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.


  1. number me 5.

    i have issues.

    can i get a prescription please?

    marbles are missing.

    i have grey hairs and my marbles are missing....

    i think i'm almost ready to blog again.

  2. g, unless you want to sit in the corner and drool on yourself (or worse), you don't want what the MH fives are getting. And even some of the threes and fours are on things I wouldn't take. I'd suggest taking half a xanax (but see your doctor first), have a nice lie down and blog on, dude. Blogging is the best therapy I have found, aside from splitting wood or beating the snot out of a punching bag. I've got a ninety pond bag hanging from a tree in my backyard. My knuckles are sore for days sometimes.