Whittle 1 Christopher R.
Whittle Professor John Gallagher ENG 102: English Composition and Literature II April 6, 2011 The Real Deal at Shawshank and its Replacement The Stephen King novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”, the first story in the book Different Seasons, takes place at a maximum security prison in Maine, an eerie one for that matter. People might think that because King is world renown for his horror stories, prison life at Shawshank State Prison would be too good to imagine, thinking that something toward this degree would be purely Hollywood, for which Warner Bros. Pictures received an Academy Award for best picture back in 1994 under the abbreviated title Shawshank Redemption (Kymchuk). Others would consider the work of King as pure entertainment for extreme mature readers, since the subject matter is very graphically sensitive to some. But regardless of what a person‟s immediate reaction when they hear or read the phrase “Stephen King”, one should reflect on answering these questions carefully and thoughtfully: Do you have a criminal record? Have you ever been arrested before? Have you ever spent some time in the county jail during the course of your lifetime? Do you possess experience forgetting to appoint a designated driver to transport you from the big birthday party, getting arrested on the very same Saturday night, spending the rest of the weekend in the slammer waiting to be arraigned in district court? Did you forget to check under the seats and in the trunk for marijuana or cocaine, and then get pulled over by a state trooper for a bad inspection sticker? Did the trooper ask “is your license okay?” Did you answer “Yes”, and upon a scan of your
Whittle 2 license he finds out you have a warrant for stealing a candy bar from 7-Eleven, so he arrested you? Upon searching the vehicle, did he see pot or coke in the trunk? Where you in Massachusetts at the time of the crime, where you were eventually sentenced to Walpole State Prison? Or were you in Maine, where you thought you were not going to get caught for an out-of-state inspection sticker? Do you believe that the most secure jail in Maine was mere fantasy and not actual American History? Well, that is not the case. While there is no municipality called Shawshank, Maine (AAA), there once was the Shawshank State Prison, not only in fiction but in reality as well. The original Shawshank existed from 1824 until February 2002 on a harbor at Thomaston, Maine, closing as the third oldest maximum security prison at the time. The replacement prison, now located in Warren, Maine, opened shortly thereafter at the sum of seventy-six million dollars (Corrections Digest). The facility holds consistently approximately nine hundred prisoners at any given time (Maine). In the novella Red, one of the main characters who was sentenced to Shawshank for a triple murder (King 15), was paroled in 1977 and obtained employment at a FoodWay grocery store with assistance from the parole board (King 104-5). Andy Dufrense, the vice president of the Portland Bank and Trust Company and double-murderer of his wife and a golf professional from Reno, Nevada instructing her (King 19), who escaped from prison on the evening of March 11-12, 1975 (King 84), prepared “the tax returns for… the screws at Shawshank” (King 51) and made rock sculptures: Andy continued to shape and polish the rocks he found in the exercise yard…Nonetheless, he found enough to keep him occupied, I guess…. Andy would give his stones and his rock sculptures away from time to time in order to make room for new ones. He gave me [Red] the greatest number, I think – counting the stones that looked the matched cufflinks, I had five (King 72).
