Just about the time I was thinking of giving this blog a rest for awhile...
I've been getting a little burned out and unimpressed with my writing skills of late and the pressure to come up with something five days a week is becoming burdensome...
Then this comes along and I can't resist.
Right after I got to 7 house this evening Captain Rogaine calls me and says "We got a report that an offender in your house has made a six foot bull whip and has been beating other offenders with it."
He says "Find it and let me know."
So we did. And sure enough, he did.
It wasn't six foot. Maybe more like 5'6" and made out of those big poofy mop strings braided together. It might make a pop if you swung it just right but I seriously doubt he could actually "whip" anybody with it.
But the idiot made it and had it in his cell and didn't even really hide it so we locked him up for contraband and confiscated his whip.
And on his way out this evening, Sgt Major stops by the Comm room and says to my wife "Did you hear that your husband locked up Snidely Whiplash?"
In dealing with inmates, we are allowed to use a little bit of leeway sometimes. For some things, we just lock them up without even thinking about it. For others we use extra duty or room restriction as punishment.
Sometimes it just takes a good talking to. And empty threats do tend to work wonders if they don't know they are empty. I often say "I'm not allowed to lie to you." Which is a lie in itself, but many of them are way too dim to realize that.
This evening I got a call to go up to 2 house. It seems that two offenders were seen out in the wing getting in each others faces and "squaring off" like they were going to fight. The Watcher was off tonight, so since I was the yard Sergeant, I got the call.
Once I heard the story I got them into the office one at a time.
"I got no problem locking the both of you up right now." I said.
"I can lock you up PC, or Admin PC or I can have you both put down in the Hive under investigation, which means you will be down there thirty or even ninety days."
"But Sarge!" One guy says "I'm supposed to go to the treatment program in thirty days!"
"If I lock you up under investigation, it might be two or three months before you get to your program. And if I don't and something happens between you two, you can kiss that program and your early out date goodbye."
"Nothin's gonna happen Sarge! I promise! I need my program to get out!"
I let them both go after I had them scared enough. I could have locked them up, but they would have most likely been out in a week. And I couldn't put them under investigation if I had wanted to. That takes a Lieutenant or above to do that.
Just another one of those nights. St Francis, Mr Peepers and I sat in the shack most of the night and did nothing until right before count time.
Then we had a fight in 7 house, a Code 16 (medical emergency) in 30 house and locked one up for interfering with count from 9 house all at the same time. How we managed to get everything done and had count on time, I will never exactly be sure. But we did it.
Fortunately I was next door in 8 house delivering something when they called the fight. I don't really remember turning and running there. I was just suddenly in 7 house breathing heavily as they cuffed both guys up. And I found out later that Mr Peepers and St Francis were both in 6 house when the call came.
St Francis turned going out the door and went to run across the yard and flew head over heels when he tripped on a shrub or something. Mr Peepers said he saw him turning cartwheels and wondered what he was doing.
Luckily, he didn't get hurt. But I'll bet he's going to be sore in the morning.
I only really put in about an hours worth of work tonight, but I earned my keep.
No doubt about that.
Oooooo..... I got pissed off tonight. Like I haven't been in a long time. And believe it or not, I behaved myself and didn't take the top of the fool's head off like I wanted to.
It wasn't an inmate this time. It was staff.
The unwritten but understood rule is that nobody moves fifteen minutes before count time. Nobody nowhere. Unless it is a life or death emergency. That way it lessens the chance of our count getting screwed up over something stupid.
So I'm down in B-dining this afternoon and it's maybe 4:10. Twenty minutes to count. I hear Snowball on the phone telling somebody that he is keeping two offenders until count clears and he hangs up the phone. Two minutes later the phone rings again. It's the little dweeb from visiting complaining that two of the dining workers have a visit and Snowball wouldn't send them.
I said "Look. I'll call the control center and see. But it's probably too late." So I get on the phone to Miz Twang and she says "No! It's 4:15! It's too late. They will have to wait until count clears."
I called visit back and told him it was too late and he said "Well, I called the Lieutenant, so he'll be calling you in a minute." And sure enough, a minute later the Lieutenant called and said "Send those two to visit now."
I distinctly remember at one point slamming the phone down and contemplating throwing it somewhere a long ways away.
