Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Name Calling

Sometimes given names aren't the worst. Parents can saddle their children with some hideous burdens for names, but occasionally the names we give ourselves are the worst. Almost everybody on the prison grounds has a "yard name". It's either something they've thought up themselves or sometimes it's something they've gotten stuck with unintentionally. We see alot of the gang-related hip-hop sort of handles like D-Boy and J-Dawg (everybody wants to be named something-dawg for some stupid reason) and E-Cat. And regional names like Eastside and Detroit and Los Angeles. There was a kid once who called himself Russia, trying to sound exotic. I know a couple of words in russian and they are insults and he didn't understand either one of them. Turned out he was from Ohio. And of course, there's a thousand guys named Slim. And we gots a bazillion Big this and Little that.

Occasionally someone will try to make up a name for themselves and it comes out sounding completely stupid. We had a couple of guys several years ago who called themselves Sandman and White Knight. Sounded like CB handles. They slung those names around like they were somebody and everyone should know who they were. We did. They were two of the most pathetic losers I had ever come across.

Some of the names are self-explanatory. When you meet a man named Miss Anne, or Kiki or Precious or Lucy then you know exactly who you are talking to. If you run across some buzzed out freak with no teeth calling himself Meth Head you can just say "Yup" and move on.

But some of the names are repulsive to say the least and would be insulting under any circumstances. If you walked up to someone out on the streets and called them Fat Bastard or Donkey Mouth or Creep they'd probably smack you right in the beezer. But inside the fence it's just fine. I've been called some nasty names, but none of them ever stuck.

In the old days nicknames weren't quite so harsh. Of course there was Creepy Carpis and Fat Tony (who could forget Fat Tony?) but we also had Pretty Boy Floyd and Machine Gun Kelly and Legs Diamond and Lucky Luciano and Bugs Moran. Just don't call him Bugs to his face.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Watching People Work

We have someone new in our house. One of the yard dogs has come to play with us. I'll call him "Big H", or just BH for short. Seems like a decent enough cat. When he was out on the yard he was always coming down to do our escorts and stuff and he appears to not mind working, which is a good thing. Yesterday I had the desk job and today he took it. I asked him if he really wanted it, tuesday being one of our busiest days. He said he'd give it a try. "But" he said "If we get slammed, you'll have to help me out, probably." I said I would help if he needed it and toddled off to start AdSeg committee and such. The things we get hammered with on tuesdays. I looked in now and then and BH seemed to be doing fine.

It turns out that I really don't like watching other people work. It drives me crackers. Not that was doing a bad job or anything. He was doing fine. But he wasn't doing things in the order that I would have done them and in the time I would have done them. I kept seeing things not done and running in and doing them for him. And I had forgotten that he'd only done the desk two or three times and didn't know everything. I'd run in and say "Where's the (insert thing here)?" And he'd say "I didn't know we did that!" That happened several times during the day.

I'm not a very good teacher, either. I don't have the patience. I'd rather just do it myself than teach someone how and I shouldn't be like that. Alot of that stems from having so many staff there who don't give a rats a** and are more than happy for you to do it if you know how. BH is trying to learn the job and I should have more patience. Unfortunately, patience is not something I have an overabundance of at this time.

I really should do something about that. I think I need to relax.

Yeah. I'll write that on my "to do" list.

We got through the day okay and nothing got screwed up. Well, not more than usual, anyway. I think BH will work out fine. But I purely do hate watching someone else work.

Man! I'm glad it's my friday......

Monday, December 29, 2008

And Time Flies Like An Arrow

Five years and six months ago I started work with the DOC. Seven moths ago I went from evening shift to days. Only four months ago I discovered blogs, blogging, and all the merry blogsterizers out there. It seems much longer than that. I feel like I've been sitting here doing this for years. Of course, if I had been, I'd probably be able to think of much more things to say.

I need to start keeping notes and occasionally writing a few entries ahead for these dry days when nothing much happens.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Blustery Day

No poo. Or Pooh. No bees, hunny, rabbit, piglet or owl either. But a blustery day nonetheless. Last week this time we had freezing rain and sleet. Today was almost seventy degrees outside. Unseasonably warm and unseasonably dangerous. I believe we might still be under a tornado warning. Was hotter than hell out in the wings and I went down to turn the big heaters off. The whinebags in the cells started crying and cursing me. Quoth one knucklehead "Hey you fat bit**! Turn the fu**ing heat back on!" I hope the poor wee lad isn't too cold tonight. There's a few CO's that don't know where the heat controls are. I hope they are all on shift tonight.

Pretty much a nothing day. I needed one of those.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Time Well Spent

Time well, spent, indeed. This is where the big bada** CO turns into a little kid. My dad and stepmom know that I have kind of a thing for dragons. SO I get alot of dragon stuff. They got me the big dragon book on the lower left for my birthday back in october and the other two for christmas. The other big one contained twelve cardboard dragon models. The kind you have to fit the slots together.... you know. They were kind of a pain to do with these big clummocky fingers I got but my daughter has long slender fingers and she helped out "poor old dad" with his toys. Together we spent a few hours going through the books and putting the models together. I think she actually had more fun doing that than playing guitar hero. But she wouldn't admit to that in a bazillion years.

Tomorrow I get to go back to being a professional jerk. Today I got to play with models and figure out puzzles and get beat at wii bowling by my daughter. Snap, she even beat me at wii golf! Me! I may never live it down.......

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

The first time in five years I have had off for christmas. If you don't count the year I was sick for two days. I'm just glad I'm here and not there, for a change.

Hope you all have a very merry christmas, hanukkah, kwanzaa, or whatever it is you celebrate.

I'm looking forward to a silent night.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Black Tuesday

'Twas the day before the day before Christmas and all through the house....... everything and everybody was freaking nuts. I have a real love/hate relationship with tuesdays. Tuesday is my friday, and it's the busiest day of my week.

The head pshrink lady came down and saw all the offenders on suicide watch and close obs. She released three of them completely off watch, since their actions were mostly behavioral rather than actual mental issues, and left the one guy with real mental issues on close obs. This included PB, who got all of his clothes and his property back. We thought maybe he had learned his lesson and was going to behave himself and lay down and do his time.

As soon as she was done we started the AdSeg committee. Whew. Twenty four inmates to pull out and interview. Only one of them got stupid and had to be "escorted" back into his cell. I kept waiting to hear a "thump"...... but he went back fairly peacefully despite the fact that his pie hole flapped open the whole way back. Some people never learn not to bite that hand the "literally" feeds them.

I was on the desk, btw. The whole boards and breakdowns and computers and number juggling thing. Snap. I've still got eraser spoogles under my fingernails.

As soon as they are done they bring me the list of those offenders being released from the house. Seventeen of them. Yikes!

Oh, and while all this was going on, the phone kept ringing and they were steadily locking people up. I believe ten lockups while I was there with two more on the way as I was leaving. It was a real juggling act going on out in the sallyport and another involving numbers and files and paperwork in the office. My numbers changed so many times I almost erased through the paper and I have a crick in my neck from writing and holding the phone to my ear at the same time.

And during all of this PB gets the idea first that he's going to be released, since he's no longer on suicide watch. He demands to go to a regular house. When we explain that he's racked up enough violations to be with us until march, he's not real happy. Then he says there are other people in the cell with him (there aren't and he knows it) and he demands to be moved to another cell with a real cellie. This kid has just not figured out that making demands isn't going to work for him. That doesn't work either. So he smears food (just peanut butter this time) on his cell camera. It's my guess he'll be back on suicide watch before I come back on friday.

I could have kissed the third shift guys when they came in. If I didn't think they'd like it and get the wrong idea, I might have. (grin)

Thus ended tuesday/friday. Me, I'm gonna hibernate for the next two days.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Quite A Fine Mess!

Oh what a day we had. The regular bubble guy took another day off, the evil basticule, and I got stuck up there again. And we were busy. Nothing crazy, just one thing after another. People coming and going. And I firmly believe they watch from the office for my butt to hit that chair and they all decided to run in different directions. I hit the ground running from the word "go" and didn't stop until I left.

About nine thirty I noticed there was water dripping from the ceiling right above my door. I climbed up above the bathroom and stuck my head up through the ceiling tiles and could see a valve that was leaking pretty fast. I called and let the Sarge know and he called maintenance. They show up about 11:45, right when we're in the middle of feeding lunch and doing med pass, of course. They shut off all the water in the house (which they had to do, there being insufficient cut-off valves anywhere) and drain down the lines. Well, it's a big building and it takes awhile for the lines to drain down. Eventually one guy says "It should be okay, go ahead and cut it." The dude up top cuts the line and water proceeds to spew everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It floods out the bathroom and maybe a quarter of the bubble where I'm standing. And of course the bubble is full of all kinds of electrical equipment, including the main breaker panels for the whole house. Oh snap! I'm looking down at the little rubber mat I'm standing on and hope it will protect me.

Well the water finally quits and the whole bubble is steamy and of course, nothing stopped in the house while I was dealing with that. I didn't really expect it to, but it would have made my life a whole lot easier. My windows were foggy and I couldn't hear above the noise of the water and the stupid inmates were all screaming "Turn our water back on, a**hole!"

