Prison Yard Walk

Prison Yard Walk

(Lyrics from The Americans EP, released 29 October 2010)

Well, you wake up in the morning
To a rapping on your door
Someone working for the warden
Says, “Get your feet on the floor”
You go walking down the hallway
You feel the eyes on you
And you don’t know what they’re thinking, you don’t know
What they’re going to do

You do the prison yard walk
One hour a day
With your head in the clouds
Your feet feel far away
You do the prison yard walk
And you’re feeling fine
Taking it one day at a time

Inmate Receiving
New men walk in
Jeans once worn baggy
Are now worn thin
You hand them their Bob Barkers
And they look you in the eye
You’re just twenty-three, and the world’s already
Passing you by

You do the prison yard walk
With no laces in your shoes
We all must pay
For the lives we choose
You do the prison yard walk
And keep an empty mind
Keep taking it one day at a time

The girl who used to write you
Don’t write you no more
You stared at her picture
‘Til your heart got sore
You know she’s going places
You’re not allowed
But your memory gets hazy when you
Think about her now

And the prison yard walk
Is only a blur
You walk it with them
But you’re thinking of her
You do the prison yard walk
With tears in your eyes
And keep taking it one day at a time

When you’ve heard every word
In your dying mind
And it’s the same old voice
You’ve been hearing your whole life
You keep yourself busy
And do the best you can do
And they call that killing time, when it’s the time
That winds up killing you

You do the prison yard walk
One hour a day
And it’s hard to believe
It could be any other way
You do the prison yard walk
Right down the line
And keep taking it one day at a time

Photo Source:


Nelson Mandela’s Shoelaces

Prison post Nelson Mandela shoelaces

On February 11, 1990, after twenty-seven years in prison Nelson Mandela walked out into a changed nation. Once accustomed to living underground with the police hunting him, he was greeted as an African nationalist leader.

Mandela’s release was preceded by secret talks that included Kobie Coetsee, the Justice Minister, and Niel Barnard, the head of the intelligence service. Mandela asked for a meeting with P. W. Botha, the head of the apartheid state, which Coetsee and Barnard finally arranged in 1989. So anxious was Barnard, the intelligence chief, about the meeting that seconds before the two men were to shake hands, he knelt down to fix Mandela’s clumsily tied shoes. (Prisoners were forbidden shoelaces, and Mandela was long out of the habit of tying them.)

That anecdote says a lot about the length of Mandela’s imprisonment and his isolation—it is one thing to repeat the number “twenty-seven,” and another to think about being forbidden shoelaces so long that you forget how to tie them. It also says a lot about what a natural leader Mandela was, his presence and his grace—the dignity that years in prison couldn’t touch.  In the end, even his jailers had to acknowledge that it was wrong for this man’s shoelaces not to be tied. And really, they must have known it much earlier.

Photo Source:

Shackling Pregnant Prisoners

Prisoners pregnant and shackled

About 2,000 prisoners in American correctional facilities give birth each year. The issue of shackling pregnant inmates during and after labor raises a broader concern about excessively punitive aspects of prison culture.

  • Democratic and Republican politicians alike have pushed for anti-shackling legislation.
  • Doctors have called shackling a threat to the health of both mother and child.
  • Criminologists have deemed it unnecessary; as it appears that no unshackled pregnant inmate has ever escaped during labor.

Quoting and Photo Source:   “In Labor, in Chains” by Audrey Quinn

See also:  “Shackled During Childbirth” by Sadhbh Walshe

“Childbirth in Chains” by Colleen Mastony

“Should a Woman Be Shackled While Giving Birth? Most States Think So.” by Cristina Costantini

“Bill To Stop The Shackling Of Pregnant Inmates Introduced By D.C. Lawmaker” by Arin Greenwood