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.