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let me be Frank

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Chris OConnor

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Hey, I just wanted to make the 100th post to your Intro thread.

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Frank 013
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Blowfish

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Well, I had an interesting night last night. I got to work an outside hospital job, which is normally easy work, normally we just make sure the inmate in the hospital does not leave, and that no one helps them escape.

Last night was not normal...

My partner and I got to the hospital and relieved the two officers that were working the day shift; not 5 minutes later the inmate coded.

My partner and I watched as the hospital staff worked on the inmate for almost 40 minutes. They did manage to revive him once but ultimately the inmate expired, the time was 11:12 pm.

In short we watched a man die of pulmonary cardiac arrest.

My partner is only 21 years old and that was the first time he has seen anyone die. I have to admit it was rather gross. While the staff was working on the inmate he swelled up in some rather odd areas. The inmate's neck belly and scrotum all swelled up to at least 3 to 4 times bigger than normal, I swear the guy was doing a blowfish impression.

Anyway I had to call in the death to our jail and then we had to fingerprint and photograph the body. I handled the fingerprinting; my partner had real reservations about touching the corpse.

Later we accompanied the body to the morgue where we discussed zombies and swelling scrotums for the rest of the night.

I did manage to keep my partner laughing through most of the event, which is one of the ways we handled death in the military; even a couple of the nurses got a chuckle out of my comments. After it was all over I took a look at the inmate and asked if he had blowfish DNA; everyone got a dark chuckle from that one.

Anyway my partner was so grateful about how I guided him through his first encounter with death that he did all of the paperwork and bought me breakfast.

Later
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Ophelia

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addressing inmates.

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Frank,

I sometimes read or hear about stories where inmates were addressed using only their code name, as in 752B, instead of John Smith.
Does this still happen ?
How do officers address inmates in the prison where you work? Are there strict guidelines or is it up to the individual officer?



I read a moving book many years ago (unfortunately now out of print) written by Nelson Mandela's jailer on Robben Island: Goodbye Bafana, by James Gregory.
It is very interesting to see the point of view of the jailer, who is an Afrikaner (with an Anglo name).
I remember that from the outset Nelson Mandela addressed his jailer as "Mr Gregory", and the jailer called him "Mr Mandela" -- a first ever on Robben Island and probably in South Africa as regards black prisoners.

The jailer explains the hundreds of drastic, cruel and absurd rules that were set about political prisoners in South Africa. For example inmates were only allowed to receive letters which contained ONLY family news. Any "political" (and this could be just about anything about daily life) news had to be censored. The number of letters was also restricted.
Gregory explained that the censorship was done with a pair of scissors, cutting off the offending paragraphs. But as it was the custom to write on both sides of the sheet of paper, the prisoner usually got a letter which was full of holes and made parts of the letter unintelligeable, thus causing much distress.

Gregory went by the book, but tried to think of ways of making things more humane, so for example he devised a system by which he learnt by heart the bits that were censored for crazy reasons, and then recited them to the prisoners, as there was no rule to forbid this.

It's very interesting to see how Gregory became a different person over the years in the contact of Mandela and other prisoners.

I've read that "Goodbye Baffana" has been adapted into a movie with the same title, by Bille August, which unfortunately I haven't seen.
Ophelia.
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Frank 013
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Ophelia
I sometimes read or hear about stories where inmates were addressed using only their code name, as in 752B, instead of John Smith.

Does this still happen ?
If it does the officer must be a genius... In New York our inmate din numbers are long, they look something like this... 87-A-2036 the din number is much harder to remember than a name, and the inmates are not required to wear their number openly. Our inmates are required to carry an ID however.
Ophelia
How do officers address inmates in the prison where you work? Are there strict guidelines or is it up to the individual officer?


