Oopsie Style

Two boys wearing saggy pants.

Many people know that the now popular style of wearing your pants really low, like your butt is hanging out low, came from prison.  Though it now doesn't hold the same meaning (I am available for sex), inmates still wear their pants too low.  In order to do that, they get pants that are a couple of sizes too big.  The problem with that is that they aren't allowed to wear belts here so in order to keep their pants up, they tend to stick their hands in their pants and just leave them there.  Strange, but true.  It is extremely common.

So yesterday I am working in a unit that is no exception and has a ton of guys with the same style.  I am escorting the nurse to each of the tiers to give the inmates their medications when an inmate is walking across the tier near the nurse.  He then forgets that he has to leave his hands in his pants and takes them out for a second and realizes too late what a mistake that is; his pants now laying on the ground.  The whole tier, including the nurse, bust out laughing.  He put his head down and headed in his cell out of embarrassment.  I guess wearing low riders isn't always so cool.

Bullying in prison

Most people know that bullying goes on in prison.  The endless teasing and put downs as well as trying to force others to do what you want regardless of the consequences.   What most people don't realize is its not just the inmates.  The officers can be just as bad.

I have not had the bullying focused on me but I see it in others all the time.  It often reminds me of middle school.  In middle school, I was more mature than most my age so I wasn't a bully or bullied.  I was just there.  The same happens here.  I see the "popular" officers putting down the overweight, not as good looking, and those with disabilities.  I see the pretty girls putting each other down, jealous of one another, and even starting rumors about each other.

I have watched as someone sneaks onto another officers computer and sends obnoxious emails to someone else and embarrassing the officers involved.  I see as officers have called others snitches, narcs, etc.  These are behaviors I expect from the inmates but we are supposed to be better than that.  We are supposed to teach these guys how they should be treating others, how to live their lives.  We should be showing them something to live up to.

As peace officers, we are held to a higher standard, as it should be.  When my kids deal with bullying in school, I can't tell them it stops when they become adults.  I can tell them it does get better, but it doesn't fully go away; even in professions such as this.  How can we expect our children or inmates to behave better if we don't?  It really is sad.  I expect so much more of my fellow officers and I will not stand by and allow bullies to destroy my profession.  I am speaking up and hopefully others will have the courage to do is as well.


I think just about everybody has heard about prison overcrowding at some point. Generally, communities aren't very willing to pay for more prisons.  After all, that is money that could be going to schools, roads, or community centers.  In my state, the solution they have come up with is to try to get the inmates back on the streets as soon as possible.  That can be a good thing when you are talking about some of these guys that made a stupid mistake but are generally a pretty good citizen.  Keeping them here longer than necessary can actually be a bad thing.

However, it seems to be happening more and more that the dangerous ones are let out too early.  We have had multiple guys being released early lately that immediately went out and murdered people.  One in particular shot two police officers and a K-9.  It seems to be these guys getting out more than the harmless guys.

Personally, I think if they have gang affiliation, that should be a HUGE red flag.  If they have murdered before and seriously harmed someone, especially a police officer, that should be something that would almost guarantee they don't get out early. There are so many cases that I have seen that should be obvious that that particular inmate is a serious threat to society still yet they let them out any way.  They are so desperate for room.

Some would say to start by caring for the kids before they turn into criminals.  I agree.  However, what do we do until then?  How do we have room to house prisoners while trying to get our numbers down?  It all seems to come down to money and as I stated before, who wants to give more money to prisons when it could go elsewhere?  After all, most of these guys (about 97%) will be getting out someday and will become our neighbors.  How they are treated effects how they will treat us when they get  out.  So, what is the answer?  Will we ever find it?  This is a discussion we need to have, yet rarely talked about but things will not get better until it is.

Mass Move

It is funny how sometimes you use the lingo without thinking about what it means to someone that doesn't know the lingo. One of our officers brought a relative for a tour and they were explaining that they were going to wait until mass move was finished before they began the tour. She asked, "What is mass move? Is that like where you make everybody get up and exercise?"

