Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Professionals

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.