So because that self important little snaphole went behind my back and cried to the shift commander that his visitors might be inconvenienced, we had to send two inmates out to visiting at 4:23. Seven minutes before count.
I was so pissed off, I really wanted to go up to the visit room and tell that little jerk that he better never go behind my back like that again. My concern was safety and security and trying to keep count from being messed up. His concern was listening to the visitors complain because they had to wait to see their precious little felon.
But I thought better of it. Chewing him out in front of a room full of visitors would have been bad. So I stewed awhile then went up and ranted to Lt Pants instead. He wasn't the one that made the call, so he just sat and listened and agreed and I felt a little better. Then I apologized for being so crabby.
I know that I'm just a Sergeant and I don't really have a lot of authority. But the authority that I do have I take seriously. And that snaphead just lost whatever cooperation he might be getting from me in the future. I'd jump in a donnybrook to save his life, but if he lost his wallet in the parking lot I might kick it down a storm drain.
I probably wouldn't, but I'd smile a whole bunch thinking about it.
Once again, I blame that basticule Murphy and his stupid laws. Also that other basticule KP for calling out on me on a night like this.
Right after shift change I was up by the yard shack. Boats and Anakin were doing the perimeter check when we all heard a loud "Boom!" somewhere not far away. Maybe right outside the fence. Either something blew up or something going very fast ran into something going nowhere at all. That kind of noise.
Then I get a call from A-dining and I look and see all of the workers and the staff coming out of the building. Just as I'm about to go down there Anakin calls me and says that 1 house doesn't have any power.
Uh-oh. That noise we heard was a transformer blowing up.
I get down to dining and their power is out too and it's dark as heck in there.
So I start making calls. No power in dining or medical. No power in 1,2,3 or 4 house or down in the Hive. None in 6, 7 or 8, either on the other side. This whole half of the camp is in the dark. Just snappy.
They close the yards and the wings early because of the power outage and send all of the inmates to sit in their cells in the dark and the housing unit officers have to go open the cell doors one at a time with the keys while holding flashlights.
On top of that all of the sinks and the toilets in the cells are on a new system that runs off of electricity. So they have no running water and can't flush their toilets. Oh joy.
I'm wondering how I'm going to feed almost eight hundred inmates in a dark chow hall. When the power went three emergency lights came on. By the time they called count two of them had gone out, leaving just one light. It was freaking dark in there and I was getting worried.
And on top of it all, right in the middle of this count isn't clearing.
And it still isn't clearing.
And it still isn't clearing.
We send all of the workers back to their houses all over the camp and clear all of the yards and recheck our perimeters and do the Del Norte check and wait some more for count to clear.
In the meantime it's getting even darker in dining. And I'm getting more worried.
We are still going to be feeding dinner when midnight shift gets here!
After what seemed like an eternity, the power came back on. And count cleared.
There was much rejoicing.
And we went back to normal operations.
Didn't get finished feeding chow until 7:20 on A-side tonight. Two hours later than usual.
And even though I didn't really do much physically, I'm wiped out.
Every once in awhile when I was a COI, Sgt Uncle T would get called up to Central towards the end of the night to be the acting Lieutenant when one of them had to go home early. Manning the phones and taking call-in's from midnight shift and such.
I always thought "Man! I don't ever want to do that! No, thank you!"
And then tonight was my night. Joy. I got to be acting Lieutenant for almost 45 minutes.
It wasn't an Oscar winning performance.
While I was up there 9 house called and said that they might have had a fight. There was one inmate with blood on his head and they got a tip that he'd been in a fight with another one.
Just freaking dandy. St Francis was supervising some inmates helping the plumber fix a drain in B-dining. Uncle Scary was helping count 6 house. And I couldn't leave because I was the only one in Central and somebody has to stay there. Pfui.
Well, count finally cleared and Lt Pants came back up so I scooted down to 9 house to get the skinny on this fight. We looked at the guy with the bleeding head and we all agreed that he'd either been in a fight or had just flat been assaulted. He denied it flatly.
Can you guess what he said happened?
Let's say it all together now....
"Sarge, I fell off of my bunk!"
Ding! Thanks for playing. For a consolation prize we are locking you up, poindexter. There were too many other marks on him other than his head. He'd been thumped.