I was so pleased.

Took them a couple of hours, but they finally got it fixed and the water turned back on and they left to go deal with some frozen pipes. I got a mop from our dorm worker and started trying to clean up the mess. I mopped and wrung and mopped and wrung and swept water and bits of soggy ceiling tile and insulation out the door until the next shift came on. And of course, people were still running in and out like it was all I had to do was open the freaking doors for them. Finally I got BA to come up and run the bubble while I cleaned. (your secret's out btw, dude) With his help I managed to get most of the carnage swept away.

I'm tired.

Tomorrow I get to go do it all over again. Yay!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Keeping My Hopes Up

My old job on evening shift has come back up for bid. Still in the Adseg unit, just on a different shift and doing different things. Taking the knuckleheads outside for recreation. It was what I did for four years before coming to day shift. It's not a bad job, in retrospect. I was getting pretty tired of doing rec all the time. But after the craziness of day shift it will probably seem like a vacation.

It's funny. I think in the long run I worked harder and more constantly on evenings. And I had alot more "hands on" contact with the offenders (and thus more uses of force) than I have right now on day shift. On an average day we took out four rounds of eight offenders out to the rec yard. That's thirty two times putting the cuffs on and taking them off. Add a medication pass or sometimes two and you might double that. One real busy day I counted that I applied and removed seventy sets of handcuffs.

But I'm alot more stressed on day shift. Too many eyes watching to see if all the i's are crossed and the t's are dotted, I guess. On evenings if we didn't screw up, we never saw anybody else all shift some nights. A lieutenant might wander down every now and then if the weather's nice to see how things are going. But for the most part, they left us to do our job because they knew we knew how to do it. There's only a couple people left out of my old crew down there now. If I get the job, I'll have to see how they work and how I can work myself back in with them. And I'd have to change my sleeping habits all over again. Gonna be a cranky Rev.

I hope I get the job. It will probably be at least a week before I know if I got it or not and another two weeks after that before I start.

It's going to be a long week. Or possibly three.

A Lesson Learned (maybe)

A lesson learned on both sides of the door. PB (The inmate formerly known as Poop Boy), has laid down and behaved himself for right about twenty four hours, so far. Maybe the combination of being naked except for his home made garnish for several hours and the meal loaf has taught him that being an idiot will not look good on his resume'. And we, apparently, in the business of the day, neglected to fill out the Alternate Meals Request Form yesterday. Snap! I'm not pointing fingers or blaming anyone. I'm as much at fault as anyone for not catching it and making sure it was done. So PB gets to go back to bag lunches with cheese sandwiches and cookies. He only got nine meals of the loaf instead of going on to eighteen more. Our fault. Now that we've caught it, that won't happen again.

And, if the lesson gets forgotten in the next thirty days, we can go right back to the loaf again with no problems. Hopefully we won't have to. Most days I can do without the extra drama. Having to raise 175 of someone else's children for eight hours a day is often enough drama for me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Poop Boy Strikes Again!!!

The little snit was at it again this morning. Right after the Pshrink came down to see him and he went back into the cell. I looked up at the camera, and there he was painting again. And on my monday, too. The little creep. We called the lieutenant who said "We'll get it cleaned up... eventually." Let him sit in the stink for awhile and then about the time we were going to get him out for a shower and cleaning, he covered the window of his cell door with his smock and blanket. Nobody really wanted to rush in on him, since he was covered in poop, so they did the next best thing: They opened the chuckhole in the door and pulled the smock and blanket out and left him in there wearing nothing but poop.

Plus, he got himself on the meal loaf. I'll bet that was a new experience for him. Don't know if I've mentioned the loaf before. Here's the recipe:
Take EVERYTHING that goes in the meal, ie: entree, salad, soup, starch, dessert and drink.
Put it ALL in a blender set on "puree" and whizzz it into a soupy glop.
Pour the resulting gunk into a loaf pan and bake until golden brown.
Place into the freezer until almost frozen.
Serve cold.

Works every time. It's hideous. Worse than Borscht, which if you don't know is a cold beet soup. Vile stuff. Hardly anybody can eat it and not gag. Maybe russians or hardcore Scots. I imagine anyone who could eat haggis could eat the loaf. But not me. Tried a bite once. Phew! Nassy.

Anyway, as it turns out we had a hard time locating the biohazard worker and it took a couple of hours before we could get him there to clean up the mess. And poor PB was in there with nothing but his birthday suit and chocolate frosting to keep him warm. It was so pitiful it was like watching christmas shows on Lifetime Channel. I nearly had to smile, I felt so bad.

Lunch today would have been his last meal on the loaf, but his little trick this morning earned him another eighteen meals of it! Oh, the humanity! (grin)

And the little snit better behave tomorrow because I'm going to be down there dealing with him myself. Not in the mood for poop, thank you....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And I'd Like To Thank.....

Everyone who has been reading this.  You guys have really kept me going.  This thing first started out as just a rant and relief to let me blow off steam.  Now thanks to you guys it's become something a little more. 

The picture above is from my Statcounter account.  My "recent visitors" map.  It shows me who has been visiting and where they are from.  I check it from time to time and it always makes me smile.  I'm getting to where I can recognize some of my regular readers, like Bad Actor and Auntie and Donna and Loopy and g and Guy by their isp.  And I see alot of repeat readers who are there regularly, even if I don't know who they are.

It seems I have some hardcore readers up in Michigan.  I've seen many repeat visits from Talor, Detroit (Go Motor City!), Eastpointe, Flint and Lapeer.  Yeah!  Hope you guys aint frozen in up there.

And in the Great Pacific Northwet I've got regular readers in Washington from Kennewick, Arlington, Everett, Mukilteo, Kent, Elma, Onalaska (Onalaska?), PeEll (?), and Winlock.  And down in Oregon I've got my regulars all the way from Warrenton (warntn), Astoria (of course) and all the way down to Brownsville.

And of course, I've got my regulars here in the Midwest Lead Bible Belt.  Kansas and Missouri and Arkansas and Kentucky and Illinois.  Even a few more here and there from Toronto and Gatineau Canada and all the way down to Houston, Texas, Spring Hill and Hobe Sound, Florida and Torrance and Sunnyvale, California.

I just want to say you guys rock and thanks for letting me vent.  I couldn't have done it without you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Don't Get Me Wrong

I may have come off a little heavy-handed on that last post.  Reading back and it looks like all I want to do is beat up inmates.  That's not me at all.  If you ask anyone I work with, I'm usually the last one to resort to violence.  I spend wayyy more time avoiding that kind of thing than I do condoning it.  I consider that to be the very last resort.  There's a thing called the "Use of Force Continuum" and it outlines the steps that should be taken in dealing with an offender.  The steps are:

Psychological (when just being there is enough)

Verbal (saying "Stop!" and making it work)

Soft Empty Hand (taking them by the arm and pulling them away without resistance)

Hard Empty Hand (grabbing, bending, putting on the ground, etc)

Pepper Spray (making them cry)

Intermediate (hard blows, kicks and "environmental" weapons)

Deadly (self-explanatory.  Really hope I never have to use that one)

In all my time I've never gotten past Pepper Spray.  Hope to never need to.  But I'm always prepared, just in case.  You just never know how some of these knuckleheads are going to react.  A few of my felloow staff have been hurt severely because they weren't prepared to react.  Not like I'm always "on guard" because sometimes I get caught off base and don't react in time, at least in retrospect.  That last little fracas, for example.  The one where I hurt my finger with the cuffs.  If I would have contained him a little sooner, it wouldn't have happened.  A couple of people who watched the video remarked on that and I agreed.  But hindsight is always 20/20.

The point of it is, I don't go inside every day looking to kick a** and take names.  I go in looking to go home in eight hours with all of my skin still intact.  But I also go in with an eye towards making things easier for both myself and other staff and if that includes making one of those little knuckleheads cry and maybe even bleed, then so be it.  They make their choices and we have to make ours.  I'm not going to go in and beat up an inmate just because he pisses me off.  But if he makes a choice that endangers myself, other staff or even state property and chooses to escalate or refuses to de-escalate the situation, then I'm going to do my damndest to make sure that he pays the consequences for his actions.

I just wanted to clear that up.  I'm not a violent person.  But even a pacifist will come out swinging if you back him into a corner.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

He's Just Misunderstood

Yeah, right.

Got really really pissed off today. Really mad. Managed not to break anything or anyone. Just went outside and smoked and paced and froze and paced and smoked until I was too cold to be mad anymore and went back inside.

Young knucklehead from the other day started playing his games again. The Head Pshrink came down to see him this morning and recommended that he be given a mattress so he can lay down and be more comfortable, but told him that his behavior would determine whether or not he got to keep it. So he had a suicide smock, a suicide blanket and a plain foam mattress in the cell and nothing else. But it was more than he had the night before. About an hour later we notice that his cell camera was covered with something. An officer went into the wing and came back to report he'd smeared the camera and his cell with his own brand of tempura paint. To be more precise, he used sh*t.

