A Tale of a old man about to get out of prison.


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There comes a time in every Correctional Officers carrier when they think hard about the carrier they have chosen. This is usually right after something dramatic happens that makes one think. I believe the time I really chose to make corrections my carrier of choice was when I was working a general population dorm.
  I had about 200 inmates that I was responsible for. The DOC was short on staff and we did what was needed to keep the institution running. I realized now that a prison will continue functioning if I am there or not. Now back to the story. This wasn’t a hard dorm to work. There was mostly older convicts living in this dorm and they’ve been behind the fence long enough to realizes that in prison just like on the street, there’s thing you do and things you don’t do.
  The night was going fairly smooth. I had already finished taking up laundry and the dorm barber had closed for the day. Some of the inmates cooked their own food in the microwave in the evenings, this gave them something to much on while watching TV in the dorms day room.
  I had been walking around the dorm making my hourly checks and noticed a few card games going on. I also noticed that one of the inmates had a little alcohol on his breath. When I asked him if he’d been drinking he
said he had only one cup. I didn’t believe him but I made him an offer he couldn’t refused. He was to hand over the buck (homemade wine) and go to bed, I instructed him that if I saw him out of his cell for the rest of the night he would go straight to lock-up.
Needless to say the inmate took the deal. I was glad because he wasn’t an inmate that causes problem and we needed the space in lock-up. Anyway he worked for the Warden and would probably be out of lack-up and back in the dorm in a few days. I hate how politics work.
  The night went on as normal. I counted the inmates at 2130 hrs and then continued walking around the dorm. I was an Officer at the time and Dorm Officers at this institution did not have an office, we stay in the common areas with the inmates. Some institutions had a control room where you could see down every wing (hallway). This institution didn’t have that, the officer was locked on the wing with the inmates and the Sergeant or Supervisor of the dorm kept the keys. This policy was set in place to keep the inmates from taking control of the entire dorm in case of a riot.
It was now getting close to 2330 hrs and I was getting my count sheet ready to record my count. As the count began everything was normal. This was not a standing count, but I still had to count living breathing bodies. The inmates new they had to move some part of their body before I could count them present. If I came across one asleep, I just kicked the door slightly and the inmate would either look at me all crazy eyed or give a wave with a hand or leg.
Tonight I had just started my count. I was almost finished with my first tier and was staring on my second  when I saw it. In the first room of the second tier right in front of me the inmate in the cell sliced his throat with a razor blade. I immediately unlocked the door and call for a medical emergency over my radio. I grabbed the inmate by this arm and took the razor away from him and threw it in the sink. I didn’t have any bandages so I went for the first thing I saw that might could work as a bandage. I took the inmate’s white t-shirt that was laying on his bed and put direct pressure on the cut. At this time I finally talked the inmate into sitting on his bed until helped arrived.
It didn’t take long for the First Responders to arrive. Before they got there I got back on the radio and told them what had happened and what was needed. Within minutes the responders and a nurse arrived. Not long after the responders arrived another officer arrived with a gurney. The inmate was place on the gurney and taken to the prison infirmary.
 The inmate almost bled out but the quick actions from the staff saved his life that night. I found out later that night that the inmate wasn’t trying to kill himself, but was hoping his actions would keep him in prison. He was scheduled to be released that next week and was scared. This inmate was locked up back in 1967 and was now being released in 1999 at the age of 68. He had no one to go home to, his last visit was from a friend and I heard that was years ago.
This inmate was finally released from prison, within a couple of weeks he was back in jail for robbery. I would say he finally made it back home.

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  • Leonardo da Vinci E. on Dec 23, 2009

    Indeed, it is a kind of irony in America these days because our leaders find it beyond their abilities (and you need a P.H.D for it) to be able to get the homeless off the streets into some kind of decent housing; So people in prison have it better in many instances than the lawful citizen.

  • Leroy Altman on Dec 23, 2009

    Your right about that.

  • KathrynVisconte on Feb 17, 2010

    This is an interesting piece. What a dangerous place it must be to be an Officer in a prison. I never really realized that our American Police officers worked in Prisons also. Must make for many interesting writes. Officers DO put their lives on the line for the safety of people.

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