Walk A Mile in My Shoes – I Dare You

My Shoes

This is my last pair of shoes that I bought while I was in prison.  I walked a lot of miles in these shoes.

In prison “shoe” is a four-letter word.  The shoes provided as part of the uniform are terrible. Unlike the rest of the uniform the shoes are not manufactured by MSI.  Back in the day the shoes were made of durable materials.  I saw a few of the old timers still wearing them. Leather uppers and soles that polished to a spit shine like a military dress shoe.  The shoes today are constructed of cheap, inferior materials that don’t last six months with daily wear and they hurt your feet.

I have plantar fasciitis and out in the world I wore special shoes and custom arch supports. If I didn’t already have bad feet, wearing prison shoes have ruined my feet like they did so many others.  I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase athletic shoes from a catalog vendor and could avoid wearing uniform shoes except when required to wear them like during visits or off-site transportation.

In order to deal with my foot problems, I bought a new pair of athletic shoes every six months.  I could not get insoles and frequently replaced my shoes at the first signs of wear to prevent trouble.  I routinely power walked 5 – 10 miles per day to exercise and reduce stress, so I needed good shoes. First, the state shoes provided no arch support or insole padding to cushion your step.  And secondly, to get new shoes from the Quarter Master without being charged for them they would need to look like cartoon shoes with the sole half separated from the upper and flapping as you walked.  I tend to pronate when I walk and only wear out the inside edge of the heal prematurely.


Rugged smooth finish leather
Anti-bacterial leather lined
Cushioned insole and arch
Resilient synthetic sole
Color: Black

Product# 2428 – Men’s

Size: 4 – 16

Price: $23.00

Michigan State Industries Website

The only truthful thing about this advertisement is the color of the shoe is black. The shoe was of inferior quality, uncomfortable, provided no arch support and the sole was certainly not resilient.

Diabetics were the only ones that could get special shoes through Medical and those were just black athletic shoes.  Those were also of cheap construction and the soles would become unglued from the uppers. (Good luck getting Medical to get you a replacement pair.)  At least they could wear these shoes for visits and off-site transportation.

For the majority of inmates’ state shoes were the only option.  I never could figure out how guys could job or even walk the track in them let alone play sports like basketball or softball, but they did.  There was a brisk trade in used athletic shoes for those who didn’t have the $60 in their trust account to buy a new pair.  For 2 – 3 bags of coffee you could get a pair to wear until it was time to ride out because the shoes wouldn’t be on your property card and had to be left behind.  I made it a practice to give away my old shoes to someone less fortunate who could benefit from them.  The first time I did this it brought tears to the guy’s eyes.  Only in prison is the gift of used athletic shoes considered a blessing, but the alternative was to curse the state shoes with every step you took.

As bad a prison shoes are they are still a step up from the county jail where the foot wear consisted of open-toed shower shoe flip flops.  I once was forced to wear them outside in the middle of the winter in a snow storm to attend court.  These shower shoes were heavily used and abused; worn, cracked and torn, and frequently not even a matched set.  They aren’t cleaned or sterilized between inmates, simply recycled.  You picked them out of a pile simply hoping to find a left and a right in the same size.

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