What are most people there for?
Literally everything. Murder, drug dealers, child molesters, thieves, illegal immigrants, rapists. With the exception of terrorists, you name it, we’ve got em.
What is the one event you have witnessed or been part of that made you doubt your career path, and possibly the value of humanity?
Anything to do with child molesters. They are very narcissistic and believe in what they do. 9 out of 10 openly admit that they see nothing wrong with what they do and admit they will do it again.
Is there one situation that comes to mind that you had to deal with that made you very uncomfortable? And if there is, how did it impact you?
When I first started, there was a mentally challenged man who was in prison for sexually assaulting his room mate at the center he was at. He would frequently cover himself in feces and masturbate through the pie slot on his door and try to throw it at us. Albeit now, I am rather desensitized, but watching him shove silverware in his rectum and eat his own feces was…unsettling.
What is, in your opinion, the worst crime and/or strangest crime committed by one of the inmates?
The inmate who would ejaculate into his infant niece’s baby bottles and feed them to her with her milk.
What is the number one, WEIRDEST thing you’ve ever seen happen?
Man cutting slits into his penis to shove dominos inside to make his penis “ribbed for his pleasure”
How often does rape occur?
Not as often as you’d think. I’ve only known of 4 or so. All I have to say about that is its one thing to see rape…its another to hear it…but its a whole other thing to smell it. Yes….smell it
What kind of smell is it?
A really fat guy sweating profusely in a gym mixed with diarrhea.
When a new inmate is admitted into your prison, is he treated like a freshman entering a frat house?
Hmmm, I’d say more like lambs to the slaughter
Is it pretty much true that any smaller, younger inmate will be the “property” of someone stronger, and therefore someone like that should engage in “protective pairing?”
Smaller inmates become the soldiers of the bigger ones. RAPE doesnt happen as often as “willing” (ahem) sex does, but doing jobs for them (collecting debts, stabbing someone) keeps them safe. Jail is like chess, the kings send the pawns to the front lines first.
Could you elaborate on this “prison politics”? Is there a hierarchic structure? What kind of deals go on?
There are far more under workings than I could even begin to talk about. Lets just say that deals and the prisoners keeping to their own orders of business keep the prison running. The inmate to guard ratio there is 9 to 1. Believe me, the inmates run the jail.
Whenever I watch documentaries or read about the prison system, a general trend is the forming of cliques or prison gangs. Is there anything that is being done to prevent the forming of such cliques, such as isolation of key members (leaders, perhaps?) or something similar? Do you yourself feel that eliminating such an aspect of the prison system would lower the amount of inmate violence?
There are some inmates who actually keep the blocks running more smoothly than any guard ever could. A drug kingpin keeps one of our blocks so hush hush and quiet, you wouldn’t think you are in prison at all. His philosophy is to keep things quiet and do their dealings and not attract attention to him or his “soldiers”.
Sometimes we have to keep dangerous “leaders” in Admin Segregation because If not, there would be a lot more problems.
Have you ever seen someone get stabbed? Or worse?
Yes. A 25 year old stabbed a 41 year old man in the head with a piece of his bed frame over a game of Risk. Stabbings are rough to watch. Even after the nurses get them stable enough to move out of the block to go to the hospital, the amount of blood is always unnerving.
Have you ever been in a situation where you genuinely thought you were about to be killed?
Yes. My first year on the job i was stabbed with a number 2 pencil from behind and then the inmate tried to strangle me. I blacked out and woke up in our infirmary with scratches all over my faces and a goose egg on my head. Guards are generally left alone unless they go looking for trouble or are outright disrespectful to the inmates, and even at that, most inmates will just get into a shoving match with them or just throw a few punches and be done. Where I work it’s more of “back off and leave me alone” than “fuck the police” attitude. My incident was a very isolated one and was a first for us. I’ve seen plenty of guards get attacked because they walk in with what we call “Percey’s syndrome” (Green Mile reference). A harsh reality that a lot of new guys don’t like to admit to themselves is that the inmates run the jail, not us.
