Saturday, February 28, 2009

Addicted To Pain

One of the thing we seem to be producing here in the prison is masochists. I've spoken before about those who thrive on any sort of attention at all, even if it's negative. And they seem to get stuck in that loop until it gets to be old hat.

They know that once things get to a certain point, someone is going to pepper spray them and several large men are going to come in and thump on them until they stop whatever it is they are doing.

Yet they persist.

Just like young TNT the other day. He knew that he was skirting right on the edge, so he had a t-shirt wrapped over his eyes so he wouldn't get much spray in them when it came down to it. But he was ready for us to come in and demanded and even dared us to open his door and come in. Luckily (I guess), he backed down and decided it wasn't worth it and went to sleep instead.

And I know him. He would have screamed like a peacock if the door came open and curled into a little ball. And then he would have cried that we hurt him. But the minute it was over he would have started right up again.

I'm sure some of you remember the punk we had the four hour use of force on a couple of years ago. He liked it so much you basically had to beat him down until he got tired and decided to quit. Just a skinny little punk but he really enjoyed the pain.

And some of you might remember the old guy we have a few years ago. I don't quite remember where he went. An old head (and quite crazy) who used to be quite the badaxe out on the hill in his day. Known for beating up on staff. When the urge came on him if he couldn't get a staff member of his cellie to beat him up, he'd lay in his bunk and punch himself in the face over and over again until his eyes swelled shut and his nose was bleeding.

That man was scary. And crazy as a bag of leaky donut holes.

And there was one other guy. Haven't seem him for awhile, but he was real good at hurting himself, if nobody would do it for him. One day he got hold of a paperclip and bent it out straight and broke it in half. Then he proceeded to stick the pieces of wire under the skin of his arm until they had to be surgically removed. And when he called me over to his cell, he very calmly told me he had to go to medical and showed me his arm. I broke out in a cold sweat, myself.

Pain addicts. I'll bet if we hired a handful of professional dominatrixes to work here, they would be standing in line to get locked up. We'd have to kick them out of the Adseg unit for punishment.

Squirrely damn people, I swear.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Day In The Life Of Yesterday

7:45am Rolled out of bed, got dressed in my sweats and wandered into the kitchen for some coffee. Blinked sleepily at the wife, petted the dogs and sat down at the puter for some quality wakin'-up time.

7:50am to 11:00am Drank coffee, smoked, took my sinus pills and my anti-inflamatories. Read and replied to emails, read the comics and the news and caught up on all the weirdness in the world. Ate a poptart. Played and won a game of "Risk".

11:00am Got my shoes on and walked a mile on the treadmill. Worked out with the hand weights while I walked. Listened to Moon Martin and Tom Weitz on my mp3 player.

11:30am Got off the treadmill. Sat down to burn a disk for FM and played tetris while it was burning the disk.

12:00pm Went and took a shower. Got into my uniform and packed my lunch. Sat down to play another game of "Risk". Got beaten that time. Pfui.

1:15pm Left for work.

1:30pm Arrived at work, got my radio and my cuff keys and headed on down to the house.

1:45pm Got to the house. Realized we weren't going to get a round of rec out, so went and did other things. Pulled inmates out for the parole guy. Counted and accounted for all of the suicide smocks and blankets. Assisted with a few lockups. Searched some property. Went out and smoked with the day shift sergeant.

3:15pm My crew shows up. Food service workers show up. I go count the house. The nurse shows up, we do some med pass.

3:45pm Start feeding the house. A little knucklehead called TNT (he's as loud as dynamite, but twice as stupid) tries to reject his food tray. He says he doesn't want it, he wants a sack lunch. I don't blame him. Chili-mac. Ugh. I tell him he's beat. He claims he's a vegetarian. I tell him he's beat again. He's only a vegetarian when it's something he doesn't like. If it was hamburgers, he'd be begging for extras.

4:15pm We see TNT trying to break out the grill on the bottom of his cell door with his food tray. We go in ready to hose him down. He cuffs up, we get the tray back and search his cell. He's belligerent and darkly threatening the whole time. We get back out of the cell with no incident. Continue on getting the trays back from the rest of the house.

6:15pm Finally manage to get a round of rec out to the yard. TNT has covered his cell window with toilet paper and is systematically tearing everything in his cell into little pieces. He rubs soap all over the floor in front of his cell door and splashed water on it to make it slippery in case we come in on him. Looks like he's trying to sharpen the handle of his toothbrush on the wall.

7:15pm Get another round of rec out. TNT is flooding his cell. GM comes in the wing and shuts his water off. TNT punches and beats on his window and tries to kick the toilet loose from the wall. GM and MJ trot into the wing and tell him he will get sprayed if he doesn't stop. He doesn't reply, but he stops, which is good enough.

8:30pm Get the last round of rec out for the evening. TNT has gotten tired and lays down for a nap. Pretty much uneventful for a few moments.

9:15pm Thunderstorm rolls in. Have to bring rec in early. Some of the offenders complain. I say "You want to stand out in a metal cage in a thunderstorm...... you really are an idiot, aren't you?"

9:30pm Get all of the files done for rec and go read TNT his violation for trying to break his cell door. He refuses to listen and screams obscenities at the top of his lungs the whole time. Sarge and I laugh all the way out of the wing. He is so stupid.

9:45pm BG and I turn in our cuffs and keys and go home.

10:05pm Get home and change back into my sweats. Take my meds. Play a little "Resident Evil 4" on the wii. Check my email.

11:30pm Go to bed. I'm happy my friday is over.

And that's pretty much how it goes most days.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Better Living Through Chemistry

I remember back when that phrase was a catchword for the hippie movement. It was probably one of Timothy Leary's brainchildren. Now in my job it's merely a fact of life.

I believe that if we took all of the prescription medications consumed in a day at our prison (by both offenders and staff) and put them in one place, you could probably have enough to poison a small town in North Dakota. Maybe even Iowa.

