By Tony Casson
The “S.H.U.”, or “the shoe”, is the Special Holding Unit. It’s primarily used for disciplinary purposes for inmates already institutionalized who might feel the need to misbehave.
Each cell is about 6 feet by 10 feet with double-bunk-style “beds” that are 100% grade-A cold, hard steel. Each lucky tenant is provided with a 1 1/2-inch thick pad that they call a mattress. No Sleep Number system here, folks!
Armed with two sheets and a “blanket”, this ultimately becomes your couch, recliner, futon, La Z boy, king-size Duxiana, and poolside lounge all rolled into one.
There is a steel table with a swing-out, round seat attached. A one-piece stainless steel toilet with attached sink, complete with the furnishings.
I’m here to tell you: if you ever have to touch a stainless steel toilet, DON’T! Anyone ever get his tongue stuck on a cold piece of metal in the winter time? Come on…I know SOMEONE has! Well…let me just say, similar things can happen!
While the prison compound itself provides a certain amount of “freedom”, the SHU is different.
Each cell has a metal “door”. There are no bars. The pass-through hatch is about 6 inches by 12 inches. No one moves in the SHU unless handcuffed, and the openings are used to put on, or remove, handcuffs, as well as to pass food.
And how about that food!
Three meals a day—6 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 5 p.m.
Breakfast is either grits, oatmeal, or (on weekends) granola, “breakfast cake”, 1/2 an orange, powdered juice mix. Lunch and dinner are essentially rice and/or beans with some sort of meat, maybe some carrots, always cake, and powdered juice mix.
If you’re waiting to go to “The Compound”, there is no recreation time, so you just have to sit in the cell and wait. The only time I got out of the cell was on the third night. I got to go to the “shower cell”. It’s like a big shower stall with a barred door for a shower curtain. Once you are safely locked inside, the cuffs are removed so you can undress and shower.
Now, hopefully, the whole time you’ve been reading this, you’ve been humming, “Bad boys, bad boys. Whatcha gonna do?”
Sleep, when it comes, is pitiful. Indeed, it is painful. My old bones and joints need a little more cushioning. But I’m calm, content, and ready for the main event—The Compound.