Have you ever formed any kind of relationship with any of your inmates?
We have a “boss” relationship with almost all of them. I went from being a 25 year old college grad to having to be the boss of 130 people overnight, so to speak.
Has someone asked you to do something on the outside for them unrelated to breaking a crime, or sneaking something in?
Bring drugs in or put money on their account. I’m not giving up my job for any of them though.
I have a pack of Marlboro red’s, what can I get for them?
You could get sexual services for 3 days per cigarette, from others guys though
Are there any inventive folks?
Oh yes. i like seeing the furniture they can make out of nothing but playing cards. Cigar box guitars are awesome. Newspaper crossbow was a scary find, and a mace made of window putty and number 2 pencils was very scary find.
Whats the strangest weapon you have seen in a prison?
Texas hornets. Remember folding a piece of paper and slingshoting it with a rubber band at school? Shove a staple through the paper now and dip the end in feces
Weirdest items you have found in a cell?
Used Paper-mache dildo complete with paper spikes for that “extra sensual” ribbing.
Do you have any serial killers in your prison and if so how do they behave?
A few. They are the most reclusive, scary, disturbing people Ive ever met. I’ve heard one of them speak One time and all he said was “No”
What parts of your job do you like and dislike the most? Why?
Like-Being my own boss sort of. I Run a group of 80 to 120 people every day and things work smoothly for me because I treat them with respect.
Dislike- Fighting and the cleanup afterward. Some injuries are pure nightmare fuel. The image I that disturbed me the longest was the inmate with a broom handle shoved up his ass.
Do you enjoy your job? What’s the money like?
I dislike it most days to be honest. I make 25.13 an hour and feel like i earn every penny of it, and I can humbly say there were jobs I had where i didn’t think i should make what I did.
What, if any, television show (fictional) is closest to replicating what life is like in prison?
Lockup: The Prisoners of Rikers Island, Nothing else comes close
How do you transition from prison life to home life? How do you deal with a fucked up day at work? How do you unwind when home?
Sadly alcohol. Exercising and video games also help, so do my kids
Would you say you have been mentally damaged from what you’ve seen (eg, can’t sleep, flashbacks or something)?
I have lots of nightmares.
What is to prevent retaliation directed at the guards on an inmates release (or while incarcerated). In other words, have you or any of your co-workers ever had a run in with some bad people (outside of the job) as a result of your work?
I have run in to 1 inmate outside of work and he shook my hand and thanked me for being respectable to him inside. He said that I was “honorable” and thats why I have the respect from them I do.
As a prison guard, have you ever thought that inmates may have it too easy? For example, they are given 3 meals a day and a guaranteed place to sleep with no bills. Provided education, with exercise time and jobs. Some people in this world can’t find that at all and have never committed a crime.
While I disagree with a lot of how our prison system is ran, they are still human beings. You or I could end up behind bars very easily, all it takes is one bad day. So with that said, wouldnt you want access to all those things if you were inside?
Do the so-called hotel prisons of Norway, Denmark, etc. that work hard at rehabilitation seem better than our that just make matters worse in most cases?
I think better. Locking up our problems and not dealing with them is counter productive. This country is very “prison happy”. My facility, yeah, those guys need to be there, but lower end prisons, county and private, need to stop being money grubbing entities. They treat inmates like sub-humans a lot of times and no one deserves that.
So what would you do to improve the prison system?
I really don’t know how to answer that. Um…well I guess working on the overpopulation of people in jail for petty crimes would help. Have more treatment and rehabilitation programs.
Have you had any genuine success stories, where someone has turned their life around?
Not where I work, no.
Do most inmates accept their fate and live their life as it is, or actively try to escape/plead to be let out?
They accept it. It is what it is
Do you see a clear psychological change in people from that? What it looks like in a person who has to accept their fate as an inmate?
Watching a man’s psyche break is the saddest thing in the world. Most men come in proud and confident. When they lose their edge, it’s like watching a child find out their parent died. Even if I don’t care about that person, it is still sad.