Thursday, December 4, 2014

Show a Little Kindness

I recently went to Henry Ford Clinic for a blood draw and flu shot.  A really cute perky medical assistant came in with the syringes.  When I presented my arm for the blood draw, she expressed delight at the condition of my veins, so easy to tap!  I told her my veins are a junkie's dream.  She laughed and we started chatting.  When her kids asked what she did at her job, she told them she collected blood from people.  They said, "Oh, like a vampire!"  She said "Yeah, like that!"  I said we think alike.  I tell people that I'm going to the doctor to do "the vampire thing, they're gonna suck my blood."  She said she likes to tease her eleven year old son about a prominent vein in his neck. She tells him, "Oh, that's a sexy vein, I'm gonna tap that some day!"  Her friends tell her that her kids are going to need therapy.  She responds everybody needs therapy so it may as well be for something hilarious instead of something real.  I pretty much agreed with that.  She then proceeded to tell me what a great kid her son is, very kind and generous.  She told me about a time when they were in a convenience store in a rough area of Ypsilanti.  Her son was about five years old at the time.  A working girl came in, bought a snack and a drink.  When she went to leave, the boy went to the door, held it open for her and said, "Have a nice day!"  The girl started tearing up and told mom that usually parents grab their kids and drag them away from her.  She really appreciated being treated with courtesy and kindness.  More recently, they were in a store again.  Her son had been carrying his own money, allowance, etc. for a while.  There was a homeless guy at the counter cashing in bottles.  He didn't have enough money to get the food he wanted, so her son collected all the stuff the man had not been able to buy, plus a little extra, bought it and gave it to the man.  Then they went outside and collected more bottles for the guy.  She said she had tried to set that kind of example for her kids.  A patient came in one day, again, probably homeless.  She noticed him using some paper towels trying to wipe some dirt from his face and arms.  She brought him so wipes and said she'd be back in a little bit, gave him time to clean himself up a little more.  When he was done with his appointment, she put some more wipes and tissues in a bag, along with some crackers, and gave the stuff to him.  I said her son was going to be a great human being, then changed it to say, no, he already is a great human being.  Best medical appointment ever.  I felt really good when I left.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Value your work

I did my first two hour Salvation Army bell ringing shift of the year on Saturday.  My Kiwanis club does it at the Kroger store here in town.  We do two hour shifts because we are geezers and can't handle eight hours.  I reported for duty at 11 A.M., only to learn that my scheduled time was 1 P.M. to 3 P.M.  Fortunately, this misstep did not set the tone for  the shift.  Of course, the kids are always adorable, begging their parents for money to put in the bucket.  ( Right on, kids!  Keep it up! )  We always give them a candy cane or Hershey's kiss.  Then a young couple came out of the store with party type groceries.  The guy had a twelve pack of  Rolling Rock beer.  He put it down on the chair provided for us to rest when necessary.  I said, "Oh, you brought me some beer!  Thank you!"  Beer always makes a shift go so fast!
Then a man came in wearing Michigan Department of Corrections jacket and knit hat.  I recognized him from Huron Valley Correctional Facility so I said hello, asked how things were going.  I told him things were great for me, because I am retired now.  CO Dolan said he could go any time, figured he would put in another year, which would make a 31 year career.  He said he was discouraged because he feels society devalues what he does for a living, even though he is proud of his career and the work he does.  I agreed with him.  People have no idea what his job is like. We chatted for awhile longer, lamenting the current state of affairs at the Department.  Then a guy came out of the store and said to him, "Oh, you work as a guard.  You're a babysitter."   Ironic, in view of what CO Dolan and I had just been talking about.  His comments irritated me, so I said, "Yeah, for big babies, big MEAN babies".  CO Dolan was angry.  He told the guy, "I take some offense at that.  I go to work every day.   Been called every name in the book.  I've had food and shit thrown at me.  Prisoners have urinated on me.  I work out three times a week so I can deal with these guys and not get hurt."  It turned out the guy had a kid in prison who fed him a line of garbage about what officers do.  Meanwhile my bell ringing shift ended.  I interrupted and asked the guy if  he had ever been threatened with having a nickname tattooed on his asshole.  He said no.  I told him, "Well, I have been."  Then I said good-bye to CO Dolan and went into the store.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


One of my friends used the word "sclerotic" in a Facebook post today.  The use of the word got a lot of reaction in the comments.
When prisoners started getting snotty with me at hearings, I sought revenge by using big words.  If I thought they were lying, I would say things like, "you're obfuscating".  If they were insulting the reporting officer or me, I would say, "There's no need to be so vitriolic".  Or "cantankerous".   I already wrote about the guy who got in a fight, lost, then claimed he was assaulted.  I told he he was not assaulted, he just lost the fight because he "lacked pugilistic skills".  If their statements were stupid, I would tell them "You are impervious to common sense".   Usually they would just look puzzled.  If they know what I meant, I probably would have gotten thumped a few times.  I think they had an inkling that I was not flattering them but they couldn't be sure, so they didn't react.  I got petty satisfaction from the fact that I had a bigger vocabulary than they did.


A couple of my friends posted a thing of Facebook saying that a good person might be covered by tattoos, and a bad person could go to church every week.  You can't judge a book by its cover.
It reminded me of an experience I had in Hillsdale, a small city in western Michigan.  I conducted hearings on prisoners on home confinement in that area.  The hearings took place in the parole office, located on the second floor a a building which housed district court on the lower floor.  One day I approached the building where a young guy was standing, along with two older people who seemed to be his parents.  He had long hair and wore a concert t-shirt for a heavy metal band, Metallica or some group like that. The dad had long graying hair he wore in a braid or a pony tail, and a black leather jacket, sort of biker types.  I confess I harbored negative thoughts like, "this kids a thug and his parents are anti-social".  So imagine my surprise when I got to the door and the young man pulled the door open for me, and his mom reached out to help hold the door.  I thanked them and they responded,"You're welcome".  I realized I had stereotyped  them based on their wardrobe and hair.  I thought about it all morning, and finally went back and talked to my friend Inspector D. about it.  She's the one who pointed out that I had been profiling.  Lesson learned, don't judge just by what is on the outside.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mr. Honesty

