Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Slime Weasels

Today was tuesday. One of the busiest days of our week. Lots of things going all at the same time. We had to get eighteen people out for the AdSeg committe to see. It's a couple of the caseworkers and one lieutenant who see the offenders who are in our house and decide when they get out of our house. Sometimes they get to leave that day and sometimes they decide we need to keep them for another thirty days or so. I always love when we get to keep them for more time. It's never the ones who aren't any trouble. It's always the friggin rocket scientists we get to hang onto forever. It's the ones we can't get rid of in the first place. And for some reason when they go see the committee they are suprised that they aren't getting out and then they are pissed when we put them back in the cell. And we get to deal with their little temper tantrums while the committee members go back to their offices. I'm not blaming them, it's their job. As the tantrums are mine. It's just a fact of life in an AdSeg unit.

But that's not really the subject of this entry. We have a Gang Task Force Officer on our camp. Just the one. And she's supposed to keep track of all the different gang members we have and have had in our camp over the years. It's a daunting job and no, I don't want it. Every once in awhile she either comes down to our house to interview one of our offenders or sends for one to come up to her office. Lately we have had alot of offenders locked up in our house "Under Investigation for possible gang activity". That's never a good sign. That usually means that one or more of the gangs have amassed enough members in our camp to pose a possible threat. Usually when this happens it's one of the white hate groups. I don't know exactly why, but they seem to cause more trouble than any of the others. There's seven or eight of them in my house right now. I'm not sure what exact "group" they belong to and I don't care. Anyway, I had to get one of them out and escort him up to the gang officer for an interview. I hadn't paid much attention to this guy before. He'd never really caused me any problems so he managed to fly under my radar. But when I got him out and took a good look at him, the hackles on my neck rose. He had swasticas and lightning bolts tatooed all over him and the 18-14-88 crap (which I refuse to explain) and "skin head" tatted across his knuckles. While I was getting the shackles on him to take him out of the house someone in another wing called out to him and he turned and gave the nazi straight arm salute. The bile rose in my throat and I really wanted to do something I might get fired for. And when I dropped the little shit at the office I went in and washed my hands several times. The disgust was giving me the willies. It's amazing that just the other day I watched a man drinking his own urine and laughed about it and today this nazi slimeball managed to get under my skin. I guess it's a pet peeve of mine. These supremacists and nazis and skinheads and white power and "family values" pukes just make my skin crawl. I admit that when I was younger I thought the uniforms and the whole "world domination" thing looked kind of cool. But when I was older and learned what they had done I quickly changed my mind. In my opinion they are all sick, disgusting, diseased vermin and I rank them even lower in my esteem than child molesters. Genocide is an ugly ugly thing and living your life to hate and teaching your children to hate is one of the ugliest things of all. America was founded by people from all over the world and we were named the "melting pot" because we took all of these people and melted them all together to make Americans. And these sick slimeballs want to split america back into little pieces and get rid of the parts they don't find "acceptable." If it were up to me, everyone who wore a swastica or any other of the neo-nazi symbols should be treated as enemies of the state and confined in some dark nasty little hole where they would never see the light of day again. AMERICA - LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT They could all go back to germany, but you know what? They don't want them either.


I began a long rant last night about the amount of paperwork that consumes each day at work. I had railed for a bit about how we obsess over the "numbers" and how if the numbers don't add up we get kind of panicky and call for help and don't walk away from it until the numbers all add up. It's understandable, since we don't need for anyone to get misplaced, but it's still annoying. And I was annoyed because instead of doing things where I could move around and make things happen, I spent my whole shift doing paperwork and keeping up with the numbers. It was my day. At any rate, I had this long rant going and was working myself up to a feverish crescendo when a storm rolled through and our power went out. Lost quite a bit of what I had just written and by the time the power was restored I had lost the thread of what I was saying and dumped the whole thing. It wasn't a very good post anyway. Today is someone else's day to play with the paperwork and the numbers. Maybe something interesting will happen. It's tuesday, which is one of our busiest days. I'm sure I'll have something to say when I get home. BTW... it's really dark back in the corner where my desk is when there's no power.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Voyeuristic Tendancies