There are some guidelines, for instance it is strongly suggested that we never call an inmate Sir. But how we address an inmate is mostly a personal choice. I find that if I am respectful to my inmates they are respectful back... I have no problems addressing an inmate as "Mr. Johnson" for example.
Ophelia
Gregory explained that the censorship was done with a pair of scissors, cutting off the offending paragraphs. But as it was the custom to write on both sides of the sheet of paper, the prisoner usually got a letter which was full of holes and made parts of the letter unintelligible, thus causing much distress.
Unfortunately I do not work in the package room and my memory of mail procedures from the academy is a little fuzzy, I do know that if anything suspicious is found the offending package is returned to the sender who is notified as to why it was returned, there are lists that can be referenced of what is allowable and what is not. Sometimes drugs, or gang material is found in mail and packages. Charges can be filed against both the outside party and the inmate if what is found warrents such charges. But censorship of the level you describe is not condoned in the regular New York penal system.

Aside from the mail, even our SHU inmates receive phone privileges. I suspect that any information that does not make it through the mail can be, and is addressed over the phone.
Ophelia
Gregory went by the book, but tried to think of ways of making things more humane, so for example he devised a system by which he learnt by heart the bits that were censored for crazy reasons, and then recited them to the prisoners, as there was no rule to forbid this.
I haven't seen any censorship that is that restrictive, but we do have to be careful, inmates of influence have used the mail system to organize crimes outside of prison, this includes attacks on corrections officers and their families as well as "hits" on witnesses and attempts to organize escapes.
Ophelia
It's very interesting to see how Gregory became a different person over the years in the contact of Mandela and other prisoners.


I know that working in corrections will change me, it changes everyone, but I have a very good self awareness and I will not let corrections change me in unacceptable ways. If I see that happening to myself I can simply quit and find other work. No job is worth loosing my humanity.

Later
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ophelia wrote:I read a moving book many years ago (unfortunately now out of print) written by Nelson Mandela's jailer on Robben Island: Goodbye Bafana, by James Gregory.
It is very interesting to see the point of view of the jailer, who is an Afrikaner (with an Anglo name).
I just looked this up, because the book/movie sounds interesting.
Wikipedia wrote: "The book's accuracy was denied by Mandela's longtime friend, the late Anthony Sampson. In Sampson's book Mandela: the Authorised Biography he accused James Gregory, who died of cancer in 2003, of lying and violating Mandela's privacy in his work Goodbye Bafana. Sampson said that Gregory had rarely spoken to Mandela, but censored the letters sent to the prisoner and used this information to fabricate a close relationship with him. Sampson also claimed that other warders suspected Gregory of spying for the government, and that Mandela considered suing Gregory".
The only copy of the book for sale for under $60 used - not even using inter-library loan.

Jan.
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Frank 013
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Well my famous luck finally ran out last night... Almost.

I got picked to do a drug watch (AKA a "shit" watch). It is easily the most repulsive job that one can get in the prison.

Basically if an inmate is seen swallowing something prior to a search of pat frisk they are then placed on a drug watch. An officer is assigned to watch the inmate one on one and wait for them to poop so we can find out what it was that they swallowed. If the inmate does poop the officer is required to get the poop from the inmate before they can retrieve the suspected contraband and re-swallow it.

Yes, inmates will snatch things out of their own crap and swallow it so we do not find it. :crazy:

Then once the poop is retrieved the drug watch officer is required to dissect the poop to see if the contraband is in there. :cry:

Anyway the inmate did not poop on my watch (Thankfully!) but I was rather dreading the possibility most of the night.

Later
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Frank 013
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Working in a prison is great... Every night is a fun surprise!

I am working resource which means that I can be placed on any job in the prison every night I work. Since different jobs are available due to vacations and retirement or whatever I tend to get a different post every night.

Will I be locked in a dorm watching 56 inmates all night? Will I get the tower? Maybe I'll get another Drug Watch?

I never know...

And I am off for another night of fun surprises! 8)

Later
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Sucky ass, sicko, nasty, mean, wacko, sickafantic inmates... I could go on.

Recently several cats that live on the prison grounds were found dead around our SHU. It was later discovered that some of the inmates were having fun by throwing their medication and small razor blades out of their cell windows wrapped in small bits of food.

Some of the un-eaten food was found outside the cells on the ground with the razors and drugs still in it.