I hadn't ever thought of it that way but I guess that is what it sounds like. But no, mass move is when anyone in general population (not maximum security) is allowed to go from one place to another (i.e. from their cell to recreation or class).

It's called prison for a reason

I was working in medical the other day and had three inmates being housed there.  One in particular seemed to think I was there to wait on him hand and foot.  He kept calling for me or pushing his button that sets off an alarm (nobody ever uses that thing!) and insisting I come immediately no matter what I was doing at the time.  He would call me for every little thing.  One of the times, he wanted me to let him out of his cell to wonder around the area.  I explained that that was something I could not do.  He became very angry and said he was tired of sitting in his cell.  All I could think was well, ya.  It's not a hotel.  It is called prison for a reason.  You made terrible choices that got you here and now you have to deal with the consequences.

When I told him again that I wasn't going to let him out, he said he was going to break out and began hitting his head against the window.  These are windows in prison.  They are meant to take a beating and still not break.  He eventually figured out that the only thing he was accomplishing was giving himself a headache.

He continued to whine and cry all night, including about a headache, but he no longer insisted I let him out.  He obviously isn't the brightest light bulb in the bunch but at least he figured that much out.  Some never do.

Would you hire a convict?

If you owned a business or were in charge of the hiring at a business, would you hire a convict?  Most people would say no, absolutely no way.  Why would you risk it?  You know they can't be trusted and you would have to watch your back.

Would it help to know that they were someone you needed to watch vs someone that may not have ever been convicted of any crime but is far dirtier than the convict himself.  Would it help if it was a convict with a family that was set on making things right and caring for his family and just needed a chance?  If nobody is willing to hire him, how is he expected to be a decent citizen?

Would you hire on if you received a tax break?  Many states give employers tax credits if they hire a convict within a year of their release.

A study in Texas compared convict employees and regular employees found that a convict was more likely to stay longer and be more grateful for their employment vs the regular employee.  Would that make a difference to you?

Would his charge determine whether or not you were willing to hire him?  What if his charge was related to smoking marijuana vs murder?  Would you hire a sex offender?

This is a debate many businesses deal with daily.  There are some very supportive businesses out in our area that hire more convicts than anyone else.  They pay less but they also run the risk of loosing business if customers know they hire convicts.

What conditions would you like to see in order to hire a convict, or would you ever even consider it?  What are your thoughts on the subject?

A day in the life of a corrections officer

I usually just post little stories or thoughts here but I thought I would include what a day normally looks like for a correctional officer for those that may wonder.  All days vary somewhat of course but I can give a general feel for what a day may look like.

I work the day shift so I am up and at work before the sun is even up.  When I arrive at the prison, I walk through security and head to shift briefing where we are given any information we need for our shift.  Things like what fights have taken place, medical emergencies, or threats of violence we need to be on the look out for. 

Some of us work the same unit every day and others of us are used as floaters and change each day.  I happen to prefer floating as I like the change in scenery so I am a floater.  I can work anything from the housing units to medical to transport out in the community.  I love the change in scenery each day.

After shift brief, we head to our assigned units, get our tools (OC, keys, and radios) and relieve officers from the previous shift and begin tier checks.  Tier checks are meant as a way to make sure the offenders are safe as well as keeping an eye on them to make sure they aren’t doing anything they aren’t supposed to be doing like tattooing.  It is also a time the inmates can ask us for things they need like different forms or information they may be looking for.  Most areas of the prison have hourly tier checks where other areas, like segregation, have half hour checks.

Correctional prison tier
This is not from my facility but is an example of what our tiers look like.

Between tier checks, we have hourly movements.  This is where inmates that are medium or minimum custody are allowed to move around the facility for things like classes, recreation, or work.  We hold the door during this time as well as having postings throughout our units and the building.  This way if a fight kicks off or somebody is where they don’t belong, there is an officer presence to take care of it.

The inmates are fed on an early schedule so breakfast is usually about half done when day shift arrives.  We start rec movement for the areas that have morning rec after breakfast is complete.  The inmates have to be searched before and after rec in order to prevent any exchange of contraband (anything they aren’t allowed to have like drugs) but really does little to stop those determined to get things moved around.  They always have places to hide things that few officers are willing to check.  It is  usually just a quick pat down and more often than not, things get missed.