Tommy Williams, a robber from Massachusetts who was arrested in Rhode Island, was transferred to a minimum security prison in Cashman, where he was employed as a potato picker to offset incarceration costs, and attended the Cashman Vocational Institute (CVI) to learn a trade for when he is released from prison (King 70). When the license plate factory needed some renovations, seventy prisoners volunteered to participate in the construction (King 40). These occupations may be commonplace in prisons throughout the world to combat boredom among the prisoners, but the Maine Department of Correction in real life has vocational opportunities for them, versus being one of the “many prisons in which there were practically no constructive activities to keep inmates busy” (Roberts 10). Operating since 1934, the Prison Industries Program, which is the state locale of the Federal Prison Industries (FDI), allows inmates to “profit” on skilled labor while they are serving their sentences, with the funds being paid to “the state for their „room and board‟ expenses, any crime restitution, and child support”. The showrooms where the furniture the inmates craft are sold number sixty across Maine, with the flagship Maine State Prison Showroom, located near the original Shawshank State Prison on Route 1 in Thomaston (Maine). With to that Regard, John W. Roberts states that: Stable work programs gave impetus to other program initiatives. Vocational training programs, for example, went hand-in-hand with work programs. Revenues generated by state-use manufacturing could be earmarked for education, recreation, or other forms of inmate programming (11). Whereas, the inmates like Red, Andy, and Tommy are able to receive the benefit of vocational and educational training to prepare for life after prison, play chess, or watch a movie at the correctional facility while “selling” their goods to the general public. The verb “selling” is in quotation marks because the prisoners themselves do not personally sell the products, just like manufacturers generally do not sell the products they personally assemble.
Whittle 4 While a prisoner is laboring in the field, he does not receive any health or life insurance, and does receive a just wage due to his punishment. Just like the People‟s Republic of China: Prisons create new markets for law enforcement technology, provide cheap labor for corporations, add to the census of depopulated rural counties, disenfranchise poor and minority people, and lower official unemployment statistics (Rhodes 10). As one can imagine, the prison population does not receive the minimum wage that a free civilian would receive as required by law, and again, creates a product that is not created by the hard-working civilians in a trade union or guild for a just wage that supports an all American family. Rather, the labor is performed by people who are at the same class as a communist or third-world, developing nation, where irregularities are the name of the game. At that point, there is no set amount of money that can be considered to be a living wage, and prisoners are stealing positions from morally behaved citizens that deserve them. The new Warren State Prison also provides mental health and rehabilitation services for those inmates who need it, especially those transferred from Shawshank who really should have been sentenced to a residential program. Paul Davis, a former Maine state trooper, later the Maine Senate Minority (Republican) Leader, questions the increase of adult male incarcerations in the Maine prison system: “I wonder if it is a good policy to have so many people incarcerated, especially nonviolent prisoners” (Rosenbloom). Is it really a superb idea to have people lockedup with the keys thrown away for every little offense, making them wear black and white prison stripes on a long-term basis? (Herman). Little is described of the location or physical area where Shawshank was situated by Stephen King, but the Academy Award winning motion picture, released under the title Shawshank Redemption by Warner Bros. Pictures, depicts the prison as a spooky place (see picture). The movie scenes were actually shot at a closed, historic facility, the Ohio State
Whittle 5 Reformatory, in Mansfield, Ohio. Locally known as Mansfield State Prison, this ancient Germantic castle was built from 1886-1910 Levi by T.
Schofield. Despite being known as a “Germantic castle”, the architecture is actually Romanesque revival. The prison closed in 1990, and is now a museum, with tours being conducted
The Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield Ohio Courtesy of Shawshank Remdemption.com
by the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society. Additional scenes of the prison were videographed at the Mansfield Warehousing and Distribution Center in Mansfield, Ohio, the Stephan Lumber Company and Myers Laundry, both in Upper Sandusky, Ohio (Kymchuk). Based on some striking literary and cinematic observations, Patricia Cook states that “most people also know that Hollywood takes liberties with stories, for dramatic or comedic effect, time, or other considerations” (1). With that saying, stories are changed all the time, for which could vary for cultural reasons where the production is released. One example could be the release into an Arab country featuring the Islamic custom of mens‟ head coverings. Another example might be that it could take four hours to read a one hundred page short story, but have no patience viewing the silver screen for every word, word-for-word, in the novella for four hours. Looking at text is plain the majority of the time, and if you do not have a clue what the words stand for, it might be time to have a dictionary handy. On the opposite, looking up every single word in a given passage in the dictionary (whether online or print) is very time