ALERT: YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO READ THIS POST IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH!! NOT SUITABLE FOR PEOPLE UNDER EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE. I was in the bubble again today. I don't really like doing it, but some days I think it would be better for everyone involved if I wasn't down there. I'm not saying I would get anybody hurt, or anything. I'm just saying that I need a break every now and then and short of calling in sick or having myself pulled from the house, this is what I do. But I noticed today that I'm so used to looking at the inmates either through little windows or through cameras. We get them out of their cells all the time; to go to rec, to see the nurse or give them their meds, to go to visits, etc. And I'm used to interacting with the offenders out on the yard when I see them and with the ones who come down for food service or to clean the house. I'm not afraid of them. But I get so used to "looking" at them through something. I think it may be a form of needing to keep myself detached in a way. A permenant mental barrier of some sort so that I am constantly reminded that these are not normal people. These are not the people I meet out on the streets. Even the offenders who are not in my house, I look at them through my "Officer Face", I guess you could call it. When I walk in the gates a barrier slips up over my face like a riot sheild and someone strings yellow tape around me saying "CORRECTIONS OFFICER: STAND CLEAR". If you ever meet one, you might learn rather quickly and maybe a little painfully that sneaking up on a corrections officer and suprising him or invading his personal space without prior warning is NOT a good idea. I think most of us have those barriers. I just hadn't really noticed mine before. I think they are not only for our personal physical safety but our mental safety as well. Unless you are working in a community release center or some other low security type place like "Club Fed" or something, you will probably see and hear and taste and smell and experience things that most people will never see in their entire life. Even if you go to all the Marilyn Manson concerts and see all of the "Saw" movies, you won't have lived through the things we have. And you certainly wouldn't be able to laugh about it as it slides past you and you move on.
Today I was up in the bubble looking at the observation cameras and watched a man.............. (how do I put this delicately?) "imbibing" things that normal people would not countenance putting anywhere near their face, let alone in their mouth. And he seemed to be enjoying it. As a matter of fact, he refused his lunch because he stated he would rather have that instead. Get the picture? ( I did warn you!) And I got on the intercom down to the office where they can also see the cameras and we all said "Eeeeeeeeeww!" and made rude remarks while we watched him. What could we do? Stop him? Slap it out of his hand? That would have been pointless. He could certainly get more in a short span of time. So we laughed about it and rolled on. I wiped some mental bleach on my mental visor and went on to something else. Sometimes all you can do is watch. And we are required to watch. Not necessarily that but watching is what we are there for. It's what we do. We watch and we observe and we act when it becomes necessary. And we keep our sheilds up so no photon torpedos get through.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Giving In

Today I was once again in the control room, the "bubble" as we call it. Our regular guy is still out at training as we all must do one week at least out of each year. I knew why he was out, but it didn't make me enjoy it. It was a busy day and I spent the day leaping up every two seconds and opening doors or not opening them as I saw fit. After awhile I stopped leaping up only because I had stopped sitting down. My coworkers taught me that was an exercise in futility.
There's an inmate we have recently reacquired from the state hospital just recently. One of our problem children who has earned enough "frequent flier" miles with us to buy a castle in Scotland. Actually, I'd pay to fly the little nit to scotland myself, if they would take him off my hands for good. While I am sure he has some deep-rooted psychological problems, I have pretty much convinced myself that most of his problem is behavioral. He acts out because he gets attention, whether it is good or bad. There seems to be a point when he no longer enjoys the attention, such as getting pepper sprayed or coming into sudden contact with the concrete floor with several large perturbed men on his back bending his limbs in directions they don't comfortably go. He usually skates around that point fairly well, but does slip over the line every now and then. I think he's working himself back up to that point once again. Today he was screaming, kicking his door, throwing things, trying to break things, spitting and just being as obnoxious as he could think to be. We weren't paying much attention to him, since he wasn't actively hurting himself or staff members. He doesn't much like being ignored. This afternoon I saw him trying to break the grill out of the bottom of his cell door with a food service tray. He's done this several times before. I reported it to the officers who were working the floor and they went and got the tray back. Then one of the officers went over to the cabinet where there were several paperback books, selected a bible and gave it to him. I looked at the officer and he said "It's what he wanted. It will keep him quiet for a little while." And him being quiet for the last hour of my shift was the high point of my day.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sad and angry

Those of you who know who I am know that there have been some large changes in my life lately. The wife and I used to be foster parents and we just recently pulled our license. We are burned out on the whole thing. Tired of dealing with case workers who are too overloaded to make a difference and tired of being burned by kids who we were just trying to help. Last night our 17 year old son who we adopted packed his things and left home. We spent today cleaning out the unimaginable mounds of trash he left us. Tomorrow I'll go back to being a corrections officer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I survived another day in the bubble. It was touch and go, there for awhile. I don't know how the regular bubble guy does that five days a week. Of course he stands up there and yells at people all day long. Usually with a smile on his face. Me, I did it without the smile. They were making me crazy. Just when I got what I thought was a chance to sit down or even go to the bathroom everyone would start running in all directions, usually wanting at least three doors open at the same time. I'd stand up there and say rude things to them even though they couldn't hear me. And I'm kind of a control freak, like my sister. I know how things should run and when I'm down on the working floor I try to run them my way. But up there all I can do is open doors (or refuse to open them) and occasionally holler through the intercom or put a note up against the window. I spent alot of my day yelling "No! You idiot! Don't do that!" and "What? Are you crazy?? Hell, no!" I was beginning to lose my voice towards the end of the day. The wife and kids can tell when I've been up there because I always come home a little hoarse.
The evening shift bubble guy got a bid out of the house and he's going to work the yard for awhile. That sucks. I'll miss his smiling face and his shiny shaved head lighting up the room. But I imagine he'll be coming down for coffee several times a night.
I can bid back onto evening shift in november. I'm thinking if I can swing it I'd like to work the yard a bit, myself. It's probably getting to be time for me to get away from the hole for awhile. Getting a bit burned out. Between that place and the stress at home it's starting to chew me up a little bit.
Today, by the way, is the Festival of Latest Novelties. I have no idea what this means. Can't find any sort of definition on the internet. But it's today. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Our regular control room officer is out on training this week, so they stuck me up there yesterday and I'm up there again today. I spent the whole day opening doors and yelling at people to shut them again. I'll probably do the same thing today. And tuesdays are our busiest day of the week. Hoo boy. I don't like working up there most days, as there's no real room to walk. You can take about three steps in either direction before you run into something. Makes me claustrophobic. And the noise is annoying. You have speakers so you can listen to the whole house. It's like working in a train station. Fortunately, it's my friday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

You know what I mean?