I see enough Thorazine and Lithium and Haldol and Valporic Acid being passed out every day that you could probably build a new prison out of the drugs inside of a year.

And the inmates take even more than that.

Just kidding. (grin)

But I know of many many staff members (especially the ones who have been around for awhile) who are on a buttload of medications. Some of them are battling injuries or diseases (or just life itself) and some are just trying to get through the day on an even keel.

I'm not saying all of the staff here go around stoned all day. Far from it. If I knew of a staff member who was not in their right mind one way or the other, I would either send them home or report them to be sent home. I've done both in the past. I've seen a few "steady" types who had bad reactions to their meds and had to be sent home to straighten back out again. It happens. I'm not going to work around someone who is messed up and not thinking clearly. I don't have a death wish.

Working in a prison can be a very stressful and often depressing job. Depressing because you know that, for the most part, you will have accomplished nothing by the end of the day except that nobody got hurt and nobody escaped. I view that as an accomplishment in the plus category every day. Keeps me sane.

But alot of staff members need more than that sometimes. If I could get the franchise on the antidepressants for prison staff, even in just this state, I could retire early a very wealthy man. When I was going through a very stressful period a few years ago, my doctor put me on something (I don't remember what it was) but it was too strong and I was worried that I may not be able to react in time if I was on it, so I dropped it and dealt with my stress in different ways. One thing that helped was hanging an 80 lb punching bag from the tree in the back yard. Many nights I would come home and be out there at 10:30 punching the bag in the dark. My knuckles were bruised, but it made my head feel better.

I still do have a scrip standing by for the nights when I can't "unwind" and get to sleep. Some nights I come home with my head so full of b.s. and irritation that I can't relax. But I'm trying to use that one sparingly.

And the blogging helps alot, too. I'm surprised there aren't more C.O.'s doing it.

If I wasn't able to find the humor in most of the situations I encounter, I don't think I would have lasted as long as I have at this job.

Having a good (if twisted) sense of humor is much better than taking drugs. In my book, anyway.

It's worked so far.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm No Torquemada

I just spent an hour or so looking at news articles and reports about segregation units in prisons all over the country. It's a little disturbing. Articles put out by prison officials proclaim the units as a tool for enhancing safety of both staff and offenders by segregating particularly violent or recalcitrant offenders from the others to ensure a smoothly functioning prison. Those offenders who are violent, disruptive or are known trouble makers, as in local gang leaders are placed in the segregation unit to prevent or at least hinder, their ability to disrupt the prison routine. They espouse safety, safety, safety.

But if you read an article written by someone who is not working for the DOC or by an ex-inmate, or a religious group, or a sociologist, or any of the myriad "civil liberties" groups, then you are told that segregation units are nothing more then medieval torture chambers where innocent offenders are thrown arbitrarily for indeterminate amounts of time and deprived of all of the basic human rights and allowed to suffer indiscriminately. They all cry cruelty and callousness and torture and racism.

So who's right?

Why do we have segregation units? A good question. A better one would be: why do we have prisons? We have prisons for people who cannot or will not follow the rules that society has set down that we all must follow. Kind of like the ten commandments, but with a more immediate jeopardy attached. If you break one of the commandments, you will go to hell when you die. Eventually. When you break one of society's rules, you will go to prison a bit sooner. Sometimes.

And when you break the rules of the prison, then you go to the segregation unit. It's simple.

And they have limited access to recreation and phone calls and laundry and food and entertainment because it is being used as a punishment! Not just because we don't like them.

The nay-sayers and the bell ringers and the civil libertarianists all cry that segregation units are unfairly used against the mentally ill and the functionally illiterate and the non-whites. Well, if you will look at the numbers behind the numbers of mentally ill and functionally illiterate people who are incarcerated you will find that a surprisingly small percentage of them are in segregation units. And as far as racial levels are concerned, our unit has usually been higher in white offenders than non whites.

But I know where that comes from. That card gets thrown in my face on a daily basis.

"Man, you won't do (whatever) for me because I'm black! (or Mexican or Thai or Czechoslovakian or Cuban or from Arkansas)"
"Man, you won't help me because I have mental problems!"
"You just don't like me because I can't read!"

They play that card every time they don't get their way. I get accused of being racist or elitist or stateist or americentrist or whatever-ist when I won't give them special privileges because of whatever imagined special status they can imagine. But nobody ever has the guts to say "You're treating me like an a**hole because I act like one!"

So what if we didn't have these segregation units? What if we just let them do whatever they wanted to inside the prison fence?

Have you ever seen "Escape From New York"?

And what happens to Mrs. Browns little boy who gets sent to prison for writing bad checks "He's not a bad boy, he just fell in with the wrong crowd. I don't know why they had to send him to that place! It's so unfair!" and he gets robbed and beaten and raped and killed inside the fence? Then where will the outcry be?
"Why didn't they protect him?"
"How can they let people like that free to hurt others?"
"Why doesn't somebody do something about this horrible situation?"

And then we'll be right back where we are now.

It's not a perfect solution. But it's the only one we have to date.

You think you can do it better? I'll take a few weeks off and you can come have my spot. Let's see how you move. Ten to one you get your nose broken inside of a week. At the least.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Painful In More Ways Than One

It was a night involving pain. And not just physical pain, either.

But the one it hurt most (from my perspective, anyway) was me.

I hate nights like that.

Was busy as hell when I got in. Locking people up left and right. No rec. Then the wobblehead house called and said they were kicking Slingblade dude back to the house. After all, he had only come down for Close Observation and he was all done with that. Well, duh.

What about the five conduct violations he had gotten while he was here?
"Don't worry about it." he said "He'll probably be right back, anyway."
Well snap!

Why did we even bother locking him up in the first place? Why did we bother writing him up? Why did we bother even sending him to prison if there are going to be no repercussions for his actions?

But if he's not actively in their house participating in their "program" then they don't get the federal money for him. So I get to participate in a perversion of justice so somebody pockets don't get emptier.