On one of our stops on our trip up the coast, my sister and I stayed in a hotel near the Eel River.  In the morning we crossed the street to check out the walking path next to the river.  It was dirt.  I couldn't really walk it with my leg weakness and balance issues.  My walker would get bogged down on the rocks and little dips in the ground.  So she went walking on the path, and I walked around the conference center and paved areas.  There were some nice views, and benches where you could sit.  They also had a cat sanctuary with a little gazebo.  It started to rain,so I decided to sit in the gazebo and see if one of the cats were approach me.  I think they were feral, since the two I saw were pretty skittish.
As I looked around for more cats, a guy wandered into the gazebo.  Although he did not see all the way odd, his affect did seem to be a little blunted.   But he commented on the rain, and the cool temperature.  I thought, OK, that's pretty normal.  His next comment was, "I just broke up with my girlfriend yesterday."   Uh oh.  Once again, I had attracted a "special person"  who could not wait to tell me his life story.  Why does this keep happening to me?  My friend Chery says it's because of the "aura of serenity" I give off.  Hmmm.  Since I detected no hint of aggression, I decided to just go with it.  I asked, "Did you break up with her, or did she break up with you?"  He said he broke up with her, because he knew she was getting ready to break up with him.  He went on to say, he was a very honest person, so he told her why he was dumping her.  He explained that he had done a lot of reading, and he had learned to notice patterns of behavior, which in this case clued him in to what his girlfriend was thinking.  At this point, he pulled out his pipe and toked up a little, releasing some smoke to dissipate into the air.  I continued the conversation just prompting him, you know, "Oh, that sounds like the right thing to do", or "uh-huh".  He continued talking until my sister showed up, at which point, I immediately said with more enthusiasm than necessary, "Ready to go?".  She worked for Human Services her whole career, so she immediately recognized what was going on and said, "Yep, let's go".  As I was getting into the car, I waved goodbye to Mr. Honesty.  He waved back.
As we continued on our journey up the coast, I kept seeing more "special people"  walking along the side of the highway, or standing on street corners with signs asking for money, etc.  A lot of them had dogs for companions.   My sister explained that California and Oregon have pretty good support services for homeless, mentally ill, addicted folks.
I noticed quite a few run-down shacks and trailers in the trees several yards off the road, or in the small towns we went through.  Probably shelter for a lot of these folks.   I wondered how many meth labs were hidden away back in those forests.  Probably quite a few pot patches too.  Evidence of this desperate poverty saddened me.  Quite a clash with the California stereotype of glitz, decadence and excess portrayed in the media.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I recently returned from a trip to visit family on the West Coast.  I flew into San Francisco where my brother Chuck, and my sister, Carol, picked me up.  I arrived about 10 P.M. so it was dark and traffic was light on the drive to my brother's house in Novato in Marin County.  In the next several days, we went to Point Reyes National Park and did a lot of driving around Marin County, which has a varied and beautiful landscape, from ocean beach, to mountains, to rural farms and cattle ranches.  My brother had shoulder surgery shortly before my arrival, and he concluded a round of treatment for another medical condition while I was there.  He did so well, his doctor released him to travel, so he went to Savannah, Georgia, to visit a friend.  My sister and I drove to Sacramento to see my nephew, then drove up the coast to her home in Eugene, Oregon, where my younger brother and his family also live.
As we drove around, I noticed an annoying humming, buzzing sound all around me.  After some investigation, I learned that the West Coast, especially, California, is experiencing an aggressive species invasion of an insect known as the Toyota.  There are millions of them flitting around the landscape.  The invasion centers on freeways.  The insects congregate in shopping mall parking lots, and places called "dealerships".  The insects also demonstrate much higher intellect than the normal insect in that they are highly organized and have managed to masquerade as automobiles.  Even my brilliant sister and her husband were fooled enough to purchase one of the larger subspecies several years ago, a Highlander.  It has gotten to the point where not only can you hardly buy a real car like a Ford, you cannot even rent one.  We found this out when we tried to rent a car to drive north, and the only thing we could get was, you guessed it, a Toyota.  A tiny Toyota Corolla.  It buzzed all the way up the coast.  I expressed my concern for my safety to my sister.  The insect knew I was onto it, and knew that their ultimate plan is to continue building up their numbers until they can turn on us, and decimate us, take over the country.  Carol expressed pessimism and called me paranoid.  I was on my guard, however, and never gave the insect a chance to devour me and expel any waste product left from my body out its tail pipe.
The only actual vehicles that seem to be holding their own against the invasion are SUVs and trucks, as in "big ass American trucks".
On the drive north, my sister pulled out into all the rest stops and scenic view pullouts.  At one place, she wanted to walk the trail.  I decided to walk a little way with her.  No way was I going to remain in the insect in a strange place.  I saw the insect eyeing me for lunch.  I told my sister if I fell on the trail to just wrap me up in her rain poncho ( also known as "the shower curtain" to her fellow volunteers at the Eugene rose gardens ) and go for help.  But I didn't fall, and when I got tired Carol found a place for me to sit.  The only harm was a dirty butt.  
After we got to Eugene, Carol and her husband drove their Fusion hybrid almost exclusively.  They prefer this superior form of transportation, much as it disgusts their Highlander insect.  As I wondered around their yard, near the back of their garage and car port one evening, I heard the insect and the Fusion arguing. The insect laughed maniacally, and tried to insult the Fusion by saying, "You hybrid!  You are nothing but a sub-automotive mongrel!"  The Fusion calmly responded, "Well, as for the hybrid thing, you guys started it with that goofy Prius.  Anywayl, my people prefer me.  And by the way, they are thinking of replacing you with a Ford Escape.  Cynthia has been telling them how much she likes hers."
The very next day, the Fusion was hit by a Nissan at an intersection.  I absolutely know in my heart that the insect hired or formed some kind of alliance with the Nissan community to carry out this hit.  After all, the Nissan is another invasive.  The Fusion had to go into the shop.
The next day, my sister had to drive the insect around.  We stopped at a grocery store to get things for dinner.  We did some walking around that day so I chose to stay in the insect for the brief time while my sister was in the store.  While there, I saw my sister-in-law Linda park.  She saw me sitting in the fake vehicle and approached.  I tried to roll down the window and open the door but they were both locked!  I was trapped!  I panicked, knowing that the insect had me at its mercy.  Then I manually unlocked the door lock, and the alarm went off!  OMG!  If I was going to escape, the insect at least insisted on embarrassing me as much as possible.  Linda texted my sister that I tripped the alarm, and she used her key fob button to turn it off.  Thank goodness, Carol and Henry rented a Chevy to drive me to the airport in Portland for the flight home.
Although I hated leaving my siblings, I felt great relief upon arriving home.  Parking lots full of Fords, Chevys, Chryslers!  Safety!  But we cannot be complacent.  We must prepare for the expanding aggressive invasion of the insect Toyotas, and their allies, the Nissans and Hondas.  I have already secured the services of a mad scientist/weapon manufacturer to alter a grenade launcher to deliver RAID bombs.  Next, I am hoping to find someone to develop a RAID-delivering fully automatic AK-47.  Thank goodness for the Second Amendment!  We shall prevail!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Last week one of my Facebook Friends, Lightnin' Rod Wilson, a great blues musician, posted a picture of a squirrel with a beautiful guitar.  It was really cute.  In spite of another snow storm yesterday, I have seen signs of spring, including a lot of squirrels out running around.
I used to do hearings at a boot camp type facility which is located in a really beautiful rural area.  Wild life commonly populated the woods and sometimes wandered out onto the road.  As I drove away one day I saw two squirrels in the middle of the road quite a distance in front of me.  They ran out of the road and I thought to myself, "Smart squirrels."  Wrong.  I got up to about fifty yards from the spot where I first saw them.  Suddenly, two squirrels come darting out of the woods, one chasing the other.  Then they stop right in front of me and start wrestling, WWF style!  I hit the brakes and slowed as much as I could without skidding or fish tailing, but they just kept pummeling each other, oblivious to the danger of the car.  Finally, a third squirrel came running up to them, looking like she was screaming at them and waving her cute little front paws.  After a few seconds of this, they broke it up and all three ran off the road.
I thought to myself, "What the hell just happened?"  I figured the two squirrels who chose to duke it out in the middle of the road must have been drunk.  No other explanation seems adequate.  There must have been some red-neck squirrel bar back in those woods, with red-neck hillbilly squirrel music on the juke box.  The third squirrel was a girlfriend to one of the wrestlers, and the other wrestler must have hit on her or something.  So the two macho boy squirrels got in an argument.  The red-neck squirrel bartender told them to take it outside.  As soon as the girl squirrel realized they got themselves out in the road, she had to go break them up.  If they both got hit by a car, she would lose a boyfriend, and a replacement boyfriend, all in one splat.  I always wanted to go back to that place, go back into the woods and find that little squirrel bar.  Never got it together to do it, though.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

