Are prison inmates allowed to sleep in?

I’m pretty sure the answer is no. But that got me wondering…why?

Googling daily routines in prison, it seems that inmates are required to get up very early in the morning (some cites list it as 4 am for some prisons!), and there is a set daily routine, even for those in lockdown (23 hours a day in cell).

Here is a cite:

Of course, for those with jobs it makes sense go make them get up and go to work, but what’s the point for those who will just spend all day sitting in their cells?

On what legal grounds can the prison force inmates to get up at dawn, if they’re prefer to sleep in? Of course I understand that you lose most of your legal rights in prison, but again, if you’re just confined to your cell all day anyway, isn’t it a little cruel to force them to get up that early - for nothing?

I’m not sure why it’s such an early schedule, but it makes sense to have a rigid schedule when you consider the large population of most prisons. For instance, when you have that many people who have to go to chow under the supervision of guards, well, you can’t just have someone sleeping in until 9 or 10 and then wanting breakfast. I imagine it would also help make prisoners more docile in that they supposedly don’t have control over any aspect of their lives.

Good points.

I guess I am thinking mainly of the inmates who are confined to their cells 23 hours a day. They don’t go to the messhall, or to work or anything else except for 1 hour in the exercise pen. Like in this link:

Quote: *"A typical day at Tamms:

Inmates stay in their cell 23 hours per day. Meals are served through a “chuck hole,” or feeding slot in the perforated steel door.

Yard privileges are allowed for some inmates for an hour per day. When allowed out of their cells for yard or a shower, each Tamms inmate must back up to the door and place his hands through the feeding slot. The door is then opened, and the inmate must kneel and be shackled. Two guards then accompany the prisoner with each keeping both hands on his body. The yard consists of a 30 feet long, 15 feet wide concrete enclosure with a mesh roof that allows some sky to be seen. Inmates are always alone in the yard. There is no recreational equipment and no toilet."*

Why control when they get up? There’s nothing for them to do anyway. If they’d rather skip breakfast and sleep in, why not let them?

Do they? That link shows a set schedule, but not for the prisoners in lockdown. Other than the schedule for recreation time and eating, it doesn’t look like they get woken up at a specific time.

I doubt those in their cells for 23 hours a day would be prevented from sleeping all day. In fact, considering that one of the symptoms of cabin fever is excessive sleeping, I bet they do a whole lot of it.

Edit: Beaten to it.

During my brief prison stay, I was surprised to find that prisoners wouldn’t allow other prisoners to sleep during the day; they would kick the bunk of the prisoner trying to sleep and yell “get up and do your time” at them. Mind you, this was in a low security general population area where the prisoners were able to interact in such a manner.

I once read a book written by a former prison guard at Alcatraz. From his account, it was basically the opposite - waking up another prisoner would make the other prisoners angry. The only time it was acceptable to make noise at night was if you were sick and needed to alert the guards. The guard said it was because the prisoners highly valued the time they had to sleep. That makes me think they were not allowed to sleep in. I suppose it varies from prison to prison.

A post from another thread

Aha! Makes sense. Does anyone know the answer to Submerged’s question about why the prisoner’s day starts so friggin’ early? An inmate at a state prison once told me lights out was at 10 p.m., and they had to get up at 4. Seems like it would make people crankier to get too little sleep, which can’t be good, not to mention less sleep=greater need for guards.

No prison I worked at ever started the day at 4 AM. There were situations where you might wake up some individual prisoners at 4 AM. For example if they were farm workers who had to go out and milk cows or kitchen workers who had to start getting breakfast ready or work release inmates who had to get to their jobs (one prison I worked at we drove the prisoners to the train station so they could commute into New York City). But the general wake-up time was usually six or seven.

Someone has to run the brokerage firms.

The law enforcement agency I retired from had a jail (please note I said jail, not prison. Jail and prison are different, though people can serve significant time in a jail). Sworn personnel could, on occasion, get called in from the road to work in the jail…:mad: (trust me on the “:mad:”! had I wanted to be a %$#@ing correction officer I would have tested for that position!)

Most inmates were awoken @ 6:30am for wristband inspection (an ID bracelet w/picture and info on them). Breakfast was @ 7am. Inmates refusing to eat were briefly questioned why. This is just to CYA that there was no medical problem. Inmate workers cleaned up but everyone else could sit in the “dayroom” and play games, watch TV, read, etc… Anyone who elected to go back to their cell and sleep had to do so on top of their sheets/blanket. They could not cover up and their cell door had to be open except for a temporary moment when they were using the toilet. @ about 12:30 lunch was served. Same drill. @ about 5pm dinner was served. Same drill. 3 times a day a nurse would come in and hand out meds, about twice a week a minister/priest would come in and waste his time.

The only inmates that got up earlier than 6:30 were Huber inmates that were kept in separate areas of the jail. And they didn’t care as they wanted to keep whatever job they had before they screwed up and ended up in jail.

I can’t believe prisoners’ sleep is so highly regulated. It strikes me as insane.

If I were in charge of a prison, there would be unrestricted sleeping time, and sedatives in all the food and drinks.

What could possibly be the downside of having all the prisoners sleeping rather than awake and scheming, stealing, assaulting, raping each other, brewing alcohol, smuggling drugs, tattooing each other with dirty needles, etc?

Well, pretty obviously the scheduling and supervision problems identified by Little Nemo. That, and the fact that people can’t sleep much more than 8-10 hours a day, so the sedative effect you are imagining just results in people up all night causing problems. Prisoners are not necessarily quiet souls who have a thought for their neighbours’ rest.

And there’s the discipline issue. If prisoners had the “right” to sleep in, they’d behave like every whiny adolescent when, for good reasons like regular bed and health checks, they were woken up.

For mine, never being able to sleep in would bust my nads something shocking. But I most certainly expect never to be doing time, so I doubt I will find out first hand.

Pretty sure there would be legal issues with drugging prisoners into unconsciousness.

And I’d rather have had prisoners sleeping than scheming, stealing, assaulting, raping each other, brewing alcohol, smuggling drugs, and tattooing each other with dirty needles. But it’s not an either/or situation. As Noel pointed out, people aren’t going to sleep for more than so many hours a day. That means they’ll have plenty of waking time for shenanigans.

The best solution I ever saw was when we let them buy TV sets for their cells. (That was at Attica.) It was great - all these guys wanted to do was lock in their cells and watch TV. They’d come out for meals and work.

I’d imagine if they’re trying to rehabilitate these guys, they’d want to get them used to a fairly regular schedule. If you get used to copious amounts of sleep and keeping erratic hours, you’ll end up as some weirdo who posts to message boards at 3 in the morning instead of a productive member of society.

I’m not sure how what you read rings opposite of what I described?

I knew a warder in a downstate Illinois prison and he said he was thrilled when the inmates smuggled in Valium as then it shut them up for days and made his job easier.

That reminds me of an interview with a prison warden I heard on NPR once, years ago. He said people were always complaining about inmates getting to watch TV, but TV lulled the prisoners into such a passive state, they could actually employ fewer guards, so it saved money.

Also, and this may not be part of the design at all, routines are rather helpful for helping you get through long periods of time. As they told us in Basic: Don’t worry about how long until you graduate. Just worry about how long until lunch, or lights out, or PT, or whatever. That way your day is chopped up into predictable chunks, instead of one long monotonous drag where you’re just lying in your bed staring at the ceiling for 5 to 20.

But I’d say the lion’s share is likely just for the sake of the guards’ schedules. It’s easier to figure out when everybody is working if you know when the prisoners are most likely to all be sleeping, instead of everybody being on their own unique sleep schedules.