Thursday, August 25, 2005

Just workin'

The work day starts a half hour early, sitting in a conference room with medical staff, security staff and counselors as we discuss the needs and treatment plans and how we are going to run two dorms totalling 127 severely mentally ill inmates for the next four days.

We apprise each other of the ones who haven't been taking their medication or are prone to violent outbursts- we list all the problems we can see coming and map out responses. I get tasked with developing rapport and gently modifying the behavior of two who will be trouble soon, I'm the Jedi Thug and "the Force has great power over weak minds".

My radio squawks and I'm sprinting before I'm consciously aware that this transmission is different from the others: through the code-locked door, to the outer and inner sally port door waiting for ever for Central Control to buzz me in. "What's going on?" Someone yells, following me out of the meeting room. "Back-up to Dorm 5". The first door buzzes and other officers push in, slowing things down, slowing me down because the inner door can't open before the outer door closes.

At last, and I'm in the jail proper, sprinting. The Dorm door is open, officers are already there and three inmates are in cuffs. I call Central to clear the back-up.

A white supremacist and two hispanic gang members. I stay with the big white guy- he's the most agitated, still adrenalized and volatile. I walk him out, to medical, take the cuffs off as he's examined, careful to make sure that he and the other fighters don't cross paths. He knows me, like most of the criminals and convicts in the area. He's relaxed. At one point we discuss the scarring on our knuckles. He volunteers that his are from boxing. He doesn't ask about mine. He's bleeding from his ear and the doctor on duty uses dermabond (essentially super glue) to close the cut. The fighter says, "If my nail had been longer he'd be bleeding down his throat right now."

I cuff him back up and take him to Segregation, "the Hole" which in our facility is clean and painted in cream and beige and light blue.

I check my watch while walking out- the first hour went pretty quick today.

No comments: