Prison Diary: The Set Up Crew

To get out to the prison on time I have to head out around 5:40. It takes about twenty minutes to get there. The study starts at 6:30, so we get out there around 6:00. We have to clear security and make the walk to the chapel. If things go smoothly we're at the chapel around 6:15.

When we arrive we're greeted by Cody, Diego and Joe. Our set up crew.

The origins of the set up crew are murky. A lot of what happens in a prison depends a great deal upon your ability to convince an officer to allow you to do something, like going to the chapel early to set up.

Cody, Diego and Joe are skilled and confident talkers. A year or so ago they self-nominated themselves to become our set up crew, convincing the officers in their respective buildings to release them early so that they could help set up the chapel for our study.

And you know how it is. Once something happens once it's a tradition ever afterward. Eventually that tradition becomes expectation and something that is informal becomes formalized. Cody, Diego and Joe now have lay ins that let them come early to the chapel to help set up.

And there is a great need to set up. We have to find, collect and arrange chairs to accommodate the size of the study. So Herb and I have always been appreciative that Cody, Diego and Joe selected this job for themselves.

But more than the set up, what I appreciate most about the set up crew are the relationships. Because we get to spend some time alone each week with each other, waiting for the 50+ men to arrive, I have the closest relationships with Cody, Joe and Diego.

Everything I know about prison life and culture they have taught me.

Like how to get yourself appointed to being a set up crew.

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