It almost embarasses me to post this. It's almost like it should be one of those "dirty little secrets" that should be kept tightly under the rug. No, it's nothing bad or illegal. It's just..... OK, here's the deal. In a nutshell, we were purposefully mean to somebody today and we enjoyed it. And before you judge, let me say that he deserved every bit of it. He had it coming. We didn't do anything to hurt him, or anything illegal or even anything against any of the many many rules that we have to follow. But it was mean. And we laughed about it afterwards. I'm trying to think of a way to explain this without sounding like a complete jerk. I may or may not be successful.

I don't know how any or all of you feel about homosexuality. Personally, I don't have a problem with it. I don't really care what a persons sexual preferences are as long as they only involve consenting adults or inanimate objects. Once you involve children, the mentally infirm or animals, then I draw the line. I have a few friends who are gay. I have a few really good friends who are lesbians. I'm cool with that, though I will admit that there's been a lesbian or two who have broken my heart.

At any rate, we have quite a few homosexual men in prison. (suprise!!!) Many of them are extremely "out" and quite a few are not. I don't bother them, they don't bother me, we get along fine. The state has no laws against homosexuality, BUT there are laws about inmates engaging in sexual acts. This is strictly not allowed. Therefore, if we know that two inmates are trying to "get together" for the purpose of having sex, we are dictated by the law to attempt to thwart them. We are not always successful. Things happen. Sex happens. Rape happens. That's kind of ugly, but that's prison. We do our best to prevent it, but they do their best to avoid being caught. It's in their nature.

Anyway, there are two offenders in my house that have had a homosexual relationship in prison and were trying to be celled together while they were in our house. We intercepted a handful of notes (called "kites" in prison lingo) back and forth between the two that were both graphic and explicit about what they wanted to do to each other when they got together. The offenders... let's call them "Y" and "Z". "Y" was in B-wing and "Z" was in D-wing and they could not communicate directly. They had to send kites back and forth with the inmate porters and food service workers who came to our house. That's how we got some of them. Offender "Z" decided that since C-wing was ajacent to B-wing he would get moved over there so they could talk. And the only way to go to C-wing is to say that you are suicidal and get put in an observation cell, since the rest of C-wing is full. SO, right after lunch he told the wing officer that he was thinking of hanging himself. So we moved him to C-wing, stripped him out and gave him a kevlar smock to wear and put him in an observation cell. We have to do this even if we think it's B.S. The we have to notify a whole lot of people that we have put someone on suicide watch, and then we have to do the paperwork. It's no easy thing. So the guy immediately goes to his window and starts screaming to offender "Y" over in B-wing about how stupid we are that we did exactly what he wanted and he begins a list of very loud and graphic details about what he wants to do to offender "Y" when yet again they meet. Well, we don't much like being called stupid. Not many people do. And we didn't want to hear his pornographic dreams especially when his cell and offender "Y"s cell were right on either side of our office window. We took the next step in the progression and went out and shut his window. Well, that kind of made him mad, let me tell you. Ooops. Important background note: Offender "Z" had just had some reconstructive surgery on his hand and so had his hand in a plaster cast. So "Z" got mad and since he knew we were watching him on the cell camera, began to tear bits of his cast off and bang his arm on the cell door. This action constitutes "harming yourself" and we are compelled by law to prevent offenders from harming themselves and we are actually directed to use as much force as necessary to keep the offender from hurting themselves. Strange, isn't it? Some officers went in and took the guy out and put him on a restraint bench in C-wing. It's a steel bench designed so that a person can be handcuffed to it and allow them minimal movement. There are strict rules in place about who can be put there and for how long, etc. Here's where the mean part comes in. We decided that since he was being such a jerk, we would make sure that his plans came to naught. While "Z" was on the restraint bench, we moved "Y" from B-wing to D-wing and into the cell that "Z" was just in. Let me tell you, that made him mad, too. But after a few minutes, he got over being mad and realized that he had lost that game and if he didn't stop, it could get real ugly from there on in. So he gave up and went back into his cell. That was when we laughed about it. For once in a rare while we get to play the game and win. It was only a pyrrhic victory, to be sure, but we scored a point, anyway. Don't judge me too harshly. I told you once, the things that amuse me at work would make your hair stand on end.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Surfing the web