More professionals

I keep remembering more instances of professional conduct by Corrections staff.  I did a hearing at the women's facility once.  The young woman prisoner received a misconduct report for Disobeying A Direct Order.  CO Williams wrote her up because she kept edging over toward a fence separating her area from another part of the prisoner.  The prisoners are not supposed to communicate and intermingle with others in separate areas of the prison.
When she came in for her hearing, I was not sure which CO Williams had written the report.  There were three or four of them at this facility.  So I described her:  A tiny little black woman, young, wears her hair in a bun, looks like a pretty little doll?"   The prisoner responded, "Yeah, that's her.  But she isn't no doll.  She;s a pit bull."
I had to share the store with CO Williams.  I told her to keep up the good work.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Writing about Mother Crane made me think more about the officers working in segregation, and about their professionalism in doing their jobs.  Even though the most dangerous prisoners usually ended up there, I never felt unsafe.  I wrote before about one young officer, CO Torres, who placed himself between myself and an irate prisoner.   One prisoner, a very large man, got very angry with me and jumped up out of the chair, yelling profanities and veiled threats at me.  RUO Haidys, got in front of the prisoner, and very calmly nudged the prisoner backwards toward the door, speaking to him the whole time, until the prisoner was removed from the hearing room.  There wee many others, RUO Parkinson, Sgt. Torres ( CO Torres' father), RUO Blair, RUO Green.  There are so many more but I can't remember all their names.  A similar incident happened at Huron Valley Men's Facility with a prisoner who was suffering from organic brain syndrome, which made him extremely unpredictable.  He had been calm throughout the hearing but when I announced he was guilty, he jumped up yelling, "Guilty!?  Guilty!"  The two officers in the room immediately pushed him back down into the chair, without hurting him.  They covered his mouth since to prevent him from spitting.  He had a history of spitting behavior.
The more rational prisoners recognized the professionalism of the segregation staff.  One young prisoner recently transferred in from another prison came in for hearing on misconduct charges.  He knew he was a hot head and admitted the bad behavior.   After being in prison for eight or nine years, approaching age thirty, he started to get it that being a punk wasn't working for him.  After he got released from segregation, came to my regular hearing room for a misconduct hearing on a less serious manner.  He asked me to explain something to him.  I said I would try.  He told me that the staff in most of the prison at Gus Harrison was much "harder" than staff at the prison he came from, with the exception of the segregation unit staff.  I said I thought it might be due to the fact that the staff at Gus Harrison was relatively young and consequently, were very "by the book".  They were still developing the ability to be flexible that more mature staff had. He said it was weird that the segregation unit staff and the hearing officer were the best people at the facility.  I noted that the segregation staff were some of the most experienced at Gus Harrison.
A few days later I got a note from him thanking me for treating him like a man, not a just a prisoner.  At first I thought it might be some kind of romantic or sexual overture, but then I decided that he meant "man", as in "human".   He appreciated that I had talked to him as a person.
I think I still have the note.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Girls in love

The news is full of stories about Arizona's "no gays allowed" law, and whether Governor Jan Brewer will sign it.   Then there is the hearing going on a Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit.  Two women want to invalidate Michigan's ban on gay marriage so they can get married and adopt each other's children.
It got me thinking about gay couples in prison.
There were male couples but they were mostly unremarkable.  Female couples on the other hand, were crazy, at least the ones I saw were. In a previous post, I described the couple who were advocates of the proposition that couple "who cuts together, stays together".  Little Asia and dominant Candace.  The women knew how to really go for the jugular with each other.  I had one hearing where the more feminine of the two women purposely provoked her girlfriend by leaving a love letter from a previous girlfriend out in the open where she would be sure to see it.  The new girlfriend saw it, beat the snot out of Miss Thing, and then cut off a chunk of her long, curly, beautiful brown hair, right in the front.  Most women believe they have a "best feature".  For this girl, her hair was her crowning glory, literally.  Her partner's act demonstrated a desire to inflict the most pain.  She succeeded.  Of course, this act of cruelty only broke them up temporarily.  Within a few weeks, they were a couple again.  Just goes to show that domestic violence is pretty much the same everywhere.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


