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.