Sarge and I and another officer went in and he stated "If you touch me, I'll throw sh*t on you." I was ready to go in and show him that wasn't a real good idea, but cooler heads prevailed and we got him out and put on the restraint bench to get his cell cleaned. The decision was made to put him back in the cell once it was cleaned without the mattress. Well, just like the other day he refused to go back into the cell and started making demands. He wanted a shower, and a mattress and a new blanket and a cup to drink out of and something besides tap water to drink.

There's a big sign in the main control center that states "WE DO NOT NEGOTIATE IN HOSTAGE SITUATIONS". I've taken that to heart. When an inmate backs into a corner and starts making demands, I've always cut them off and said "No. You give me what I want and you won't get hurt. End of discussion." It's always worked up to this point.

So here was this little knucklehead basically taking my restraint bench hostage and making demands. Me, I was ready for almost any scenario from leaving him there til his legs froze off to picking him up and planting him firmly back in the cell. But I wasn't in charge. Another Pshrink was coming down to talk to him so they left it in his hands.

This other Pshrink finally comes wandering in and talks to the kid for half an hour or so and the upscut of it is, he's promised this punk everything he wanted! When I heard him say that I wanted to....... do something not good for my career in the department.

So they gave him a shower and his mattress back and a new blanket. The Captain called down and said "Do not give him a cup under any circumstances. If he's threatening to throw feces on staff, then he doesn't get a container to do it with." One of the very few times in my life I ever wanted to kiss a captain. The kid goes back into his cell and lays down for a nap. He got most of what he wanted, he's happy for the moment. Me, I'm not happy.

If I'm not mistaken, I hired into the Department of CORRECTIONS. Not the Department of ENABLERS. We're supposed to CORRECT their socially deviant behavior, not teach them it's OKAY to play in their feces and threaten to thrown them on people. We just gave that kid carte blanche to throw a temper tantrum so he'll get his way. I think we were slowly making him a believer before that. I think it was sinking in that he was in prison and that he could do hard time or he could just do time. There's a big difference. But that all just got blown out the f***ing window. That pshrink just created a monster and it's going to take more than an angry mob with torches and pitchforks to chase it away. Now somebody will probably get hurt before we can re-defuse that ticking time bomb. And of course, the pshrink probably won't be there when it happens and it won't be his fault in any way.

GRRRRAAAARRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!! Snap! I'm making myself mad all over again. Stupid. I'm going to go play some video games and eat some dinner. I'm off for two days. To heck with that place.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Can Pee Farther Than You!

In the C.O. circles, it's called a "pissing contest" and I believe the outcome is to see who is the studliest. When cats do it they puff up and yowl and screech and whoever scares the other one away is the winner. All creatures seem to do it. They try to make themselves bigger than their opponent to frighten them away.

I think only humans do it on purpose. And here at the prison, they do it so often and for so little reason you'd think the walls would all be yellow.

OK, kind of icky visuals going on here, I know. Sorry. But for some reason this place seems to be worse than others. If you say the slightest thing to someone about how they do their job, they will puff up and sputter and demand their rights and make a big scene over practically nothing at all. And most of the time, if they don't win the contest (this is my favorite part) they'll get "sick" and have to go home.

OK, yeah. You just showed me. What a studmuffin you are.

I don't know, maybe I'm just weird. When I've screwed up and someone tells me about it, I'll say "OK, I screwed up. Won't do that again. Let's move on." And I've screwed up a few times, believe me. And if someone says I screwed up and I didn't, I'll tell them that, too. That's one of the things working in a prison has taught me. The ability to tell someone to go jump in a lake. There are times when someone just needs to vent and I happen to be there. I can take that, too. And when they wind down I'll ask "Are you done? Good. Now go dork yourself and quit yelling at me." It works out well, most of the time.

But even if I'm pissed off about some injustice or stupidity or another, I'm not just going to go off and leave my work for someone else to take care of. Jeeze. If I've said it once, I've said it a bazillion times: The job is hard enough. Why are you making it harder?

Grow up, take your weight and move on. There's always going to be someone who can pee farther than you and the further up the food chain you move, the liklier that is going to be. It's a fact of life.

Get over yourself.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Job Security

"We will never run out of stupid people". -Darev2005

I quoted that to myself. Not enough people have said it before me, apparently. It's like P.T. Barnums' "There's a sucker born every minute." He found a niche market where the demand never decreases. As have I. Unfortunately, I got into the business too late to get rich off the idea like ol' P.T. did. But as long as stupid people are getting together and breeding stupid children I will have a job.
Case in point our newest knucklehead today. Teenager. Doing double digit time. Thinks if he can act crazy enough he'll get to spend his time in the "hospital" or in a nut hatch somewhere instead of out on the yard with the big bad inmates. In six months in prison so far he's spent a grand total of seven days out on the hill. The rest of the time has been on suicide watch or Protective Custody. Just transferred to our camp on thursday and they brought him down today for suicide watch because he was "hearing voices" telling him to hurt himself or someone else. SO we stripped him out and put him in a camera cell. He started kicking his door and punching the window, trying to hurt himself. The problem was, he was hurting himself. We watched him on the camera. He'd do a few practice swipes at the window screen, then punch it. Then he'd hold his hand to his stomach and hop around the cell in pain. It took awhile for it to sink in that if you want to hurt yourself, it hurts.
Watched him bang his head on the door a few times. Same result. He was hurting himself, but not enough to hurt himself. It was funny and painful to watch at the same time. Stupid kid. He'd bang his head then reel around the cell in pain. Never even hit hard enough to make a good lump.
When that didn't work out for him, he tried playing the "unresponsive" game. He laid on the floor in the front of his cell and wouldn't move or respond when someone came by. The problem was, he was laying on a cold concrete floor on a kevlar smock and couldn't get comfortable, so he'd have to move every now and then and we'd see him moving. Finally, when we decided we didn't want to play anymore, a couple officers went to his door and tried to get him to respond. When he wouldn't, they signalled and I opened the door. As it came open, one of the officers crouched down and said "Kid, if you move suddenly, we're going to pepper spray the s**t out of you." He kind of froze, then did everything they told him to do after that. Sarge went in and read him the riot act and after that he laid down and was calm for the rest of our shift.
Tomorrow might be a different story. Hell, next shift might be a different story. He's got this GREAT PLAN formulated in his head and he's determined it will work. I'm pretty sure it won't.
Job security.
Hey, maybe he'll finally get out and have a couple of stupid kids of his own.....
I got a golden parachute, after all. Wow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Training: A Retrospective

Well, I just completed five days of my annual recertification training. Three days worth of classroom stuff, one day getting banged up by my fellow staff and one day shooting the guns. Do I feel smarter? No, not really. Do I feel I have learned more tools to use? No, not really. It was all stuff that I pretty much already knew. Did I have a good time? For the most part, yes. For all the kvetching I did about it, it was fun and kind of relaxing. I got to wear comfy clothes to work and act like a ninny and got to meet some new people. There were a few people that I "knew", like my coach out on the range, but had never really spent much time with. I just knew that he did a good job up there in Central Suck (not going to explain that one) but I never really "knew" that he was such a good cat. And there were quite a few people that I recognized but never actually met before. So, all in all, it was good.

The end result? I'm a bit more relaxed. A bit banged up and a little sore, but not too bad. It was worth it, in my book. And for some of us, me especially, a bit more relaxed is a good thing.

I get uptight sometimes.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Training Day #5 I Passed! Yay!!!

Range day. I did good. I didn't shoot anybody and nobody shot me. That's about as good as it gets. I know I'm no Annie Oakley. Never have been a good shot. I like to shoot, but I suck at it. Even when I've had the opportunity to shoot alot, I never get very good at it.

I can live with that.

Luckily, I had an excellent coach. We pair up on the range. Shooters and coaches. The people who suck and might have to reshoot (like me) shoot first with the coaches advising and keeping them focused and on track. My coach kept me from making some small errors and even helped with my shooting. Gave me some good tips and kept my magazines loaded and ready. I shot good enough to pass and a little extra and that's good enough for me. When it was his turn, all I had to do was keep his mags loaded and hand them to him at the right time. When it was all said and done, he turned to me and said "You were an excellent coach." I just shook my head. It was like helping my wife in the kitchen. I help best by keeping my mouth shut and staying mostly out of the way.

It's like that.

One day off then it's back to the old grind. Hopefully there will be a spot open on evenings soon. But at least for this year I was on days for training and didn't have to change my schedule all up to get up in the mornings. Next year will be different.

NOTE: They are saying we might get a significant ice storm starting sunday night and on into the week. If y'all don't hear from me, that's what's going on. Stay safe and warm out there!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Training Day #4 Less Pain

Sorry about yesterday. My bones were making those little crunchy noises every time I moved. I could neither walk nor type well. My right hand hardly worked at all, so I was typing with my left. Luckily, my DT partner was pretty proficient in most of the moves and he helped me walk through the steps. Unluckily, my DT partner was only unsure on the one maneuver that was most likely to break an arm in training. T'was a near thing. You forget sometimes in the heat of the moment which way certain joints will bend. Suddenly I felt the bones in my forearm grating together and knew that wasn't supposed to happen. I managed a gasping squeak and it took him a second to notice I wasn't breathing correctly anymore. Luckily (again) no CPR was necessary.

