- Associated Press - Sunday, June 29, 2014

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) - Jory Peters played on Gary West Side High School’s 2002 Class 4A state championship basketball team that went 23-4 and featured three Division I players.

Today, he sits almost unnoticed in a cell block at the all-male Indiana State Prison, sentenced to 55 years for first-degree murder.

Peters doesn’t have a name, anymore. He’s simply known as Offender No. 239215, with memories of those special high school years as his only link to the outside.

Indiana State Prison is for offenders whose sentences range from 30 to 50 years. Of the 14 men currently on death row in Indiana, 13 are housed at the Michigan City facility.

For many of the 2,452 men behind bars there, recreational sports help pass the time and keep them from going stir crazy.

Peters is no exception.

“The recreation department helps a lot in keeping your mind from being idle and stuck in one place,” Peters told The Times in Munster (http://bit.ly/1qupd20 ). “Sports helps you to compete so you still feel like a human being.”

Peters is in his ninth month at the prison. He is appealing his sentence.

Basketball is the most popular activity offered at the maximum security facility, and college teams that come to play the offenders are a highlight of the program.

“It’s the same great feeling you get in high school,” Peters said.

“You still get that adrenaline rush. If we didn’t have that recreation department, it would affect my mind. It would affect my heart. It would really damage me.”

Indiana State Prison, spread across 102 acres, is old. It opened in 1860 and cannot hide its age inside or out.

The recreation center currently is being renovated, with $18,000 spent on refurbishing the gym floor, while work on the steel support beams is being done by the prison’s steel and metal shop. Those costs are absorbed in-house.

“But once the gym opens up and teams start coming in, you’ll feel like somebody again,” said Peters, thankful for outside activities as an alternative.

Marcus Winphrie played basketball and football at Mishawaka High School. He is serving the sixth year of a 34-year sentence for kidnapping, aggravated assault, assault and escape.

Story Continues →