The Cell | Essay | Chicago Reader

The Cell 

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Age: 40

Occupation: Meatpacker

Rooms: Three. Rent: $500

Location: Bridgeport

How long in the apartment: Two weeks. On parole from state prison, where he spent most of the past eight years for burglary.

Housewarming Gifts: Lawn chair from his sister. Computer from a friend of his mother. From his mother, the VCR he'd given to her to replace another one he'd stolen: "Then I stole the replacement." She got it back, then gave it to him when he moved in.

Not Pictured: A scrapbook contains newspaper reviews and ads for the Led Zeppelin tribute band he played bass in before going to prison. Also contains two certificates earned in prison education programs, one for graphic arts, the other for horticulture.

Not Pictured II: Monitor for his ankle bracelet. If he's out of range (500 feet) during an unapproved time the monitor sends a signal to a satellite. If he remains out long enough (four hours), he's subject to arrest.

Approved Schedule: Leave apartment for work Monday through Friday between 5:30 AM and 6:30 PM and Saturdays from 5 to 10:30 AM. Allowed "personal movement" on Sundays from 10 to 4, when he does his laundry and shopping. Gets a little extra movement on holidays.

His Schedule: Bed at 10, up at 4:30 to be at work by 6 AM.

In His Own Words: "I like to have a cup of coffee, have a cigarette, take a shower. I'm not one of those get-up-and-go guys. My mother asks me, 'Why don't you take a shower the night before?' I don't know, I just don't like being dirty. I want to start clean."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Lloyd DeGrane.

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