My friend Cheryl and I were having lunch at one of the Leo's Coney Island restaurants on Friday before going to the movies.  A group of workers came in, with extremely dirty boots caked in mud, which ended up all over the floor.  When they left, a guy came out and started mopping up the area.  A couple of sheriff's deputies came in and started to sit down, but when they saw the guy mopping, they stepped out of the way and let him continue cleaning the floor.  I liked that.  
Once, when I was working at Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, I went back into the Deputy Warden's suite where the bathrooms were located.  I looked in, but the prisoner porter was in there cleaning.  So I sauntered over to one of the offices in the area.  One of the unit managers was in there doing some paper work.  He invited me in to sit down and asked if I needed anything.  I said no, I came in to use the bathroom, but I didn't want to interrupt the porter while he was cleaning.  The manager was very surprised that I would show this kind of consideration to a prisoner porter.  I told him that nothing irritated me more at home than being interrupted while cleaning.  I figured the prisoner felt the same way.  This guy worked up in the control center/deputy suite area for a long time.  He cleaned my hearing room.  Occasionally, we would engage in inconsequential chatter.  During the winter, the air got extremely dry.  I had a small space heater in my room, because the heating system failed to warm the room adequately.  I got so dried out, I resorted to draping wet paper towels over the heater to moisturize the air.  I complained about it once when we were talking.  He checked out the heater, then got up and went to his porter cart and came back with a wet sponge, which we proceeded to tie to the heater with a string.  Worked much better than paper towels.
I think the unit manager must have told him what I said about being interrupted.  A little common courtesy goes a long way.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Two Jasons

I indulged my appetite for trash TV this afternoon watching Steve Wilkos.  The title of the program was The World's Worst Mother.  This woman had six children, all of whom Children's Protective Services had removed from her care.  Her youngest had a fractured arm, with no medical attention for three days.  She took a lie detector test to "clear her name" of allegations that she actively abused the children, and also neglected them.  The administrator found "extreme deception indicated" during her test.
As I watched the show, I agreed that she was a terrible mother.  And the father was no better.  He had the opportunity to take custody of the children, but he chose to stay with the mother.  But this woman was not the worst mother ever, not by a long shot.
When I worked in Wayne County Juvenile Court representing children, I had two very similar cases of extreme child abuse.  Both perpetrators were mothers of the children.  Both fathers stayed with the mothers.
Both Jasons came into ER with numerous fractures, all over their young bodies. Arms, legs, ribs, some new, some old and healing with no evidence of treatment.  Both were about four months old at the time they medical staff reported them to CPS.  One Jason was left with permanent impairment.
The cases took way too long to wend their way through the court system.  But finally, both sets of parents had their rights completely terminated so that the boys could be placed for adoption.  Jason One's parents had another child while Jason One's case was pending.  At the time of the termination hearing,  this little girl had been removed due to a broken arm.  The mother did not even bother to deny that she broke the child's arm.  She tried to justify it by describing what a bad child her daughter was.  The dad approached me in the hallway at one of the breaks from testimony.  He said he did not blame me for fighting to take his kid away.  I said, "Good, because I'm not doing anything wrong".
Jason Two's mother never admitted to anything.  It turned out that her husband was not the father of Jason Two.  Mom was abandoned by the biological father.  Her husband was a former boyfriend.  I believe she married him out of desperation.  Jason Two's "dad" was a teacher for the Detroit Public Schools.  He was in complete denial about the source and severity of Jason Two's injuries.  During his testimony at the termination hearing, he complained that the Henry Ford Hospital staff  treated them terribly.  He indignantly complained that the doctor came out and told him, "Your baby's brain is smashed!"  They called a bunch of his co-workers, and people from their church, to tell the judge what wonderful people they were.  My only question on cross-examination was, "Do you know why Jason was in the hospital at age four months?"  None of them had any detailed knowledge of Jason's injuries.
I don't know where Jason One went after he became available for adoption.  He had a very good chance at being adopted since he was still young and did not have any permanent injury as far as I know.  Jason Two was adopted by his foster family, which was a wonderful thing for him.  His foster mother dedicated herself completely to maximizing Jason Two's capacities.  She told me at one point that one of the doctors said his injuries caused problems similar to cerebral palsy.  She she went to the library and checked out every book she could find on cerebral palsy, she learned how to do physical and learning exercises.  She even created some special exercises of her specifically for Jason Two's disabilities.  It was a great outcome under the circumstances.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mature women (not)

One of my Facebook friends posted an article about two women, ages 48 and 58, who got into a fight over a man.  Really.  At their ages.  When do we grow out of this ridiculous immature behavior.
Once when I was working at the women's facility, there was a big brawl out on the yard involving a couple of women and their friends.  They fought and hollered at each other.  They all got written up for their behavior.  When they came in for hearings, I looked at the first woman and thought to myself, "Aren't you a little long in the tooth for this silliness?"  The woman had to have been 50 if she was a day.  Same story when the other woman came in.  After the hearings, talked to the sergeant who had reviewed the reports with the prisoners, and told him what I thought.  He said the staff were all joking around about these two old broads acting like jealous teen-agers.  He said they decided they should start a monthly event, called "Over Fifty White Fight Night".  I couldn't help but agree with him.  

Snow Blues

We have gotten so much snow this winter.  I am beyond tired of it.  That's probably why I haven't been motivated to write this week.  That, and my darling granddaughter Olivia gave me her cold.  But I have to admit, the snow is beautiful, looking so pristine and white.
I used to have to drive from Adrian to Hillsdale, Michigan, occasionally to conduct hearings on prisoners who were on home confinement.  These prisoners are allowed limited time outside the home to work, or go to doctor appointments, etc.  During the winter, I got quite anxious sometimes due to ice and snow.  Once, I got diverted off the main road onto a dirt road.  I could not see the surface, but I think it was dirt.  It was all snow and ice at the time I was driving on it.  I slowed down to a crawl, like 15 MPH.  As I looked around, the beauty of the scenery stunned me.  The landscape consisted of tree covered hills, with snow covering the ground and the branches of the trees.  The houses looked quaint and inviting.  I met another car coming the other way, and we both stopped and remarked to each other how lovely it was.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mother Crane

