Thanksgiving: A Prisoner's Perspective

 Thanksgiving dinner in prison

Thanksgiving dinner in prison

Today is Thursday, November 23, 2017. Thanksgiving. For federal prisoners across America, it is a day of irony. The day begins and ends just like any other day in prison. The cell doors were unlocked shortly after dawn, and prisoners, in a race to go nowhere, shot out like horses at the Kentucky Derby. After spending most of the morning making expensive phone calls, we were hustled to the mess hall to enjoy a not-so-delicious lunch consisting of sliced turkey that seemed to have come from one who died of dehydration, and a slice of freezer-burnt pumpkin pie with an expiration date of February 15, 2017 (Yeah, nine months ago). After lunch, we spent the rest of the day wasting life, and being thankful for it. Then, for those of us who were fortunate enough to survive the pie (or unfortunate, depending on one's release date), we were locked back into the horse stalls for the night, just like every other night. Basically, there wasn't anything special about the day. It was just another day, no different from the other 326 that preceded.

If anything, today was a day of irony, a meaningful day designated for families to spend quality time together and express gratitude for divine goodness while federal prisoners are forced to observe the day in a world where such familial ties and divine goodness are systematically opposed and suppressed. Sure we were fed turkey, something that wasn't a requirement by law, divine or manmade. But what good is turkey when we are shipped thousands of miles away from home and denied any opportunity to be with family. Fuck turkey. Give us conjugal visits, and keep the turkey. Is a slice of a dehydrated, deceased turkey's ass suppose to cover up the fact that federal prisons are designed to destroy families and turn hearts into stones that shall soon become brittle? Perhaps for some, for the moment of digestion. But for me, I'd rather they kept their turkey and fed it to the poor. Instead of forcing us to observe a holiday that blatantly doesn't apply to us, it's best to remove the irony and treat the day like any other day--another day in the can.

I know this is turkey day, and I am suppose to express not my criticism but my gratitude. So on this ironic day of freezer-burnt pumpkin pie and Presidential pardons to turkeys but not humans, I am thankful for three things: My mother and daughters' health, my sanity, and my heart that has yet to turn to stone.

Happy Turkey day!

thanksgiving turkeys in prison



Quawntay Adams is a guest writer for Prison Lives. You can find him on

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