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.