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Oren Mendez Headshot

Prisons Begin New 'Bored Straight' Program

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Welcome youths.

I assume you've all heard of our prison's Scared Straight initiative, in which we took in troubled teens who were prone to violence and crimes and were likely to end up incarcerated, and showed them what prison could be like. By letting them see how a real prison operates, and meet the inmates, we were able to steer many of them to the right track. Our program yielded such high results, that the warden got the go-ahead to start a new program.

This program is for you, kids. Look around you. None of you are troubled teens. You all come from good families, you all have good grades and rich lives. Then why do so many of you end up here in this state penitentiary? No, it's not because you all have affluenza. It's because you all watch television.

By a show of hands, who here watched Orange is the New Black? Oz? Prison Break? Even the Shawshank Redemption! Look around. You all have your hands up. All of you enjoy prison-themed TV shows and Films. Now, I know none of you are stupid enough to think prison is a nice place to be in after watching these shows. You all know prison is dangerous, and you might get beaten, molested, even murdered! But you all still think this place is exciting. Which is why we started this 'Bored Straight' program. If you'll follow me inside, I'm going to show you that prison is not the exciting place you think it is.

This is a typical prison cell. It has two bunk beds, occupying between two and four inmates at a time. Your cellmates will probably be shy, and keep to themselves. If you end up here, you will NOT have deep conversations with your cell mates about your history and beliefs. You will not share a deep connection and learn that inmates are sensitive people who ended up here because of an inevitable chain of emotional events. There's no story here, children. Just two random people sleeping next to each other, trying to ignore one another for years.

Once a day, we have count. That's when you have to step out of your cell, stand straight, and show the guard you are still present. That's what count is. When the count alarm goes off, you will not be in the middle of something important. You will not have to cover up what you've been doing from the guards. And you will not run as fast as you can back to your cell, with the clock ticking, arriving at the exact second the guard reaches your cell to count you, as if you were there all along. Nope. You were in your cell all along. Doing nothing. Thinking about no one.

Another uneventful place in prison is the kitchen. As opposed to what you might think, the inmates running the kitchen do not control the prison. They cook food and serve it. They do not use it as a tool of power over the other inmates. They do not choose who to feed and who to starve. And they do not bake themselves a god damn chocolate cake. Everyone eats the same food. And it's disgusting.

This is the visiting area. If you end up here, this will probably be the best room you can visit. If you're here, it means someone came to see you. Your parents, your lover, your friends. None of them will have interesting news for you. You will not have your long awaited emotional confrontation here. You will not learn they moved on with their lives and met someone else, and not one of them will sneak cigarettes in for you. I've been a guard in this prison for 28 years. You know what's the most exciting conversation I heard in this room? Someone telling an inmate they got promoted from assistant manager to executive regional manager in charge of purchases. It came with a 1.4 dollar raise. And I DID NOT CARE!

Children, if you come to this place I can guarantee you will not get shanked, you will not make meaningful friendships, and you will not discover your dark side and become an anti hero. That's a promise! And you can forget about planning an elaborate escape plan, because your mind is going to deteriorate here so fast you won't even have the will power to play charades. This place is boring. Nothing happens here. Look, little Timmy even fell asleep during the tour!

That concludes our "Bored Straight" program. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go release the inmates to their one hour of free yard time, where they will stand around aimlessly, doing nothing outside as opposed to inside AND THAT'S IT.