Sunday, November 30, 2008

Criminal Thinking? An Oxymoron?

In the academy they told us about "criminal thinking". About how the offenders think and rationalize what they do. About how they most don't consider the consequences of their actions and only do what feels and sounds good to them at the moment. I've seen a bit of it now and then.

But not today. Hoo boy....... not today.

Got this knucklehead who was over in b-wing. We put him over there in a cell with a guy who isn't there and isn't likely to come back any time soon. It's called an "outcount" for you the correctionally impaired. The inmate actually belongs to our camp, but he's somewhere else. We have to account for actually "having" him, even if he's not there. It's stupid, I know. But it keeps the books straight. And the guy we had in that cell isn't even in this state at the moment. He's in another state in court for another offense that happened in that state.
Anyway, we got this knucklehead....(you thought I got lost, didn't you?) who's a wee bit on the crazy side. He gets lonely and crazy when he's in a cell by himself... and frightened and crazy when he's in a cell with someone else. We end up having to move him alot because either he's afraid for his life from his cellie (no matter if his cellie is half his size and as big around as a pencil) or his cellie is in fear for his life from him. So we stuck him in b wing in a cell by himself but not in c wing in hopes he'd feel less lonely and crazy over there.

That didn't work. Nope. Not a bit.

He started in screaming out the door this morning first thing that he wanted a C.O. in there. I told him we were busy and to keep his pants on and we'd get to him. I actually tried being nice the first couple of times. After the second hour of him screaming he wanted to move I'm afraid I wasn't so nice anymore. I finally told him there was nowhere for him to go (which was true) and he wasn't going to get moved so shut the hell up because I'm BUSY!

He didn't seem to like that too much.

About an hour after that he started screaming Code 16, which is our code for a medical emergency. I could see him standing at the door and see him moving around so I could tell he wasn't dead on the floor from a heart attack or having seizures. I also knew that one of his things was that if he didn't get immediate satisfaction from whatever it was he was upset about, he'd scream code 16 just to get someone to come in there and listen to him cry. We've got quite a few who do that and it really pisses me off. It's like a baby in a crib who, when mommy doesn't come running at the first little whimper, will scream like it's being swallowed alive by a wildebeest just to get mommys' attention. It's a learned habit.
As the rest of the staff was actually busy with other things, I let them know about him screaming again when they had a chance to look in on him. It turns out he got mad because we wouldn't move him so he banged his forehead on the side of the metal bunk or something until it started bleeding and then spattered the blood all over his cell. You know how forehead wounds bleed. He even inscribed a nice holiday greeting on the cell mirror in his own blood.

Wasn't that thoughtful.

So, instead of getting moved to another cell with a cellie like he wanted he got moved to c-wing and stripped down and put in a kevlar smock and put on suicide watch with a sore forehead.

I just wanted to go down there and ask him...... "So, how's that working out for ya?"

Criminal thinking.......................... Pfui.

If they thought at all, I'd be out of a job.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bubble time again

Our bubble guy (the control room officer) is off on his annual vacation. The scurvy dog. And since I opened my pie hole and told the lieutenant just to go ahead and put me up there when it was vacant, the sumbitch took me at my word. Now I'm scheduled to be up there every day for the next two weeks. Snap!

And I just got word today that we have our annual recertification training the second week in december. Joy. Get to sit in too warm classrooms for four days then I get to go out on the range in the sleet and snow and freeze my butt off for a day. ANd it's not even worth getting to shoot the guns. Those new glock pistols are like loaded tinkertoys and you can't get them out of those stupid retention holsters half the time and most of our shotguns jam or break after the second or third person uses them. I think I've broken at least two shotguns. Well, they broke.. I didn't actually do it.

Always remember: The thing you depend on the most will have been made by the lowest bidder. Our weapons, our radios, our gear, our vehicles.... especially our uniforms. Hell, those are made by inmates. I'd almost forgotten our creed in the Army:

We, the unwilling,
Led by the unknowing.....
Doing the impossible
For the ungrateful.
I've done so much with so little
For so long....
I'm now qualified to do anything
With nothing!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And the hits just keep coming!

I knew it was coming...... the paper chase again. We didn't finish the paperwork from the fracas yesterday and I knew we'd have to deal with it today. I thought I'd go down to the house, relieve first shift on time and when I got someone down to relieve me in an hour or so, I'd go up and finish. Oh, nooooo.....

Sarge grabbed me a soon as I walked in to sign in and said "Let's go to the office and get started."

Never even made it to the house. First shift got relieved late. That sucks. If nothing else, I pride myself on being good relief.

