Dateline November 6, 2010
It is 43 degrees in Daytona Beach, and I wanted to show you the latest in winter prison fashion. This is the winter jacket they issued me a couple weeks ago. No, Ralph Lauren didn’t design it, nor did Armani or Brooks Brothers. This is a prison industry product. The Chevy logo in Magic Marker was applied in some previous year by a prior owner. Notice the unique distressed lining around the collar. Pretty ragged. Perhaps a previous wearer got caught in the razor wire.
Also note the fashion unbuttoned bottom button look. Of course, there is no bottom button, and the top two are barely holding in the frayed button holes.
The material is the same thin cotton cloth they make the prison blue pants from, affording little protection from the blasts of cold North winds that accompany the cold spells. 37 degrees in Ocala in the morning, Sunday, Nov. 7th.
I don’t know how old this jacket is, or how many times it has been recycled. Each year they take them in spring and box them up for warehousing until fall. This one has been around. The lining has been slit so food from the chow hall can be smuggled out, and the pocket was filled with old loose tobacco and crud. The smell was pretty bad, as you can imagine.
You should see the jackets the taxpayers buy the guards. Really nice winter-weight material, insulated, with fake fur collars that can be turned up to cover the ears. You can also wear them to go hunting, and people might think you’re a game warden, with the colorful state patches . Big difference. “You wanna nice jacket?” one asked me when I commented on his arctic warmer. “Git outta prison and go buy you one,” he said.
Or get a job in prison, and let the state buy me one like his. For now I’ll shiver and shake in my thin prison issue, and hope they get the heaters fixed in the dorm before summer.