I received a letter from an inmate I know. He had this to say:

When visitors came to our prison, they found three washrooms that were provided for them. They could change a baby in one of them.

A few weeks ago we got a notice from the deputy warden:

“Access to the visitor washrooms which are located inside the Recreation Building will not long be available for use during Family Events. Any visitors requiring use of a washroom will be escorted to the Principle Entrance. Visitors with infant/toddler children will no long be permitted to change diapers of their children in the Recreation building. They will be escorted to the Principle Entrance. Visitors will be re-processed by the Principle Entrance Staff prior to being permitted back into the Gym area. “

So if a visitor wanted to use a washroom, they had to be escorted back to the principal entrance. After they were finished with the bathroom, they would be inspected again, their purse, their pockets etc. etc. For people with compromised bladders and for parents with a small baby who needs to be changed, these rules make a visit to see their inmate very difficult.

Family support is vital for an inmate. The prison system says they believe this and support it, but then they show by their actions that families are just a big pain.

All right, so somebody obviously broke a rule, perhaps brought in something illegal. Will every visitor from now on be punished for that infraction?

A small point – as a teacher of writing I would hold up the deputy warden’s memo as an example of how NOT to write. There are at least a dozen mistakes.

  1. hg says:

    Although I am chilled by the content of the official’s message, I did get a chuckle from its many errors. Perhaps you might use this as a teaching tool, Ed. You know, on the ‘principals’ of spelling and grammar.

  2. This is because, CSC staff have, as usual, no interest in rehabilitation and are exclusively focussed on making their own jobs as easy as possible. They have been at this for years, abandoning (but lying about) their obligations to engage in rehabilitation. They most don’t do their jobs (due to laziness and incompetence) except for keeping inmates in cells, and they have come to resent any demands that are made on them by their Act, policies and procedures, and the Commissioner’s Directives) since it has been so easy to avoid them.

    • jcommittedk says:

      Your comment made me think of a book I am reading. It is “Crazy” by Pete Earley. I know it is not current (2006), but I’ll bet anything it is still accurate. Anyway the similarity to your comment is that the guards in the Miami Dade County Jail did as little as possible for the people they were looking after. They watched people suffer in unbelievable conditions and simply shrugged. As long as they were doing what they were paid to do, they were not responsible.

      In a way, I can see their point of view. How can they be expected to be the ones to change the world when the people in power were doing nothing about it. Besides, if they were doing what they were told, how could this be a bad thing? Sounds a bit like Nazi Germany, doesn’t it? If only such people could wake up and take a stand. “No, I will not keep doing this!” But they either quit their job and move on or they turn a blind eye and take the money.

      Meanwhile people like Mr. Earley keep writing about it and it keeps getting ignored. Sure there is a minor uprising among caring people but this never leads to any major, lasting change. I am beginning to believe in Durkheim–I guess we do need scapegoats and the downtrodden to make our societies work.

    • Ed Griffin says:

      Thank you, Chris, for your comment. It puts me in mind of a sincere friend of mine who wanted to help inmates. She applied for a job as a social program officer. For one afternoon a ‘more experienced’ officer told her what the job involved. “Sit here, watch TV if you want, don’t talk to inmates, take it easy.”
      She quit after that one afternoon.

  3. jcommittedk says:

    There is a need to weigh their policy to keep drugs out with the needs of families. Some employees understand this and others simply don’t care. I know of at least one place where this policy was reversed once family members complained about it. Sometimes it people complain in a nice way to the right people, changes do come about.

    As for the errors, I hate to say it, but the service does not have its pick of people, as may have been pointed out previously in this blog, people do not generally grow up dreaming of working in a prison.

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