some blood tests. "You ain't gonna take some blood out of me like a vampire!" The prisoner was not mad; he found it funny that they had made a mistake. But he talked louder than normal, and the concrete walls and empty room made his voice transmit louder. The guard came to him to explain that it was not him who made the mistake; he had only read what the ducat said -"lab" -so he had assumed that it was for blood. As they talked, it sounded as though they were arguing. They were both very loud, although they were only fi ve feet away from each other. I sat down at the farthest corner. By 7:23am, the medical personnel (mostly women) were coming in to start their work shift. If they were supposed to start at 7:00am, they were late; if they were supposed to start at 8:00am, they were way early. My guess is that they were late. They work for the state, so there is little oversight. A prisoner who has been working there for the last few years as a trustee kept cleaning around the entrance. He made sure to greet every female who walked in. In the time I was there, I counted over 35 women coming in and going out. The trustee said something suave to each of them. A few of them actually smiled back. In one of the offi ces, I saw a female guard in her mid-50s looking through some boxes. She appeared to be tired. Those who did not know better might see her and think she looked tired because she had been working overtime. But when I saw her, I immediately remembered what my ex-supervisor, who used to work as a teacher here in the prison, had told me about her. She told me that her friend, the female guard, would cry and feel lonely because she had no man in her life, and that even though she had been having a sexual relationship with a co-worker (a sergeant) for over ten years, she knew he did not love her because he had
doi:10.18192/jpp.v25i1.5029 fatcat:qcwd6qsh4narlbfc54f2dujtta