Friday, October 31, 2008
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
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
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
Monday, October 20, 2008
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
Friday, October 17, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
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
Saturday, October 11, 2008
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
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.