Went looking for other blogs by Corrections Officers this evening. Boy, the results just leaped right off of the page. There's lots of blogs by inmates (how in hell are they blogging???) and by inmates families, but few by us. Me, I find it to be rather therapeutic. Helps me unwind and sort out some of the harshness and trash-talk that gets stuck in my head during the day. Helps to sort out some of the snarls and knots. Like this one: We had a new offender start at our house today as a food service worker. Background: Since our inmates are not allowed to be out of their cells except for special circumstances, their meals are brought to them. The food is sent down on a truck and other inmates from other housing units put the food on plastic trays and take it to their doors and feed them in their cells. After they are done the other inmates pick the trays back up and take them away to be washed and sent back for the next meal. This happens three times a day. Get it? ((Closed Captioning For The Correctionally Impaired)) (grin)
Anyway, back to this offender. The first time I remember laying eyes on him was about three years ago when he and a few other "emotionally impaired" offenders were repeatedly playing in their own feces in the cells. Several times a day. There was once, I swear to Bob, what I believe was the first chapter of his autobiography written in feces on his cell walls. It was pretty bad, those days. More than once did we have to use pepper spray on him and more than once we had to use a fair amount of physical force to subdue him to keep him from hurting himself or someone else. The man was a menace to himself and others. And he claimed to be a pro hit man for the mob in whatever town he was from. Just like the IRA assassin we had last week. To make it short, the guy was a menace. He finally caused enough trouble they sent him to a maximum security camp somewhere else in the state. Thought we were done with him. Now, after about nine months, he's back again. But this time he's on my side of the cell door and it really feels odd. It's so strange to see him outside of a cell period, let alone without cuffs on. It's only been one day so far. I guess I'll see how it goes. At least he's being polite.

Kitting Up

Tis friday, which means it's my monday. Getting up and putting on my uniform the first day of the week always feels like I'm strapping on armor and preparing to go into battle. Have to make the transition from two days of just being "Dad" to being a corrections officer. This week is going to be strange, I can tell. I spent a whole day printing names on golf balls (a long story) and my fingers are stained blue from the ink. So I know I'm going to have to tell that story a bazillion times. Anything even slightly out of the ordinary, people notice and want all the details. For the most part, we are extremely detail-oriented. The smallest deviations can be a precursor to something coming down the road, and we've learned to look for those. And the offenders are mostly bored and looking for something to talk about and they notice new things fast. The last time I shaved off my moustache my wife and kids never even saw it, but guarantee that every single offender did and had to comment. They have learned that new things aren't always good, either. If something changes for us, it changes for them and they hate changes in their environment. I like to keep them on their toes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Medical report

OK, once again, I'm going to go a little off-topic. It's pertinent, but only to me. Apparently, my arches are not collapsing, as I had feared. It was getting to where it hurt so much during the day that I almost couldn't get my boots off when I came home. I was beginning to think that I was going to have to get a job in a regular housing unit where I didn't have to walk so much. Yeah, I always had a spring in my step on the way out, but that's because I was on the way out. My feet hurt alot at the end of the day. The doctor took x-rays and said that he sees a bit of "arthritic buildup" in the joint of my right big toe. He gave me a 21 pack of this powerful steroid anti-inflammatory. I'm supposed to take six pills today, five tomorrow and so on. The first two made me buzz like an alarm clock, the seond two just prolonged it and I'm supposed to take two more before I go to bed! I guess there won't be any sleep for me tonight. Plus there's this thing taped to my right foot that has to stay there and not get wet for five days. Hoo boy is my foot going to smell bad after five days! But this might take the swelling down and the thing taped to my foot will help redistribute the weight a bit and then I can start using the inserts he gave me. If this doesn't help, then the next step is steroid injections into the joint and after that maybe surgery. I hope it doesn't go that far. I can't sit on my butt for that long and wait for it to heal. And they'll stick me someplace stupid like the mailroom until I get released back to full duty. Hell, I can make it down to the house on crutches. Just put me in the control room and I'll work up there. I can open doors on one side and the other guy can open the ones on his side. He's entertaining. He yells at people even when he knows they can't hear him. Old Navy guy. I should say "retired" navy guy. He has nothinbg to do with those preppy clothes. Anyway, hopefully I'm on the road to recovery and I won't have to lose my spot. Seems like every time I leave for awhile, they muck it all up and it takes me weeks to get things straightened out again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A good idea or no?