We checked out the other guy who supposedly did it and there wasn't a mark on him anywhere. Not a bump or a bruise or a scratch. And unless we saw it in person or on video, there wasn't anything we could do, so he got a free ride.
He could have done it. And it's my belief that he probably did. But without an admission or any evidence there was nothing we could do.
And so ended my illustrious career as the acting Lieutenant.
So there was an incident today on day shift. I didn't get all of the details, but it all sounded pretty much like a perfect example of the way things can go really wrong really fast in a prison.
Supposedly there was a rumor that something was going to go down and one inmates name was mentioned as being involved. When the officers tracked him down out on the yard and said "Hey, you!" he took off running.
Where he thought he was going to run to, I have no idea, as he was still inside the freaking prison. But maybe him running away and creating a commotion was what he wanted. A 10-5 (officer needs assistance) was called and people all came running out to help.
He finally gave up and laid down with his hands behind his head. When they took him in and strip searched him, they found a shank in his shoe. Nice.
While all of this was going on and all of the yard officers were tied up, a fight broke out on the other end of the yard. Theoretically it was just one on one, but there were two other inmates involved and the rumor was that one of them had been waiting to get hold of that shank.
We all suspected that the whole deal was a set-up. And that it backfired because we found the weapon before they were ready for us to. I think that somebody might have ended up dead if their plan had come off the way they planned.
So B-yard was shut down for the remainder of the day. Controlled movements only.
And when our shift came on Captain Strong said "They want to play? Okay. Two can play at that game!"
He left B-side shut down and made them feed one house at a time. And clear before the next one came out.
30 house to chow. Fed. Out. Cleared the yard. 8 house to chow. Fed. Out. Cleared the yard.
Then 9 house.
Then 6 house.
Then 7 house.
Where normally we are done between 5:30 and 6:00pm on most nights, they didn't get finished until well after 7pm.
The cooks and the inmate workers were pissed off, of course.
And since they didn't get done until so late, nobody got to go to rec on B-side at all.
You know.... I try really hard not to be a racist against anybody. Not the black and white thing. I don't care about that. But against people who aren't from this country. Those who speak another first language besides English. Or American. Whatever the heck we call this nonsense we speak. If you are here from somewhere else and trying to learn our language I will give you all of the help and patience that I can allow. And even some sympathy now and then.
As long as you aren't a telemarketer or working a tech support desk.
Being a man of mostly words I treat my birth language with awe and respect. I love what this language can do and project.
Plus, it's the only language I know fairly fluently, so I'm hanging onto it. At least for the foreseeable future.
If you have lived in this country all of your life and haven't figured out how to speak recognizable English by now then I have absolutely no respect or patience for you. Especially if you are anywhere near my age.
We have some people who volunteer to come and put in hours in our chapel in the prison. Personally, I wouldn't hang around with these knuckleheads for free, but that's neither here nor there. All they have to do basically is be affiliated with some church and be able to pass a background check in order to be able to come in and preach or whatever it is they do up there.
They get no training, as far as I know. They just issue them some keys and a radio and say "The chapel is up there."
Certainly nobody ever teaches them how to talk on the radio.
There's one volunteer that we get alot who does not have a clue. He makes all of his radio calls to the "tower." And we don't have a tower. Sometimes he gets on there and rambles and repeats himself several times and even when he does that he's hard to understand.
But one of my favorite transmissions is: "VIC to the tower. Can I go ahead and release the mens?"
Mens? Release the mens what?
I don't think I want to know, really.
But ever since I've heard that I have to fight from saying that on the radio myself.
The other night one of the rec officers called and asked if we were ready for rec release. I had to bite my lip to keep from saying "10-4 B-rec! Release the mens!" I had to stop and very slowly say "Make.... your... release..."
Some parts of my job are more difficult than others.
Woof! Today was just as blustery as yesterday but with a seriously cold rain added into the mix. It went from warm and blustery to cold and bliskery in no time flat.
Some of the rain fell straight down but a lot of the time it was blowing sideways. And right before chow the wind shifted another direction and the temp dropped about ten degrees in about five minutes. Yikes!
Finally got to get some use out of those rain pants I bought last year. I didn't stay completely dry, but I ended up considerably less wet that I would have been without them. They helped my feet end up just a little wet rather than soaked like everyone else's. That is a very good thing.
