Sunday, August 31, 2008

Attitude and...

We suspected there was going to be trouble. The man is unstable and prone to violence, but there are times when there is nothing you can do but take them out of the cell and try to contain the damage the best you can. And for the stupidest thing... of all things, a haircut. You just can't deny a man a haircut if he is acting in control of himself and asks for one. So we brought him out. He started running his mouth, like he does, but we got him downstairs without incident and got him set down in the barbers chair. Truthfully, I think that if we had put him back when he first opened his mouth, it would have ended there and nobody would have gotten hurt. But you just can't deny a man a haircut. It's like medical services, or food or mail. You have to give it to him if he's physically in control of himself. The man hates me, personally. I'm not exactly sure why. I've never done anything to him. I've even been polite to him at times. It's difficult, but I've done it. So when he got set down and there was four or five other staff watching him, I stepped into the office. A few minutes later I hear him running his mouth again so I stepped out and they are taking him back to his cell. They get him in and almost get the door shut when all of the sudden there is a quick movement and everybody goes rushing into the cell. I run up to assist and they've got him down on the ground and I can smell pepper spray in the air. They come out and get the door shut and the cuffs off and everybody heaves a sigh of relief. It could have been so much worse. Apparently he tried to bite Sarges finger off. Even though we suspected it was coming, it still could have gone so much worse. He could have actually gotten hold of that finger. That would have gotten ugly quick. There could have been more people there who might have gotten hurt. A nurse or psychologist or Probation Officer. He's a seriously crazy violent person. And the stuff that spews out of his mouth constantly. I don't know how many times he has threatened to kill me or my whole family. Multiple dozens of times, at least. And it's always "bit*h" this and "Motherfu**er" that and everybody is a "pu**y". I've edited the words some. Nobody needs to hear that sh*t. ANd I guess one of the other staff members out in the sally port got tired of his mouth and said "Fu** you" to him. Now that person has been disciplined and pulled out of the house for awhile. And he's one of our best officers, too. A contientous (did I spell that right?) hard worker. A steady individual. Someone who's always there and at your back and doing the things that need to be done. Pulled away from where we need him because he said a nasty word. Unprofessional. Okay, I agree, it was unprofessional. But ya know, if you walk around in crap up to your armpits for long enough, some of it is going to rub off on you. It just aint right, sometimes. For all that we are a farflung offshoot of the Department of Justice, there doesn't seem to be much justice for us. One of the characters in one of Robert Heinleins books used a swear word alot. "Tanj!" There Aint No Justice. Sometimes we end up being victims just like innocent people on the street. And we certainly don't get paid enough for this.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Devils Dance Floor

Some time ago we got a new person working in our housing unit. He was to be our control room or "bubble" officer. The bubble officer stands in a little glassed-in room that sits higher than the rest of the unit and controls the house doors. We can't open a wing door or cell door or even go to the bathroom without the bubble officer opening the door for us first. A good bubble officer becomes our "eye in the sky" and watches our backs when we are working and will (hopefully) call for help if we need it. This one turned out to be a good bubble officer. He was always there and watching when things went south. Always ready to let us in or out if needed. Right now he's trying to get another position out on the yard for a change of pace. He will be missed up there. I won't feel quite as safe on the floor as I did. Hopefully we get another good one.
But I completely lost track of what I was trying to say. He turned me onto a band named "Flogging Molly", an irish rock/folk/punk/something or another group. Very cool music. I think so, anyway. They have a song called "The Devils Dance Floor" which is very high-energy. It has nothing at all to do with prison or fighting or even any element of danger, it's about dancing with a girl. But for some reason we adopted it as our theme song. Some of us did, anyway. The Devils Dance Floor seems an appropos name for where we work. I listen to the song in the mornings on my way in, to get me amped up for the day. And there have been times, when things were getting tense, I found myself singing the lyrics in the back of my throat:

Well swing a little more, little more o'er the merry-o
Swing a little more, a little more next to me
Swing a little more, little more o'er the merry-o
Swing a little more, on the Devil's Dance Floor

I've apparently said them out loud more than once because I've gotten a few strange looks while doing that. I hope the good folks in Flogging Molly will forgive me for using their lyrics as kind of a battle cry. But they are just so right.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hey Now!

On the subject of sergeants... since it was mentioned by my one and only commenter so far. I have several good sergeants. On several different shifts. And all of them fighting to keep their head above water in the turbulence of the AdSeg unit. They all have their own style and do things their own way. And I, of course, get to hear the criticism running both ways. The two sergeants I work with the most, Jesse and Larry (you know who you are), are both excellent to work for. They know what they are doing and can both make a decision. The difference is that day shift has a different supervisory heirarchy than evenings. On evenings, if we do something and do it by policy and don't bother the higher ups with paperwork or too many details, they leave us alone. We do what we need to do and nobody pees in our wheaties. On day shift, everybody wants to have a finger in the pie, as long as they don't get blamed for any mistakes. And, of course, if it goes badly, then it was our fault to begin with. On evenings you have one lieutenant and maybe a captain there to make a decision one way or another. On days we have multiple lieutenants, captains, a major, a FUM, a warden and a covey of assistant wardens all wanting to make their own decision their own way. As long as they don't get blamed if anything goes bad, anyway. I wish I could get my two sergeants together at a barbecue and have them drink a beer together and get to know each other. What I would like to do is bang their heads together and say "Look! We all want the same thing, which is to get home safe at the end of the shift. Let's work together a little bit and see if we can make this a little easier." It may resort to that. I was on evening shift for almost 5 years straight. I've been on days for maybe 3 months. Not that long, but it's been long enough to see what is going on. I've said it before and I'll say it again.... actually Ben Franklin said it first: "If we don't hang together, we shall surely hang seperately."
It's early morning on my monday. 6:03 am. Phooey. Getting ready to start another day and fight the good fight. Or at least fight the stupid fight. That's usually how it goes. Talked to my sergeant this weekend and he said things were getting crazy again. Whee. A few more cups of coffee and I'll strap on my gear and head into the fray. I'll let you know how it goes. TTFN!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ups and Downs

Just a bit over five years ago I started work for the Department of Corrections. Like everybody else, I had a bad opinion of people who worked in prisons. Most of that I had gotten from mainstream teevee. Any show you see that has a "prison guard" (we don't call ourselves that) tends to depict them as bull necked beetle browed sadistic thugs who only exist to abuse prisoners or make money by selling them drugs. Or both. That's not entirely true. Granted, there are some who fit that profile to a tee. There are some people I work with who only work there so they can be mean to someone else and get paid for it. Yes, and several of my coworkers have "gone over to the dark side" and been caught bringing in things they shouldn't have or doing things they shouldn't be doing and they no longer work there. But for the most part we are just average people who need a job and want to go home in one piece after our eight hours are over. And some days we get home unscathed. Some days we don't. It happens. Some times people are going to be stupid no matter what you do to avoid it. The only thing you can do is try to make sure, to the best of your ability, that you or none of your fellow staff get hurt. Sometimes that happens, too. We do the best we can and motor on down the road.
Anyway, this is my first attempt at a blog. I'll write some more when I have something more to say. And I always have something to say.... trust me.