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.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Since I'm taking a few days off from work, let's rehash and old incident. There was this young knucklehead, only 18 or 19 years old at the time. He was too young and too mouthy and too stupid to survive out on the "hill" so he decided, in his infinite wisdom, that he'd do his whole bit in the hole and be safe. He kept doing stupid things to get locked up and as soon as he was close to getting out, he'd do something else stupid so we wouldn't let him out. The problem was that he was getting institutionalized inside the institution. Kind of like a stockholm syndrome in reverse. Out on the hill most of the inmates act fairly close to how normal human beings would act. They are generally calm and polite, take regular showers, and keep themselves busy. But in the AdSeg unit they lose all civility, they become loud and abusive, bored, and they don't take good care of themselves. Sometimes they feed emotionally off of each other and things tend to escalate farther than they would under normal conditions. I'd love to see a psychological study done on this phenomenon. AT any rate, young knucklehead kept getting stupider and stupider. During showers on night he pulled away from the escorting officer and jumped up on the dayroom table and screamed and hollered until they managed to pull him back down. The next day he pulled away from one of the rec officers who ended up slamming him to the floor to get him back under control. The rec officer was fairly new and was worried, since it was the first time that had happened to him, that he was going to be in some kind of trouble for putting him on the ground. Turned out ok, tho. A couple of days later he decided that he wanted a cell by himself for awhile and the only way to do that (as we all well know by now) is to say you are going to kill yourself and go into an observation cell. So he started banging his head on the wall and yelling that he was suicidal. SO myself and the same rec officer who had slammed him the other day went to get him out and put him on suicide watch. We got him and his cellie in cuffs and pulled knucklehead out and as the rec officer was taking the cuffs off his cellie, knucklehead decides he's going to go for one more ride and pulls away from me. Like I said, he was only 18 or 19 and pretty small and he pulled his arm out of my grip and started running across the wing. Naturally, I went a-chasing. The wing got pretty loud as they saw me chasing him, hooting and hollering at the show. I caught up with him about the time we got to the front of the wing and I grabbed his arm again and was just going to roll my shoulder into his back and take him to the floor. But it turned out that we were alot closer to the front of the wing than we both thought and those pesky laws of physics took over and we smacked into a window. Actually, he smacked into the window. I ran into his back. It was a big safety-glass window with the chicken wire running inside of it, about two foot by four foot. We hit the window and there was a loud "pop" and a "crunch" and the window spiderwebbed all over. The wing went totally silent for a split second then about fifty voices said "Ooooooooooooo!" I'll have to admit I grinned for just a second there. Then I put him on the ground and he went totally limp. His eyes and mouth were open and he was completely limp. I froze in place and my first thought was that I had killed him. Myself and the rec officer and the sergeant who had just came in just froze for a few seconds and I could see that they thought I had killed him, too. I started to feel really bad when he finally made a noise and started breathing and groaning. A huge three-way sigh of relief went out from us and we picked him up and carried him off to an observation cell. Then, of course, I had to go do several hours worth of paperwork and explain to the major and two captains what happened. Turned out I was okay on what happened and they ended up charging young master knucklehead twelve hundred dollars for the window. It took them over a year to replace the window but it was kind of cool that other inmates saw it and asked questions and they always pointed to me. I ended up with kind of a strange dual-rep as one of the coolest most laid-back officers in the house and also not someone to mess with. I still get razzed about it by staff every now and then, tho.

