Prison Pete

Friday, September 29, 2006
  Guards, Corrections Officers, and Civilian Employees.
In the federal system, all employees of the prison were considered "guards." With the exception of the chaplains, all employees were required to pass annual firearms training, and even the secretaries could be called upon to be the "guard" in the dorm area. While you might occasionally have a correction officer assist one of the other employees, there was not as a rule officers in the education, chapel and recreation areas. The staff hired to work in those areas: teachers, chaplains, and recreation personnel all were responsible for policing their own areas.

Here in NY State prisons, you have correction officers and civilian employees. In the Recreation area, we have two or three employees that set up the various leagues etc., but the running of the Rec yard is all done by correction officers. We have civilian workers in the maintenance department. An electrician, plumber, heating and air conditioning guy, locksmith, plus a few others. We also have a correction officer that is present any time we inmates are there working.

One application of this dual control is that during our time in the chapel, it is the officers that can toss an inmate out of the chapel even if the chaplain does not have a problem with him or her. Same thing with me working on the chapel computer; it was the officer that made the stink.

Today, I was cutting some Plexiglas for use as temporary windows. Now the one guard that usually works in maintenance has a real bug about leaving scraps of Plexiglas around. It makes for great weapons material because it is not picked up by the metal detectors. As he is the civilian with the keys to the cabinet where the Plexiglas is stored, I ask him to please open the cabinet. He says he will, and continues into the tool room.

Time passes, and it is now two o'clock and time to clean up. I turn my tool in and again ask him to please open the cabinet. He says he will. I explain I just want to put the extra pieces away as soon as possible. He responds that he knows, but still does not open the cabinet; I am frustrated because I know that he will not be the one who gets in trouble if the pieces are not put away. Urgh. I bite my tongue because anything I say now can and would be used against me. He eventually gives the keys to another staff member who comes to open the two padlocks.

Dinner time, I am going to take a break and cook some pasta. Be back in a bit.

I am back. The reason this break was so long in the first place was I had promised to type a letter for another inmate who thinks he is being cheated out of 200 or so days of jail time. It will be interesting to see how that one comes out.

It is now 8:00 PM and I still have to take a shower. The rest of the dorm is now out at the Rec yard and will be returning in thirty minutes or so. I love listening to all my fellow inmates bragging about what tough guys they were on the street and how fast they can rattle off their first, second and even third bids (prison sentences) and they are not even thirty yet.

I better go take my shower now before they all get back. I was cutting Plexiglas on the table saw today, so I need to give my bod a good rinse. Let me take a quick shower then return. I also need to take inventory and fill out the commissary sheet. So much to do, so little time. Off to the shower I go. Or as some people might enjoy telling me, go soak your head.
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