Over the week-end, one of my Facebook friends posted an article from a Denver newspaper.  The article described how working as a corrections officer changes a person.  It made particular note of some behavior that is directed primarily at female officers.
The article made me think of an officer I worked with at Gus Harrison Correctional Facility.  CO Crane was a life veteran, as opposed to a lot of the new officers who came into Corrections fresh out of school.  Crane worked in various other jobs before becoming a Corrections Officer.  She told me she loved her job.  CO Crane worked the segregation unit and Level IV higher security primarily, since she was an experienced officer.  During one major disturbance in one of these units, several prisoners fought with several officers.  During the hearings on the prisoners, I read the Critical Incident reports.  They described CO Crane, 5'2" or so, maybe 115 to 120 pounds, jumping on the back of a big prisoner who was beating on her partner.  The prisoner threw her off, she hit the wall and fell to the floor.  She then crawled back to the prisoner and grabbed his leg in an attempt to neutralize the prisoner's aggression.  At that point, I knew that if I ever got in a fight, I wanted her on my side.
In segregation, they called CO Crane, "Mother Crane", due to her ability calm down upset prisoners by talking to them.  There was one young Hispanic prisoner who routinely worked himself up to long bouts of yelling and hollering for hours.  Mother Crane would go talk to him, get him calmed down so he would stop disrupting the unit.  This prisoner came to see me for a hearing one day.  I noticed that the bridge of his nose was flat, his eyes were somewhat almond shaped.  When I worked Juvenile Court, I learned that these physical characteristics are common in people who suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  I asked CO Crane about it.  Adrian is a relatively small community and the officers sometimes know the prisoners, and their families.  CO Crane confirmed to me that she knew this prisoner's mother and she was a serious alcoholic.  It explained a lot of the prisoner's behavior.
One young guy in segregation had what he thought was an original idea to harass CO Crane.  When she was doing her rounds of the unit, he was sitting in full view with his genitals exposed, masturbating.  When CO Crane looked in, he smiled at her and blatantly continued his activity.  She told him to put it away, and she wrote him up for Sexual Misconduct.  Of course, this had happened to her more than once during her career.  When the prisoner came in to see me for his hearing, he offered the usual lame defense, claiming he had just been putting on some medicinal cream for a rash.  The "itchy rash defense" was so common that I came to expect it from prisoners charged with this type of behavior.  ( One of my hearing officer colleagues told me once that she used to see a particular prisoner for this about once a week.  He officer the itchy rash defense to her, and she asked him if he was sure it wasn't a callous, not a rash. )  M prisoner denied having an erection, and said CO Crane must have been mistaken about that detail.  I found him guilty of the charge since he clearly had deliberately exposed his sexual organs to CO Crane, and directed sexual behavior toward her.  In my hearing report I had to explain why the officer was credible and the prisoner was not.  I struggled to come up with wording that did not sound like  "CO Crane knows an erection when she sees one because she's a slut who's had sex with a lot of men".  I finally settled on the phrase, "CO Crane has sufficient life experience to know whether or not a man has an erection".  When my hearing investigator read the report, she cracked up and immediately phone CO Crane and read this portion of the report to her.  They started joking about it to each other, and finally decided that CO Crane would be designated to fill the newly created position of Erection Identifier, or E.I. , for Gus Harrison Facility.
CO Crane never appeared to suffer from the rigidity and emotional damage described the newspaper article.  I believe it was due the "life experience", maturity, and sense of humor she brought to the job.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Yesterday a convicted murderer, four counts, plus arson, escaped from a Michigan prison.
 Some prisoners managed to escape from the prison I worked at over the course of my career there.  There were two guys who hid in a garbage truck, with the garbage.  One of them was serving time for armed robbery, the other for manslaughter, I believe.  They went to a house near the prison and demanded money and clothing, etc.  An elderly couple lived there.  The husband convinced them that he should drive them to Walmart and go in and get the clothes.  The prisoners obviously smelled horrible and would have been extremely noticeable.  The couple also convinced the prisoners to leave the wife at home, pleading a bad heart that could be damaged by excessive stress.  My massage therapist knew the people.  She told me the man was a retired police officer, so he knew how to handle felon types.  The wife was a calm, brave old girl.  As soon as they were out the door, she got on the phone and called the cops, told them exactly where her husband and the escapees were headed.  Their visit to the outside world did not last long.  Police apprehended them later in the day.
Another guy tried to escape in a very clever way.  People must pass through two electronic gates to get outside the fenced area of the prison. I was standing at the electronic gate to go out for my lunch break.  There was a guy behind me in civilian clothes.  Everybody has to show Corrections Department ID or Visitor Pass to get out.  The the officer at the gate asked everybody for ID.  We all held up our cards except for this guy.  He said he was a new employee and did not have his ID yet.  He didn't officer any other type of pass so the officer told him he had to wait.  He called for the gate to close.   When he went back after lunch, he told me the guy was an inmate.  It freaked me out a little because he was less than two feet behind me.  What would have happened if he had a weapon?  I had to give that young gate officer a lot of credit.  He was very calm, very authoritative, followed policy precisely, which prevented an escape.  So good job, CO Long!  I don't usually put names in my posts, but this officer deserved a pat on the back.
There's more but I'll save them for another time.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Justice Denied.

My massage therapist's father recently fell and broke his hip.  He had to have some surgery.  Fortunately, he came through it well so far.
Hearing about it reminded of a prisoner I used to see occasionally for hearings.  He had some kind of closed head injury, although it was evident from a dent in his skull.  He had balance issues, memory issues.  I told another hearing officer one time that if she talked to prisoner W. within a day or two of an incident, he would tell her the whole truth.  Later on, he would not remember the truth.  He was another prisoner who used to come in with statements that were clearly rehearsed because they did not fit the incident he was supposed to be describing.
The last time I saw him, he was actually a victim, not the one receiving the misconduct report.  He and another prisoner had argued in the day room about something inconsequential.  Both of them had wheelchairs, although they could walk.  Prisoner W. really did need one.  The other prisoner was almost certainly just a malingerer.  So this other prisoner got mad at W., leaped out of his wheel chair, charged across the room about ten or fifteen feet, and pushed W. hard enough to knock him out of his wheel chair onto the hard tile floor.  This prisoner, we'll call him M. for Malingerer, did the usual prisoner defense.  Got everyone he could find to list as a witness to say W. fell accidentally, or W. attacked M., or whatever might get M. off the hook.  Unfortunately for M.  he was a jerk who liked to bully other prisoners who could not fight back effectively.  And the other prisoners knew W. was not a bad guy.  He was a little off because of his neurological problems, but he didn't bother anyone.  All of the prisoner witnesses gave statements condemning M.  Naturally, I found him guilty of the assault.
As it turns out, he should have been prosecuted for Manslaughter.  When W. fell, he broke his hip.  The worst part is, he complained for several days about pain in his hip.  Apparently he was not sufficiently strident about it, because they just put him on the regular call out list for health care.  By the time they saw him, he was getting really sick, starting to lose weight, looking gray.  They discovered the fracture, but W. developed pneumonia, and after a few months, he died.  He could not overcome the trauma.
His only visitor was his sister, who did not come frequently, but did so on a regular basis.  She tried to watch out for him, although in a respectful way.  She got to know the unit counselors and called them from time to time with concerns about her brother.  She was always reasonable and respectful to staff, so they took care of W. if they could.  She did not ask for special treatment for him, she just brought things to staff attention that W. could not do for himself.  She took care of arranging for his funeral.  Afterwards, she sent a note of thanks to the staff for being kind to W.  I felt sad at the outcome of this incident.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Random memory

