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Dublin’s Dirty Laundry

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 3 months ago

Dublin’s Dirty Laundry


Blog from - www.JoshWolf.net February 20th, 2007


Note:The day after this post was written, the problem was solved (ljh for Josh Wolf)


Prisoners at the FDC her in Dublin are supposed to be issued two complete changes of clothing: two pairs of boxers, two pairs of socks, two t-shirts, and two jumpsuits. Some guys have managed to acquire extra clothing and a few of the recent transfers have only one set, but theoretically everyone should have two. As a result, people must do their laundry every day if they want clean clothes to wear. Althought this routine is tedious at best, a new complication has plagued our efforts to stay clean for well over a week.


According to the orderly in charge of washing the clothes for the prisoners, we have been out of laundry soap for at least a week and a half. The issue is moot for those of us that are blessed with financial support; we can buy commercial laundry detergent at commissary. But for the indigent inmates who make up the bulk of the population, there is no detergent available to clean their clothes. Some are having the attendant wash their clothes in hot water. Others have purchased shampoo on their limited budgets and are using it with some success. Still other prisoners have resorted to grinding down the bars of hand soap they are issued. I suppose a few guys are probably wearing their dirty clothes day after day, but I haven’t noticed anyone resembling Pigpen; so it seems most everyone is managing in one way or another.


In some regards this really isn’t that big of a problem. Two guys I’ve met here have demonstrated an unparalleled ability to adapt and are truly kings of improvisation. Most everyone seems to have been able to stay clean. At the same time, the government has taken on certain responsibilities by holding us against our will: three meals a day, health care, a place to sleep, and to meet our hygiene needs, including clean clothes.


Earlier in the week I overheard the laundry attendant asking a correctional officer (CO) why we have no soap. Although he had been told several times that it was on order, this CO’s story was of a slightly different timbre. The CO explained that the amount of detergent allotted to the prison is based on the population and that we had used the soap too quickly – as if staying clean was a case of detergent abuse. He seemed unceratin as to how long it’d be before we had detergent again.


While I do imagine that we have gone through far more laundry soap than the Bureau of Prisons predicted, it seems highly unfair to punish those prisoners who can’t afford to buy their own. I’m also curious whether the projection takes into account the fact that we are only given one change of clothes. How often are we expected to wash them? Every other day? Once a week?


Only in prison are people punished for staying clean. I suppose this is just one more example of Dublin’s dirty laundry that I’ve been exposed to during my stay under civil contempt.

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