The Princess and the Pea

princess and pea
A stack of prison mattresses like this would look like heaven to most inmates.  

In the fairy tale the princess was a very sensitive sleeper and could feel a pea under a stack of mattresses.  She certainly would have been unable to sleep at all in the MDOC.  I used to think my college dormitory mattress was bad until I tried to sleep on a prison mattress.

Prison mattresses like everything else are constructed from materials that are inflammable.  They are simple constructions without box springs that fit the metal frame bunkbeds. The mattresses are manufactured by MSI (Michigan State Industries- a prison factory owned and operated in conjunction with the MDOC).  These mattresses are nothing to write home about, except I guess I am.  A few years ago, under the Granholm administration the MDOC contracted an empty prison to the state of Pennsylvania to house their prisoners.  One of several things that they found unacceptable and required to be changed was the mattresses.  As a result, MSI changed from the 3-inch thick solid fill to a 5-inch foam filled style mattress.  While the state of Pennsylvania left in a year, MSI continued to make the new mattress.  The unit counselor is responsible for ordering supplies for the housing unit and has a budget to order replacement mattresses to replace those that are ripped and torn. getting a new mattress is like winning the lottery.  The counselors always wanted to come in under budget so items like mattresses got ordered only under the most extenuating circumstances.

Cotton filled Mattresses are produced using a 12.5 oz. Light Green Colored Sure-Chek Vinyl Ticking, filled with fire-retardant treated cotton and tufted with a nylon tuft with plastic ends to prevent cotton from shifting.  These tufts will not trigger metal detectors or give a false reading when scanned and are visible on our outer tufted mattresses.  Inner tufted mattresses are preferred and highly recommended for                                                                                  more sanitary and durability concerns. 
                                                                         Product#  3282
                                                                         Type inner tufted
                                                                         Size 30″ x 76″ x 4″   
                                                                         Price: $67.80  

Michigan State Industries Website

Whenever a bed opens up, the first thing that happens is someone will check to see if the mattress on the empty bunk is better than the one they have.  It is a game of musical mattresses. Guys going home might even will their mattress to a friend.  For those less fortunate it may be a case of turning the mattress over and end to end in the vain quest to find the least uncomfortable set of lumps to sleep on.

At my last facility cost cutting got so involved that instead of replacing worn out mattresses the old ones simply had new covers sown unto them to cover up the worn, ripped and torn covers leaving the lumps.  It was obvious that the person who made this decision never tried to sleep on one of these old mattresses.

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