The Effects of Doing Dead Time

The Effects of Doing Dead Time.
By: Ramiah A. Whiteside

For almost thirteen years I have been incarcerated. Over the years, I have seen different people do time in different ways. Some do good time and others lose good time. Some do hard time and get more time- Some do easy time while others do hole time- Quite a few try to do something constructive and positive with their time. unfortunately, there is only so much a person can do (constructively) to pass the time. Even the most determined person incarcerated, faces the challenges of avoiding doing dead time.

What is dead time?

"Dead Time" is unproductive and stagnant time. Time basically spent doing nothing. This kind of time is counter-productive and does not foster any growth or rehabilitation.

The effects of doing dead time are not limited to only effecting the prisoner. In addition to the effects of dead time on the individual prisoner, society is effected, the community is effected, the legal/ judicial system is effected, and the next generation is effected. The effects of dead time can be social, political, economical, financial, spiritual, and emotional. Dead time effects us all in one way or another.

For the individual, doing dead time severely limits their growth on all levels and stagnates or stops their rehabilitation. An individual doing dead time never accepts responsibility for their actions, some never even acknowledge they were wrong at all. Without accepting responsibility for their behavior/actions and acknowledging that they were wrong, these individuals will not challenge or change their behaviors. Without challenging or changing their behaviors, these individuals will continue to engage in them. For these individuals, doing dead time allows them to hide behind excuses. It allows them to point fingers elsewhere and blame-shift. The growth of an individual doing dead time is stunted on all levels. With no meaningful intellectual stimulation, the individual does not develop intellectually. "Connect Four" "Battleship" Spades, Cribbage, Dominoes, and other card or board games are simply "pacifiers." The same is true for television programs which only exploit the violent or dysfunctional elements of our behaviors. Doing dead time (ie..., nothing productive) equals nothing, which produces nothing but more of the same, which amounts to nothing. Emotionally, cognitively, the individual is stuck in the cycle of habitual patterns of behavior and thought patterns which put them in prison.

From an emotional perspective,if an individual who is violent or aggressive never learns alternative, more productive behaviors or ways to express themselves other than via anger, they will continue to be ill-tempered, violent-prone individuals on the inside or outside of prison. If these individuals are never taught how to genuinely accept or express love, compassion, empathy, or affection, they will continue to express what they know emotionally: anger, frustration, hate, bitterness, and disappointment. They will not be remorseful for their actions. They will not empathize with their victims. They will not see the "bigger picture" and will not connect with the world around them because the world around them does not matter to them. Just like these individuals were conditioned with learned behaviors which were negative, they have to be taught positive-constructive ways of interacting with the world around them. For them, doing dead time only feeds the beast.

Socially, an individual doing dead time never learns how to interact with the world and people around them in ways other than what they are accustomed to (aggression & violence). Instead of learning good communication skills and universal social skills and etiquette, individuals doing dead time only further perpetuate the "dumbing down of America," and further victimization. Economically, a person doing dead time learns no skills, no trades, and are not qualified for employment anywhere. This effects the workforce directly. With no economic savvy, these individuals will resort to whatever means they can to establish some financial stability (rob, steal, cheat, drug-selling, etc).

From a legal or judicial perspective, dead time promotes recidivism and rising crime rates. This is because the individuals who do too much dead time usually re-offend and return to prison. Sadly, individuals doing dead time increase their chances of being institutionalized because they perceive doing dead time in prison as better than doing hard time in the free world.

An individual doing dead time does not grow spiritually. They are unmotivated to break out of their comfort zone of doing dead time. They interact with others who are likewise doing dead time. Spirituality promotes thought and understanding on higher levels. Dead time only promotes stagnation and complacency.

Lastly, the community at large, society, and the next generation are all effected by dead time because all of the individuals doing such time will not be or become law abiding, tax-paying citizens, nor will they be or become sufficient role models. To the contrary, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens will have to continue to pay for such individuals doing dead time and such individuals model behaviors which help lead to an overworked legal system, which leads to an over-burdened judicial/court system, which leads to an overcrowded penal system.
Minimizing dead time within the prison system is key in finding a solution to many of the downfalls and pitfalls which we face individually and together.
Doing dead time only leads to a dead end.

Thank you for your time.
I welcome any and all feedback.

Respectfully, Ramiah A- Whiteside #243376
GBCI; PO Box 19033
Green Bay, WI 54307
Ramiah has full blog here.


  1. Anonymous5/21/2010

    are you able to take any classes in school, first of all get to know God, he can help you with all the stuff you are dealing with, you can'ts change what happened, but maybe when y ou get out you can speak at chuches and schools maybe you can keep someone else from making this same mistake. I read your story and it saddened me to read about your life. You must be carrying a heavy burden. please think about praying and asking gods forgiveness maybe someday you can forgive youself. pray for those families to forgive you. you can't change what happened, but maybe one day you can make difference in this world and someone else's life. PUT GOD IN YOUR LIFE. GOOD LUCK.

  2. Anonymous10/07/2010

    Hi Ramiah -
    You may not remember me, but my name is Tameka and I went to highschool with you. I googled your name and came across this blog. Reading it reminded me of the brillant young man I would compete with to see who could get the highest GPA. Stay incouraged.

  3. Anonymous10/18/2013

    What are your suggestions for those doing hard time so that it doesn't turn into dead time?