I received a letter “Mailed from a South Dakota Correctional Facility” a few days ago. Two small pieces of tape held the envelope shut; the hand-printed black-inked words on three yellow sheets inside had been reviewed by more eyes than the sender’s.
The author, Shane Bell, is spending the rest of his life in the State Penitentiary for second-degree murder. On a cold December night in 2008, he killed Bobbi McClure and wounded her sister Tammy Anderson in Spearfish.
Another Day in Prison Begins
It is 6:30 a.m. again, time for breakfast. The cell door opens, lights turned on, and another day begins here at the South Dakota State Penitentiary, Jameson Annex.
I walk down the cold hallway to the chowhall like everyone else. I get in line wondering what poor quality meal they have for us today. I usually don’t eat much of it and give it to others who are hungry, been here ten years with the food getting worse.
I see what is on the tray of other prisoners. It looks like a biscuit with brown gravy on it, oatmeal in a bowl, a dab of butter on the tray, and a milk.
I don’t like this meal and ask others how it tastes. “It is cold” comes the reply, which is typical here. I ask if anyone wants more and after a few prisoners say no, a person at the next table says he will take it. The only thing I take is the milk and give the whole tray to him and leave the chowhall after I drink the milk.
Down the cold hallway back to my cell I go. I get to my cell and wait for my celly to return maybe 5 minutes later and shut the cell door. I now just wait for 7 a.m. standing count, so another day serving my life sentence begins again, 10 years in and the rest of my life to go.
My lunch break is almost done. I’ll step outside, buzz back up the street to work, clock in, and then choose the course of my afternoon from a variety of tasks that need to get done to keep my organization humming. Then I’ll come home, walk my dog, choose my supper, and go to bed when I feel like it.
I’ll also check my mail for more views from elsewhere.