P.S. As I am wrapping this up, it occurs to me that I may have mentioned this incident before. If I have I apologize and here it is again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I thought when I started this thing that it would just be a local blast and I would have some fun with mostly just the crew I work with. But instead of just being a midwest lead bible belt thing I've now had hits on my site from one coast to another. I just got a hit today from Rockville, Maryland! Yow! Heck, I even got a hit from Sweden and one from France. Granted, they were mistake hits and they didn't stay but still. I've actually had like three times as many readers in Oregon and Washington that I have had here in the home-ville. That's cool. They can probably detect the scent of a misplaced pacific northwesterner in my typing style. (grin)
Anyway, today was just nuts. Twelve people on suicide watch or close observation and the psych lady came in to see all of them. One of them when he came out of the cell was a bit agitated and a couple of young punks were yelling at him and got him more upset. He was pretty much incoherent when he went in to see the pshrink and as we were taking him back to his cell he lunged away to scream at one of the punks. It was touch and go there for a minute as to whether or not somebody was going to get hurt and even up to the time he went into his cell and the door started to close I was wondering if we were going to dance. He went in tho and I got my cuffs back off and we stepped outside for a bit of a breather. I was so wound up from the adrenaline that I had the jitters for about five minutes. He was kind of a big dude and pretty crazy and even if he was in cuffs I didn't want to dance with him. I'm getting too old for that stuff, I think. The last of them went back just as the people showed up for the Ad-Seg Committee. About twenty offenders to pull out for them to see and piss off and then it was time to feed lunch and then it was time for releases and right in the middle of releases some other knucklehead who had gotten locked up earlier in the day went berzerk and needed to be put on suicide watch and from the looks of things it was touch and go there with him too. Then it was time to hand back property to the ones who had gotten off of close observation and do all the paperwork and catch up on my logs and mark down the meals and then it was time to go home! Man! Most days I am really glad to see third shift come in the door and today was no exception. I could have kissed.... well... one-sixth of them, anyway. I hope if I go back to evening shift that I'll go somewhere as exciting as my house has been. Or at least someplace that will keep me busy.
P.S. I'm off work for the next five days. Taking a mini-vacation to take care of some "honey-do's" that have been piling up. I'll still post on adventures past, I think. At any rate, stay loose and be careful out there.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

An economical vehicle

Let's digress away from today. Today was just a goat-rope and I really don't want to discuss it. Let's talk instead about cars. Not Fords or Chevys or Lexus or even BMW's. Let's talk Cadillacs. In my house, as you may know by now, the offenders are locked in their cells pretty much 24-7. But still they manage to get things from one cell to another. Sometimes one of the dorm workers will move things from cell to cell without us seeing, but they know they will get locked up for that so they try really hard not to get caught. But when there's nobody around to move the things for them, they make cadillacs. All a cadillac consists of is string and a weight. Half a bar of state soap is usually good and half a bar of state soap inside an empty toothpaste tube is even better. Tie a string to it (threads removed from the mattress or a sheet or a pair of boxers, whatever) and there you go! Let's say that you have two stamps (stickers) and your buddy five cells down has a handrolled cigarette (roll) that you really want. What you do is hang on to one end of the string and shoot the weighted end (the "car") out under your cell door and towards your buddies cell. If you are really good, you can get it all the way down in front of his door and all he has to do is reach under the door with his fingers and pull it in. If you suck at it, like so many of them do, then he has to shoot his cadillac out under his door and try to capture your string and pull it in. Now of course, you have already made the deal with your buddy by screaming through the door or the window in that secret inmate code: "Hey Red! I got two stickers for a roll! I'm gonna shoot my car down! Hook me up!" and you think that speaking in the secret code nobody is going to have the slightest clue what you are talking about. Sometimes we just listen to the and figure out who has tobacco in their cell and then go in and take it away from them. Sometimes it's like shooting fish in a barrel and we don't have the heart. SO anyway, your buddy ties his roll and his string onto your cadillac and screams through the door "Pull!". You pull the string into your cell and get your cigarette and put the two stamps on his car and scream back "Pull!" and he pulls in his stamps and everybody is happy. And it's not just for cigarettes or stamps, either. I've seen notes (kites), pictures (flix), lighters (flintstones), chicken legs, magazines, sandwiches and even an extra pair of socks travel this way. ANd if you're really good, you can build a ramp out of a paperback book or the cardboard off the back of a notepad and get your car over the lip on the top walk and down to the bottom or even all the way across the wing. One time we had a new guy fresh out of the academy in the house and he had never seen anyone cadillacing and wanted a good view. So I went out into B-wing and taped one of my store-bought cigarettes (a tailor) to the floor in the middle of the wing. Every single inmate who had string was trying to get that cigarette. It looked like spiderman had a sneezing fit in there. ANd of course they were all getting tangled up in each other and cursing and screaming at each other to get out of the way. SOmebody finally managed to get it, but I was laughing way too hard to see who it was.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Games People Play