A couple of hours into our shift, we feed lunch to the inmates and then start count.  Count is exactly what it sounds like, we are counting the inmates.  We mark down how many people are in which cells and fill in “out counts” for those that are in other areas like work, rec, or worshipping.  All the paperwork is taken down to the shift commanders who then verify all the information to make sure nobody is missing or in an area they are not supposed to be. 

Sometime during this time, we also have to do cell searches.  Each cell is required to be searched a minimum of once a month.  We pick a cell and head in to perform what is supposed to be a thorough search of everything in the cell.   Some officers do a horrible job and finish in less than 5 minutes but in reality, a real thorough search should take no less than an hour and up to two depending on the amount of stuff an inmate has.  They have a limit on what they are allowed to have but many tend to push each limit as far as they can while others don’t even attempt to stay within those limits.  When that is the case, we confiscate anything more than what policy allows.

During a cell search, we are looking for contraband.  The most common we find is tattoo paraphernalia (anything related to tattooing) and porn.  The porn is a touchy area (no pun intended).  They are allowed to have scantily dressed women but it cannot so certain areas so it is really up to the officers discretion if it falls within policy or not.

Prison tattoo motor
Example of a prison built tattoo motor.

The big things that officers want to find are things like drugs or weapons.  Those are usually hidden very well and rarely in a cell.  The inmates want no possibility of it being traced to them.  They can be hidden in the rec yard, the day room, or throughout the unit in common areas so those must be searched as well, usually by the night crew.  These guys not only get creative with where they hide things, but what they use for weapons.  I have seen a shank made out of toilet paper!  They also have been known to use lunch trays, tooth brushes, and even jolly ranchers.  If these guys used their creativity for positive things on the outside, I am positive they would be rich.

9 different prison shanks
Example of some shanks.

Anything we take from an offender must be logged on a confiscation sheet and sent to property.  If the inmate wants to fight what we have taken, they deal with property on that matter.  We are expected to keep the cell in as good or better shape as it was when we entered.  Some officers just throw things around and that only upsets the inmates and furthers their feelings that it is us against them.  Things get tense when that happens and we are more likely to have fights or assaults on staff when that happens and it really isn’t that tough to search a cell and leave things decent, most of the time anyway.

As well as feeding, standing for movement, and cell searches, we also handle handing out mail, library books, and basic supplies like toothbrushes, soap, and toilet paper.  We escort inmates down to medical, to their case managers, and to visitation.  Visitation is still face to face so a huge amount of contraband comes through visitation so we have to perform unclothed body searches on the offenders after each visit.  They know this so they tend to swallow or *ahem* stuff items where the sun don’t shine in order to not get caught.  We also have to watch for other sneaky things they may be doing like pleasuring each other.  Not allowed in visiting, especially with kids around yet some will use their own kids as a shield to not get caught.  Trust me, most of these people should NOT be parents!

By the end of shift, everything must be documented.  If an inmate gets in trouble, there are reports for that.  If an inmate feels threatened, there are reports for that.  If we see anything out of the ordinary, there are reports for that and all paperwork must be completed and sent to the right person before you leave for the day.  Sometimes when the days are crazy, we end up staying long after our shift just to finish up paperwork and no, we don’t get paid overtime.  We get comp time that is almost impossible to get the approval to take and if paid out, it is seen as a bonus and taxed so heavily that you are actually paid less than your hourly wage so it is so not worth it.

Officers are usually very excited to leave and will dash out the door the minute relief arrives.  Dealing with whiny inmates, horrible smells, and tons of paperwork can wear on you.  About once a month, we also are expected to work overtime which comes out to be about 4 hours so you will either stay late for 4 hours or come in 4 hours early and once again, it is only counted as comp time and nobody gets too excited about that.