I never see a nickel of it, but I still get the joy of participating in the process.

I'm so lucky. I guess I should feel honored.

Then later on in the evening the was a 10-5 (officer needs assistance) call on the other side of the camp. I ran without thinking about it much. I should have known that I couldn't run that far and still be worth a damn. But I went anyway. Got most of the way there before they called it off.

Then I had to trot back to the house and help kick someone out because we were full. Fun! They bring this guy down with a face full of pepper spray and blowing snot bubbles. Luckily I didn't touch him so I didn't have to do any paperwork. Dude they locked up ( a well-known crash test dummy) immediately started kicking on his door screaming medical emergency because his face was burning and he was having trouble breathing. I told him to wash his face and quit screaming and he'd feel better and in the meantime knock the crap off. Said I wasn't in the mood for any more crap from him so he better quit and lay down.

Apparently it worked.

About an hour later my legs started to stiffen up from the running. I don't normally do any running as part of my daily routine. I know I should, but with my feet the way they are, it would make me more prone to injuries. But I have been walking on the treadmill every morning before work. I think it's helping, as I didn't get quite as sore as I used to. But it still took two tylenol to get me back moving easily again.

I'm still a little sore this morning but I think walking the treadmill will help work the kinks out. Hopefully, anyway. Either that or I'll be limping on my way in this afternoon. We'll see.

My days almost always involve pain in one form or another. Pain for either me or someone else or sometimes both. Deep down on a psychological level that disturbs me a little bit.

But hey, somebody's gotta do it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Feel Dumber Already

Well! Now that the ramifications of the current budget crisis are starting to hit home it's time to take stock and see where we stand on things. As of July they will be:

Cutting a few Captains and Lieutenants and Sergeants slots. So less supervision. Hmmmmmm... is that a good thing or not?

Cutting our Emergency Response Team (E-Squad) by what looks to be about half. A money saver for sure. Until there's a riot or someone escapes or something. Then someone will get hurt and cost them twice what they saved. Not the wisest of choices, I'm thinking.

Cutting our training by what also sounds to be like half. So we will go from being the highest trained and the lowest paid Corrections Officers in the country to just being the lowest paid. Gee, I feel dumber already! It's working!

A "temporary freeze" on hiring new officers. SO that means we get no new help, which means we will be running chronically short, which means more overtime! Yay! Except...... we don't get paid overtime. We get paid in "comp" time. But.... if we're running short that means you can't get any time off..... I'm confused. See? getting dumber by the minute, here!

Cutting the budgets to the housing units again. So we'll be running short of things like rubber gloves and paper towels and toilet paper yet again. Joy......

Hey, here's a novel idea! Make the inmates work and make money! They could be actually producing something rather than laying on their butts watching cable teevee and eating ramen noodles for a change.....

Nah..... that'll never happen....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Amusing Critters

My fellow blogger Midtown Miscreant reminded me the other morning about one of the funniest critters ever to grace the walks of any correctional facility, the Jailhouse Lawyer.

Occasionally (but very rarely), one of these is actually an innocent person trying to prevent a miscarriage of justice. I've yet to actually see that, myself. Usually, they are just trying to find loopholes to wiggle and squirm their way out of prison. And, as MM said, Lawd Gawd don't ever ask them how their case is going. They will bury you in torts and snatches of barely understood latin phrases and this v. that and those v. them and they will use lots of words like "adjudication" and "jurisprudence" in such a way as to make you completely sure that they don't have the slightest idea what they are talking about.

Being in the Adseg unit, we see alot of these faux barristers come through our doors. They will stand up on their hind legs and howl about any real or imagined misjustice and file reams and reams of paperwork with the caseworkers to claim their reparations.

I've had a few complaints filed on me by offenders who basically didn't like me very much. But the problem is, is that I tend to stay pretty much within the letter of policy as much as possible and I don't leave them with a legal leg to stand on. But they file anyway. And when they do file on me, I reply in such a way as to make their case look both bogus and ridiculous but couched in such professional legalese that it just leaves them sputtering and unable to reply.

I love it.

I've been told that I have been filed on more times than I have actually seen. The caseworkers are allowed to respond to the filings (I.R.R.s or "Informal Resolution Requests") without sending them to the officer or staff member named if it is within their scope. And it is usually a short reply as in "You can't have that in here." I saw one of those before it was handed back to the offender. He was mad as hell.

There are a few offenders out on the hill that are fluent in legalese. I usually don't see them in my house as they tend to be smarter than your average knucklehead. But one of their kind is nominated to be the Law Clerk and works out of the law library section. He comes down to the Adseg unit once a week and dispences advice and is allowed to take notes and do research for those who need assistance.

His view on most of their complaints is about the same as ours. I saw one of them walking out of C-wing one day shaking his head. He looked at me and grinned and said: "These guys are idiots!" To which I replied "If they weren't idiots, they wouldn't be here."

He agreed with me.

Some days I feel like I'm in a Monty Python sketch.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Taking The Weekend Off

Feeling a little under the weather and frazzled.

I'm taking the weekend off to rest and relax.

Hope you're not too disappointed.

I'll be back Sunday evening.

Y'all be safe out there....

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Polite Little Bast*rds

I've got a new phrase that I have been using the last couple of weeks. It's kind of been working for me. Alot of these punks think that since there's nothing better to do, they can stand behind the door and call me whatever kind of nasty things they want to without any repercussions.

For the most part, they're right. There's not alot I can do about it especially since they will cowardly stand far enough away from the window that I can't tell which cell it came from. But there are a few of them that I know their voices well enough and I will call them on it. I could write them up for it, but I would spend the whole day writing violations and doing nothing else. Threats, I'll write. But just mouthing b.s. I just blow off.

It will usually start right as soon as I walk into the wing. Someone will yell "Get your fat a** out of here you motherfu**er!"

Now my a** isn't fat at all, although I am occasionally a motherfu**er.