I didn't wear the big hat to work and I almost wish I had. It would have kept some of the rain off of my glasses. That made driving around in the cart pretty hazardous. Rain on my specs. Rain on the windshield. Couldn't see snit.
I'd be cruising down the walk and say "Is anybody in front of us?"
"Am I still on the walk?"
"Good. Lemme know if I'm gonna hit something."
Since the evenings are now all controlled movements, the offenders aren't allowed to run on the sidewalks. But since it was cold and raining there was always at least one who would take off running. I'd wait until they ran a good distance then yell "Hey! Get over here!"
He'd look all bummed out and walk over to where I was, which was usually in the opposite direction of where he was running to.
"Where are you going?"
"To the gym."
"Why are you running on my walk? It's called a walk for a reason!"
"I was getting all wet!" he'd say as he was standing there getting wetter.
"Turn around and walk or go back to your house. Don't let me catch you again."
But by then I'd accomplished my mission. He wasn't the first one to the gym like he'd hoped and now he was all wet.
It was indeed a blustery day here in the hundred acre wood..... I mean Raccoon City. Sunny and warm for the most part, but extremely windy. Gusts up around 30-35 miles per hour.
Of course wind like that makes my hearing aids completely useless. All I hear is the wind. So I haven't worn them for a couple of days.
The gusts kept setting off the fence zones, so the Control Center was calling out zones for the P-car to check every thirty seconds or so. At least it kept them busy. But it did clog up the radio traffic.
At one point while I was crossing the yard in the cart it blew my cigarette right out of my mouth. Just "poof!" gone. I just said "Really? Dang." And went on.
One of the things we tend to notice out on the yard is sudden movement. Anybody or anything moving at faster than a walking pace tends to get our attention immediately. With all of the leaves and trash and stuff blowing around it was giving me a sore neck every time something caught my eye.
"Whoop.... trash bag."
"Hey.... somebody's hat."
"What the.... Ow!" Got hit in the eye with a leaf. Man, those things got pointy edges! Snap!
I had Little J out on the yard and at one point I pictured him flying like Piglet at the end of a string. That gave me the giggles. And I never did tell him what I was laughing about.
99.9% of the time if you find someone in a prison with marks on their face of any kind (bruises, scratches, cuts, etc) then you know that they have been in a fight. It's a given.
I actually had an offender who got popped in the eye by a baseball almost break down crying because he thought they were going to lock him up. I had to escort him to medical and back to his house and explain to them what had happened in front of him so he would quit freaking out.
Of the rest of them with facial injuries, unless they have a staff member witness what happened, they have been in a fight.
One sure way to tell if it was a fight is if they say "I fell out of my bunk." Every single inmate who has been in a fight has said that when confronted.
I think if some inmate came up to me and said "I fell out of my bunk" I would just go ahead and put them in cuffs out of instinct.
"Hey! What happened to you?"
"I fell out of my..."
"Turn around, lunchmeat." Click-click.
You know... Most of us stop falling out of bed when we are about three or so. Yet these guys keep dropping like flies. Maybe we should have a resolution passed and remove all of the bunkbeds and just make them sleep on the floor.
Then they would have to find another lame explanation.
Many thanks to my good friend Tilt. Even though he's gone to another camp, he still keeps in touch and obviously has way too much time on his hands.
The other day he sent me an email with an inmates number and a date and said "Best violation ever!"
I had to look for myself, of course.
He was right.
Just a quick warning: If you are even slightly homophobic then it would be best not to read the following post. And fer gawds sake get those children out of here now!!! (grin)
The body of the violation reads:
"While on the H.U. 5 recreation yard, I looked into the window of cell 5-C-22 and witnessed the following:
I saw offender Juan, Don kneeling upon the floor facing offender Casanova, Giacomo who was seated upon the lower bunk. Offender Juan was reaching up lightly rubbing upon offender Casanova's chest. Offender Juan craned his neck upward, while offender Casanova leaned forward to kiss his cell mate upon the lips. Both then rose to their feet, facing each other as offender Juan then proceeded to reach inside offender Casanova's jumpsuit and gently caress the sides of offender Casanova's midriff, while each gazed into each others eyes. Both then leaned forward to tenderly kiss each other on the lips."
I will have to admit two things right here and now.