In case there's a major outbreak of some sort at our prison (I guess "outbreak" isn't really the right word, here) or another in our state, each facility has an "Emergency Squad" or "E-Squad" specifically trained to respond. These few people (I think there may be 20-25 at each facility) recieve more weapons training and more physical defenses training and more chemical agents training and get to play with all the neat toys that we po' folks don't get to use. And for this they get around fifty dollars more each month. You have to be fairly physically fit just to join and you have to take a test every year to show you are still in shape. Me, I'm not the physically fit type. I got bad feet and bad ankles and I don't like running around in all that heavy gear. Not for fifty bucks a month, anyway. I leave that sort of thing to the younger more gung-ho types. We get alot of those. Enough that we don't usually have a shortage on E-squad. So, this is a good thing that we have all these fit young men to step in if things go south. I'm glad they are there, just in case. The problem with this (and there's ALWAYS a down side) is that they do their training at least once a month so there's at least one day a month when there are 20-25 people who are not at work. This is a definite downside. And it's never on say, a sunday when vitually nothing happens. It's always during the week and things tend to hop during that time. Hardly a day goes by anyway when we are completely staffed. I would hate to be the lieutenant who does the staffing rosters. You never have enough people to go around to begin with, then remove 20 of them from a day and you are screwed. So what do we do? We can't just pay these people to sit around in the firehouse and wait for the bell to ring. No, we have them doing other jobs like volunteer firemen do and when the alarm goes off (or, more correctly their pagers) then they get suited and booted and ready to rock. It's a dilemma.
P.S. -- I know I'll catch hell for this one. Questioning E-Squad? Is he crazy???
I'm not questioning their existence. Like I said, I'm glad they do what they do. But it's a dilemma.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Once again, the house is full. Of course, it's been full for the last two years. Used to be, we would only stuy "full" full for a month or two out of the year. The rest of the time we were able to move people around and clear out whole sections so they could be repainted and refurbished and if something big went wrong with a cell, we could just move the offenders to another cell until that one could be fixed. Ah, I remember those days. Didn't know how good we had it back then. Now we stay full all the time. And the rules for celling offenders together have gotten stricter, too. So when a time comes, like today, when we have to move somebody, things get a little hairy. And of course, it had to happen right before shift change. A little voice in the back of my head said "Just leave it for the next shift". But I can't do that. After all, I used to be on that shift and that's my crew I'd be dumping that problem on. So we took it in hand. The problem: move one offender from "A" wing to "C" wing. Simple enough, eh? Problem Modifier: "C" wing is full of people who either will not move or cannot be moved. Solutions offered: many and varied. Many of them not suitable for viewers under eighteen. It's like one of those sliding puzzles you had when you were a kid. Remember those? You could only move one tile at a time by sliding it one way or another. And you had to slide the pieces all around until they were in the right order. Simple enough for someone who thinks like that. My wife can do those things like Tiger Woods sinks putts. Me, I could probably repaint most of the sistine chapel from memory (not as well, tho) but I need a calculator to balance the checkbook. More modifiers: you can't put the white supremacist in with the crazy black guy. You can't put the flaming homosexual in with the raving homophobe. And you can't put the scared guy who claims to be an IRA assassin in with ANYBODY. We finally found a solution, after the boss came over from her office and helped. Put the two crazy black guys together, move the IRA assassin in by himself in the empty cell and move the supremacist into "C" wing. Bingo! And it only took an hour to clean up the mess afterwards. What a day!

Under the weather

We got hit by the remnants of hurricane Ike yesterday morning. Got completely soaked on the way in to work. After eight hours my boots were still wet and my toes were all wrinkly when I got home. Now I got the chills. Went to bed around six last night and fell asleep watching the Simpsons. I'm still going to work this morning, but I'm not going to like it. But mondays and tuesdays are our busiest days and I don't like to leave them shorthanded. I explain it to my kids all the time. What if I'm not there because I'm just mildly ill and they send a less experienced officer in my place and someone ends up getting hurt? I know it's a stupid and rather egocentric argument, but I would still feel guilty. So no long rant today. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Criminally Insane II

There was once a young man in our house. An offender whose name I will not and cannot mention. This young man was seriously disturbed. He was so disturbed that I spent a month on Wikipedia studying nervous disorders and scrawled an entire notebook page of disorders that he displayed. And I didn't write down the symptoms of these disorders, just the names. An entire page. And I don't really write very big. This kid was messed up. He was fairly young, twenty-ish and was in prison for some sort of assault. I could see very clearly how this would happen. If you crowded him in any way, or if he even thought you were thinking about crowding him, he got extremely manic and paranoid and begin to lash out. I tried my best to work with him (as much as I was able to), to keep him from getting in situations where he would get into more trouble. Many times I had to be rather firm with him and even rough once or twice just to keep him from getting out of control. It took a firm grip on his attention and also his arm to keep him from shooting off on a tangent. We sent him off to the "hospital" more than once for whatever esoteric treatment they thought necessary. And sometimes he came back better. More than once he came back out of control. The last time he went and came back he was released back to his regular housing unit and we didn't see him for several months. I don't have alot of time to consider each offender, especially the ones who are not in my immediate care, but I thought about him occasionally and I was frequently glad that he was out of my house and doing okay. Then one day he came back. There was an altercation with another staff member that went rapidly out of control and there he was back in a cell in my housing unit, just as nutty as a fruit bat. Have you ever seen the movie "Sybil"? He didn't quite have as many people living inside of him as she did, but I'm pretty sure there was at least five people in there. Uncontrollable body movements, visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoia, delusions of grandeur, multiple personalities (who apparently didn't like each other very much), and a very thin grasp on any sort of reality. He was so disconnected from this planet that I would not have been suprised to see him actually levitating. If mind power alone could overcome the laws of physics, he could have flown. We kept him for awhile and then sent him off to the "hospital" again.
I just learned the other day that he's been released. I'm not exactly sure where, but he's out there somewhere. That's kind of scary.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Criminally Insane

There's a place we all fear. Most people don't think about it much in the front of their minds, but the fear is usually there, just the same. In the old movies it was always the "Asylum for the Criminally Insane." Always surrounded by big fences and concrete walls and old gnarled up trees. Something bad always happened there and the place is always haunted. Like Arkham Asylum in the Batman comics. Just getting near the place you could hear the screaming and moaning and the closer you got you could just feel the crazy oozing out of the place. It was a place you would scare people with because everybody just knows once you go into that place, you are never coming out again. Local kids would dare each other to touch the fence and then run away as fast as they could. A bad place. A scary place. A place you never hope to go.