Part of the problem was that there were too many people involved. Let alone the fact that there was five of us dogpiled on a hundred sixty pound inmate (and my legs), there were so many people there that nobody could remember or agree on what we all were doing. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad everybody showed up. It could have gone wrong and somebody might have gotten seriously hurt. But there's a fine line between having enough people to handle the situation and a clusterf**k. When it happened, it was enough people plus a few to stand by. On paper, it was a cluster.

I spent an hour and a half yesterday and close to three hours today dealing with an incident that was over in five minutes.

We should just make a copy of the wing video and say "Here. This is what happened." And that should be the end of it.

Yeah, in a perfect world........

Monday, November 24, 2008

Am I getting too old for this?

Got into another ruckus today. Managed to hurt myself again. Not bad...... just lost a little skin in a stupid accident. I was going to explain the whole scenario, but it's too idiotic. Bottom line: Knucklehead got stupid. He was already in cuffs and I went to use my personal cuffs to secure him to the restraint bench and he bucked up. Myself and another officer put him on the ground and when we went down my cuffs closed on two of my fingers and took some skin off. Little piece about as big around as a pencil eraser. Ended up having to spray him to stop him fighting. Man, I'm glad I didn't get pepper spray in any of those cuts. That would have stung like fire.

Lesson learned: Drop the cuffs. Can always pick them up later.

Also banged my knees up pretty good. Not sure if it was when we went to the ground or when some other officer planted themselves on my legs and drove my kneecaps into the concrete. Most likely a combination of the two. I'm not going to say who that was, but just that they better lose a few pounds off that butt before they fall on my legs again or we're going to have some serious words.

I almost always get hurt doing this. Am I getting too old for this? It's never anything bad. Banged up knees and fingers, mostly. My poor knees and fingers seem to get the working over every time there's a donnybrook. Am I just a wuss? Am I the only one who actually reports getting hurt? It seems like every time something goes down, there I am carrying around an accident report. Other people get hurt now and then but it seems like it's always something big. They end up in the hospital or on (shudder) "light duty" for weeks on end. Nassy. Don't want any part of that. I don't know. If I get hurt, I'm reporting it. If I get too hurt to work, I want there to be proper paperwork so I'm not without a paycheck. I'm the only one in my house bringing home the bacon right now and I'm not going to live without bacon. Heck with that.

So what's the deal?

Am I too agressive and unmindful of my body placement in a crisis situation?

Or am I just freakin' clumsy?
That's most likely it.
That picture is my finger. The orange stuff is betadyne our awesome house nurse put on there. He's a combat medic and a super dude. Suprised he didn't pin a purple heart on me. (grin)
But you can see it's no big deal. Stings like the dickens, tho.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

AdSeg.... The Musical

Ok, so I had an offender sing me a song today. That was different. Off and on I had hear them all yelling and cussing at each other in C-wing and when I went in to see if everything was okay, like I'm supposed to, a totally naked man stood at his cell window and made up an impromptu song about me walking around with my coffee cup in my hand.

That was certainly different.

He's one of our problem children. I'm sure I've blogged about him before. One of our secretionary artists. A man who really puts himself into his work. So to speak. And you never know how he's going to be. One day he'll be promising me a 1957 chevy and a million dollars and the next day he'll be threatening to have me killed or do it himself. You just never know with him.

The song was a nice changeup. Threw me a bit off balance and for a change, I left the wing with a smile, albeit a bit of a puzzled one, on my face. He sang about my coffee and the fact that I brewed it myself because I like it that way. He sang about my hat and my moustache and my tattoo and he asked me lyrically if I could give the guy in the cell next door some toilet paper because he didn't have any. And he sang to me around the wing as I did my checks and he sang me out of the wing and wished me to have a nice day.

Okay, it wasn't the greatest song in the world.

Grammy material it wasn't.

I can't even imagine Pat Boone doing a cover of it. Even if he did do "Crazy Train".

But it was nice, none the less.

Go figure.

Friday, November 21, 2008

SHIFT WARS...... The Saga Begins.......Again...

Well, here we go. Time once again for the Poly-Annual Shift Wars! It's the usual three-ring circus between first, second and third shifts! Witness the mayhem! Listen to the vicious rumors! Watch the paper fly as each shift tries to undo the others!

What a bunch of crap.

I swear to gods that if I wasn't pretty sure I was working in an Adult institution, I'd think I was back in high school again. We can't work together for any length of time without someone coming along and piddling in the soup.

I've said it time and time again here, and at work: If we don't work together, the inmates win. Plain and simple. And if you're just going to let them win, then we might as well just go home. Because what happens if they win? We get hurt. And if someone gets hurt because you were playing stupida**ed games, then it's your fault. And I hope you can live with that. I couldn't.

