Fresno, CA

Locked Up for A Year in Fresno!

Mark-John Clifford

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photo courtesy of ABC 30

Over the past year, I've heard complaint after complaint from many out there that they feel like they're in prison. They have no idea.

There Is No Door Dash in Prison

I was interviewed on a show one day called "20 Minutes in Lockdown," where I was asked about my time locked up in prison for ten years versus being locked down now. At the time of the show's recording, I believe we had been locked down for about five to six months. Still relatively new for most.

The interviewer was mainly interested in my take about people complaining that they felt like they were in prison and had no rights to go out. They couldn't go to their favorite coffee spot or restaurant. They couldn't visit family or friends. They only had their phones, Zoom, or any other video or chat platform to talk with family and friends.

They were lost with little or no social interaction. What were they to do if this persisted?

People were depressed and devastated by the lack of social dealings. They longed for their trips to the coffee shops to meet with friends. They longed for long lunches or dinner to sit, drink, and discuss the day's affairs. What would they do if this lockdown prolonged longer than expected?

Some people wore masks for protection, and others didn't. The ones that didn't were in defiance of orders mandated by public officials, but it was their way to fighting back and feeling they still controlled their lives.

In Fresno, just like any other city, things were the same. People felt that they were deprived of their rights. They were being imprisoned, and they didn't like it.

I understand their feelings to a point and felt a little bad for them, but their feelings of lockdown went too far.

Here' My Take

Prison or jail is an entirely different type of locked down. Let me give you a little insight into daily life in prison. I'm sure a county jail is roughly the same.

From the moment you enter prison, you are told what to do and when to do for almost everything.

You're told when to stand for count multiple times a day. You're told when to go to the chow hall three times a day.

You're told when to go to work and when you can leave. If you're in school, you're notified when to go to school and when you can leave.

If you want social interaction with family or friends, you have two choices. First, you can have visits when they a scheduled. You only get so many visits each month. In the federal system, you get so many points each month. When you run out, you're out of visits.

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The second is with phone calls. Again in the federal system, you get so many minutes per month. When they're gone, that's it—no more phone calls.

Of course, you can write letters all you want, but they are read going out and when they come in.

As for going for coffee at the local coffee shop, you can always visit a friend's cell and have coffee with them, but there isn't a shop.

If you want to go to the gym, there is a particular time to do that also. You can't go when you feel like it.

Want to grab a drink from your fridge? You don't have a refrigerator. You might have a window sill where you can keep milk or drinks in the cold weather, but of course, you have to have a window for that. Many cells don't have windows that open.

How about going to the bathroom in private? If you happen to have a cell with a toilet, there goes your privacy. If you happen to be in a lower security prison, you may have bathrooms with individual stalls.

How about that run to the market for some groceries? That's not happening. You can go to the commissary once a week and spend a pre-determined amount each month.

Are you wanting to go out to that fancy restaurant you frequent with family and friends for a night out of drinking and dancing? That's not happening, at least the fancy restaurant or dancing part.

You can go to the chow hall with other convict friends and eat the fabulous gourmet meals prepared by other convicts for you to enjoy.

That's just the tip of the iceberg of things you lose when locked up or locked down when you are not permitted to enjoy freedom.

So Fresno, what do you think now?

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Patti, my wife, and I write about life here in Fresno, California, and the Central Valley. We especially enjoy writing reviews about restaurants we've dined at, along with the food that is served. From time to time, we also write about and share recipes that we are fond of and hope you'll try them and let us know your thoughts. We are not traditional food critics. We don't have to worry about restaurants making unique dishes for us. We're just the average customer going in to dine, and then we write reviews.

Fresno, CA
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