A few minutes before that we were practicing escape from the full nelson, which requires you to basically fall backwards on your attacker. I went backwards, as the attacker, and went down and as he went down, he turned a hip and managed to plant the corner of said hip right atop Mr. Happy and the twins. All I'm going to say is purple is not a good color for me. Not around the face, anyway. Wow.

So, I came home, took a hot shower, painted myself with Ben Gay, took some drugs and went to bed. As Loopy said, I should have taken a hot bath instead but apparently our bathtubs were installed when human beings were much shorter than they are now. Only people under five feet tall can take a bath in my house. What I need is one of those huge japanese tubs you can get in up to your chin.

So today we covered Glock basics. And it didn't piss me off anywhere near as bad as it did last year. Holding out hope for going out to the range tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Training Day #3 Too Sore To Blog

Okay. I'm in pain. Four tylenol, half a zanex, a hot shower and half a tube of Ben Gay and my bones are still making that alarming noise. I'll put in some details tomorrow evening. Right now this is killing me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Training Day #2 A Pathway To Nowhere

Hoo boy. Day #2 down. Spent half the day in a classroom in which a very interesting man taught a very boring subject. "Pathways To Change". Apparently it teaches offenders what types of personalities they have and how they can stop and think about their actions, if they wanted to. It assigns color coding to the different personality types and is supposed to help you understand how different people think.

I can just imagine the conversation in my head... "See, this guy's coming at me with a shank in his meathook and he's acting awfully orange at this point. If I can just tone down my green-ness and be more blue to him withut going gold....... aw fug it. I'll just kick his butt instead. Turn all that angry orange to black and blue."

They said we had to take the class so we did. Your tax dollars at work!

The second part of the day was the beginning of Defensive Tactics (hereafter to be referred to as "DT"). It's where we review basic holds and breakaway techiniques and the "physical" part of the job that creates so much paperwork.

I'm so horrible at this stuff. I can remember it long enough to get through the class and that's it. In the classroom when a DT instructor says "Someone's got ahold of you this way, what do you do?" I can explain step by step how to break the hold and put the offender on the ground and keep hold of him once I get him there. Once inside the fence that sort of thing goes on autopilot and sometimes after a donnybrook I have to ask somebody how I did something. Like the last one where I hurt my finger. One moment I was behind the restraint bench and the next I was on the other side taking the offender to the ground. How the hell did I get there? I think I may have leapt over it. Nobody else was watching so I guess I'll never be sure. My goal in a use of force is to get control of the offender as quickly as possible before somebody gets hurt. Seriously hurt, anyway. And I do whatever it takes to do that. And as far as I can recall, I have never employed any of the stuff they teach us in DT. The scenarios they teach us have just never come up. My mind rejects those options and goes on to other things. I've learned bit and pieces of almost every martial art in the world and while I am horrible at them when I have to stop and think, I'm fairly good in a crisis situation. I'm not bragging about it, it's just the way this plum pudding of a brain I have works.

On the plus side, we got to see a three hundred pound C.O. come this [] close to taking out the christmas tree in the training room. The guy stumbled on the mat and just about carried the whole thing out the back door of the building. Notice: No Corrections Officers or Christmas Trees were harmed in the typing of this blog! T'was a near thing, tho.

Well, I'm a bit sore and tired. Going to rest up for the remainder of DT tomorrow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Odd hits

I've got this thing from Statcounter which shows me a map of how many hits and the isp's and such of each visitor I get to the blog. It's kind of cool and I go there once in awhile to look. I just noticed someone whose last visit to my blog was over twenty seven hours! I think someone pulled it up and wandered off to bed and other things and I can imagine them coming back and saying "Geez! I'm still on that thing? What was I thinking?"

A nifty addition and another fun thing to play with and it's free! Might give it a try.

Now the Rev is off to nite-nite land....

Training: Day #1

Well, gee... that was fun. CPR and First Aid and the AED (Automatic Electronic Defibrillator) all day long. Lots of breaks, a long lunch and I managed to laugh until I cried a few times. It's so strange. I sat between two people. One who is like the perennial class clown and another who is this AJ Squared Away Mr. High & Tight Haircut who looks like he's all business. The class clown stayed pretty quiet during the whole class and Mr. Military Haircut managed to keep me in stitches all day. OK, I'll admit I was to blame for some of the silliness. He was just so easy. There were times when all I had to do was look at him out of the corner of my eye and he'd snort and a cackle would slip out and set me off. And make just the slightest innuendo and he'd turn beet red. And when the poor instructors would look our way, I'd point at him, which made it worse. I think it helped keep people awake and attentive.

And it wasn't just us. Our class clown kept his fingers in the pie every now and then. Which was cool and made me look even more innocent in the whole deal. While the attention was drawn to them, I sat there innocently doodling odd stuff in my notebook and trying to look aggrieved by the actions of my classmates. But now my secret's out so I'll have to come up with a new strategy.

Hmmmmmmmm...... what to do, what to do.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Stirring The Pot

There's always at least one in every workplace. A Disturber. Someone who just can't leave well enough alone and is only happy when things are in an uproar. I can imagine them coming in to work and being issued a six foot wooden spoon along with their keys and radio. They seem to delight in chaos and other peoples misery.

I just don't get it.

Isn't this job hard enough? Wouldn't it be nice to have things go smoothly without any drama?

But that just aint gonna happen with this group. The lieutenant stopped in today and asked me what went wrong. I told him the truth. This crew never came together as a cohesive unit and it's been actively falling apart since day one. Too many clashing personalities. He agreed and we both figure it will get much worse before it gets any better.

I remember when I first came on day shift and got a good look at the crew. I said to myself "This will never work. Too many Disturbers in one place."

Turns out I was right.

Doesn't feel as good as being right should.

Oh well. I made it out in one piece. That counts for something.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Oh, the humanity!

There's not much in this world, except maybe a fire in a brothel, that is more disturbing to watch than a crew self-destructing. This one has been going on for awhile, but today the ol' Drama-O-Meter pegged itself out and everything just went to snit. Drama everywhere... phone calls back and forth, lieutenants and captains involved, paperwork being written, people being moved around and pulled out of the house and threatened, the boss and the Assistant Warden (not the Big Cheese, one of the smaller cheeses) getting drug into it. And a few people (who will remain nameless) egging things on from the sidelines and watching it with glee. F***ing wonderful. Outf***ingstanding. Inf***ingcredible.

Drama Queens, every single one of them. Well, except for B.A. He and I were the only ones not directly involved in the whole mess. We just got swept along like old used soup cans in the flood.

There's an opening coming up, so it is rumored, on evening shift. In my old spot. Maybe in a couple of weeks or so I can slip back out on the rec yard and leave them to run the house like they do on evenings. It's really not what I wanted, but any old port in a storm...

And it was my monday, too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The best time of year

Well, it's coming up on annual recertification time again. I get to work (probably the bubble again) for two days and then I'm off to training for a whole week. Three days of sitting in an overheated classroom, one day of beating each other up learning Defensive Tactics and one day out in the snow and rain on the range with those POS plastic glock pistols.


I understand why we have to go. For the most part, it's a good thing. But some of the topics they choose for us to learn..... I just don't know. They've dropped the interesting classes, like "Controversial Groups" which is about gangs. But the state has chosen the stance that there are no gangs in our prison system. That's about the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I could go through my house alone (just one house out of twelve) and come up with at least seventy five offenders with prominent gang tattoos and almost every cell has got gang graffiti on the walls. Instead they have chosen we learn "Pathways To Change"... about teaching offenders positive skills they will use when they get out of prison. I don't really want to say anything negative about that. The last guy who did ended up getting chewed out by the Major. I get enough of that without help.

They even dropped Suicide Intervention. Why? Doesn't that seem like something we all need to know?

The state, it seems, like trees and butterflies, blows hither and yon with the wind.

I can't wait.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Criminal Thinking? An Oxymoron?

In the academy they told us about "criminal thinking". About how the offenders think and rationalize what they do. About how they most don't consider the consequences of their actions and only do what feels and sounds good to them at the moment. I've seen a bit of it now and then.

But not today. Hoo boy....... not today.

Got this knucklehead who was over in b-wing. We put him over there in a cell with a guy who isn't there and isn't likely to come back any time soon. It's called an "outcount" for you the correctionally impaired. The inmate actually belongs to our camp, but he's somewhere else. We have to account for actually "having" him, even if he's not there. It's stupid, I know. But it keeps the books straight. And the guy we had in that cell isn't even in this state at the moment. He's in another state in court for another offense that happened in that state.
Anyway, we got this knucklehead....(you thought I got lost, didn't you?) who's a wee bit on the crazy side. He gets lonely and crazy when he's in a cell by himself... and frightened and crazy when he's in a cell with someone else. We end up having to move him alot because either he's afraid for his life from his cellie (no matter if his cellie is half his size and as big around as a pencil) or his cellie is in fear for his life from him. So we stuck him in b wing in a cell by himself but not in c wing in hopes he'd feel less lonely and crazy over there.

That didn't work. Nope. Not a bit.

He started in screaming out the door this morning first thing that he wanted a C.O. in there. I told him we were busy and to keep his pants on and we'd get to him. I actually tried being nice the first couple of times. After the second hour of him screaming he wanted to move I'm afraid I wasn't so nice anymore. I finally told him there was nowhere for him to go (which was true) and he wasn't going to get moved so shut the hell up because I'm BUSY!