I can always tell the shift wars are starting up again when I start hearing the phrase: "It's (whatever) shifts mess. Let them deal with it." Then I know it's time to duck and cover for awhile. That means somebody one one shift has pissed off somebody on another shift and it's going to roll downhill. But you know what? We work in a rotating shift schedule which means that when the snit rolls far enough downhill, it's going to come right back around to you again.

Stupid stupid people.

I think the stupid is oozing out of the cells and getting on staff again. Bing! Wet cleanup on aisle three!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Got The Grax

One of the problems with working in a closed environment like a prison is diseases and the ease with which they spread. My coworkers and i spend alot of time either in small enclosed areas where we are constantly breathing each others' air or out in front of the cell doors where whatever funk is in there is blowing out into our faces. We are pretty lucky that the few really nasty airborne diseases there are we get innoculations for. But the main one is the common freakin' cold and I've got it again. I feel like something that's been eaten by a dog and roughly hammered out the other end.

At least it's my friday, huh?

Colds and the flu spread like wildfire in a prison and especially in an AdSeg unit. You wouldn't think it would, since they have minimal outside contact. But they take any contact they can get and run with it, despite any sensible warnings. Half my crew has been down with it lately. I guess I'm just the latest victim.

OK, I'm having a hard time making my brain form sentences. And focusing is getting to be a real chore. Think I'll take some nyquil and go to bed. Thank the gods we have plenty of kleenex.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Real Bee Of A Day

Got stuck up in the bubble again today. I gripe about doing that alot, but I don't mind it as much as it sounds. It's a real pain in the butt, but it's a change from being down there on the floor. And there's one real perk to being up there. All the intercom switches have an "off" position. If there's nothing going on out in the wings and all the others are down in the office, I can switch the speakers off, even just for a few seconds, and all the noise just disappears. It's almost like I've gone deaf. It's very peaceful. And you can't get that when you're down on the floor. There's always someone talking or making noise or the radio's chattering in your ear. Even though I know the radio is my lifeline, there are days when I could do without it. I'd like to go work in a library some day. A great big one with stacks in the basement where the patrons aren't allowed to go. I'd work down there. Just me and thousands of books and peace and quiet......

It would probably drive me nuts.

This afternoon one of our knuckleheads on suicide watch decided he wasn't getting what he wanted so he covered his camera and barricaded his door with a foam mattress and put wet toilet paper over his cell window so we couldn't see in. Then when everybody got up to the door, he wouldn't respond so they waved and I opened the door. He tried to swing on one of the officers so they put him to the ground and cuffed him up. Then he proceeded to spit and try to bite until they put him on the restraint bench. He stayed there for close to an hour before the nurse brought him two shots, which I'm sure was the reason for the whole performance. He wanted to get high or buzzed or whatever you get from haldol and atavan. They put him back in the cell and took away his mattress and his blanket and left him nothing but a smock.

A couple of hours later he decided the shots weren't good enough so he started screaming and banging his head on a corner of the wall, making himself bleed again. They had to pull him back out and put him back on the bench and as the next shift came in and we were relieved, they were trying to find a rubber room to put him in somewhere. Hell, maybe that's what he wanted. Doesn't sound like fun to me.

When something like putting an inmate on the ground happens we call it a "use of force" and aside from the fact you actually have to wrestle an inmate and possibly get hurt, you also inherit about four hours worth of paperwork to go along with it. It's supposedly so we can cover our bases in case it goes to court and the state doesn't get sued. But they have gotten so anal about these reports that they take many times longer than necessary. It should just be one short paragraph stating: "Offender Joe Schmuck got stupid and I sprayed him and put him on the ground and Officer Lunchbox and I put cuffs on him." Instead what they want from us is this: "At approximately 7:14 am on 11-17-2008 Offender Schmuck, Joseph #5554123 in Housing Unit 5, cell A-13 stepped towards me and swung his right fist towards my upper torso. I blocked the offenders strike with my left forearm while issuing the offender a verbal directive to stop. The offender did not comply to my verbal directive so at approximately 7:15am I applied one one-half second burst of O/C pepper spray to the offenders facial area. At this time COI Lunchbox, Melvin entered the cell and we placed the offender on the floor of the cell. I controlled the offenders left upper arm with my left hand and his left forearm with my right hand while COI Lunchbox controlled the offenders right arm and we placed him face down on the floor of the cell. I placed mechanical wrist restraints on the offender and the Sergeant was called to the cell. At 7:20 am the offender was assessed by LPN Barbie Bandaid and at 7:25 am the offender was placed in the A-wing shower........." Blah blah blah ad infinitum. It goes on for hours. And everyone involved has to write the same report. And you can't just write one report and then change the names around for everybody else. OH Noooo.... That wouldn't be right. They all have to say EXACTLY THE SAME THING but they all HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT.

