Knuckle Check (by Lifer Renee)
Renee – Only a teenager, she received a 60-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. Fourteen years into her sentence, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.
I was waiting for an officer to do the head count. Shadows kept passing by my door, which was not normal. I went to the door, and peered out of my window. On the lower run were dark droplets that I knew were blood. Instead of hiding my contraband, I checked to see what the guards were doing. They were making women step out of their cells one at a time. They were doing knuckle checks – and more. They were examining forearms and faces, and making the women pull their shirts up to reveal their stomachs and lower backs.
By the time they reached my cell, shirts were no longer being pulled up, which was good because I was ready to protest. It is most uncomfortable to be stared at by guards who look as if they are counting every pore on your skin.
They arrived at my cell. “Let’s see your hands!”
I held my hands out, palms down.
They checked for marks that would indicate I’d been fighting. Seeing none, they moved on.
After they had checked my neighbors, I jumped upon the toilet and called my neighbor through the 4”x4” vent above the toilet that connects the cells.
She jumped onto her toilet. “Hi, neighbour.”
“Do you know what happened?”
“No, nothing,” she said. “Just a knuckle check.”
Usually fights in here do not happen quietly. I don’t know why, but women have a tendency to yell, scream, and make quite the scene. My door had been open, yet I didn’t hear a thing. I also didn’t understand why the blood wasn’t cleaned up if they didn’t want to go unnoticed.
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