The place still exists. But they are usually alot cleaner and brighter and less scary, at least on the outside. They are either a hospital attached (if not inside) a prison or a prison attached to a hospital. They are an adjunct of each other. This is where we send those who are too crazy to be in a regular prison population. And if you've ever seen any even remotely realistic prison shows, you have to be mighty crazy to merit a place in this august establishment. I always say "riding a bicycle upside down underwater crazy" but that doesn't even cover it. Those people are old hat out on the prison yard. And what exactly do they do in these places? Truthfully, I haven't the foggiest. Sometimes inmates go there and when/if they come back, they are better for awhile. But just for awhile. Then in a couple of weeks or so, here we go again. They are out of control and in trouble and back in my hands again. And I have to keep them from hurting themselves or someone else. But sometimes....sometimes... they come back even crazier than when they left! They come back with the crazy just dripping off of them and foaming at all of the orifices and hand them off to us to deal with. And someone says "Mr. So & So is coming back from the hospital.. They say he hurt one of their staff so they are sending him back." Well now..... isn't that why we sent him there in the first place????

Do we really know that little about how our minds work?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A day off

Today was my day off. Sort of. At least I didn't have to hurry through reading the comics. Had to go out and move a buch of stuff out of the wifes workshop down to mine. Well, it was my stuff and it was in her way. It's only fair. Went out and started mowing the lawn. Got about halfway through and decided to finally take down the old swingset, since we don't have any little ones anymore. I had bought those dog tie-out screw things to anchor the legs down. Had to go to two different places to get them. Two of them were those flat blade type instead of the curly screw ones. Well the curly screw ones just unscrewed right out of the ground. The blade ones didn't. I put a piece of aluminum pipe through the thing for grip and twisted and twisted and twisted and they wouldn't unscrew. Then I got an old broken fibreglass shovel handle and tried to pry them out. Now the shovel handle is broken in two places. Finally found a sturdy chunk of oak I'd been making things out of and basically tore the thing out of the ground. Left a healthy divot hole, too. I was exhausted and hot by this time so I decided to lay off and finish the lawn in the morning. Well, about 7:00 I happened to glance at the weather and see it was going to be raining tomorrow, so out I went to finish mowing the lawn. Got done about the time it was completely dark. Now if I can just argue my son into bed before I have to go pick my daughter up at work so i can come home and go to bed, my day off will be complete.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Big Brother Is Watching

Just when I thought it couldn't get any more irritating to work in a prison. ANd why am I always suprised? Just an optimist, I guess. We've always had a metal detector we had to walk through to go inside. Mostly, it's for the visitors. We don't want them carrying in any weapons or anything. When staff would go through it, it would beep, but they expected it to. My badge alone was enough to set it off. Add my handcuffs, can of pepper spray, keys and assorted buttons and buckles and whatnot on my duty belt, and by god the thing will beep. Let's see... two steel barreled pens, metal eyeglasses and a zippo lighter, too. So they set up a second detector strictly for staff, and they told us it would be set low enough that we wouldn't have to strip down to get in. They lied. Now it's as hard to get to work as it is to get aboard an airliner. There was a line to get in and I had to remove my duty belt and empty my pockets and then do this little dance with one hand over my badge and the other over my belt buckle to get through the damn thing. Step through and put all the stuff back in my pockets and put my belt back on, which is no simple thing. Take a look at the next police officer you see. Look at all the little straps he has holding his belt on. I have those, too. Mostly because I have no hips so I need to attach the thing to my pants belt to keep it up. Some staff go for the "gunslinger" look, with the belt hanging down on one hip. That's not me. I feel the need to have all my stuff secure in case I need to run or move suddenly. Then add all the extra stuff I get while I am at work. A radio, a cuff key, house keys and at least two extra sets of handcuffs, sometimes more. My belt alone with the gear I always have is over three pounds. The extras, maybe another three. So the thing needs to be securely attached to my body when I'm there or stuff will go flying everywhere. But it's a real pain in the butt to take on and off. I suppose if my life depended on my getting my belt off in a hurry I'd probably die. But that's neither here nor there. They put in the detector to keep anyone from bringing weapons (namely firearms) into the prison. But they make plastic pistols now with less steel in them than my zippo lighter. Why I bet I could... No. Not going there. I couldn't and I won't. May not be a genius, but I'm smarter than that. Somebody from higher up decided that we should all go through a metal detector to get into work. Probably somebody who has either never stepped foot inside a prison in the last 5 years, or one of those "muckety-mucks" who get escorted inside and nobody cares if they beep when they go through. It's like the cell phones. Nobody is supposed to have a cell phone inside the prison gates. Unless you're "somebody" of course. Then nobody cares. You can always tell who is really important around there, because they are allowed to carry a cell phone inside. I rattle on. Sometimes I think Dilberts pointy haired boss sits in an office up in the capitol and rolls word dice to create new policy. Then there'll be a fancy memo send 'round stating "All staff members should now wear green socks (to go with our black boots and pants, of course) and the new duty uniform will include an ascot and a red beret." Let the governor come down incognito and do my job for a week. I'll bet they'd change the setting on that stupid detector. ANd the first time some inmate threw something on him, but I'd get a raise, too.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What the?

Here's a quick one.... just an internet gripe. When I first got on the net back in 1998, you couldn't make a webpage without a counter on the bottom to show how many people have visited your site. Now I can't find one on blogspot that works at all. Either that or they are titled so strangely that I don't know what I am looking at. Phooey.


