I can only say from my experience.
I was in a cell. There are also dorms, and I haven’t been in a dorm.
I was in a 2-3 man cell (new guy had to sleep on floor).
I woke up around 5:30 AM or just before( you get used to it). Then there was a count.
At that point you had the option to go back to sleep until breakfast or do something else, such as watch the local news on T.V., work out or try to shower.
You could also read, or do something. I usually got up and started moving around.
Around 7 you’d do another count where they actually looked in you cell to see if it was in order, and then chow.
Have some breakfast. Then, the day started really. I had a job, so I’d wait around in my full uniform, to see if they came for me that day. Sometimes they didn’t come. (M-F). After that I’d chat with some people, mess around, play a few games of chess or whatnot and maybe read a little bit.
Then there’s another count: This is where you line up and the guards just come around and count every head they see, sometimes look in you cell or maybe give a speech about things in the unit going well or poorly.
Then Chow (lunch) This is around the time I came back from work on the days that I did go. Id eat, bargain with the food depending on what was on offer. (I liked to get an extra hamburger on Wednesday so I’d hustle that)
Then I’d work out for 2-3 hours about 3-4 times a week. After lunch until dinner was the best time for me. I hated waking up in jail so bad, but when it came nigh-time, it became like a whole viable world in there and I knew after I worked out that I’d be sleeping soon which was my favourite part of doing time.
Then dinner came. At this point everyone would be winding down, and if I didn’t do a late work out, I’d read by myself, or just take a shower and be clean and socialize, maybe casually shoot some hoops or take a walk around the unit. This is something that I did quite a bit. I’d just do laps around the unit with my headphones in, or more rarely, I’d walk around with another guy, just talking.
I should say that I read quite a bit. I read over 350 books while I was in for one year.
In addition I read countless magazine articles and newspapers.
In the morning or afternoon when I was waiting for work etc, I would do some work, or academic study. I would read biographies, or study some subjects like math, drawing, or random. I read and write letters around this time, and did crosswords, puzzles, and played a little chess.
Then in the evening after dinner, I would read a novel, or something fun, or light. In many cases this was actually literature, something that I could sink my teeth into more than T.V.
I hardly watched T.V., but there were some guys who basically did their whole time watching T.V. or sleeping.
The evening after dinner was the happiest time for me. Generally people were in a good mood. Although I am not religious, sometimes I woudl go out to the prayer circle that was held un the basketball court. I liked the positivity of it, and the guys, all would give one another a hug. Being in such close quarters all the time it just felt nice to have a positive prayerful space.
Then I’d hit the cell before we got locked down, just to be out of everyone’s way in the last run-up to lock down. I felt like I was being the cool guy who leaves the party early. I’d hit my bunk and grab a book, or write a love note to my wife.
They came and locked the doors at 1030 after I’d been laying down for a bit. My cellys all would stay out until the very last second, so in that last hour or so I had the place to myself to clean up the cell again (another constant activity) or use the bathroom, and brush my teeth by myself.
Then we’d have to sit there for another half hour until they came and counted us again through the cell door before we could turn off the lights and go to sleep. I had a reading lamp and would just lay there reading until my eyes got tired.
There are also highliths and benchmerks of certain days.
There is laudry night and then laundry day. You have to be present and get your clothes and sheets.
There is commissary day which is like Christmas, you get all your treats for the week (2weeks or more sometimes)
There are also the weekends which are a little better rules. You can be out of your cell more, and you didn’t have to go to work for most pwople.
There are visits which are amazingly huge.
There are phone calls. I always chose times when the phones were slow, and dragged a chair over there to chat with the wife or someone like my mom or brother.
THen there’s the usual killing time bullshit.
There’s shakedowns, when they come and ruin everyones day and schedule and everything by tearing up your cell and fucking up everyones trip.
There’s holidays which work in a similar way to the outside, people are just people, and Christmas hits everyone.
There’s a tremendous amount of sadness. Just writing this makes me feel so amazingly grateful that I’m not inside anymore and am not going back in. I make every decision predicated on not going back to that nightmare. It’s so easy to go in and so hard to get out.