An Act of Courage

Posted: January 28, 2012 by Ed Griffin in Prison
Tags: , , , , ,

In a local prison there was an inmate who couldn’t hear and couldn’t speak. He made funny sounds with his mouth and he was always ling. The other inmates accepted him and helped him, as they seem to do with anyone who is out of the ordinary. This is contrary to the impression the public has of inmates.

One day this man was at the end of the line at the chow hall. Behind him a group of guards started mocking him,

chow line

chow line

making strange sounds, smiling, and contorting their bodies in strange ways.

Another inmate approached the line from the opposite direction and saw what was happening. He didn’t say anything to the guards – he just kept walking. When he got back to his cell, he thought about what he had seen. It wasn’t right. So he decided to report it to the shift supervisor. This guard took the information, a smirk on his face, and said, “Yeah, yeah, we’ll look into it.”

Of course, nothing happened and the inmate saw it happen again. He reported to the next level of supervision and this is what he was told: “Look, fella, if you’re smart, you’ll just shut up. Keep pushing this and every guard here will give you a bad time. Take it easy and just do your time.”

And the higher supervisor had the same smirk on his face.

snirkThe public seldom gets into a prison to see what goes on there, but watch reality jail or cop shows on TV, and you’ll see the smirk.

Images courtesy of:

  1. Okay, Ed, but are you saying there are no good guards in the prison system, that the only people who are attracted to the job are there because:
    1. they can’t get a job anywhere else.
    2. They want power over others.
    Those questions are surely worth investigating.

    • Ed Griffin says:

      Yes there are humane guards and people who came to the job to help others.But sadly a good number are there for the reasons you mention. One reason prisons are located in rural areas outside big cities is to provide jobs for the rural unemployed, or so it seems to me. Why wouldn’t they be put in big cities where family can visit easier?
      I don’t want these people to lose their jobs — rather I would like to see a major, serious, long-term education program.

  2. Joanne says:

    I agree with your comment Danielle–that there are also guards (and other employes) who work there for the right reasons. Unfortunately, and I can say this because I have seen prison from both sides, most of those guards are told the same things that that courageous prisoner was–essentially stay out of it or you soon won’t like your job. It is very difficult to stand up to what the system has become–no matter which side you are on.

    A colleague of mine told me this story once. She was working as a program therapist and was considered “too soft on the guys” by many guards. She needed to go to a program participant’s cell once and told the guards in the bubble what she was doing, so they could do their job and protect her. Instead, this guard let her go down onto the range and then deliberately closed the range gate behind her, so that she was locked in. As I recall, when she later complained (he did eventually let her out) he and all the other guards in the bubble denied the incident and nothing was ever done about it.

  3. I enjoy Arya’s spirit. Seriously sharp and one of the more exciting characters in the show. I’m anticipating to her
    adventures in Braavos, though I think they’ll be delving more into that next season.

  4. This is why *ALL* facilities — local, state, and Federal, Public, and Private — need UNDERCOVER (as inmates and guards) individuals. While they can be part of the a local Internal Affairs group, my thought is a national undercover group of people who volunteer to go undercover and report what they see and hear during their stay (short, medium, and long term).

    No one in corrections should have a problem with this idea, as they have nothing to hide. Only those with something to hide would or will object. Yes, some objections are and will be valid, but they are also the ones with solutions and — in the end will both allow the program to go forward and will improve it.

    NOTE: This is not a new idea. I first heard about it from a retired U.S. Army Warrant Officer who during his 30 years spent over 5 years working for the U.S. Army Internal Affairs group (or whatever they call it). He would go into both brigs (US Navy/Marines) and stockades (Army and I think Air Force) as an inmate / convict. He would try to cause problems to see how the guards react and see if they follow the rules.

    In the idea I’m proposing some individuals would act as my friend, but many would simply be passive and watch. They would do their time (e.g. a couple of days, week, month, whatever) and at the appropriate time report.

    Every jail and prison should have multiple people under cover most — if not all — of the time.

    Would enough people volunteer? I believe so, but you never know until you try. I say try. I would volunteer.

    Thank you.

    • Ed Griffin says:

      Thank you, Prison Guy. If your idea was put in action, change would come to prisons. What bothers me is unintended punishments that are given to men and women. A knife in the belly, HIV, etc etc. Perhaps a hidden person could help.

      • PrisonGuy 180G895 says:

        Again it isn’t my idea. I heard about it from a friend who is retired US Army. What I find interesting is as built upon tradition, protocols, and slow change, the US military saw / sees the value in it. Thus I would think getting others to accept wouldn’t be so hard.

        Oh, well, some of the details are mine . . . especially the using normal citizens who volunteer. IMHO, this is an important aspect, as you don’t want the person to obviously look like a plant. Yet, there are (unfortunately) many ex-military in prisons and jails across this great country of ours.

        Honestly, I think the idea is worth getting people to implement, but I have zero idea on how it might occur.

        (I’m not sure of his enlisted rank, which is why I haven’t provided it. I know he served with honor for 30 years and retired at a pretty high enlisted rank — Warrant Officer, I think, but he could also have been a very high level of Sargent, too.)

      • Ed Griffin says:

        Hi Prison Guy. I wonder if you can Google information that will take you to the right person. I Googled Army Parole Hearings and was led here

  5. PrisonGuy 180G895 says:

    Hello Ed,

    > I wonder if you can Google information that will take
    > you to the right person. I Googled Army Parole
    > Hearings and was led here

    Honestly, I’m not following what this discussion has to do with Army Parole Hearings. As for my friend, he was undercover and thus never had an Army Parole hearing. He served honorably till he retired after 30 years of service.

    What I found interesting was his assignment as an undercover inmate for the Army and Navy (stockades and brigs). He also ran / helped to run a POW training facility, besides other assignments.

    • Ed Griffin says:

      I’m not sure about contact information, but you might suggest to your friend that he or she has a great story to tell. The mere publication of this would make people arrested more cautious. The job of our correctional facilities is to correct, not to play spy games. Is it a good idea to make every convict suspicious of every other one? Suppose that happened in our daily jobs? or in groups we belong to? Where is the truth, the honesty, the ability to live with others and help them?

      • PrisonGuy 180G895 says:

        Ah, I’m not sure about reporting on the inmates. His purpose was to test the guards by misbehaving.

        One thing he stated was he told his commanding officer he never, ever wanted to know when his time was up. This way he wouldn’t think of himself as a short timer, but for all he knew he would be staying till his current enlistment was up.

        As for getting him to tell his story outside of his friends, hmmm, I don’t know. I’ll discuss it with him from the aspect I believe in — it would be a good way to inspect the guards, warden, and staff of say private prisons or even publicly owned prisons (as opposed to reporting on the inmates).

        I personally don’t see anything wrong with checking up on guards, wardens, and staff given the issues that go on in various prisons. As for other places, yeah, I would have an issue without a court order, but prisons are suppose to by definition open and not private from a legal perspective.

      • PrisonGuy 180G895 says:

        P.S. Sorry I repeated myself in my last message about what he told his commanding officer.

      • Ed Griffin says:

        I see your point about checking up on various officials, but I hate the whole idea of lying about one’s status or ideas. Some say that what inmates need is a good tough union that would not go along with any lying about one’s situation.
        This is a difficult problem all around.
        Ed Griffin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s