Same inmate, different situation. After the last incident, we were told not to bring him out of the cell unless it was a dire emergency. He's been inventing emergencies for the last couple of days to no avail. Today he claimed he swallowed something that he shouldn't have. The nurse didn't believe him, but the Lieutenant did. So the Lt and one other officer got him out and shackled up and walked him all the way to medical where the same nurse saw him again. He gave him a stool softener and said "This too, shall pass" and sent him back to the house. We were expecting something to kick off any moment. Thats' the way he is. One minute he will be fine and then.... Here we were, all ready to watch this little old lunatic try to assault someone else and he just walked back up and into his cell without a peep. Go figure.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mental Floss

I started a post last night about what I find amusing at work and how it would never be funny at home. The whole thing got rather dark and a bit ugly, so I dumped it. I think that sort of thing should just remain an inside joke. Our version of "whistling past the graveyard" wouldn't be understood by anyone who hadn't been where we have been. Every "profession" has these. One-liners and references that would seem bizarre or obscure or even twisted to the outsider have reams and reams of input for those in the know. Like the Masons secret handshake or trying to discern a Navy officers rank from the braid on his sleeve. We'll just keep that under our hat for now, I think. We always say to ourselves "If we couldn't laugh about it, we wouldn't be able to work here." And that's true enough. Sometimes it reminds me of M.A.S.H. The crazy things they did just to stay sane in the middle of the war. Except we don't get to make our own gin.

Accentuate the Positive

I've heard a few comments, from my kids and friends, about why I only relate the negative things that happen at work. The fights, the crazy people, things like the new shock shield. That's the exciting stuff. That's the interesting stuff. The mundane things I save for the next shift coming on as I am headed out the door. When they ask how things went most days I just say "Nobody escaped, nobody died and none of us got hurt. It's been a good day." That's probably nine out of ten days at least. SOmetimes we have bad runs where it is chaos for weeks on end. Then people get hurt. We had two officers sent out to the hospital a couple of weeks ago over some guy who went nuts after coming out of his cell to see the nurse. He didn't want to go back and started to struggle. One officer smacked his head into a cinder block wall and sprained his ankle and the other threw out his back. Fortunately I heard the commotion and came in to assist. One other officer and I managed to get the guy contained and put away so the other two could get clear. That was before I started this blog or I would have written on it sooner. But I try, at least, to blog about the things that are interesting to me. That old relief valve sort of thing. Helps me blow some of it off. And it keeps my blog from being too boring. Unfortunately, I work at a prison and the exciting things that happen there are a little weird for the non-corrections folk. One day I'll tell you what really tends to amuse me there. It's disturbing.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Early Morning Grouse

When I decided to do this blog thing I really wanted 10-5 dot blogspot dot com. Since 10-5 is "Officer Needs Assistance" it seemed more fitting to what I was doing here. But it was already taken. Went to look at what was there the other day. Somebody in Indonesia or somewhere (I can't read the language so I can't tell) has hogged up the page with nothing but a screenshot out of some anime cartoon and nothing else. Probably some kid who wanted a page but then didn't know what to do with it. So I'm stuck with 10-49 which, as I'm sure you all know (there'll be a quiz later, so pay attention!) is "Fight In Progress". It's also fitting, but not as good as 10-5 would have been. Phooey. Kids nowadays.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Sometimes I seem to have some difficulty making the jump from work to home. Not the travelling part, that's easy. I just jump in the truck and my mental autopilot takes over and the next thing I know I'm pulling in the driveway. It's the mental and attitudinal transition I sometimes have a problem with. Everybody always says "When I walk out the front gate, I leave this place behind and I don't think about it at all." That's all fine and good if you can do that. It's not thinking about work that I have a problem with. It's the mindset, the need to be alert and moving all the time that gives me trouble. It's the ability to relax. After all this time I can only sit down and do nothing for about ten minutes at a time, then I have to get up and do something. All I have to do is get up and do something, just accomplish one thing, even if it's just getting more water in my cup even if I didn't need it or going to the bathroom or checking my email real quick. Then I can sit back down for a little bit longer. My kids will tell you that I can sit at my computer for hours on end, but they are so used to me moving about that they didn't see all the times I got up to do something else. I didn't notice this until about a year ago when I finally realized that it takes me three hours to watch a two hour movie on the dvd player. I suspect that there may be an element of OCD working it's way into my subconcious. Is it becoming a problem in my life? No, not really. Between work and the things going on at home with the kids it's no real suprise that relaxing is a hard thing to do right now. It doesn't seem to be affecting me mentally or physically...... not that I've noticed, anyway. And the tinfoil in my hat is NECESSARY to keep the satellites from beaming messages into my head! (grin) I think there's just too much going on in my life right now. Hopefully things will slow down a bit soon. A few odds and ends to clean up at the moment, but maybe in a year or three when the last of the kids go off to college and I finally get tired of working AdSeg I can learn to put my feet up for awhile. Deep breath.... deeeep breath..... let it out....... ahhhhhh.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Off subject, but a sore point