He didn't seem to like that too much.

About an hour after that he started screaming Code 16, which is our code for a medical emergency. I could see him standing at the door and see him moving around so I could tell he wasn't dead on the floor from a heart attack or having seizures. I also knew that one of his things was that if he didn't get immediate satisfaction from whatever it was he was upset about, he'd scream code 16 just to get someone to come in there and listen to him cry. We've got quite a few who do that and it really pisses me off. It's like a baby in a crib who, when mommy doesn't come running at the first little whimper, will scream like it's being swallowed alive by a wildebeest just to get mommys' attention. It's a learned habit.
As the rest of the staff was actually busy with other things, I let them know about him screaming again when they had a chance to look in on him. It turns out he got mad because we wouldn't move him so he banged his forehead on the side of the metal bunk or something until it started bleeding and then spattered the blood all over his cell. You know how forehead wounds bleed. He even inscribed a nice holiday greeting on the cell mirror in his own blood.

Wasn't that thoughtful.

So, instead of getting moved to another cell with a cellie like he wanted he got moved to c-wing and stripped down and put in a kevlar smock and put on suicide watch with a sore forehead.

I just wanted to go down there and ask him...... "So, how's that working out for ya?"

Criminal thinking.......................... Pfui.

If they thought at all, I'd be out of a job.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bubble time again

Our bubble guy (the control room officer) is off on his annual vacation. The scurvy dog. And since I opened my pie hole and told the lieutenant just to go ahead and put me up there when it was vacant, the sumbitch took me at my word. Now I'm scheduled to be up there every day for the next two weeks. Snap!

And I just got word today that we have our annual recertification training the second week in december. Joy. Get to sit in too warm classrooms for four days then I get to go out on the range in the sleet and snow and freeze my butt off for a day. ANd it's not even worth getting to shoot the guns. Those new glock pistols are like loaded tinkertoys and you can't get them out of those stupid retention holsters half the time and most of our shotguns jam or break after the second or third person uses them. I think I've broken at least two shotguns. Well, they broke.. I didn't actually do it.

Always remember: The thing you depend on the most will have been made by the lowest bidder. Our weapons, our radios, our gear, our vehicles.... especially our uniforms. Hell, those are made by inmates. I'd almost forgotten our creed in the Army:

We, the unwilling,
Led by the unknowing.....
Doing the impossible
For the ungrateful.
I've done so much with so little
For so long....
I'm now qualified to do anything
With nothing!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And the hits just keep coming!

I knew it was coming...... the paper chase again. We didn't finish the paperwork from the fracas yesterday and I knew we'd have to deal with it today. I thought I'd go down to the house, relieve first shift on time and when I got someone down to relieve me in an hour or so, I'd go up and finish. Oh, nooooo.....

Sarge grabbed me a soon as I walked in to sign in and said "Let's go to the office and get started."

Never even made it to the house. First shift got relieved late. That sucks. If nothing else, I pride myself on being good relief.

Part of the problem was that there were too many people involved. Let alone the fact that there was five of us dogpiled on a hundred sixty pound inmate (and my legs), there were so many people there that nobody could remember or agree on what we all were doing. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad everybody showed up. It could have gone wrong and somebody might have gotten seriously hurt. But there's a fine line between having enough people to handle the situation and a clusterf**k. When it happened, it was enough people plus a few to stand by. On paper, it was a cluster.

I spent an hour and a half yesterday and close to three hours today dealing with an incident that was over in five minutes.

We should just make a copy of the wing video and say "Here. This is what happened." And that should be the end of it.

Yeah, in a perfect world........

Monday, November 24, 2008

Am I getting too old for this?

Got into another ruckus today. Managed to hurt myself again. Not bad...... just lost a little skin in a stupid accident. I was going to explain the whole scenario, but it's too idiotic. Bottom line: Knucklehead got stupid. He was already in cuffs and I went to use my personal cuffs to secure him to the restraint bench and he bucked up. Myself and another officer put him on the ground and when we went down my cuffs closed on two of my fingers and took some skin off. Little piece about as big around as a pencil eraser. Ended up having to spray him to stop him fighting. Man, I'm glad I didn't get pepper spray in any of those cuts. That would have stung like fire.

Lesson learned: Drop the cuffs. Can always pick them up later.

Also banged my knees up pretty good. Not sure if it was when we went to the ground or when some other officer planted themselves on my legs and drove my kneecaps into the concrete. Most likely a combination of the two. I'm not going to say who that was, but just that they better lose a few pounds off that butt before they fall on my legs again or we're going to have some serious words.

I almost always get hurt doing this. Am I getting too old for this? It's never anything bad. Banged up knees and fingers, mostly. My poor knees and fingers seem to get the working over every time there's a donnybrook. Am I just a wuss? Am I the only one who actually reports getting hurt? It seems like every time something goes down, there I am carrying around an accident report. Other people get hurt now and then but it seems like it's always something big. They end up in the hospital or on (shudder) "light duty" for weeks on end. Nassy. Don't want any part of that. I don't know. If I get hurt, I'm reporting it. If I get too hurt to work, I want there to be proper paperwork so I'm not without a paycheck. I'm the only one in my house bringing home the bacon right now and I'm not going to live without bacon. Heck with that.

So what's the deal?

Am I too agressive and unmindful of my body placement in a crisis situation?

Or am I just freakin' clumsy?
That's most likely it.
That picture is my finger. The orange stuff is betadyne our awesome house nurse put on there. He's a combat medic and a super dude. Suprised he didn't pin a purple heart on me. (grin)
But you can see it's no big deal. Stings like the dickens, tho.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

AdSeg.... The Musical

Ok, so I had an offender sing me a song today. That was different. Off and on I had hear them all yelling and cussing at each other in C-wing and when I went in to see if everything was okay, like I'm supposed to, a totally naked man stood at his cell window and made up an impromptu song about me walking around with my coffee cup in my hand.

That was certainly different.

He's one of our problem children. I'm sure I've blogged about him before. One of our secretionary artists. A man who really puts himself into his work. So to speak. And you never know how he's going to be. One day he'll be promising me a 1957 chevy and a million dollars and the next day he'll be threatening to have me killed or do it himself. You just never know with him.

The song was a nice changeup. Threw me a bit off balance and for a change, I left the wing with a smile, albeit a bit of a puzzled one, on my face. He sang about my coffee and the fact that I brewed it myself because I like it that way. He sang about my hat and my moustache and my tattoo and he asked me lyrically if I could give the guy in the cell next door some toilet paper because he didn't have any. And he sang to me around the wing as I did my checks and he sang me out of the wing and wished me to have a nice day.

Okay, it wasn't the greatest song in the world.

Grammy material it wasn't.

I can't even imagine Pat Boone doing a cover of it. Even if he did do "Crazy Train".

But it was nice, none the less.

Go figure.

Friday, November 21, 2008

SHIFT WARS...... The Saga Begins.......Again...

Well, here we go. Time once again for the Poly-Annual Shift Wars! It's the usual three-ring circus between first, second and third shifts! Witness the mayhem! Listen to the vicious rumors! Watch the paper fly as each shift tries to undo the others!

What a bunch of crap.

I swear to gods that if I wasn't pretty sure I was working in an Adult institution, I'd think I was back in high school again. We can't work together for any length of time without someone coming along and piddling in the soup.

I've said it time and time again here, and at work: If we don't work together, the inmates win. Plain and simple. And if you're just going to let them win, then we might as well just go home. Because what happens if they win? We get hurt. And if someone gets hurt because you were playing stupida**ed games, then it's your fault. And I hope you can live with that. I couldn't.

I can always tell the shift wars are starting up again when I start hearing the phrase: "It's (whatever) shifts mess. Let them deal with it." Then I know it's time to duck and cover for awhile. That means somebody one one shift has pissed off somebody on another shift and it's going to roll downhill. But you know what? We work in a rotating shift schedule which means that when the snit rolls far enough downhill, it's going to come right back around to you again.

Stupid stupid people.

I think the stupid is oozing out of the cells and getting on staff again. Bing! Wet cleanup on aisle three!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Got The Grax

One of the problems with working in a closed environment like a prison is diseases and the ease with which they spread. My coworkers and i spend alot of time either in small enclosed areas where we are constantly breathing each others' air or out in front of the cell doors where whatever funk is in there is blowing out into our faces. We are pretty lucky that the few really nasty airborne diseases there are we get innoculations for. But the main one is the common freakin' cold and I've got it again. I feel like something that's been eaten by a dog and roughly hammered out the other end.

At least it's my friday, huh?

Colds and the flu spread like wildfire in a prison and especially in an AdSeg unit. You wouldn't think it would, since they have minimal outside contact. But they take any contact they can get and run with it, despite any sensible warnings. Half my crew has been down with it lately. I guess I'm just the latest victim.