The days can be long and stressful, but it is still a great job.  Seeing these guys change (some of them) and go home is awesome.  I tend to joke around with the inmates and that makes long days seem just a little bit shorter.  You work with great officers and become friends with wonderful people.  Its tough and dangerous but I love this job.  It isn't meant for everyone, but it is for me.  I just wish the pay was better.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

You know how there are just some situations that are impossible, like no matter what you do, you are in the wrong.  We seem to be in that situation in the country right now.  This is a very hot topic right now and there needs to be discussion.

We recently received a phone call from a very upset momma of an inmate housed in our prison.  This inmate just so happens to be African American.  We all know what is going on all over the country right now with law enforcement and black lives matter etc.  It is pretty serious and is something that needs evaluating. There is so much that goes into it so I don't have time in this particular blog, but it does need mention in order to understand what was so tough about this momma's request.

You see, her request really put us in an interesting position.  She had an issue with the fact that there are not enough African Americans in our prison.  She wants a bigger group here for her son.  So, what exactly are we supposed to do?  Go out of our way to arrest more African Americans so her son isn't in such a minority?  I am sure that would go over great with people all over the country.  After all, we would be doing it for her son and his comfort. I am sure she would be just fine with that.

Or do we upgrade misdemeanors to felonies of African Americans?  No way!  So, how do you suppose we make prisons more equal in regards to the colors of inmates?  We don't!  There will never be an exact number of all colors just as there will never be the same number of blonds, brunettes, and red heads, and that is ok.  Stop babying your kid and let him learn to live in the world he lives in.  After all, that may be why he is here in the first place.

Seriously, sometimes there is just no way to please people.  They will always find something to complain about.

Horse play

Inmates in prison have interesting rules.  They may not make sense when you first see them, but understanding the reasoning helps it make sense.  One of those particular rules is horse playing.  Inmates aren't allowed to horse play due to the fact that they not only tend to get injured, but it is often tough to tell if they are actually fighting or just messing around.  There are more reasons as well, but those give you a gist. 

When inmates are caught doing something like horse play, they are given a disciplinary report that comes with consequences.  This is important to know to understand the following story.

While performing a cell search, one of the officers I work with found some horse porn.  That's right, horse porn.  There IS such a thing.  I am not going to describe it as I am sure your imagination can come up with images all on its own.  Anyway, any kind of porn is not allowed so this officer confiscated the images.  She then wrote up a disciplinary report under the heading of horse play and sent it and the images to the unit Sgt.  This was of course all done in fun and was not meant to be serious.  We all got a laugh out of it.  Sometimes its the most stupid things that can make your day.

For HIS protection

I was working the front lobby today when I got quite the phone call.  A lady was wanting all kinds of information on an inmate.  When we are trained, we are trained to never release information about an inmate over the phone.  We have no way of verifying who it is on the other end and if we release information to somebody, we could be releasing it to an enemy and could be placing the very life of that inmate in jeopardy.

So I explained this to the lady and she was very upset.  She then told me that her husband is in the marine corp so they are in charge of us.

All I could think was, Wow.  That is quite the twisted way of trying to get what you want.  Really?  I still refused to release that information so she of course insisted on talking to my supervisor who told her the same thing.  Guess protecting her supposed "son" isn't that important to her, but it is to us as well as my job.

Divided we fall

How many times over the last decade or so have you heard the words, "United we stand, divided we fall?"  Usually it is used in speaking about the United States but can be used in other regards.  It holds so true, including in corrections.  It seems to me that many officers don't seem to understand this.  They have no issue bickering and fighting with other officers including in front of the inmates.  This drives me insane!  These guys will use whatever they can to split us up to get what they want.  Why give them more?

I am not saying we should all get along all the time.  That isn't going to happen.  With this many different personalities, not everybody will mesh well.  Just don't show the inmates.  Don't fight in front of them, don't bash other officers, and don't let on there are issues.  They need to see a united front.  If you have an issue with another officer, speak to them in private.  Work it out away from the offenders.  Don't let it tear your unit apart.  Agree to disagree sometimes but ALWAYS have each others backs.  Don't risk the safety of those around you being selfish.  If you can't get over it, maybe you are in the wrong career.

