From the New York Times Magazine. By SULEIKA JAOUAD. "Inked in tattoos from neck to knuckle, Kevion Lyman rose from his bunk at dawn, pulled scrubs over his skinny frame, stepped out of his cell and set out for work. The 27-year-old strolled down the long central hallway connecting the different wings of the prison, past the dining hall, the solitary-confinement unit for violent offenders and the psych ward. Pushing open the big steel doors, he reported for his morning shift in the hospice.
Great efforts have been made to differentiate the hospice from the rest of the prison: The windows have white shutters, root-beer floats are occasionally served, the walls are plastered in artwork and a plastic tree, left over from Christmas with green-and-red tinsel looping through its branches, lights up the entrance. These attempts to add cheer go only so far, of course. Shutters open onto iron bars. Correctional officers escort nurses as they make rounds with a medication cart. Inmate workers are frisked at the start and the end of their shifts. And until recently, the only outdoor space available to patients was a small chain-link-fenced patio nicknamed “the dog run.” The California Medical Facility, a medium-security prison in Vacaville, midway between San Francisco and Sacramento, houses general-population inmates as well as those with health conditions and specialized medical needs. It is home to 2,400 men — some young and healthy, others disabled and sick, and then those in the hospice, who are dying." Continue reading