Today featured a moment of true Colorado weather. As I left the prison after being the graduation speaker (92 inmates graduated with vocational education certificates), it rained, snowed, and blazed sunshine in a period of less than three minutes. Proof positive that the old adage "If you don't like the weather in Colorado, wait five minutes." is based on a kernel of truth.
I always find it amusing to watch the inmates after a ceremony like today's. It is standard practice at the prison to have cake and punch supplied by the culinary arts program as the reward for the prisoners at the conclusion. The prisoners line up anxiously for their cake and then politely wait and hope there will be enough to have a second piece. Staff and guests always go first; I'm sure the fact that I always refuse the cake due to my diabetes makes more than one inmate happy I was the honored guest and not someone who might eat the cake.
Why you might ask? Because the diet they get has no deserts and no sweets and is heavy on fats and carbs. So the only sweets they might see in a year from their regular diet is that piece of cake after a graduation celebration. For many of the inmates, it clearly ranks right up their with getting assigned to a red-band group. (Red-band groups are groups composed of prisoners with spotless records and the wardens OK that are sent outside the gates on work details. That is the only way the inmates get a chance to see normal life scenes and open fields.)
It is also interesting to watch the inmates queue up to talk to you. They must have staff permission to approach within arms length of a guest. They must also have permission to speak to you. So they queue up to get permission to even say something so simple as "Thank you for coming." or "Thank you for caring." Makes you really appreciate the freedoms you have in your own life once you spend a few hours there.
It used to be that there was some jocularity amidst the inmates, but it is clear that the murder last week has depressed the inmate population. I wonder how long it will be before some semblance of normal returns. The assistant warden and I had a long discussion on the matter while we were waiting for the inmates to be brought in. They are wondering the same thing.
Time to head for the bed.