Thought I'd make a comment on something non-correctional for a change. I hope you forgive me, but this has been grating on my mind for a few weeks now. I used to be a huge olympics fan. When I was young I would watch everything I could, (especially womens gymnastics... wow) even the sports I wasn't really interested in. That avidity has waned over the years. I rarely watch any teevee at all these days. But I happened to be channel surfing one day and came across olympic fencing. I cannot recall ever watching this before. I was severely disappointed. I had always envisioned world-class style fencing as a real science. Maybe not the swashbuckling stuff they show on the movies, but at least a little style. This seemed more like two people slashing at each other with sticks. And each match only lasted a matter of seconds. I don't know if it was sabre, foil or epee. I know there's a difference. Didn't matter. These people had no style. It was just leap forward and slash and "Buzz! Point!" and it was over. I tried a fencing class one in my younger years and quickly learned that I have neither the eyesight or the manual dexterity for the sport. My feet have a mind of their own and are often at odds with the rest of my body. I dropped the class, with the teachers nodding aquiescence, after the first few days. It was necessary to get me out of there before I hurt myself or somebody else or before I ruined all of the equipment. I'd like to see olympic quarterstaffs or possibly broadswords. At least with those there would be a solid hit and no "touching". Phooey. Ok, that's all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Just realized I misspelled the word "shield" several times on the last post. Forgive me, it has been a long day. I'm really not that illiterate, I promise. I'll try to do better.

A New Toy

They used the shock sheild on an offender today. And the man was crazy enough that seeing it didn't phase him. He just backed up and got ready to fight. They gave him the opportunity to submit and come out peacefully and even after he saw that sheild arc across, he didn't give up. Like I said, crazy. He got thumped properly. Then they took him up and gave him a butt full of haldol in medical. That's what the whole thing was over. He was due meds and was getting out of control and refused to take them. We told the pshrink when he came in "This guy is whacko. Something needs to be done." So he went into the wing and came out five minutes later and said "Your'e right. I'll call and get him a shot." So they brought in a team with the new sheild and zapped him and brought him down and toted him off for his meds. We've had the sheild for about a month and everybody in charge was afraid to be the first person to authorize its use. I spoke about that in an earlier post. Wanting to make decisions as long as they wouldn't get the blame. "If this might possibly make me look bad, don't do anything." It's either that or "Oh to hell with it, just leave him alone or give him what he wants, I don't want to have to do the paperwork." Phooey. One good thing came out of it. Nobody else who saw and heard it go down wants anything to do with that new sheild. We may not have need of it again for a very long time. That suits me. I'm used to the chaos, but things like that upset my routine and get me behind. I don't ask for much, most days. Support me in what I do (when I'm right, anyway), and get the hell out my way when I'm doing my job. And that's all I got to say about that.

Opps P.S.-- The one thing I like the best about my boss. Not my Sergeant(s), but the other one. If something needs to be done, she makes a decision and gets it done. And if it goes bad or turns out to be wrong, she admits it and says "OK, that was my mistake. Let's learn from this." You go, girl! And I'm not just saying that because she might read this one day.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

Another holiday gone past. At least it wasn't one of the depressing ones. Fed them hamburgers and little bags of plain nasty chips and the ones that weren't locked up got to play games out on the yard. Whoopie. Hmmm... I guess my attitude is showing. Been a bit of that lately. We really don't get paid enough for what we do. In the past five years I've been assaulted, spit at, kicked, had water, urine and feces thrown at me and once I was asked (albeit politely) to search through pools of blood in a cell to find a metal object an offender claimed he cut his wrist with. Turns out he used his thumbnail, but they didn't tell me that until I had already searched the cell. There are people who work on our camp who have never had these things happen to them and they've been there longer than I have. They don't get paid enough either. Basically in my observations, there are three different kinds of offenders in our prison. Those who are either crazy, dangerous, loud or stupid (or any combination thereof); those who are whiny and demanding and annoying; and the ones you never see and you don't even know they're there. Some days I think I would like to have a house full of the latter kind. But I'm sure I would go stir crazy after a day or two. I have gotten so used to the chaos of working in an AdSeg unit that anyplace else is strange and boring. I imagine it's like some of the guys who stepped back out of the jungles in Vietnam onto the suburban streets of America. You get so used to being alert and aware of your surroundings and trying to guess which way the other person will move that when the need for that goes away you feel like you are missing something. Granted, what I do is nothing like stalking through a jungle trying to kill someone before he kills you. I was a little too young to get involved in that one and I'm pretty happy about it. But it's enough every day that when I get dressed for work I feel as if I'm strapping on armor and getting ready to do battle. Of course, we don't get armor. We get polyester uniforms (whoever invented that stuff is a putz), a radio and a can of oleo capiscum (O/C) pepper spray. That's it. No gloves, no vests, no shin guards, no night sticks, no weapons at all but our brains and a bit of yearly training. And the hope that if you or someone else calls for help, that somebody will get there in time. Usually they do, but sometimes they don't and then people get hurt. That's what they pay us for. And not very much, at that. Someone told me once (I don't KNOW that it's true but I suspect it is) that we are the highest trained and the lowest paid Corrections Officers in the country. It's just not right. Granted, I don't work at Pelican Bay or Folsom, but it's still a dangerous and grinding environment and people do get hurt all the time. More money wouldn't fix that problem, but it would sure make getting up every morning and going to work seem a little easier.

Blink blink blink...

Just reading last nights post. I do tend to get up on a soapbox, don't I? What the heck... it's better than breaking things or screaming at the squirrels. AT least this way I don't wake the neighbors.