1. The names have been changed to protect my job.
2. I couldn't help it. I laughed so hard reading this I almost fell off of my chair.
Oh.... my.... freaking.... gawd.
It's not the act itself. I personally could care less about other peoples sexuality. And frankly, I'm not even all that sure that two inmates kissing each other is even against the rules.
But then I'm strange like that.
That whole violation read like it was written by a budding porn author. Or someone who reads way too many Harlequin Romances. I know in the Academy they tell us to "paint a picture" with our words. They don't tell us to paste up an entire novel and include a centerfold.
"craned his neck upward..."
"gently caress the sides..."
"gazed into each others eyes..."
"tenderly kiss each other..."
What the snap?
When he read this Porgie said "That guy obviously stood there too long watching!"
And Mr Bean said "Could you, as a Sergeant, even read a violation like that with a straight face?"
No. I couldn't. I would lose it completely.
I'd be on the floor laughing, waving the clipboard weakly in the air and saying "Do you want to plead guilty?"
"Here. Gently sign this."
Hee hee hee!
Today is my friend Greenghost' birthday. I couldn't tell you how old he is. I honestly don't have a clue.
Somewhere between twelve and fifty, if I were to be forced to guess.
Ghost and I go way back. He was my running buddy back down in the Hive when we were both still fairly new at the business. We got ourselves in some fixes together back in the day.
Oy! The stories I could tell you...
Our most memorable time was when we ended up wrestling this crazy old man. Crazy as eating baked beans with a pitchfork and strong as a damn ox. It probably took us fifteen solid minutes of fighting with him to get him in the cell and stripped out and the door shut and the cuffs back off of him.
The end result? One crazy old naked man with a broken nose. Ghost went to the ER to get his arm X-rayed and I got a cracked bone in one of my fingers. And all three of us covered with bumps and bruises.
We sat back after the door finally got shut and said "Sum-bitch that was one strong crazy old man!"
Unfortunately Ghost isn't with the department anymore.
I miss having him around.
But, just like working down in the Hive, I don't miss getting all banged up like that. Not a nip.
Today was my first day on my new job assignment. New post. New days off. I'll be off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays now so I'll have one day off a week with the wife. That is cool. We haven't had a day off together in quite some time.
Last week we had a Supervisors meeting on our shift. All of the Sergeants and most of the Lieutenants and the Major were there. Being one of the newest Sergeants in the room was a little bit intimidating. But then I find group situations a little intimidating anyway.
Anyhow, one of the things the Major said was that we should "challenge" our people. He said "Give them 'what if' situations and make them think. Don't let your people get complacent."
I thought that was a pretty good idea. I'm going to try and do that now and then.
The night on the yard had gone much better than the one last week. About the most exciting thing we did was make fun of a Kleenex box. (It's a long and stupid story.) So I decided to open a small debate with one of the Major's 'what if' scenarios.]
KP and Anakin were sitting in the shack. Since they are both as sharp as a pair of ginger snaps I decided to give them something to chew on.
"Pop quiz." I said.
"You are standing on the yard and the yard is open. You are down by A-dining. Everyone else custody-wise is all the way across the yard and you see one offender seemingly punching another one in the back. But when he moves you can see blood so obviously he has a weapon. What is the radio call for that?"
Neither one of them knew what the actual radio call for a stabbing (10-50) was, but KP said "I'd call a 10-49 (fight) or a 10-5 (officer needs assistance) and say he had a weapon."
That was a pretty good answer. Considering in almost ten years I have never heard a 10-50 called and probably 99% of the people would not know what that meant.
"And then what would you do?" I asked.
"I'd stand back and wait for help to arrive. I don't want to get stabbed!"
I said that he earned a little gold star for his forehead.
That opened up a debate and discussion about some of the radio calls we have never heard. If any of those were ever called we would all be scrambling for our radio code cards to figure out what was actually going on. We decided that hopefully if one of those rarely heard situations ever arose, whoever was making the call should be as calm and concise as possible on the radio so there wouldn't be any confusion as to what was going on.
But that probably won't happen. Historically they will yell into the radio and babble some nonsense and we will all be scrambling to find out who what and where. Ah, well.
At least it got us thinking for a few minutes. I'm sure the Major would be proud.
Well, tonight was my last night in 25 house. Tomorrow I start my new bid out on the yards.