OK, I'm having a hard time making my brain form sentences. And focusing is getting to be a real chore. Think I'll take some nyquil and go to bed. Thank the gods we have plenty of kleenex.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Real Bee Of A Day

Got stuck up in the bubble again today. I gripe about doing that alot, but I don't mind it as much as it sounds. It's a real pain in the butt, but it's a change from being down there on the floor. And there's one real perk to being up there. All the intercom switches have an "off" position. If there's nothing going on out in the wings and all the others are down in the office, I can switch the speakers off, even just for a few seconds, and all the noise just disappears. It's almost like I've gone deaf. It's very peaceful. And you can't get that when you're down on the floor. There's always someone talking or making noise or the radio's chattering in your ear. Even though I know the radio is my lifeline, there are days when I could do without it. I'd like to go work in a library some day. A great big one with stacks in the basement where the patrons aren't allowed to go. I'd work down there. Just me and thousands of books and peace and quiet......

It would probably drive me nuts.

This afternoon one of our knuckleheads on suicide watch decided he wasn't getting what he wanted so he covered his camera and barricaded his door with a foam mattress and put wet toilet paper over his cell window so we couldn't see in. Then when everybody got up to the door, he wouldn't respond so they waved and I opened the door. He tried to swing on one of the officers so they put him to the ground and cuffed him up. Then he proceeded to spit and try to bite until they put him on the restraint bench. He stayed there for close to an hour before the nurse brought him two shots, which I'm sure was the reason for the whole performance. He wanted to get high or buzzed or whatever you get from haldol and atavan. They put him back in the cell and took away his mattress and his blanket and left him nothing but a smock.

A couple of hours later he decided the shots weren't good enough so he started screaming and banging his head on a corner of the wall, making himself bleed again. They had to pull him back out and put him back on the bench and as the next shift came in and we were relieved, they were trying to find a rubber room to put him in somewhere. Hell, maybe that's what he wanted. Doesn't sound like fun to me.

When something like putting an inmate on the ground happens we call it a "use of force" and aside from the fact you actually have to wrestle an inmate and possibly get hurt, you also inherit about four hours worth of paperwork to go along with it. It's supposedly so we can cover our bases in case it goes to court and the state doesn't get sued. But they have gotten so anal about these reports that they take many times longer than necessary. It should just be one short paragraph stating: "Offender Joe Schmuck got stupid and I sprayed him and put him on the ground and Officer Lunchbox and I put cuffs on him." Instead what they want from us is this: "At approximately 7:14 am on 11-17-2008 Offender Schmuck, Joseph #5554123 in Housing Unit 5, cell A-13 stepped towards me and swung his right fist towards my upper torso. I blocked the offenders strike with my left forearm while issuing the offender a verbal directive to stop. The offender did not comply to my verbal directive so at approximately 7:15am I applied one one-half second burst of O/C pepper spray to the offenders facial area. At this time COI Lunchbox, Melvin entered the cell and we placed the offender on the floor of the cell. I controlled the offenders left upper arm with my left hand and his left forearm with my right hand while COI Lunchbox controlled the offenders right arm and we placed him face down on the floor of the cell. I placed mechanical wrist restraints on the offender and the Sergeant was called to the cell. At 7:20 am the offender was assessed by LPN Barbie Bandaid and at 7:25 am the offender was placed in the A-wing shower........." Blah blah blah ad infinitum. It goes on for hours. And everyone involved has to write the same report. And you can't just write one report and then change the names around for everybody else. OH Noooo.... That wouldn't be right. They all have to say EXACTLY THE SAME THING but they all HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT.

Sometimes I think we're morons to keep doing this.

Then I look at the inmates and I know why I keep doing it. And I look at my family and I know why I keep doing it. And I look at myself and know why I keep doing it.

But some days are harder than others.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Home Life?

Yes, I do have a home life. One that is getting slowwwwwly better. A few years ago my wife of 20 years (the marriage, not the wife) decided that we should try again to adopt a kid or two, not ever having had any of our own. Hoo boy. That led to foster care classes and adoption classes and caseworkers and kids in and out of our house.... At one time we had seven kids living with us. Not good in a three bedroom house. I had to build two more bedrooms in the garage and I built all of the beds myself. What started out as three sets of loft beds turned into four sets of bunkbeds and constant chaos. I lost about ten pounds a month between working and losing my mind.

We ended up adopting two teenagers and taking legal guardianship on a third. In the mean time, the state was constantly moving kids in and out of our house. The two we adopted lasted about a year and they both decided that us being their parents wasn't really what they wanted out of life and they left and moved back in with their birth parents. SInce the oldest was eighteen, there wasn't much we could do about it. Her younger brother has since ended up back in foster care somewhere else.

That was pretty much the final straw for me, and we had them drop our foster license. We now have one teenage girl in our home who is doing pretty good. She's kind of a flibbertigibbet but if we can keep her out of the fire for two more years we're home free. She's a pretty good kid most of the time. But, like any teenager, she likes to test our boundaries.

Other than that, my life revolves around work, the internet, my wife, our two dogs and our massive library. We are all voracious readers and there are books all over the house. A few years ago I got really bored and counted them. At the time there were about fourteen hundred scattered here and there. Most likely there's a few hundred more now.

There... I've bared my soul to you. (grin) Now I'm going back to work for some peace and quiet......

Saturday, November 15, 2008


By the bye, I'm now registering hits on my blog in ten different US states and five countries outside the US! I know it's not really all that much to brag about, but I'm excited.

Blowing off steam

I had a lovely post all written. All the things that had been bugging me lately. When I went back to edit, I realized thast it was just a rehash of things i've touched on again and again. The whacker is still whacking. The poop smearer is still poop smearing. And the check-in is still checked in. The administation is still indifferent to how difficult our job can be. And we're still not getting paid enough.

Same old. Same old.

So I decided to dump that one and go on.

STATUS REPORT: We all made it through the day and nobody got hurt.

What else is there to say?

I'll try to be more upbeat on the next post. Just a little down today. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Here's something I don't think I've touched on as yet. It's another behavioral problem with an inmate that has come up quite regularly and we are still to find a viable solution. We have an inmate in our AdSeg unit who is (I believe) in his early seventies. Not real old for the average person, but time has played him a poor trick and he is frail beyond his years. He has mental issues and has bounced back and forth between us and "the hospital" for the last two years or so. He's afraid to be out on the hill with other offenders and refuses to leave our house. Also, the last time he went to "the hospital" they sent him back with a note saying he had alzheimers and senile dementia. And they stated that they aren't set up to take care of patients like that so they sent him back to us. Huh????

They are a hospital. They have doctors and nurses and orderlies and comfortable beds and daylight and maybe even a yard to walk around in(But I don't know that). We are an AdSeg unit for knuckleheads who can't behave themselves.

Being assigned to the AdSeg unit is supposed to be punishment. We keep them confined and we give them the minimum the state requires us to.

We are not a hospital.

We haven't been trained to care for people like this.

And when we complain about the situation we get stonewalled.

He hasn't done anything "wrong" other than refuse to leave the house. I sure don't think he's going to rob any more banks.

What do we do when nobody wants him?

Friday, November 7, 2008

That's Not Funny.... That's Sick!!!

Ok, we had one of those moments today. If you weren't one of us and you didn't work where we do, you'd think we were a band of twisted freaks.

Well.... we are, but it comes with the territory.

There's an inmate (you know by now I don't name names) who is very disturbed and spends alot of time in our housing unit. He got placed on suicide watch by the head Pshrink lady today because he was in the cell laughing to himself and muttering strange dark things. We tried to tell her he does this all the time, but she wanted it done, so.... He gets stripped out and put in a camera cell with a kevlar smock and blanket.

Now, this guy has some serious issues, anyway. And the meds they are giving him seem to exacerbate some of those issues a little. The clinical term for it is "Hypersexuality". We tend to call him "Sir Whacksalot". Need I explain? I thought not.

So right after he gets put on watch they call down and say they want him taken to medical for a forced medication injection. Probably haldol or something of the like. I'm not sure. Usually calms them down for a day or two. I happen to glance up at the camera and there he is.... pulling one for the home team. Going to town. Shifting into overdrive. Oiling up the old baseball glove. Shaking hands with Mr. Happy. You get the picture. So did we.

The average "normal" person would go "Jeez!" and find something else to do. Not us. Oh Lord, not us. For some reason, this seemed to be the funniest thing we have all seen in several days and we had more fun adding commentary and bizarre sound effects. It was like a really twisted version of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" without the robots.

We're some really sick people here, sometimes. It's a good thing the Pshrinks don't come down to talk to us. I liken it to battle fatigue or shell shock. After awhile, even the most bizarre things don't seem to affect us the way it would normal people.

I told you once the things that amuse me at work were strange. You didn't believe me, did you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Common Courtesy

Ok, here's a pet peeve. I've touched on it a few times here and there but y'all have pushed me to the brink and I've either gotta blog or blow.

We are all on the same side. Just because we work on different shifts doesn't mean we can't work together. "Just leave it for the next shift" is pissing me off so bad I can't hardly stand it. It's so much B.S. Let alone that the next shift used to be me and my crew. And it's not just second shift that does it, either. First shift does it to second; second does it to third and third shift leaves crap for first shift......... ad infinitum. If you leave the mess long enough, it comes right back to you again.

