Freedom to read books all day.

Stephen Watt at SeaTac Federal Detention Center in 2011.

“I realize now that the one solace I took in prison was not the freedom to read books all day, but the lack of freedom to do anything BUT read books all day. I really miss that.” ~ Stephen Watt, a former software engineer and a former inmate at SeaTac Federal Detention Center. 

“You may wonder what it’s like for an inhabitant of the digital world to live without access to the Internet. My analog life lasted about three and a half years. As a condition of pretrial release, I was mostly technology-free in the time leading up to incarceration; any personal electronic privilege was considered too dangerous a risk for society. I was prohibited from using Internet-accessible devices of any sort or from instructing another person to use one on my behalf. This included not being permitted to ask my wife or mother to add a movie to my Netflix DVD queue for me.

This luddite excursion was not terrible for any denial of convenience, but rather because of my inability to acquire information. Hearing a reference to an unfamiliar name or a historical event and not being able to look it up (Oh, Wikipedia!) is a curse for anybody with even a minimal sense of curiosity.”