Last week Miz Slim and Miz Contrary asked me what I wanted to eat and I decided on pizza. I haven't had a real good pizza in a while. So yesterday Miz Slim brought pizza, Miz Contrary brought donuts and apple fritters (yum... apple fritters....) and I brought the sodas and we had a farewell party.
I ate until I was stuffed. It was a good thing that nothing happened. I wouldn't have been able to run ten feet. But they say a well fed Sergeant is a happy Sergeant. So I guess I was pretty dang happy.
We were short people tonight so I got to go count all of the wings. Chuck and I started in E wing and we counted like every other night. Then we went down to D wing and on the way out Chuck says "Let's hear a little noise in here! It's Sergeant Rev's last night in this house!"
There were a few cheers and whoops and a few "See ya, Sarge!" Just as I was about to walk out someone shouted "Yeah! The Po-lice is gone!" I almost stopped. But I thought better of it and just waved and walked out.
Pretty much the same thing happened in C wing and down in A wing counting with Miz Slim, except she didn't say anything to them while I was there.
But we went down and counted B wing and as I was walking out the whole wing started singing.
"Nah nah nah nah...
Nah nah nah nah...
Hey hey hey...
I just kind of froze in place for a second and my brain was going "What the snap?"
I looked at Miz Slim and she smiled and said "I think that's for you, Sarge." I looked back down the wing and they are still singing.
"Nah nah nah nah...
Nah nah nah nah...
Hey hey hey...
And they are all looking up the hallway at me, smiling and waving and singing. And a big stupid grin broke out on my face. I couldn't help it. Finally I managed to kick start my brain long enough to wave back and give them a thumbs up. On the way out of the wing I pretended to smack Miz Slim with my clipboard and I heard them all laughing down in the wing.
So like I said when I got the bid. I'm not going to miss the houses so much. And definitely won't miss working treatment.
But I had a good crew in both houses and I'll miss working with them like crazy.
We have very limited internet access at work. For a very good reason. One of which is productivity. I'm sure if we had unlimited access nothing would ever get done and people would be fighting over computer time to play Farmville and World Of Warcraft or Eve all night long.
When they gave us internet access someone wisely chose to block 99.9% of the internet from our sensitive and irresponsible eyes and hands. Smart move.
But one of the things we are able to access is Wikipedia. And sometimes this has proved to be an invaluable tool for settling arguments or just satisfying our own curiosity.
I have gotten on there a few times of late looking up prisons and prison reform and things like that. One of the things I had never looked up to this point was corrections officers. It took me to a page titled "Prison Officers" which I though was strange.
Anyway, there was an article about working conditions that I though was right on the mark and I thought I would share it with you.
prison officer's job is often considered dangerous with inmate confrontations
resulting in many injuries a year. A prison officer's working environment can
vary considerably with some prison facilities being modern, well lit,
air-conditioned, and ventilated while others such as San Quentin State Prison are old,
overcrowded, and noisy. Prison officers often work on a rotating shift basis
including weekends and holidays. Since many prison facilities have officer
shortages, prison officers are often required to work additional shifts. Having
to put in extra hours can result in fatigue, low morale, and family-related
problems. Prison officers may also get burned out because their work is
unpredictable, identity-threatening, tragic, incongruous, and stigmatized. Because
a prison, or similar detention facility is a controlled environment, inmates
will often attempt to disrupt it. Various remedies for such disruptions,
including physical and less-than-lethal force, isolation and less-lethal
weaponry are often adopted depending on the type of correctional facility and
its jurisdiction. Due to multiple disruptions and challenging work environments
prison officers often face high levels of stress, burnout, health problems,
high turnover rates, low life expectancy, and decreased quality of life. One
US study gives prison officers a life expectancy
of 59 years, compared to the US
national average of 75 years. The
duties a prison officer carries out will often depend on the type of facility
in which they work. For instance, a prison officer at a minimum security
facility may be responsible for casually supervising inmates as they work or
participate in treatment programs while at a maximum security institution a
prison officer would have duties involving the regular use of restraints,
weapon searches, and tactical response. Prison
officers are also expected to control their emotions, remain impersonal, and
engage in activities that are often conflicting. For example, they are expected
to respect and nurture, yet suspect and discipline inmates and have an
I got a feeling that whoever wrote that wrote it from experience.