But when they want something it will be "Please, CO sir. I'm out of toilet paper (or whatever) can you help me out please sir?"

I'll stand at the cell window and give them the stare for a few seconds until they start to feel just the least bit uncomfortable and right as they are about to open their mouth to start their little plea spiel again I'll say "Your'e real polite when you want something aren't you?"

And then I walk away.

Amazingly enough, this is starting to work. Albeit slowly, but it's starting to work. I hear less and less b.s. aimed at me when I walk into the wings.

Of course, there are those hardcore knuckleheads that never will learn. But they don't get anything from me except what the state says I have to give them. That and alot of hard time. I can't abide big mouthed cowards and most of these guys are nothing but that. They think that because I am not supposed to open the door and beat their asses for opening their pie holes that they are safe. That big steel door protects them from me as much as it protects me from them.

I'm not a bada**. Some of you know me personally. I'm not big and pumped up with a black belt in haiku, ready to go all Delta Force on someone. I'm generally very mild mannered and when it comes to martial arts, I'm all thumbs. When I get into a use of force, I usually end up hurting myself about as much as I do anyone else. I'm a clummox.

So I mostly use my wits and my words.

That's usually enough. They get the job done.

Just Bad Attitude

And what do you do when nobody gives a sh*t about what's going on? And they wonder why we have crappy attitudes at work. I managed to keep my mouth shut, but just barely.

There's this knucklehead. I've posted about him before. The "Slingblade" dude. He can stand at the door and stare at you like he doesn't have the slightest clue what you are saying. It's a game to see how many times he can get us to ask him or tell him this or that. He'll refuse his meals by not responding and then see how many times you'll ask him if he wants his food. With me, it's once.

Funny thing is, once he starts getting hungry, he can respond just fine. He can stand at the door and cuss me by name and demand his rights in perfect english. He gets remarkably coherent when he doesn't get his way.

So now he's keeping his food trays and making them come to the door eight or ten times to demand them back. We called the Lieutenant who came down and said "If the Captain doesn't care, then I don't either."

I'll bet if we went in there and got it back he would have cared alot.

I'm willing to bet a good thumping or a dose of pepper spray would cure his bullsh*t.

That would cure alot of the problems we are having right now.

I think I'm developing a crappy attitude myself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Are They Looking For?

This is non-corrections related. It's blog related. I've had an upsurge in hits (which is cool) and I always enjoy reading the comments and going into my statcounter and seeing where people came from and what they were searching for when they found me. It makes blogging fun and more enjoyable and not just a place to vent some steam.

But I've noticed an odd trend here that's making me raise an eyebrow.

I posted a rant back in the middle of December about pissing contests among staff and titled it "I can pee farther than you". It was nice to get that little tidbit off my chest.

Now when I go to statcounter to see where the new folks entered my blog from, fifty percent of the time that post comes up.

What the hell were those people looking for?

Now I'm all disturbed. I may never get that eyebrow to come back down again.

Sorry. I'll be back to the prison ranting tomorrow. I just had to get that out of my brain.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


It just occurred to me last night. Well, I take that back. I've known about it for awhile, it just jelled solidly in my brain last night. We don't solve any problems. We just shuffle them back and forth and hope they'll go away. Or at least get out of our hair for awhile.

A partner of mine works in a GP house a little ways up the walk from mine. He's kind of young, but has a good head on his shoulders and is pretty good with problem solving. There's been a steady influx of young gangbangers in his house and he's been busy getting them moved out or seperated from the others so that they are less of a problem. Another offender came up to him the other night and thanked him for getting rid of the gangbangers in their wing, to which he replied "I'm trying, but they keep sending us more!"

It's like having half a flyswatter in a house with no window screens.

We do the same thing in Adseg. If they are problems in a GP house, then they get sent to us. If they are a problem for us, we jack up their custody levels and send them to a C-5 camp. When they are a problem in the C-5 camps, they surreptitiously lower their custody levels (supposedly by "accident" or "paperwork error" so they say) and send them back to us.

And the cycle continues. Back and forth.

But there's no correcting the behavior.

No repercussions for acting like a fool.

This is getting to be a real problem. Prison is no longer a punishment. It's a vacation.

And being in the hole is not a punishment. It's a stage for their idiot act.

Prison reform be damned. Let the so-called "reformers" take a handful of these punks and knuckleheads home for a few weeks.

I'm getting less liberal in my old age, I think.

Guess I'll go shuffle some more. Whose deal is it?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Not Dissing The Police

I made a remark in my comments about us not being real police officers. I admit I said it and I kind of regret saying it but it seemed appropos at the time. But for some of us, the phrase "real police officers" is kind of a sore point. The inmates call us police. And rent-a-cops. And wanna-be police. They just do that to get under our skin. But I once had a "real" police officer call me the same thing. He said to me "You just work there because you couldn't make it as a real police officer."

That kind of burned my ass at the time.

I got over it. I know that he's just a jerk. And I don't think he's employed there anymore.

None of my doing.

I'm not dissing police officers. Granted, that guy was a jerk, but you can find them everywhere. I've got a house full of them. Police officers serve a necessary role in society. And when I need them, I'm very glad they are there. During our earlier years with the foster parenting, we got to know several of the local police officers very well. They were good people who did their best to protect and to serve.

And I wouldn't want their job. Really. You've seen here how I act and react to certain things. Do you really want me loose in a car with both a pistol and a shotgun roaming the streets? I'd be a horrible police officer and I know it. I'm not a "people" person. And a police officer needs to be exactly that. All the time.

So, in a way, that jerk cop was right. But for the wrong reasons.

I couldn't make it as a police officer. But then, I don't think he would have made it as a corrections officer, either. He'd have gotten his butt kicked.