The cats that ate the food died, some bled to death internally from the razor inflected wounds, while the drugged ones fell asleep outside and froze to death.

One wonders why these people are in jail...

Later
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Hi Frank
Australia was established as a penal colony, so the 'corrections' mentality pervades governance. The only time I ever brushed with the law was in 1985 when I attended a Greenpeace protest at the French Consulate in Sydney about building an airstrip in Antarctica. Police put us in the watchhouse, but the French did not press charges. At church I became involved with a prison visiting group called Kairos. I visited Long Bay jail in Sydney, and felt highly oppressed and claustrophobic when the big steel gates clanked shut. Only visiting for a day, and not in for life... I visited Goulburn jail with Kairos. A bunch of Pacific Islander prisoners sang songs, including O Happy Day. Amazing spirit. One prisoner was a middle class fellow from Canberra who had famously mailed bombs. He looked broken. I then took some friends from the Australian Student Christian Movement to visit Goulburn jail. Some found it highly unsettling and frightening to be in the same room as murderers. http://www.kairos.org.au/ has as its theme Matthew 25:36 "I was in prison and you visited me." I am surprised that American churches don't seem to focus on this line from the gospel. It gets back to our discussion of whether faith can be empirical - 'the last shall be first'.
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Hey, RT
I was aware that Australia was originally established as a penal colony, I have heard of the Botany Bay colony etc... but I had no idea that there was a "corrections" mentality in play. I was not even aware that there were people guarding the criminal settlers in those days.
RT
At church I became involved with a prison visiting group called Kairos. I visited Long Bay jail in Sydney, and felt highly oppressed and claustrophobic when the big steel gates clanked shut. Only visiting for a day, and not in for life...
Yes, many people have that experience, visitors, prisoners and guards alike all feel that way to some degree. The day after new correction officers' visit the prisons while still in the academy is said to have the biggest drop out rate during the 8 weeks of training.
RT
I visited Goulburn jail with Kairos. A bunch of Pacific Islander prisoners sang songs, including O Happy Day. Amazing spirit.


Some people adjust to prison life better than others, in some cases I am convinced that the inmates have it better in jail then they did on the outside. Most inmates establish some hobby or another. Singing seems to be a rather common pastime. Here in America rap seems to be the music of choice though.
RT
One prisoner was a middle class fellow from Canberra who had famously mailed bombs. He looked broken.


More infamous inmates seem to have a worse time in prison, sometimes it is guard abuse but in many cases the abuse comes from the other inmates. In New York correction officers do not normally have access to the inmate's criminal history. I suspect that this has helped reduce abuse from the guards. On the other hand certain behaviors such as being reclusive or shying away from a fight will subject that inmate to even more abuse from the others.
RT
I then took some friends from the Australian Student Christian Movement to visit Goulburn jail. Some found it highly unsettling and frightening to be in the same room as murderers.


A person should be somewhat unsettled around convicted murders. Many a visitor to the prison system has been attacked raped and murdered in the past. And the good will of the visitor has never protected them in those situations.
RT
http://www.kairos.org.au/ has as its theme Matthew 25:36 "I was in prison and you visited me." I am surprised that American churches don't seem to focus on this line from the gospel. It gets back to our discussion of whether faith can be empirical - 'the last shall be first'.
Religion is a big deal in the prison system but not in the way one would think. The inmates do not seem to choose their religious preference by normal standards. In prison different religions offer different exceptions to prison rules.

For example, a Jewish inmate gets kosher meals that are prepared separately from the normal chow, Rastafarians do not have to get their hair cut and can wear dreadlocks, Muslims can have long beards etc...

Many inmates choose their religion of preference by what rules the religion allows them to get around. So in prison there are a great number of white Rastafarians, black Jews, Chinese Muslims and so forth. But the Christian faith offers very little by way of material gain in the prison system and has a much lower following than on the outside.

So even if the chapel was teaching those passages the message would not reach much of the inmate population.

Our Christian chapel has seating for about 2 dozen people and is almost never filled.

Later
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