But it also works the other way. If you come in and there's a mess to clean up, Help clean it up! Sitting back on your haunches and refusing to do anything until the mess is cleaned up doesn't help anything. If there's a mess or a catastrophe or a goat rope or cluster fu*k and you leave it for someone else to deal with, then the inmates win and we lose. "Causing hate and discontent" is our watchphrase, not theirs. And you know, if you ask politely for help, you just might get it. I can't think of how many times I've either started early or stayed late to help clean up loose ends. And I can't think of how many times I've asked the oncoming shift for a hand because we just had the mother of all days and there's crap piled to the ceiling. And for the most part, they've always been more than happy to help.

You know how rapidly things can get out of hand in an adseg unit. And alot of times when you least expect it and almost always when it's the most inconvenient. So keeping the chaos to a minimum at all times is not only easier on your nerves, it might just save your life!

We're all doing the same job. It's us against them. If you don't want to work, then just go home. If you're going to be an a**hole, I'd rather just do it myself.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And Sometimes....

Sometimes we end up giving them exactly what they want. Take todays knucklehead for example. Another of one of those that I like to call "Killer P.C.'s". He's a real "killer" from the streets who wants Protective Custody from the yard. I looked this fool up and the whole time he's been in prison he's spent maybe a grand total or two months out on the hill and about four years in AdSeg. His file reads PC / Suicide Watch / PC / PC / Suicide Watch / PC/ PC / PC... It seems whenever they get ready to let this fool out on the hill he either catches another violation or says he's going to kill himself to keep from getting out because he's big and bad behind the steel door, what with being a high ranking member of the Ganster Disciples and all, but he's afraid to spend any time out on the hill. Anyway, he said he was in fear for his life from his cellie and when I told him we didn't have a single cell to put him in, he decided he would stay there and not ten minutes later we get a note from his cellie stating he was in fear for his life...... you get the idea. This jackass wanted to be in the cell by himself so he could pick and choose who would come in there (or so he thought).

We moved him here and there and he refused to stay in any of the cells we tried to put him in and I was getting pissed off. I finally figured out a plan to where we only had to move two people to get him in the worst cell in the house. See, one of his things is he likes to stand at the door when female staff are in the wing and wag Mr. Tiny around in front of them. I hope I don't have to spell that one out for you. So we put him upstairs in C-wing way back in the corner where it's hard to see and it's hard to hear and you have to intentionally walk in front of the door for him to see anything at all. Plus I wrote him up for refusing to go into those other cells. He wasn't too happy, even though he got exactly what he wanted. He's going to file paperwork on me and have his "people" call up and get me fired. I was shaking in my boots. And I believe I actually yawned in despair while he threatened me.

The next time he gets stupid I think we'll have a very loud discussion on the fact that he's been in P.C. his whole bit. Loud enough that the whole wing can hear it. That will take away any credibility he's got and if I make enough of them laugh at him, nobody will listen to his B.S. for awhile and he'll shut up. You either walk the talk or you keep your piehole shut.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sometimes I'm too nice

Today was payday. Or, as some say "The eagle s**t today." My twice monthly pittance from the state. Arrgh. It still burns me at times. I have been told we are the highest trained and the lowest paid corrections officers in the country. I don't know if the highest trained part is true or not. I've never been to any other states and don't know how their departments are run. But I'd sure like to find out. I'm pretty sure about the lowest paid part. I've looked on the internet at other states and see what they pay. I could go to Idaho or Arkansas or flippin' Wisconsin and make more money than I am here! Every two weeks when I get my pay stub I tell the wife "Let's sell this dump and blow this popstand!" To which she sagely replies "Come up with the eighty grand we still owe on the house and enough cash to move with and I'll start packing."

Always the pragmatist, my wife is. I'd have been eaten by moles years ago if it wasn't for her.

Anyway, I stopped in to get my check stub and there sat my boss, right next to the lady with the checks, and she asks me "Are you going to the Christmas party?" To which I reply "No, I don't like C.O's" And she just smiles and says "Okay, you can hang out with me then. It's five dollars for you and the wife."

What could I do? It's the boss. And she's kept me out of trouble a few times already. So...

I fish in my wallet and give her my last five bucks for a ticket to a party neither the wife and I really want to go to. Sometimes I'm too nice.

What the heck. I might enjoy it. They say the food is going to be good and a few of the people I really like are going to be there. And I'll blow out the door before people start getting hammered. I don't drink anymore and it annoys me being around people who do. To excess, anyway. Anything more than a mild buzz and you are really going to get on my nerves, mister.

Sometimes it's more than just eight hours in the day. We donate food to the foods drives. I buy raffle tickets to support this or that. I donate blood when the red cross comes around. They like me, I'm a universal donor. They ask for stuff for needy families at christmas and we usually donate some stuff. I gave two leaf bags full of old clothes to their thrift store thing. I sign get well cards and retirement cards and birthday cards for people I don't even know. I've eaten more store-bought birthday cake in the last five years than I ever have before in my life. And I still lost twenty pounds in the last three years!

So the next time you see a corrections officer on teevee and he's one of them no-neck beetle-browed cro-magnon lookin bruisers they always seem to cast in our role, imagine him going to Wal-Mart to buy a teddy bear for a kid he doesn't even know. Or even better, stopping at the store in uniform on the way home to buy feminine hygiene products (Tampons! There, I said it! Tampons!) for his daughter. If nothing else, you'll get a giggle out of it.

P.S. Got two hits from Canada on the blog today! One from Moncton, New Brunswick and one from Whitchurch-stouffville, Ontario. And the Great Pacific Northwet is still leading the pack with hits from Seattle to Salem! This is so cool.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Business As Usual

I haven't posted in three days. Part of it is that I'm still in a funk from getting sick from the flu shot and then having to work the sixteen hour shift on saturday. That just throws me all out of whack now. I'd been having sleep problems for the last few years and finally went to the doctor about it maybe six months ago. I had tried all of the OTC things I could get my hands on, from warm milk to melatonin (or seratonin, whichever makes you sleepy and not darker) and nothing had worked very well. The doc finally found something to help me sleep and I went from three to four hours of sleep a night to at least six or seven. That was good. I was getting twice as much sleep. Then they threw me a curve and I had a night where I only got five hours of sleep at best and it just threw me all off. Not as young as I used to be. Why, I can remember..... well, never mind. Best to say I just haven't been on my "A" game the last few days.
Things have been the usual hectic craziness. Nothing extraordinary, just the usual. There's been a few close calls and a few tense moments, but nothing ever came of them and for that I'm glad. We've got another handful of newbies fresh out of the academy in the last week and I can see a couple of them that have that fire in their eyes like they can't wait to mix it up with these knuckleheads and show 'em who's top dog. They worry me a little bit. I know that look. I've seen it in the eyes of quite a few new officers. And in the eyes of a few that have been here a long time and should know better. I'll admit that look has been in my eyes before. When I've reached my limit and some knucklehead just needs a good thumping and you know that it's going to happen no matter what you do, then it's time to do it. But only as a last resort. That's what they don't get yet. And some of them never will. When you go looking for it, somebody always gets hurt. And it's not always the bad guys.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Well, they finally caught me. After four years, someone finally noticed that I never had stayed over to work a double shift. They caught me tonight. They had never gotten me on evenings cecause I worked the 2pm to 10 pm shift and they would have had to get me out of there early. The state says we have to have eight hours after two shifts before we can return... It doesn't make alot of sense to me, either. The people that were there when I came in this morning were there when I left tonight. But I got put out on the yard and the yard sargent likes me some so it was a good night. But Lawd! I am tired. I am going to bed. It was nice to get out of the hole for at least a day. Saw some new faces and saw some startled ones, too. Some of my frequent fliers saw me on the yard and did some great double-takes. It was fun. But I'm gonna be one grumpy mo-fo in the morning when my alarm goes off at five, trust me. 'Night, all.

Pure laziness

I spent the day yesterday avoiding work when I could. I did what needed to be done, but I avoided putting in any extra effort. That's not really like me, most days. But when Sarge asked me if I had C-wing, I reminded him it was someone else's day for that. I took B-wing and stayed out of the drama and spent a good portion of my day out front smoking. Oddly, it takes more work to avoid work some days. I had to do both counts and both med passes just to avoid doing the things I had tagged as "work".

I pride myself in being a hard worker. I didn't always have that ethic. My brain is wired funny and some of the most obvious things only come to me after taking the long way 'round.

I think I'll try to take the bubble again this weekend. Sometimes that's more work and worry than being on the floor, but it doesn't "feel" like work. It's not the same old thing. And it gives me time to be alone in my head. All I do is tune out the noise and listen for the danger sounds. I've gotten good at that. I think I'd be a good bubble officer but I get physically bored up there and tend to eat too much.

Hmmm..... not a very interesting post. I'll try to do better.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I screwed up

Ok, I admit it, I screwed up. Not in a big way, but still...... Just another reminder I'm getting old.

Every year we have to take a TB test. It's annoying, but I can see all the reasons and they're good ones. In a closed environment like we have in the prison, diseases like Tb can run rampant. The test is always due during your birth month and october is mine. I had meant to do it the first of the month but one thing lead to another and the month was almost over before I could catch the nurse in her office.

Finally caught up with her yesterday morning and there was a crowd of people in there all in line. I joined the line and signed the papers she gave me and the next thing I knew she was giving me a shot in the upper arm. Then she said "Oh, you're here for your TB test. Well, you just got a flu shot." Snap! Got the Tb test right after that.