At the other camp I used to work at occasionally I'd see police officers dropping offenders off at the prison in a transfer from the county jail. They would turn their weapons in at the sally port and then drive inside, "naked" as it were, to complete their transfer. And they would look out on the yard full of offenders and their hands would go automatically to their empty holsters as they watched. And they were always real happy to get done and drive back out. They were as uncomfortable on the inside as I would be on the outside doing their job.

I'm not a police officer. I am a corrections officer.

And while I'm not always proud of some of the things I do, I am proud of what I am.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Whistling Past The Graveyard II

Another offender (not in our house, thankfully), went to that great penitentiary in the sky this evening. I don't know who he was or what he died of, all I know is basically he was dead when the officer found him and as of the last report I got as I was leaving, he was still dead.

Ok, that was bad.

I'm slightly sorry that I said it.

But, once again, it's our version of whistling past the graveyard.

When I heard the radio call of a Code 16 (medical emergency) and that the offender was "unresponsive" I thought "Oh, snap!" We have a number of offenders who will be unresponsive for several medical reasons, either seizures or heavy medication or other things. And occasionally we will find one who has been beaten or assaulted in one way or another.

And once in awhile one will fake being unresponsive for one reason or another. Either to claim some medical disability and maybe garner some sympathy, or sometimes they just want to lure an officer into their cell. We had one guy who never had any history of seizures before coming to prison suddenly start having them and "accidentally" assault staff members while he was "seizing".

He actually got away with it a few times until we wised up and I believe somebody broke his nose during one of those episodes. Miraculously, he was cured of his seizures after that.

The wonders of modern medicine.

But the offender tonight wasn't faking, apparently. After the Code 16 call I heard "Be advised, he's not breathing." That's not good.

Saw staff running around the yard between the house and medical and the gates. Saw an ambulance come in and then leave empty. Apparently they pronounced him there and left him for the coroner to come pick him up. Like I said, I don't know all the details.

Don't know who the man was of anything about his case or whether he had a family or how he behaved in prison. All I do know is that he died.

And we spent an hour making bad jokes about it. Just whistling, that's all.

We're not heartless bastards. Well, most of us aren't, anyway.

My partner BG summed it up nicely.

"He's completely rehabilitated now."

Amen, brother.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Easier On The Eyes

I'll have to admit, the reversing the colors did make it easier to read. I hadn't actually read a post on my own blog on the actual page for awhile. But once a few people complained and I went and looked, it was a bit hard on the old eyebones. So I think this is better.

Although I do admit I miss the dark and austere look of the old black page. It had a certain "hole-like" flavor to it. Sort of dungeon-esque. And frankly, I think the Adseg unit, as a whole (hole), should be more gloomy and less bright anyway.

As it is now the cells are white on the inside and the wings are cheery white and blue and green and sort of an orangish yellow. Altogether too comfortable. I think being in the Adseg unit should be more depressing. They have it too easy anyway. I think everything in the suicide cells should be stark white (including the floor) so we can see them better and everything else should be battleship gray. Except for the numbers on the cell doors. Bright yellow for them. And blackout curtains on the windows so we can go by and look in but they can't see out. If we do that and improve the grills on the bottoms of the doors to make cadillacing more difficult, I think the offenders would do everything they could to keep from coming down there. Make being in Adseg a real punishment instead of a vacation.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Out On Strike!

No, no. Not us. That would be frightening. And illegal, I think.

No, my post today, thanks to Guy is about what happens when the offenders go on hunger strike.

This is a fairly common thing. Some of them still think we care and they assume that by going on hunger strike it will get them some attention to whatever imagined plight they are being aggrieved by and maybe even garner a little sympathy.

Uhh........ nope.

Alot of these guys will declare hunger strike and then make a deal with a friend down the walk to send them some of their food to tide them over. That used to work a few years ago, but not now. The first thing we do now is put a "snake", which is six foot section of fire hose filled with sand, in front of their door to make it more difficult, if not impossible to get things into their cell under the door. That maneuver right there will usually stop most hunger strikes within a day or so. The poor little darlin's will get hungry and give up. They got no strength in their convictions.

For those who manage to hang on for more than a couple of days, no "official" notice is taken until they have missed eleven meals. Then they have to be seen by medical. And if it continues, then they will be taken to the infirmary and fed by a tube down their throat. This has only happened once or twice by my recollection.

But throughout this whole process, whatever "plight" they are advertising is studiously ignored. They are informed that we will never negotiate during any kind of hostage situation and that we are considering that they are holding themselves hostage and unless they decide to stop their shenanigans and cooperate, then they will get no cooperation from us. They will be offered food and the basic necessities of life on a regular basis, but nothing else.

It's a good system and it seems to work. And we are constantly refining the details.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We'll Take The Win

It will go down in the record books as a win for our side. The newest PB has seen the error of his ways and given in. Even as late as this afternoon he was still acting the fool, trying to flood his cell and just being a general ass.

But this evening he took his meal loaf and ate it and declared he was done playing. He hadn't eaten anything in a day or so and was probably pretty hungry. He laid down and behaved himself for the rest of the evening. We'll see if it lasts.

And I didn't have the heart to tell him he had won himself eight more days of the loaf.

He said he just wanted to go to a C-5 camp and do his time. The stupid kid was in for a 120 day shock program. Now he's in for four years of hard time among dangerous idiots and officers who are way less willing to put up with his shenanigans that we are.

He's most likely going to get thumped a time or two. Or worse. Ah, well. It was his decision.

Me, I'm going to take the win and move on.

Hope he liked the loaf.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's Loaf Time Again!!!!

Well, our young knucklehead has gone and done it. Got himself put on the meal loaf. Painted his cell twice on our shift and tore up a mattress. I though he wasn't going to make it, as I had screwed up the paperwork last night. That was on me. He only made it as far as sack meals because I had checked the wrong box on the form.

But it's okay. He stood his ground and went ahead and pushed the issue.

Got the paperwork right, this time. You can bet on that. And you should have seen the horrified look on his face when we brought that nasty thing to his door and said "Hey! Here's your dinner!" He took one look at it and said "I'm not eating that! get that thing out of here!"