I had a conversation recently with my daughter-in-law, Joy.  We ate at Leo's Diner, ended up talking about drug testing.  How did we ever get on that subject?  Anyway, the lunch hour was over, we lingered over another cup of coffee.  The waitress heard us talking and made a few contributions of her own.
Working for Corrections, I learned more about drug testing than I ever wanted to know.  ( One year, in a misguided fit of enthusiasm, I actually toured the drug testing facility we were using at the time.  I was on the West Coast visiting my sister.  She worked for the welfare department in California.  They were considering requiring drug testing for recipients of various types of welfare so we both had a professional interest in the subject. )  Anyway, DOC provided periodic training sessions from the lab doing our testing.  Their science staff would come talk to us about recent developments and answer our questions.
During one session, the scientist running the training session said that there were certain very limited legal uses for cocaine in medical procedures.  Of course, the government strictly controlled acquisition of the drug for any purpose. But I learned that it is used in certain microsurgeries because it causes blood vessels to constrict so that bleeding is much more easily controlled.  I never heard of this before.
Several years later, I did a hearing on a prisoner charged with substance abuse.  Urine tests showed cocaine and morphine in his system.  He had been out to hospital for surgery, repair of a deviated septum.  The prisoner denied using anything not administered by the hospital.  The prisoner had script for morphine, but he could not explain the cocaine.  Well, repair of a deviated septum, part of the nose, face, is one of those microsurgeries that qualifies for use of cocaine since the site of surgery is small, and the location in the head is delicate.  So I actually contacted the hospital in order to confirm that cocaine might have been used in the prisoner's surgery.  The doctor confirmed that this surgery is one for which cocaine is regularly used.
I found the prisoner not guilty.  A very unusual hearing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Rest of the Story...

Today I visited my grandchildren for a while so my daughter in law could drive my car to the CVS and grocery store.  Olivia, age five, climbed into my lap and proceed to do a complete autobiography of two of her Monster High Dolls.  Apparently one of them could do some kind of magic thing so that the other one would be popular.  I asked Olivia what it meant to be popular.  She said it changes you.  So I asked, you mean it makes you into someone who is not really you?  She said yes.  Very interesting that she already knows what it does to you to chase popularity.
Then we did "Tell Me A Story".  I started the story with "Once upon a time, there was a really cute little girl named Olivia.  She went to school, and her teacher announced they were taking a field trip to the zoo."  Then I turned the story over to her.  She told me all about the animals she saw.  Then she said they went back to her school.  She said "and that's the end".  Then she said, " And I will finish the story when you come back on another day."   I laughed.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Let it Snow!

Winter is finally wearing me down.  It has been so cold for so long.  The snow fall already broke the record for January in Michigan.
Many years ago, when I was still working, we had a huge snowstorm.  I tried to drive to work.  It took me 45 minutes to go five miles.  I turned around and went home.  Doesn't take me long to catch on, right?
Other times I did make it to work.  The last few years I struggled more and more with the snow and ice, getting in and out of the buildings to my car.  One morning, I got to work at the women's prison.  The prisoner on work detail had totally cleared the walkways with her shovel.  She scraped away at the last few little snow patches as I approached the building.  I told her what a great job she was doing, that it made me feel safe to walk up to the building.  I said this because it was true.  It made my life so much easier when the snow got cleared.
Another time, I did a visitor restriction hearing on a mother of a female prisoner.  She arrived at a bad time and had to wait a long time.  She got a little short with the front desk officer ( not the regular officer in this position ).  The officer handed her something, or was taking something from her, I don't recall.  But mom kind of snatched at the thing and hit the officer's hand.  The officer wrote up a visitor restriction notice, alleging that mom assaulted her.  At the hearing, mom said she had come in contact with the officer's hand, but she had not intended that.  She and moved too quickly and accidentally hit the officer's hand.  I talked to the regular officer who said that this woman was always polite and never caused any problems.  So I did not continue the restriction.
At the end of the day, as I left for home, I struggled to my car with my walker.  More snow fell that day, covering the parking lot and my car.  The mom and her son, the prisoner's brother, happened to be coming out of the building at about the same time.  They hurried over and helped me clear the snow from my car and made sure I could get out of the parking lot.  Sometimes life is OK.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Feminism II

Following up on my previous post.  There were a lot of manly corrections officers who made me feel safe in the prison environment.  Some of them were women!  LOL!  The officers treated me with respect.  The folks with military background always called me "Ma'am".  I never liked it until I heard it from these guys ( and girls ).  There were numerous instances when the officer assigned to my hearing room stepped between me and an angry prisoner.  Once a prisoner protested my guilty finding with some pretty aggressive language.  The officer with me immediately stood up, facing the prisoner, with his back to me.  This officer was very young, slender build.  Later on he worked out and filled out quite nicely.  It didn't matter that he was relatively small and young looking.  His attitude firmly demonstrated that he would do his job and protect me.
Some prisoners felt compelled to behave in a "manly" way toward officers, confrontational, and uncooperative.  The behavior was exaggerated by the fact that staff was so completely in control of their lives.  Many prisoners did not feel this same compulsion toward female staff.  One guy I was scheduled to see for Disobeying a Direct Order had built quite a reputation for himself for arguing with staff, always demanding to see policy before he complied with orders.  He got into a lot of trouble.  One of the guys who worked in my area told me the guy was a real jerk.  So he came in and started explaining that he the officer's order violated policy.  I explained to him that the disciplinary policy required that prisoners comply with orders first, then if they questioned the order, they could engage the officer in conversation, or they could file grievances.  I explained the paramilitary basis for corrections.  He said no one had ever explained that to him before.  After the hearing, I talked to Sgt. K., a female officer, and the unit manager Ms. D.  They told me they could usually get compliance from this prisoner, but sometimes it took a little discussion.  Sgt. K. was a solid looking woman, not fat, but definitely not a delicate flower type.  Ms. D. was just plain chubby.  So am I.  We probably reminded him of the grandmother who was the only person who was ever nice to him.  So a chubby, blonde female could get this guy to do anything we wanted.  