Sure enough, about an hour later I started feeling a bit run down. Then I got a headache and my throat started getting raspy. Then I began to itch. Not like hives or anything, just itchy. About lunch time people started looking at me and asking "Are you okay?" Apparently I was pretty grey.

And of course, it was tuesday, which is the busiest day of the week in our house. People running in and out wanting to have these offenders and those offenders pulled out of their cells so they can see them about this and that. And we were short-staffed so they pulled a guy from one of the other houses who was NOT happy to be working our house at all and they sent us one utility officer who took every opportunity to sit his butt down in a chair and do as little as possible. Not a good day to be under the weather. But we managed to pull it off. Got the guy from the other house replaced with another utility officer who liked working our house and liked working and staying busy. Managed to pawn the other lazy-duff onto the nurse and had him follow her around handing out non-scrip meds to the offenders.

I should have remembered from last year when I did the same thing. With the same results. Do me a favor. If I'm still blogging this time next year, send me a comment or an email and say "Hey Rev! Don't take a flu shot, stupid!"

Now I'm going to take some tylenol and go back to bed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A paper tiger

That was me, today. The paper tiger. Mondays are my days for "the desk". And sometimes it's a more daunting job than down on the floor mixing it up. We have a total maximum of one hundred and seventy five offenders in our house. A, B and D wings are all two-man cells. C-wing is all one man cells. And whoever mans the desk has to keep track of all of them.

I won't go into all the intricacies and the designations of which inmates are which and how we break down the numbers. It would bore you and I would be typing for days. Trust me, it bores me and I know how it works already.

The delicate dance we have to do when getting an inmate into the house or moving one from one cell to another is somewhat interesting. There are four criteria that we look at closely when celling two inmates together. One is personality type, or AICS score ( I must admit I don't know what AICS stands for). The three types are Alphas, Sigmas and Kappas. You can put alphas and kappas together or kappas and sigmas together but you can never, under any circumstances, put alphas and sigmas together. Don't ask me why, I don't understand it. Some well-meaning fool will probably read this and decide I need a week-long block of training so I do understand it and quit embarassing the department.

The next criteria is Custody Level. One through five. One being the least dangerous and five being the most. You should try to get at least one but no more than two away in either direction, ie: fives with fours and maybe threes, ones with twos maybe threes, threes with twos or fours, etc.

Then we look at Mental Health Scores. One through five, just like custody scores. Ones and twos being "normal" and fours and fives you have to scrape off the ceiling with a spatula. Me, I think I'm probably a three. After four years in this house I have some issues. We try to stick pretty close in numbers with the mental health scores. Things can go bad quick otherwise.

Finally we look at what I call in my own head the KOI score. For what Kind Of Inmate do we have here? That designation is purely personal and everyone deals with that one in their own way. It's kind of like the sliding block puzzle post a while back. You can't put the flaming homosexual in with the nazi homophobe. You can't put the old head white biker dude in with the young black urban street gang banger. Technically, legally, we aren't allowed to look at things this way but for our own safety and for the inmates safety, we must. You just can't put the bible-thumping christain fundementalist in with the satanist. You can't put the white power survivalist in with the black muslim. It just won't work and somebody will end up getting hurt.

Then we have the boards. Four each, about three foot square with lines running across for each cell with the inmates names and their vital stats Name, Inmate number, AICS, Custody, Sentence, Violent or Non, Age, Weight, Medical Score, Mental Health Score, What House they are from, Why they are locked up in my house, When they got here and When they are supposed to get out. One board for each with with totals at the bottom. All this stuff written in grease pencil and sometimes changed several times a day. Even the colors of the grease pencils mean different things. Black is for regular GP or "General Population". Red is for Suicide Watch and Close Observation. Blue is for the fellows coming over from the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. And green is used for special cases like "sleepers" who are just visiting from other prisoms but are back in our county for court or one reason or another.

Then we have the Breakdown Sheet. Just a piece of paper with more lines and columns representing the wing boards without all that information, just the numbers. And the numbers have to match precisely with who we have in the house at the time. The numbers have to add up not only across, but down as well and they have to match precisely with the same numbers the main control center has up front or somebody is in trouble. If you drop a number somewhere and can't find your error really fast, they will lock the camp down and count every single person by name and number until we find out where the problem lies. Because if you are off by one, then that one may have slipped over the fence somewhere and we don't want that happening. The numbers are important.

And finally, we have The Files. We have a file in drawers in our office on every single offender in our house. And it contains all the information on the boards and spaces to put down whether or not he ate, showered, went to rec, had a phone call, turned in laundry or had a haircut, among other things. And spaces to write down that he saw the pshrink and got crazy or was observed peeing under his door or threatening to eat the nurse. And spaces to put down what property he brought with him, such as sheets, blankets, magazines, etc. And all of these files have to be maintained in the correct order and be noted in several times a day. I would say that one eighth of our day in each shift in our house is taken up with maintaining The Files. When we get a new offender in the house, i start with a blank file and fill in all the necessary info on the offender. Then whoever puts him into the cell fills out the rest. One place has to be signed by the offender and two officers. Two other places by the offender and one officer. And it all has to be filled out correctly and then put into the correct place in the cabinet.

All in all, it wasn't a bad monday. Glad it's over, tho. Tomorrow it's someone else's turn on the desk.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One of the Bad Days

Normally, on evening shift, we have four officers on the floor, a sergeant, and a bubble officer. Two of the floor officers do rec after six pm, and the floor officers take care of whatever happens later, which is usually not all that much. One evening well over a year ago, we had a really bad night...

There was one of our behavioral knuckleheads over in A-wing who had continued to be a major problem for us almost every day. He had some mild mental issues, but most of his problems centered on the fact that he was twenty years old and still thought he was immortal and loved being the center of attention, no matter what kind of attention it was. We get alot of those.

Right about the time we were getting ready to feed dinner, this nitwit decided he was going to go all out and start his crap again, just to piss us off. He started banging his head and tied a sheet around his neck and said he was going to kill himself and if anyone came into the cell he was going to kill them as well. Lovely.

Myself and one other officer decided we should stay out of it and try to contain the rest of the house and get dinner fed while everybody else dealt with the knucklehead. Not the best choice for me, as it turned out. They had six officers, two sergeants (including ours), two lieutenants and another officer running a digital camera while this idiot thrashed and kicked and spit and bit and they held him down and tried to figure out what to do with him. The lieutenants were running back and forth to the office calling the captain and the major and the warden and the duty officer and probably take-out pizza while they tried to find a solution.

Meanwhile, we tried to feed the house.

As we were getting ready to feed C-wing, the bubble officer opened the wing door and this foul stench rolled out. I send the food service workers back out, smeared a little Vicks under my nose and went in to investigate. It turns out that two of the idiots on suicide watch had smeared themselves with bodily excretions and repainted their cells with the same just for our amusement.

So we pulled those two idiots out and locked them in the showers and called for the inmate who does bio-hazard cleanup to take care of the cells.

In the meantime, we tried to feed the house.

They were still playing with the idiot in A-wing and we fed D-wing and B-wing and they finally let us in to feed A-wing by the time the worker got done with the cells. We managed to get the two stinky idiots back into their cells and were going to go back to try to feed C-wing when the nurse looked up at the observation cameras and said "Look at that guy in two cell. Is that blood?" I could have smacked her right then, even if it wasn't her fault.

So back into C-wing I went and opened the chuck hole in the door and saw blood all over the place. I told the inmate to come to the door and cuff up and he just went and sat down on his bunk. I had no choice but to open the door and go in. The cell was smeared and spattered with blood and there were pools of it on the floor here and there. I got cuffs on the guy and took him out to see the nurse. He'd gashed his wrist open and was leaving a blood trail everywhere he went. The nurse bandaged him up and we got him sent up to medical about the time they decided to take A-wing jerk out to put him in a rubber room somewhere.

Called the bio-hazard guy back. He hadn't even made it back to his house before we were calling him again. A few minutes later the major calls down and says the guy slashed his wrist with a piece of metal but he claims he flushed it down the tiolet and would one of us be so kind as to go and look for it? Nice.

My buddy was kind of all-in what with all the new paint fumes and the blood and all so I decided I'd go in and look for the piece of metal. With tyvek suit and double gloves on (which is a grand combination if you are trying to lose weight) I searched every inch of the cell, even feeling through the blood pools to find out what the guy had cut his wrist with. I even felt around down as far as I could reach in the toilet drain. Nothing. Turns out he had done it with his thumbnail. I offered to remove it for evidence but they decided that wasn't a good idea. Then I let the bio-hazard guy clean up the cell.

Finally, we got to give C-wing their dinner about three hours late. A few of them started to complain but stopped when they saw the look on my face. I would have happily pulled a few of them through the chuck holes like pipe cleaners right about then.

Right about shift change time, my buddy and I got to go up and do all the paperwork that ensued from the nights hilarity. This also included writing conduct violations for the two budding painters that we had to go back down to the house to have read. I think I got home about four hours late that night and the repercussions from all the paperwork lasted for weeks.

It was a hell of a night.