And proceeded to write on the walls in poop again.

The sap.

The first time we put him on got him nine meals of the loaf. With the second incident, we applied for eighteen more meals on an extension.

He's going to be one sorry hungry s.o.b. in nine days. The idiot.

The state of Maryland actually has a better loaf recipe than ours, I think. I found it through a google search here: . I'm going to write down the recipe and present it to our people and see if we can make this one than the one we use. It sounds much nastier than ours.

Most days it's not going to be good for somebody when I get that grin on my face.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

PBS- A Recurring Theme

I don't know why these young knuckleheads seem to have a fascination with poop. I don't see the attraction here, myself.

I've decided to call it "Poop Boy Syndrome" or just PBS for short.

Since our last Poop Boy transferred I knew another one would be along soon and, sure enough, he made his debut tonight.

Another 19 year old punk who thinks if he acts crazy enough we'll just leave him alone or maybe even kick him out of prison or something. First he said he was going to kill himself and when that didn't get him special treatment, he flooded his cell. And when that didn't work, he wrote on the cell walls with poop. And that didn't work either, so now he's just mad.

This young dipstick is under the impression that if he goes to a C-5 camp, things will be different. I really believe that he is under the impression that in C-5 camps, the officers are afraid of the offenders and just let them do whatever they want.

Heh.. heh... heh.....

I got news for him, and it aint good.

I got a feeling that this young lad is in for a rude awakening real soon.

What a maroon.

I really love my job, sometimes. Karma is a real mother.

Feeling Much Better

Went to the doctor yesterday and it was all pretty much good news. Feeling much better today and ready to grab the world by the horns. I wouldn't even mind a little chaos.

Turns out I just wasn't eating right.

Imagine that.

So I need to shed a few pounds and do a little more cardio exercise and take my vitamins. That's doable.

And Auntie, before you even ask; yes, that's my real face.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Taking A Sick Day

I'm taking a sick day off from here and there in advance.

Been having some trouble with my blood sugar and the arthritis in my foot is bothering me again. Going to the doctor to see if I can tackle both problems at the same time. Hopefully he'll give me a shot in my foot before he sends me to the hospital for blood tests. I'm certain they'll siphon out at least half of my blood for testing so even if I'm laying half-deflated in the parking lot my foot will feel better. Nothing like being purposefully bled to death for the cause of better health.

Not alot happening in the unit, anyway. We got one of our old friends back again. He got into a fight down in the wobblehead house and apparently there was blood and pepper spray everywhere. The last time he graced us with his presence we had him for well over three months and wrote him so many violations it would have qualified him to go to San Quentin. Or even Alcatraz. Even if it's closed. Just throw him in a cell and get back on the boat. He won't be able to hurt anybody there.

But since he's one of their "certified" wobbleheads it doesn't matter how many violations we write him. They'll keep throwing them out so he can stay in their program down there in Wobblyland.


Yeah, that seems to be working.

Anyway, I'm taking a day off.

Be careful out there.

A Smaller Toolbox

We've recently lost another tool to use to control the offenders. Again. For a while we were allowed to carry MK-9 pepper spray foggers down in the Adseg unit.

Ok, Ok, I know the picture says "Stream" instead of "Fogger". I couldn't find a good picture of the fogger. Gimme a break!

These things were about four times the size of the cans of pepper spray we normally carry with a big pistol grip handle and a pin like a hand grenade. They were big and bulky and hard to carry so some of us bought drop-leg holsters out of our own pocket to carry them in.

Turns out that that was the right thing to do. The combination of the foggers and the special holsters was intimidating as hell and after one or two of them were used the amount of trouble we had in the house dropped to almost nil.

With our regular pepper spray cans, you have to aim and hopefully strike the offender in the face. In the heat of the moment, that can be a little difficult. Specially if you are aiming through the chuck hole in a cell door. The chance of hitting anything that would make the offender stop whatever it was he was doing was small.

But the foggers! Now that's a different story. One short burst and the whole cell (and most of the wing) was filled with stinging fog that got all over everything. There was no getting away from it. Not so good for staff in the getting pepper spray on you department, but it was a small price to pay. Heck, I've been hit by the stuff so much it doesn't bother me all that much anymore. I know it's coming and can work through it. Plus my glasses tend to keep most of it out of my eyes. Plus, when you had to go up and do the paperwork, you still had pepper spray on you and it drove the Lieutenants and the Captains crazy so they got your paperwork done and got you out of there early. Bonus!


There's always a but.

Someone somewhere (maybe in this state, but maybe not) was accused of mishandling the foggers, therefore the Director, in his wisom, pulled them from all the institutions in the state. So even though we weren't misusing them and they were working and the number of incidents we were having were reduced, they were taken away from us. And no telling when, if ever, we will get them back.

We had long-time trouble offenders stop and lay down and behave themselves when we got the foggers. Now that they are gone, so is the threat and we are starting to have the same trouble all over again.

Yet now we don't have that tool to pull out of our box and use anymore.

They give the offenders more. They give us less.

Pretty soon we'll have nothing.

And that's scary.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Lotus Growing From The Mud

Guy said that line about the lotus on my post about the sleet falling through the razor wire. There's also another neat thing about working in a prison. The amazing artists. I know I usually harp on the negative things about prison life. I talk about poop, mostly. It seems to be a major factor in my career. That and stupidity.

But despite the fact that the majority of the inmates I encounter are either stark raving lunatics or madly revolving a**holes, there are some incredible artists in prison. I've seen drawings and tattoo work that would make you weep. Even in my prime I couldn't draw as well.

Of course, I've also seen stuff that looked like it should be on the school chalkboard in a "Snuffy Smith" comic strip. And I have seen guys with tats so ugly it looked like a 2-year old crawled over them with a pen in his mouth. And maybe.... (shudders) never mind.