The talking heads on Fox news have gotten a lot of comments on Facebook lately, talking about the "feminization" of society, whining about how difficult it is now days to be a "real man".  So amusing.  I benefited a great deal from the feminist movement.  It was gathering full steam when I applied to law school.  I got recruited by several.  My class at Wayne State was about 25% women, the first class with such a significant number.  At that time, how women were addressed was a big deal.  We were all supposed to object to appellations, like "honey", "dear", "sweetie",  "girl", etc.  However, once I passed the bar exam and got my first job at the Juvenile Defender Office, I found that this issue dimmed somewhat in importance.  One older gentleman attorney had worked Juvenile court for fifty years.  It was immediately clear to me that he had forgotten more than I knew.  He always called me honey.  I never took any offense at all.  He really liked all of us young crusaders from the Defender office.  He would have done anything to help us do our jobs.  His manner was so dignified and courtly it impossible to feel diminished, no matter how he addressed me.
Another attorney, a middle aged man, called me "young lady" and similar endearments.  He was another veteran of Juvenile court who mentored me.  Sometimes we'd just talk about our families.  He told me an old Yiddish saying, "Small children, small problems.  Big children, big problems."  Boy, did he get that one right.
These two gentlemen, Max Barahal and Loren Goodman, were "real men".   After I met them, I got a lot less strident about the little things.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Daily bread

Hearing all the stories about reductions in food stamps and cessation of unemployment benefits got me thinking about some kids I represented in juvenile court.  There were three or four of them, all boys, cute little freckle faced strawberry blond boys, like stair steps, youngest to oldest.   The cops picked them up when they shoplifted some bread and bologna.  They were apprehended as they were ingesting the evidence.  The officers were unable to locate the mother, so the kids got a free night at the Wayne County Hotel for Wayward Youth.  By the next morning, Mom showed up for the preliminary hearing.  Since the oldest kid was only twelve or thirteen, the referee ordered them released to the mother without any bond.  As the hearing concluded, the oldest kid whispered something to his mother.  She got the referee's attention, and told her "They want to know if they can stay for lunch." We all laughed at that.  ( Once I visited a client when they were eating lunch, and another kid came up and showed me his split pea soup, with a cockroach doing the backstroke.)
This whole situation triggered some concern for these kids.  The kids stole the food because they were hungry.  Cops could not locate mom.  They want to eat lunch at the youth home, maybe because they didn't know when they would get the next meal.  I got to talk to the kids, and gave the oldest one my card, told him to call me if he had any problems at home.
Turns out mom had an open neglect file with Children's Protective Services (CPS).   I found out who the social worker was and she explained that the kids had been returned to the mom not too long ago, after spending some time in foster care.  Mom had a heroin addiction, but she was supposedly clean at the time the kids were stealing their dinner.
A few weeks later, I get a call from big brother.  He says he wants me to come to their place, so he can show me the mom's "works" (syringes, tubes for tying of the arm, etc.).  He says she and live in boyfriend are back on the junk.  So I set up a time, go out.  Mom proudly shows my the fridge packed with food, and all the rooms neat and clean.  Then, as soon as mom is out of sight, my client, the boy, takes me to a closet packed with clean linen, and picks up a stack and shows me the syringe, etc.  So I told him to sit tight, I was going back to my officer to immediately call their worker.  They ended back in state custody.
I hated it.  They were so darn cute, and such sweet kids.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I am watching trash TV again today, one of those shows that find ridiculous videos ,made by people with cell phones.  One showed two old guys in Japan or someplace, stick fighting with each other.  I had an old guy once at the Adrian prison I worked at, charged with assault.  I saw him from the window walking across the yard to the building containing my hearing room.  He walked with a cane.  I first thought, "He probably attacked the other guy with that cane."  The CO escorted him into the hearing room, got him seated.  I read the misconduct report to him, asked him what happened.  He said, "The guy said something that made me mad, so I hit him with my cane."  Oh my, I struggled and lost the fight to maintain my professional demeanor and burst out laughing.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Play time!

Our schools were closed for four days last week due to inclement weather, re-opened on Friday.  My daughter in law slowly got crazier and crazier with the two younger ones home all day, unable to go outside.  So I told her I would pick them up and take them to McDonald's, feed them, and let them play in the play space for a couple of hours.  Our local McDonald's has a really good one.  Then I decided that we could just take them overnight.  Joy and I texted back and forth about me picking them up.  She told me they were excited.  Understatement of the year.  I get to their house and Nolan age 11) and Livvie age 5) are sitting on the front porch, in their coats and boots waiting for me.  As I pulled into McD's, Nolan looks over at Arby's next door, and says "I think I like Arby's better".   Hah! Arby's was out of the question because they did not have a play space.  The play space was the whole point.
So as soon as we get food, get settled, another family with a girl about ten or eleven came in.  Daughter went up on the play structure and proceeded to get a cramp in her leg.  She started screaming and crying and couldn't move.  Other kids were trying to help her, but finally her mom had to climb up and get her calmed down enough to move and crawl down.  Fifteen minutes of super drama.  Nolan said, "Well that kind of spoils it for me!"   I told him the girl was gonna be fine, he would be fine, go play.  Livvie was pretty oblivious to the whole thing.  She just avoided the tube that the girl was in and kept playing.  After a while Nolan got over it.  Livvie tried to take her tablet and marker onto the structure with her, but I told her no.  Immediately after that, Nolan tried to take his sketch pad and pencil and I told him no.  He tried to bargain, but I wasn't going for it.  I could just see some kid getting poked in the eye with a pencil, or having to drive back because one of them for got it on the structure.  Not happening.   He came running up to me at one point, stopped and announced, "I was never here!".  Then he ran off.  After a while they got tired and came back to the table to draw for a little while.  Livvie drew a noodle person, ( kind of like a stick person, but with curbed limbs).  She named it something like AAVRUM 3.  Nolan and I started trying to pronounce it.  Nolan explained how he liked the drama of drawing out the "A" in a name.  Like saying, "Oliviaaaah!"  Or "Cynthiaaaah!"  I told him we could say his name, "Nolaaaaahn!"   We repeated it a couple of times, Nolaaaahn, No-Laaahn!  I was like No Lawn, you mean you don't have any grass?  He got it right away, and said y\"Yeah, I don't hardly have to mow!"  Then they went back on the structure.  The next thing I know, I'm hearing fart noises.  Nolan has the kids gathered in one of the intersections of the tubes, explaining to them how he makes the noises.  He just kept going and going, getting louder and louder.  I looked at the other mom at the next table, and said, "He had to get THAT talent!"  Another kid, who was probably 13 or 14, was at the table on the other side laughing his head off.  I was enjoying being a Grandma, feeling like I didn't have to to anything about it.  But finally, I told him it was time to knock off the noise.  Nolan is a born haggler, so of course, he was like, "Just one more!"   I said OK.  He made it a good one, but then he did stop.  Such a good boy.  Livvie is working on the haggling too, she just has a lot more work to do to get it right.  We had a great week-end.  I asked Nolan what he wanted for dinner, he said he liked salmon, so I got salmon at the store for dinner.  They stayed up really late, because they could.  Gramma and Grampa weren't going to make them go to bed.  They slept late today, we fed them breakfast and lunch, then took them home.  Livvie had a cheese sandwich with dill pickle and mustard on it.  Hmmmm.  She ate it, so I guess it was OK.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Well, we got hammered by this polar vortex thing.  Late Monday afternoon, our furnace stopped working.  It was running but not blowing out much warm air.  The temperature fell a degree every fifteen or twenty minutes.  So I dragged out our two tiny space heaters.  I like them because they are pretty safe for space heaters.  They plug right into the outlet, no cord to trip over, or for the dogs to chew on.  They have a thermostat so they automatically turn off when the set temperature is reached.  Less likely to cause a fire as long as you don't put stuff too close to it.  I put one in the living room, one in our bedroom.  My grand daughter was on her own!  LOL!  I also turned on the oven ( electric ).  Then the water line to the toilet in the upstairs bathroom froze, so we couldn't flush.  I dragged out my hair dryer, turned it on high and aimed it right at the pipe coming out of the wall.  Getting it set up and aimed right was quite a challenge.  It took about an hour and a half for the pipe to thaw, but it finally did.  I would have gone to bed, but I had to finish watching the Lifetime movie.  About three o'clock I finally turned off the oven, and went to bed.  When I got up this morning, the damn line was frozen again, but I had left the hair dryer in place.  I figured it would happen again since it is going to be just as cold today.  It only took about half an hour to thaw it this time.  I told my husband I would get up early and call the furnace place.  He said he would call right away, Monday evening around 7 or 8 pm.  Someone actually answered the phone and a service guy called back right away.  He came today and fixed the furnace.
YEA C & C WEST Heating and Air Conditioning.  Good work, fast response and reasonable prices.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