Nature's purse

One thing I will never understand is the use of nature's purse.  I guess I have never been that desperate but still, really?  We have one guy that now has to wear adult diapers because of his constant use and it isn't for anything that seems worthwhile.  This is a guy that they will do a strip search on and then take to the shower and he comes out with shampoo and soap he didn't have before (or so it seemed).  He was taken on transport one day (which also has a strip search performed before on) and ended up with six legal envelopes that he didn't have before.  He has had ajax bottles and all sorts of stuff up there.  What in the world makes someone decide to stick these things up their rectum?  And to do it often enough that you loose the ability to use it what it was meant for?  No thank you!

Preschool attitude

When posted in medical, I get the opportunity of assisting the nurses with treating the diabetics.  Each nurse has their own way of doing things.  The nurse I was working with explained how she liked things done and we went from there.  The inmates began loading medical and we started treatment.  One particular inmate wanted to be first.  The nurse explained how we were doing things.  He wasn't happy and continued to complain.  I stated that we are doing things the way the nurse explained and we were not going to argue about it.  He continued to argue and I once again told him this is the way it is being done today.  He then replies, "Stop treating me like a 3 yr old." Apparently refusing to argue means I am treating him like a 3 yr old.  He then slams the door and begins a temper tantrum.  He is literally stamping his feet and whining.  He is indeed acting like a 3 yr old.  Well, if you don't want to be treated like a 3 yr old, maybe you should try not acting like a 3 yr old.  Just sayin.  This job is so much like working in a middle school sometimes, other days, more like a preschool.

Bend and squat

Recently we had an officer performing a strip search on an inmate.  This particular inmate is a very large man.  As strip searches go, one of the least fun as is.  Well, this particular time as the inmate was told to bend and squat and the officer leaned forward to check for contraband, the inmate ripped a large, stinky one.  The officer just about fell over.  The smell was horrible.  The officer then asked the inmate, "Did you seriously just fart in my face?"  The inmates response was just great.  He said, "Yeah, just showing you I ain't carrying anything up there."  Touche.

Helping or hurting

I found this great comic on http://www.correctionsone.com/crackpot-jailin/articles/8181040-Crackpot-Jailin-January-25-2015/ .  It is so true and fits what I have been feeling.  I love these comics!

Cartoon about inmate in prison getting more than deserved.
We are trying so hard to keep these guys (and gals) from coming back to prison so we offer all kinds of opportunities.  It does make a difference.  BUT, what about those that don't offend?  Those that keep the laws?  We work our tails off each and every day and have to choose between paying bills and eating.  We only see a doctor when we have the money, even in dire circumstances.  Most of us can't afford to attend college or university and those that do attend end up owing money for the foreseeable future.

The offenders are given free meals, free education, a fabulous rec area, and classes in different areas like wood working, knitting, and paper folding (they don't call it origami in prison).  They are given the opportunity to learn trades like cabinet building, mechanics, and plumbing.  Some of these guys that are able to work outside the facility while in prison make more that my spouse and I combined. I would love the opportunities that are available to these guys.  Not enough to become an offender, but you get my drift.  How do we take care of law abiding citizens as well or better than our prisoners?  I haven't figured that one out yet, but I do think it is important.  After all, many of these offenders return after seeing how tough life is on the outside and isn't that the very thing we are trying to prevent?

Pound puppy

I learned another nickname.  This one is for one particular offender.  The story behind it says he was out on probation and decided to please himself with a dog.  He also recorded it and his PO somehow saw the video.  He was placed behind bars and now both inmates and officers call him pound puppy.  I just about died when that story was explained to me when I asked why he is called that.  Just shows the sense of humor you sometimes have in this line of work.

Weiner Walker?

New lingo seems to always have a funny story behind it.  Today, a few of us were telling stories of some of the crazy inmates we have had.  I mentioned Mr. F and everyone knew who I was talking about.  The Sgt asked if he was one of the weiner walkers.  I gave him quite the confused look.  Weiner walker?  What in the world is that?  I should have known.  Turns out we have guys that tie strings to their, ahem, manhood and walk them like a dog.  Hence, weiner walker.  There are just so many things I could have gone forever without knowing or seeing that I see everyday.  This is one of them.  And btw, your welcome for the picture image I just know you had as I told you what a weiner walker was.