The joyful clatter of children at play. The patter of their little feet and their squeals of childish joy. The echoing thunk of a rubber ball and the whispery whisk whisk whisk of a jumprope against the concrete and foursquare courts and hopscotch grids chalked on the sidewalk. Sometimes I miss those noises. Occasionally I will stop somewhere kids are playing just to listen to the noises they make as they are having fun. Sometimes that makes going to work worthwhile. What I mostly get to hear is curses and screams, threats and often very direct sexual propositions. Sometimes those really bother me. I'm a mid-forties male with thinning grey hair and a bit of a paunch. I'm not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Although I do look awesome in hats. I will admit that. I know that they just say those things to try and get under my skin but I never let them know that sometimes it does. Usually when an offender propositions me I'll go to his cell door and look him up and down through the window and state (in a very loud voice) "No thanks, you're too tall for me, miss." and walk on as the rest of the wing razzes my poor would-be suitor. They kick on the doors as hard as they can in hopes it will either get our attention or just to annoy us and the walls of their cells are decorated with such genius missives as "FUCC THE POLLESE". That one was one of my favorites. Hell, if I could just figure out who those pollese were, I might not like them either. I told that to the offender who had written that on his walls and he just stared at me like I was completely crazy.
My father read my blog awhile ago one day while I was on a sarcastic jag and called my wife and said to her that he thought I liked my job but now that he's reading my blog, he's not so sure. She explained that one of our favoriye pastimes at work is to complain about working in a prison. He understood. It was just like being in the miltary. They could send us into a combat zone and lose our mail and be late with our chow and there wouldn't be anything we could really do about it. But the one inalienable right we had was to bitch about being in the service. And even if you loved doing what you were doing and were in a dream post, there's always something to bitch about. And while I do like my job (for the most part) and the people that I work with (for the most part) there are lots of things about working in a prison to bitch about, trust me. If we had a complaint department, most of us would never even bother getting out of line after our turn was up. We'd just walk around to the back of the line and wait to go again....

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Chance Taken... An Opportunity Missed

I stayed home sick on tuesday, something I rarely ever do. Usually I have to be at deaths door before I will call in sick. But I went home early monday because I was running a fever and when I woke up the next morning I was still hot and feverish so I stayed home. Mostly out of respect for my fellow staff who informed me that deer season was coming up and if I got them sick I was going to be in real big trouble. What the heck. I have somewhere around three hundred hours of sick time saved up. At any rate, this left me with a long weekend and nothing pressing to do. Since I was still having internet problems, we decided to tackle them and get it all sorted out. Thought it might be the router or the modem. Bought new ones. Still a problem. Had the cable company out to fix things. They replaced everything from the pole all the way to my modem and we still had a problem! Decided it must be my wiring and replaced my wiring with a wireless system. Problem solved. Don't know why my cables all went out at the same time. COuldn't see a break in them anywhere and why did all four cables go bad at the same time? It's a mystery. And it only cost me two days and about two hundred dollars to fix. Nice.
So anyway, when I went into work this morning, I could tell it was going to be an interesting day. Everybody was all riled up. ANd we had heard a rumor that one of the cells in C-wing had managed to get some of the sand tubes into his cell and would we please check it out? A WORD OF EXPLANATION: We have fifteen or twenty of these six foot pieces of fire hose filled with sand and sewn shut on the ends. They weigh about thirty pounds each and are pretty good at stopping water coming in or out from under a cell door and they are good at blocking "illicit access" to the cell by someone sliding something underneath the door. We use them for those who are prone to flood their cells or those we want to keep isolated from any foreign objects. Also good for those who tend to throw stuff out from under their doors. And the tubes can be washed down with bleach water and the pressure washer and used again and again.
This knucklehead had managed to reach his arm around the grating under his door and pull two of the tubes into his cell. When we found out about it, we went to his cell and demanded that he send them back out. He, of course, refused. He said he would. He wouldn't send them out and he wouldn't let us come in without a fight. Then he piled his mattress against the door and put a wet t-shirt over his face (to keep out the pepper spray) and waited. Soon enough, five guys dressed in black coveralls with helmets and body armor showed up to take him out of the cell. The lieutenant stuck a MK-46 pepper spray device (with a long wand like a bug sprayer) through the side of the door and sprayed into the cell and let him bake in it for a few minutes. Then the team came in. They tackled him to the floor in his cell, put handcuffs and leg irons on him, stripped him down to his boxers and carried him to an empty cell downstairs. They put him face down on the floor of the cell, removed the restraints and backed out the door and shut it. We watched and waited while we looked at the cell monitor. It took him a full five minutes to get back up on his feet again and he was real quietfor awhile after that. He was still in an empty cell in nothing but boxers when I went home. ANyway, about thirty minutes after this knucklehead go his comuppance, some other knucklehead in another cell started getting stupid. he was buddies with knucklehead #1 and he decided that since he was a "soldier" that he would "ride it out" with his pal.
There's a point to this story, I swear. Just hang with me a moment.
So knuclehead #2 starts screaming that he's going to kill himself, knowing full well that we have to react to that threat. He thought he was going to get another team, like his pal did. But when he wrapped a towel around his neck and knotted it tight, the Sarge just waved for the door to be opened and Sarge and three other officers just rushed in and dogpiled him to the floor. I got there in time to hand Sarge my bandage scissors (which we carry for just such an emergency as that) so he could cut the towel off the guys neck. Once he was fully restrained they carried him to an empty cell and stripped him completely down and left him with nothing but a kevlar smock. (Look up +prison and +suicide smock for a good look) And while he was being stripped down and searched, I happened to look down at my feet. In these situations I always try to stop and scan the area for any possible useful weapons or contraband that might be laying loose in the cell. I was standing with my feet between the offenders knees (his feet being held up towards his lower back) and there just happened to be a (rather small) portion of his anatomy right there by the toe of my boot. Let me tell you, I thought about it. In the one or two seconds it took me to appraise the situation I must have flipped coins in my brain three dozen times. In the end, I stepped back and did nothing. It would have only made matters worse. But man! it would have felt good there for a second or two.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is there anybody out there?