More gettin old

I'm really stuck on the geriatric thing the last few days.   The older prisoners often had medical issues like enlarged prostates, or the women with menopause.  These conditions often caused problems with body functions like urination or bowel movements.  Older prisoners also took various medications which cause side effects like frequent or urgent urination, or diarrhea.  I had a conversation with one of the doctors one day, in which we both lamented how much of our professional lives were dedicated to listening to prisoners tell us about their urinary or bowel functions.  They caused problems for these prisoners during count, when all the prisoners were required to be in their cells, or specifically designated areas.  Nothing causes corrections staff more problems than errors in prisoner population count.  If a prisoner is not in his/her designated location, the prisoner gets written up for Out of Place, a major misconduct.  Then they got to come see me!  What a treat!
One woman I saw was taking diuretics.  She had come out during one excessively long morning count.  She told me she was on a strict schedule.  She took her diuretics, then she would urinate within about half an hour or something like that.  Then she could go to her work detail. I asked if it happened this way every single day and she said yes.  On this date, when count ran over time, she left her cell to pee.  She explained all of this to me very seriously.   After she finished, I said, "I envy your regularity".  I even put that in the hearing report.  A few months later, I got an email from another hearing officer who saw this woman at another facility.  He said she showed him my hearing report, and he burst out laughing.
Another prisoner I saw was charged with Out of Place when he had walked out of his unit during count to go to the segregation unit.  He was also charged with Creating a Disturbance, allegedly for hollering and yelling when he wanted to go to the restroom, and Disobeying a Direct Order for refusing to turn to his cell.  He explained to me that his medication caused diarrhea and he really needed to use the bathroom.  He was not a youngster, he was in his fifties, I think. He had no prior misconducts so he wasn't one of those young guys suffering from excessive testosterone.  The unit count had not cleared yet, so prisoners were supposed to remain in their cell.  Count usually takes about twenty minutes to half hour to clear.  On this date, it had been over an hour, at least.  He said he had asked a couple of times to use the toilet, but the officer on his wing said no and told him if did not return to his cell, the prisoner was going to segregation.  So the prisoner finally just left his cell and walked out of the unit and headed to segregation, since he figured he was going to end up their anyway.  I asked him why he didn't just go into the bathroom instead of walking out of the unit.  He said the officer was standing in the doorway.  He was afraid if he bumped into the officer, he would end up with an Assault charge.  Halfway there, he lost control of his bowels.  When he got to segregation, he asked Sgt. K if he could shower, because he had soiled himself.  Sgt. K knew this prisoner well.  He got the prisoner into the shower, and got clean clothes for him.  He confirmed the prisoner's statement.  The young, female, new officer ( we called them "green tags", the color of their name tags which indicated they were still in training ) assigned to my hearing room that day, spoke up and said she had worked the unit that day and had witnessed the incident.  She confirmed the prisoner's statements.  She said he was upset, but he had not been insulting or out of control.  I ended up finding him not guilty of Creating a Disturbance based on the green tag's statement.  I found him not guilty of the other charges based on physical inability to comply.  The defense was not really a good fit, but  I figured the guy had suffered enough.  I never saw him again after the hearing.  But about a week later, a real young guy came in for an Out of Place charge, leaving his cell during count.  He presented me with a copy of the hearing report I had written on the older prisoner, and claimed he had the same problem, that he had to go to the bathroom.  Of course, count had not gone over, and he was a young, healthy man who had no documented medical history of illness or medication that would cause urinary frequency or urgency.  He was stunned when I found him guilty.  Go figure.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Gettin old.

Following up the subject of geriatrics.  While cleaning the bathroom yesterday, I managed to strain my back. I recall several prisoners who gave me various medical excuses for their misconducts.  One young guy explained to me that he got off his bunk during count, because he was sleep-walking.  He had the biggest grin on his face, thinking he had hit on a sure-fire defense.  Of course he had no previous history of sleep-walking, and no medical documentation of sleep walking.  Not sure where his optimism came from.
The opening of stores selling recreational marijuana reminded me of a guy I saw who got busted for a bad drug test.  He had THC in his system.  He admitted smoking weed, and said he was doing a 40-60 years, he just wanted to get away from it all sometimes.
I did so many misconduct hearings involving claims of injury, illness, etc. that I felt like a nurse or a doctor sometimes.  Which was ironic, because I used to get mistaken for the nursing supervisor sometimes.  She told me that sometimes the prisoners thought that she was me.  I told her that whichever one of us got to work first should be able to pick which job we wanted to do that day.
Most of the time these medical excuses were silly.  But I have to admit, as I got older, I was more sympathetic to older prisoners experiencing the usual "old people" infirmities.