Sometimes I think we're morons to keep doing this.

Then I look at the inmates and I know why I keep doing it. And I look at my family and I know why I keep doing it. And I look at myself and know why I keep doing it.

But some days are harder than others.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Home Life?

Yes, I do have a home life. One that is getting slowwwwwly better. A few years ago my wife of 20 years (the marriage, not the wife) decided that we should try again to adopt a kid or two, not ever having had any of our own. Hoo boy. That led to foster care classes and adoption classes and caseworkers and kids in and out of our house.... At one time we had seven kids living with us. Not good in a three bedroom house. I had to build two more bedrooms in the garage and I built all of the beds myself. What started out as three sets of loft beds turned into four sets of bunkbeds and constant chaos. I lost about ten pounds a month between working and losing my mind.

We ended up adopting two teenagers and taking legal guardianship on a third. In the mean time, the state was constantly moving kids in and out of our house. The two we adopted lasted about a year and they both decided that us being their parents wasn't really what they wanted out of life and they left and moved back in with their birth parents. SInce the oldest was eighteen, there wasn't much we could do about it. Her younger brother has since ended up back in foster care somewhere else.

That was pretty much the final straw for me, and we had them drop our foster license. We now have one teenage girl in our home who is doing pretty good. She's kind of a flibbertigibbet but if we can keep her out of the fire for two more years we're home free. She's a pretty good kid most of the time. But, like any teenager, she likes to test our boundaries.

Other than that, my life revolves around work, the internet, my wife, our two dogs and our massive library. We are all voracious readers and there are books all over the house. A few years ago I got really bored and counted them. At the time there were about fourteen hundred scattered here and there. Most likely there's a few hundred more now.

There... I've bared my soul to you. (grin) Now I'm going back to work for some peace and quiet......

Saturday, November 15, 2008


By the bye, I'm now registering hits on my blog in ten different US states and five countries outside the US! I know it's not really all that much to brag about, but I'm excited.

Blowing off steam

I had a lovely post all written. All the things that had been bugging me lately. When I went back to edit, I realized thast it was just a rehash of things i've touched on again and again. The whacker is still whacking. The poop smearer is still poop smearing. And the check-in is still checked in. The administation is still indifferent to how difficult our job can be. And we're still not getting paid enough.

Same old. Same old.

So I decided to dump that one and go on.

STATUS REPORT: We all made it through the day and nobody got hurt.

What else is there to say?

I'll try to be more upbeat on the next post. Just a little down today. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Here's something I don't think I've touched on as yet. It's another behavioral problem with an inmate that has come up quite regularly and we are still to find a viable solution. We have an inmate in our AdSeg unit who is (I believe) in his early seventies. Not real old for the average person, but time has played him a poor trick and he is frail beyond his years. He has mental issues and has bounced back and forth between us and "the hospital" for the last two years or so. He's afraid to be out on the hill with other offenders and refuses to leave our house. Also, the last time he went to "the hospital" they sent him back with a note saying he had alzheimers and senile dementia. And they stated that they aren't set up to take care of patients like that so they sent him back to us. Huh????

They are a hospital. They have doctors and nurses and orderlies and comfortable beds and daylight and maybe even a yard to walk around in(But I don't know that). We are an AdSeg unit for knuckleheads who can't behave themselves.

Being assigned to the AdSeg unit is supposed to be punishment. We keep them confined and we give them the minimum the state requires us to.

We are not a hospital.

We haven't been trained to care for people like this.

And when we complain about the situation we get stonewalled.

He hasn't done anything "wrong" other than refuse to leave the house. I sure don't think he's going to rob any more banks.

What do we do when nobody wants him?

Friday, November 7, 2008

That's Not Funny.... That's Sick!!!

Ok, we had one of those moments today. If you weren't one of us and you didn't work where we do, you'd think we were a band of twisted freaks.

Well.... we are, but it comes with the territory.

There's an inmate (you know by now I don't name names) who is very disturbed and spends alot of time in our housing unit. He got placed on suicide watch by the head Pshrink lady today because he was in the cell laughing to himself and muttering strange dark things. We tried to tell her he does this all the time, but she wanted it done, so.... He gets stripped out and put in a camera cell with a kevlar smock and blanket.