I'm beginning to wonder how many corrections officers there are out there blogging. If there are very many, they are difficult to find. Maybe it's because we spend so much time documenting things at work that we find it difficult if not redundant to reiterate them elsewhere. Me, I suffer from verbal diarrhea. The stuff just flows out sometimes without a whole lot of concious thought. I've spent some time looking for others, hoping to maybe gain a few insights into other places but all I am able to find is blogs by prisoners (I ask again, how are they blogging?) and their families crying about how awful prison is and how unfair it is that they must be there. Of course, they're all innocent. And the whole thing is an awful miscarriage of justice. Boo hoo. I'll bet if there was candid videos of how these guys act inside the prison as opposed to how they act in the visiting room or on the phone with their families most of those people would stop acting so aggrieved and wake up a little bit. When the offenders are away from their families and in amongst the "homies" they tend to act like complete fools.

But I was talking about us, not them. I can't find any other blogs by corrections officers. None. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places or using the wrong terms in my search. But I just can't find anything. It would be nice if there were more of us out there sharing our opinions. Maybe it would help other people wake up a little bit. If nothing else, it would be nice to hear other peoples views and maybe even share a bit of wisdom now and then....
P.S. That's not a picture of my computer, but I wish it was.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sick Day

Went home early today. Wasn't feeling good and it turned out I was running a fever. Went to the office next door and used the nurses thermometer. Sure enough it was 100.4 . Not much, but enough to make me feel bad. Our house nurse is a good cat. Ex-military combat veteran. Tough as nails and, just like John Wayne toilet paper, doesn't take shit off of anybody. At any rate, when I got back into the office everyone moved away from me and demanded I be sent home. It seems deer season is opening soon and no one wanted to be sick. Sarge called the zone lieutenant and told him my plight and he intimated I shouldn't let the door hit me in the ass on the way out. Didn't have to tell me twice. I hardly ever use any sick time so I have lots built up. Been sweating and freezing all day. I probably won't be in tomorrow, either. The busiest day of the week and they'll just have to get along without me. If I didn't feel so bad, I'd feel guilty.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Still Watching

In the bubble again today. Since it was sunday, not alot went on. Spent the day trying to do old crossword puzzles out of leftover newspapers and watching the cameras. They are in the midst of installing a new camera system for us. Well, not realy for us, per say. They are for safety and security reasons. Yeah, whatever. mOstly what they are for is if something happens and an inmate or their family tries to sue, they can pull up the recordings and say "See? This is what happened!" The sysytem is about a quarter of the way done in our house. It's taking forever. The camera guy pulled up a couple of the cameras that were hooked up and the resolution was great. And it was even in color. The old system we are still using at the moment is b/w and so grainy as to be almost useless. We'll be able to see so much more with the new system. Problem is, so will everybody else. The system will also be hooked up in the wardens office. So he can see what we are doing at any given time of day. Yayyyyyy! Let the micromanaging begin!

Friday, October 3, 2008


Still having connection issues. I may have to change my isp. Snap!

Oooh Snap!

Been having intermittent internet connectivity issues. I can only stay connected for about five minutes at a time all week. There's supposed to be a tech coming out this morning. Hopefully I can post again this evening.