Most of these inmates have nothing but time on their hands. So they get art books from the prison library and learn to draw. Then they get ideas in their heads and set them down on paper. Alot of the stuff I have seen involves naked women. For some strange reason it's a popular theme. (Duh) And alot of the stuff is gang related. Lots of knives and weapons and hands making gang symbols.

But some of the stuff they have done is really awesome. Drawings. Paper art. Stuff carved out of bars of soap. Paper mache' done with toilet paper and soap. Things woven out of strips torn from potato chip bags. I briefly worked at another prison (not in the Adseg unit, but in a G.P. house) and was offered some of the most amazing stuff. Of course, I couldn't accept it or take it home if I did. One offender offered me a heart shaped picture frame jewelry box made from tobacco box cardboard and potato chip bag strips. It was awesome. He'd made it in a day and offered it to me. "Then next time they do a cell search, they'll make me throw it away." he stated "So you can have it if you want it."

I was tempted. But it was against the rules, so I didn't.

If you want to look at some really cool art and have an hour or two to kill, just look up "prison art" in your google search.

A lotus growing from the mud.

The man's a genius.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Looking Good Vs The Rules

Ok, so I'm not as good looking as G.I. Joe. No biggie. Hell, I'm not even as flexible as him.

But I do look good in a turtleneck shirt.

At work we wear black (flammable) polyester pants and ridiculously uncomfortable (but not as flammable) cotton/poly/ wool blend sky blue shirts. All made, of course, by the very inmates who hate us and want us to look ridiculous and be, preferably, dead.

When I first started almost six years ago, we were allowed to wear black turtleneck shirts under our uniform. Since wearing a scarf inside the prison is a bad idea for several reasons, a turtleneck was a good option for keeping your neck warm. And if you spent alot of time outside, as I do, then keeping your neck warm becomes a problem.

Well, year before last some bright boy took offense to us wearing the aforementioned turtlenecks and decided to actually look at the policy. Unfortunately for those of us who are prone to cold necks (ie: the ones who don't sit behind a desk all day), the policy states emphatically that nothing but white underclothing (crew necks only) are allowed to be worn under the duty uniform. So thenceforth turtlenecks were banned from the institution.


I made discreet inquiries up the chain of command at the time and the buck was passed higher and higher until it was way past my pay grade. I wrote a polite letter to the Director and never received a reply. I thought about writing to the Governor but figured I didn't want that kind of attention. The old adage about the squeaky wheel getting the grease is sometimes true, but here the squeaky wheel is more likely to get it without grease.

If you know what I mean.

So I guess I'm stuck with all those black turtlenecks in my closet and a chilly adams apple. And if one of you happens to be lunching with the Director one of these fine afternoons, would you ask him if we can do something about this?

Just don't mention my name, K?

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Twice a week we have transfers in and out of the camp. That gives us eight chances a month to try and get rid of the idiots that have been causing us so much trouble. Too bad it so rarely works.

We really shouldn't look forward to it as much as we do. We complain when other camps send us their problem children, yet we turn around and do it to them.

We're a fairly low level custody camp. I think we are rated at a 3-4 out of 5. And other camps have taken their level 5 problem children and dropped them to a 4 just to get rid of them. So we end up with them. We tend to go the other way. They start getting stupid and we get them raised back up to a 5 and usually send them right back where they came from. I know it's kind of a crappy thing to do, but when the offender refuses to act like a human being, there are only so many things we can do.

We send our idiots out, other camps send theirs in. It's recycling. We keep seeing the same ones going 'round and 'round.

Personally, I'd like to recycle them in a different way. If you recognize the little green crackers in the picture, you'd know what I mean.

Hoo.... I'm probably going to get yelled at for that one.

I'm a beast.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's A Dry Cold

It's very cold. High in the low twenties and winds gusting up to 23 mph. Low tonight in the single digits.

And it's very dry. It got so cold the water mains broke in not one.....

Not two......

But THREE places!

So no water anywhere in the camp. No water to drink. No laundry. No showers....

No toilets.

No way to wash trays so we fed everyone off of styrofoam plates, which always makes a freaking mess. And the a**holes in B-wing decided if they kicked their doors and cussed at us enough, we would turn the water on.

It was the kind of night that made me yearn for the good old days. Those mouthy punks don't have a clue how lucky they are that there was a large steel door between me and them.

But we can't do that sort of thing anymore.


At least I got to leave before they brought the porta-potties in. I remember back in '07 when we had to do that. Spent the entire shift shackling them up and taking them out to go to the bathroom in the middle of winter. What a nightmare.

I hope they get it fixed.

Chock Full Of Nuts

Another hardcore blogger Midtown Miscreant , who blogs about prison life from the other side (It's okay, he's out now) brought up the subject of animals inside the prison fence. Not the human kind. Those we got lots of. He was talking about cats and spiders and critters like that.

Our camp is hip-deep in cats, birds, squirrels, skunks (in the summer) , spiders, cockroaches and even the occasional snake. We have guys who see snakes in their cells all the time. Imagine our surprise when we actually found one. That was a story we held onto for a long time.

We see inmates out on the yard feeding the birds and squirrels all the time. I'm fairly sure that normal squirrels hibernate in the winter. I may be wrong. But there is so much food available that ours don't. It's a good thing they stay so active or we would have a real squirrel obesity problem.

But what does worry me is an ongoing situation on the other side of the camp. MM just reminded me of it this morning. On the yard down by the wobblehead house, if you mosey around and look, you will find pills and tablets out in the grass. When I see them I pick them up and dispose of them. But the wobblers will cheek their psych meds and then spit them out in the grass on the yard. The first time I noticed it I saw a squirrel nibbling on this white blocky looking thing. When I walked up it dropped it and scuttled off. I realized the damn squirrel was gnawing on a thorazine tablet! Holy snap!