Now, this guy has some serious issues, anyway. And the meds they are giving him seem to exacerbate some of those issues a little. The clinical term for it is "Hypersexuality". We tend to call him "Sir Whacksalot". Need I explain? I thought not.

So right after he gets put on watch they call down and say they want him taken to medical for a forced medication injection. Probably haldol or something of the like. I'm not sure. Usually calms them down for a day or two. I happen to glance up at the camera and there he is.... pulling one for the home team. Going to town. Shifting into overdrive. Oiling up the old baseball glove. Shaking hands with Mr. Happy. You get the picture. So did we.

The average "normal" person would go "Jeez!" and find something else to do. Not us. Oh Lord, not us. For some reason, this seemed to be the funniest thing we have all seen in several days and we had more fun adding commentary and bizarre sound effects. It was like a really twisted version of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" without the robots.

We're some really sick people here, sometimes. It's a good thing the Pshrinks don't come down to talk to us. I liken it to battle fatigue or shell shock. After awhile, even the most bizarre things don't seem to affect us the way it would normal people.

I told you once the things that amuse me at work were strange. You didn't believe me, did you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Common Courtesy

Ok, here's a pet peeve. I've touched on it a few times here and there but y'all have pushed me to the brink and I've either gotta blog or blow.

We are all on the same side. Just because we work on different shifts doesn't mean we can't work together. "Just leave it for the next shift" is pissing me off so bad I can't hardly stand it. It's so much B.S. Let alone that the next shift used to be me and my crew. And it's not just second shift that does it, either. First shift does it to second; second does it to third and third shift leaves crap for first shift......... ad infinitum. If you leave the mess long enough, it comes right back to you again.

But it also works the other way. If you come in and there's a mess to clean up, Help clean it up! Sitting back on your haunches and refusing to do anything until the mess is cleaned up doesn't help anything. If there's a mess or a catastrophe or a goat rope or cluster fu*k and you leave it for someone else to deal with, then the inmates win and we lose. "Causing hate and discontent" is our watchphrase, not theirs. And you know, if you ask politely for help, you just might get it. I can't think of how many times I've either started early or stayed late to help clean up loose ends. And I can't think of how many times I've asked the oncoming shift for a hand because we just had the mother of all days and there's crap piled to the ceiling. And for the most part, they've always been more than happy to help.

You know how rapidly things can get out of hand in an adseg unit. And alot of times when you least expect it and almost always when it's the most inconvenient. So keeping the chaos to a minimum at all times is not only easier on your nerves, it might just save your life!

We're all doing the same job. It's us against them. If you don't want to work, then just go home. If you're going to be an a**hole, I'd rather just do it myself.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And Sometimes....

Sometimes we end up giving them exactly what they want. Take todays knucklehead for example. Another of one of those that I like to call "Killer P.C.'s". He's a real "killer" from the streets who wants Protective Custody from the yard. I looked this fool up and the whole time he's been in prison he's spent maybe a grand total or two months out on the hill and about four years in AdSeg. His file reads PC / Suicide Watch / PC / PC / Suicide Watch / PC/ PC / PC... It seems whenever they get ready to let this fool out on the hill he either catches another violation or says he's going to kill himself to keep from getting out because he's big and bad behind the steel door, what with being a high ranking member of the Ganster Disciples and all, but he's afraid to spend any time out on the hill. Anyway, he said he was in fear for his life from his cellie and when I told him we didn't have a single cell to put him in, he decided he would stay there and not ten minutes later we get a note from his cellie stating he was in fear for his life...... you get the idea. This jackass wanted to be in the cell by himself so he could pick and choose who would come in there (or so he thought).

We moved him here and there and he refused to stay in any of the cells we tried to put him in and I was getting pissed off. I finally figured out a plan to where we only had to move two people to get him in the worst cell in the house. See, one of his things is he likes to stand at the door when female staff are in the wing and wag Mr. Tiny around in front of them. I hope I don't have to spell that one out for you. So we put him upstairs in C-wing way back in the corner where it's hard to see and it's hard to hear and you have to intentionally walk in front of the door for him to see anything at all. Plus I wrote him up for refusing to go into those other cells. He wasn't too happy, even though he got exactly what he wanted. He's going to file paperwork on me and have his "people" call up and get me fired. I was shaking in my boots. And I believe I actually yawned in despair while he threatened me.

The next time he gets stupid I think we'll have a very loud discussion on the fact that he's been in P.C. his whole bit. Loud enough that the whole wing can hear it. That will take away any credibility he's got and if I make enough of them laugh at him, nobody will listen to his B.S. for awhile and he'll shut up. You either walk the talk or you keep your piehole shut.