Prison Pete

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
  Smoking in the Boy's Room - Say it ain't so!
There is no smoking allowed anywhere inside our building. This was also the rule at the reception center but was frequently ignored by both the staff and inmates.

While we were parked in a bus outside at the penitentiary in Elmira, NY - this was a stop on my two day trip across New York State - forty or so cuffed and shackled inmates were left unsupervised over a lunch break.

Even though each and every inmate was strip-searched before getting handcuffed and put on the bus, one or more inmates managed to get some cigarettes and a lighter on board the bus!

When the officer came back to the bus and smelled the smoke, he went down the aisle trying to figure out which inmates had been smoking. He never did single out anyone.

He probably did not want to do the paperwork and have to explain why there was no staff member physically present on the bus at the time of the alleged incident, the breaking of the "No Smoking" rule.

Then again, the officer could simply just lie and say he actually saw so-and-so inmate with a lit cigarette in his hand.

We have an outside courtyard that is open from 8:00 AM till 11:00 PM seven days a week except during the counts (they only take five to ten minutes) and during meal time.

Yet despite the availability of the legal smoking areas, inmates still insist on smoking in the toilet stalls in the bathrooms; and since I found the remnants of two hand-rolled cigarettes in the shower stall last night, they obviously even like to light up while washing off.

We have three different bathrooms. There are two out in the main hallway. These are open twenty-four hours a day. One has two toilets, two urinals, and three sinks. The second bathroom has three toilets and three sinks.

The remaining bathroom, which is open from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, consists of two toilets, two sinks, four stall showers, and one shower room. The shower room has five shower heads and is also known as the Car Wash.

There appears to be a sort of unwritten rule that you do not enter the Car Wash when already occupied unless invited. I have confined my showering to the individual stalls at this point.
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