I was recently moved to a new area of the prison so I don't know all of the inmates yet.  Yesterday, we performed some bunk searches where we are looking for anything the inmates are not supposed to have.  I was assigned a particular bunk, which is a little unusual.  Generally, I get to pick what bunk I search.  I didn't think much of it and went ahead with the bunk search.  I was able to find a large amount of stuff, tho nothing serious like drugs or weapons, but things that needed to be taken nevertheless.  After the search, one of the other officers said she was really excited for me to talk with this inmate.  He happened to be out at rec at the time so I had to wait for him to come back to go over the list of things I confiscated from him.  She said she was so excited that she would come in on her day off if that happened to be the day I talked to him.  When the other officers heard who I performed the bunk search on, they also said they wanted to watch.  It was like a movie to them.  I actually half expected them to pull out the popcorn and sit back and watch.  This is not a typical reaction but I guess this guy has quite the attitude.  That, and officers have to get entertainment some way.

Crazy Mr. F

I was working segregation the other day and met an inmate we will call Mr. F.  Most of the inmates in seg are pretty typical inmates.  Some are there for fighting, some for drugs, and some for their own protection.  Mr. F however, he was there for being a nut case basically. 

Mr. F is the child of a Catholic mom and Jewish dad.  Interesting combination I am sure.  He is very religious in his own way and would preach from either religion at the top of his lungs.  To top it off, he is usually wearing a towel wrapped around his head and another wrapped around his underwear almost like a diaper.  I have no idea why, but he does.  The inmates yell for him to stop and he just keeps going all.day. long.

He also likes to throw temper tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants.  He was in the middle of one the other day when I met him.  I don't even remember what it was he wanted but it was something small that seemed meaningless to the rest of us but something we weren't allowed to do for some reason.  He wasn't happy and proceeded to bang his head against the door over and over again while screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs. When that didn't get him the attention he wanted, he decided to plug up the toilet and flood his cell.  If any officer tried to enter his cell, he would throw his excrement at them. 

So, we ended up calling in our team that is specially trained to deal with cases like him.  They ended up stripping down his cell to nothing, turning off the water (he is offered water for drinking periodically), and leaving him in nothing but disposable underwear that is typically used in the suicide cells (it's made so that no part of it can be used to hurt themselves with).  After all was said and done, I was walking out of the office and down the tier.  The view from the office happens to go straight into his cell.  As I walked out of the office, I see this average size 50 something yr old man in nothing but flimsy underwear on his bed jumping up and down in another tantrum with his manhood bouncing all over the place.  Something I would have been more than happy to never have had the pleasure of viewing.  Please, if I ever get to that point, just shoot me.  Don't allow me to make such a fool of myself. 

As for Mr. F, he was sent back to his until and shortly after returned to segregation for his own protection.  The other inmates are ready to kill the guy for some strange reason.  

Things some are willing to do...

Drug addiction is not something I have never had to deal with.  It is something I have never wanted to mess with.  Some people are willing to do ANYTHING for their drugs and I mean ANYTHING!  I see it quite often.

For example, one of the inmates was having a visit with his mother.  She had brought in drugs for him and was caught.  I am sure you can probably guess how they were brought in.  I don't want to be too graphic, but the nickname I have often heard is natures purse.  Well, when they were caught, the man decided to dispose of it, by swallowing it.  That's right, he swallowed what his mother had brought in from an area most people want nothing to do with.  I don't know about you, but as much as I love my mom, no way would I do something like that.  I don't want to be THAT close to her.  Ugh.  Anyway, he was put on defecation watch until it came out 12 hrs later so it did him no good anyway.

Another couple of guys were caught with chewing tobacco that was brought in from another inmate using the same method.  While another officer was talking to them she asked it they realized where it came from.  Their answer was yes, but it was wrapped in plastic wrap.  She reminded them that liquid can still seep in from plastic wrap.  Gives a whole new meaning to butt chewing, doesn't it?