I worry that someday the critters in that yard (and maybe even the trees as well) are going to mutate into something that will turn out to be a real problem. If we're lucky, they'll turn into insecure neurotics like Woody Allen. If we're not, then we'll end up with Hannibal Lecter. Giant man-eating squirrels and mutant psychotic trees just can't be a good combination. I'm glad I work on the other side of the camp.

On the lighter side: One evening I was just moseying through the house and I heard this blood curdling shreiking coming from on of the C-wing cells. I trotted down there to see what the problem was and I see this guy plastered to the wall standing up on top of his heater and screaming like a schoolgirl. Now, this guy was six foot plus, maybe 250-275 pounds and covered with prison tats. A real "Killer from the block". And he's pasted himself to the corner and screaming because there was a mouse in his cell.

I couldn't help it.

I laughed so hard I hurt myself and almost had to go home.

My ribs hurt for days afterwards.

That was priceless. I would have almost worked for free, that day.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

I know I've talked alot about why we do what we do and how strange it is we do what we do. I've mentioned that we need some serious mental help and if the Pshrinks ever got their hands on us we'd be through. I'll probably keep mentioning it because it never fails to amaze me.

There was a point tonight when I just stopped and looked at our crew and shook my head. And not because they are a bad crew. They are just some of the strangest people I have ever met. And, of course, I'm including myself in that category.

After awhile, some things don't surprise me. But then I get complacent and someone will do or say something that just hits me completely sideways. And I'm not talking about the inmates, here. Just the staff. Sixty or seventy years ago we could have taken this show on the road as a traveling carnival and cleaned up. Grown men would have fainted.

I'm not naming any names or pointing any fingers. As I said, I'm just as strange as the next person. Well...... maybe the other next person. That guy's a weirdo. I'm so strange I surprise myself sometimes. Then I come to work and feel like Joe Normal. Some days it's like being in a chapter of "Fear and loathing in Las Vegas".

We're some odd folks.

I'm just saying........

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The DaDimwit Code

Ok, Since you've asked for it. Guy and BA (whom I hope never meet or civilization is doomed) have deviled and chivvied me into revealing a deep deep secret. Never before have these secrets been revealed to the general public.

Not since the dawn of time itself have these words been put on paper for the common man to read. Usually kept deep in a locked vault four miles beneath Ft. Detrick, Maryland I have at great personal peril and expense brought to you:


Baby- An inmate who gives out or sells sexual favors. Usually "run" by a Daddy (who takes a large percentage of whatever the baby brings in.)

Baking A Cake- Getting it on. One way or another or sometimes both. Taking one for the home team. Often referred to as "Hoo boy! He's gettin' wallered out!" And the cell or place where it is happening is often referred to as The Betty Crocker Institute. I could have gone my whole life without seeing (or even writing) that.

Beat- Nothing coming. "You're beat. Go kick rocks."

Block- Where you from. Your crib. Where your homies hang.

Bullets- Not like they sound. Usually tightly packed packages of tobacco, lighters, papers and notes, often hidden in uncomfortable places. Made so they can be smuggled in to places where they aren't supposed to be, like the Adseg unit. I would imagine it's uncomfortable, anyway...

C- Coffee.

Cadillac- Any weighted object, like a bar of state soap or the end of a toothpaste tube, tied to a long string and slid under the door of the cell. The inmates use these to transfer tobacco, lighters, notes, stamps, food and even books and magazines between cells.

Chomo- A child molester. One of the most despised beings in a prison setting. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Dead man's number- Any younger inmate with a short number. Usually a "recycled" number from an earlier inmate who has passed away. The numbers are kept on file until the person dies.

Demo- This could be anything. You have to take it in context to the conversation. A Demo could be a cigarette, a stamp, a lighter, a box of cereal or a chicken leg. Or anything. It's usually up to you to figure out what the hell he's wanting.

Door Warrior- An inmate who is ten feet tall and covered with hair when the cell door is closed but sniveling in a fetal position when it is open. We get alot of those.

Help Me Out- Bring me some tobacco and coffee and a lighter.

Info- An inmates name and number. Or telephone number. Or home address.

Kiester Bunny- An inmate who secrets bullets of contraband in those uncomfortable places. Sometimes you can tell just by the look on their face that something's "up". Not a pleasant situation to be in for anybody involved.

Kite- A note. You can "shoot them a kite" or "fly them a kite". Also known as a "Scribe".

O.G.- Old Guy. Anybody older than the speaker or who has been around for awhile. Sometimes used as an honorific and sometimes as a curse. Depends on what they think of whoever they are talking about.

People- Usually referring to family on the outside. Or someone who can do them favors, like sending money. If they aint sending money, or pictures or both, then their "peeps" aint doing them no good.

Police- Pronounced "Poe-leese". That's us. We's the police.

Punk- Usually referring to a "baby" but sometimes just used as a curse. Even worse than the way Dirty Harry uses it. A punk is someone who either gives it away for free or has it taken from them on a regular basis. Willingly, or otherwise. Not an enviable appelation.

Roll- A hand rolled cigarette. From thin "pins" to fat "yard rolls". Occasionally referred to as a "demo".

Shank- A prison made weapon. Usually a knife or sharpened piece of metal like a soda can wrapped in tape. Sometimes made from tools stolen from the prison work areas. Nothing you want to come into close contact with.

Sunglasses- A lighter. AKA a flintstone, a light, a flashlight, a spark or a flame. Anything to do with light used in a sentence is referring to a lighter or a way to light a cigarette.

T- Tobacco.

Top- Tobacco. Loose tobacco sold in boxes at the prison canteen. A regular cigarette bought in packs is known as a "tailor".

Wick- A twisted bit of toilet paper set smouldering. You blow on it to get a flame going to light a roll. Also known as a "west side". A handy way to cadillac a light to your partner, if you got a flintstone and he doesn't.

This is a short list of the words I hear every day. You'd think they would have figured out that I know what they are talking about. Now and then I repeat it back to them and they are just flabbergasted that I know what they just said. I guess I'm not as stupid as I look.