Whittle 6 consuming, and is not acceptable for high school and college students, who should know several words, provided they are familiar with the genre or theme of the text. People back in the glory days of Shawshank could have been incarcerated at Shawshank if they committed very serious crimes. People believe that Shawshank was just a place that King made up, but it was his inspiration (Corrections Digest). The prison life from yesterday and today make take place in a new setting, but life in prison is the same wherever you are jailed. Life is tough if you are innocent. It is really rough if you are guilty and a habitual offender. Life in prison is no fun, and no one wants to be there. Reading a book or watching a movie may seem like fun and games, but if you are an inmate, property of the state correctional system, it is no comedy whatsoever, since you have no freedom. Every time a person goes to prison, he costs you, the taxpayer, thousands of dollars per year for one person. State budgets across the country have trouble being balanced, and it is not funny when somebody sins and has to be locked away for a long period of time. Yet again, people misbehave, and they are sent to prison for the smallest of offenses and cannot get a job due to the fact they have a criminal record. To make matters worse, “prisons have become a substitute for traditional industries, offering middle-class, union-protected wages to rural people facing globalization and diminishing employment opportunities” (Rhodes 9). Some will say that they will (change their) plea to “guilty” so they will get away with shorter jail sentence, knowing (or thinking) that prison life will not be that of in the Warner Bros. film. Well, that is not always the case. Prison life is extremely treacherous, especially at a maximum security facility. If someone is misbehaving in prison, they are placed into solitary confinement or isolation, which no person imaginatively would appreciate.
Whittle 7 If you are being held waiting to stand trial, good luck, because it is very difficult to escape in real life in the chaotic world that all people reside today. Andy Dufrense may have escaped from prison and was a fugitive never found, but in real life, fugitives like you will in all probability be found and surrender to more criminal charges to an already thick file folder. Yes indeed, fugitives do escape prison today and are never captured, but it unlikely that you will escape today because a Department of Homeland Security was established by the United States Government as a reaction toward the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and keeping innocent citizens safe and secure. Therefore, the moral of the story is not to fanaticize and to live up to one‟s moral expectations. Good behavior results in rewards, such as a high-paying career, salary, a newlyminted automobile, a flat screen plasma high definition television, and a profitable parcel of real estate. Bad behavior results in debts, which include, but not limited to, credit card debt, alcoholism, tobaccoism, narcotics, poisons, and all other vices that lead up to traffic violation notices and arrests, which consequent into jail time and probation, where the latter you cannot leave the county where you committed the crime you were convicted of.
Whittle 8 Works Cited AAA. Interstate Road Atlas. Williamston: Universal Map, 2003: 26. Print. Cook, Patricia. “Shawshank Redemption: Book vs. Movie: What‟s Different between the Original Story and the Movie?” Associated Content. 2011. Accessed 3/24/2011. HTML. Herman, Peter G. (ed.) “Editor‟s Introduction”, The American Prison System. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 2001: 3. Print. King, Stephen. “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”, Different Seasons. New York: Signet, 1983: 15-107. Print. Kymchuck, Joel. Shawshank Prison.com. 2010; Accessed 2/28/2011. HTML. “Maine: „Shawshank‟ Prison ends 178-year history”, Corrections Digest. 2/15/2002. Accessed 2/28/2011 on All Business.com. HTML. Maine, State of. “Maine State Prison”, Department of Corrections: Industries. Augusta: 2005. Accessed 2/28/2011. HTML. Rhodes, Lorna A. Total Confinment: Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004: 9-10. Print. “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”, Bookrags. 2011; Accessed 3/28/2011. HTML. Roberts, John W. “A Century‟s Legacy: Five Critical Developments in the Evolution of American Prisons, 1900-2000”, Corrections Today. 8/2000; reprinted in The American Prison System, ed. Peter G. Herman. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 2001: 5-16. Print. Rosenbloom, Joseph. “The Shawshank Succession”, Prospect. 12/1/2003. Accessed 2/28/2011. HTML.