top of page
  • Writer's picturePrisoner X

#14 You can only laugh - Part IV

Some readers may doubt my veracity, as to the ineptitude of many prison administrators, and believe I exaggerate. But it should be remembered that all administrative personnel of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (B.O.P) are politicians. Like most politicians everywhere, they are far more interested in the furtherance of their own careers, than in doing their jobs, or any job at all, for that matter.

One of the surest ways in the B.O.P. to further one's career is to author a memo, which creates a policy change at the prison, resulting in the perception of "increased security". Many in hopes of advancement spend all their time attempting to dream up new restrictions, with this goal in mind. The sheer level of absurdity these suggestions attain is hardly to be believed. Keep in mind that the following are only those actually implemented by the prison; there are many more even more outlandish ones, of which no one ever hears.

A few years ago, the prison stopped selling peanut butter in a jar. It is now only sold in soft, squeeze packages. The reason for this change was that prisoners could use the peanut butter jar to hold hot water, which could then be thrown in the faces of guards.

First, all the cells in this prison have solid doors, not open bars, like most old prisons. To throw anything in anyone's face would prove very difficult, though admittedly not impossible. Second, in the twenty plus years of the death row unit existing, no guard has ever been assaulted with hot water in such fashion. The likelihood that this will happen in the future is exceedingly slim. Third, if such an attack were intended, large cups, thermoses, and bowls are still sold. Each is made specifically to hold hot liquids, each has greater capacity than a peanut butter jar, and each would be more useful for such an assault than the jar.

Taking away the jars accomplished exactly nothing. Yet it was done, the prison was deemed "more safe", and the author of the memo received a promotion, based on that "fact".

Not long after, jalapeno cheese was removed from the list of approved items for sale at the prison store. The stated reason for this was that prisoners might pick the jalapeno bits out of the cheese, and flip them into the eyes of the guards, to cause blindness and pain. Need I address how difficult and unlikely such a scenario would be? However, if a prisoner were intent upon blinding a guard with jalapenos, the jars of sliced jalapenos, which are still sold, would be much more likely to prove effective. The irony of leaving entire peppers, while removing the tiniest bits of them, was apparently lost upon the administration, and we were allowed to still buy the jars of peppers, while losing the cheese.

The next year, a new warden apparently realized the ridiculousness of the claim, and allowed us to have jalapeno cheese once more. By then, the writer of the memo had already moved on, after receiving his promotion, for making the prison safe from the dreaded pepper flippers.

A decade ago, dental floss was banned. Some administrator read in a fiction novel about a MacGyver-like secret agent cutting through prison bars with floss. This has never occurred in the entire history of prisons, due to the fact that it is not possible. But no self-respecting administrator would even stoop so low as to fact-check one of their own ideas! So memos were written, policies changed, and the ban was immediately implemented, to protect the public and prevent mass escapes via dental floss. Though our gums may be less safe, the prison was made "more secure", and (yes, you guessed correctly!) promotions were handed out, based on this nonsense.

What can you do but laugh?


Next article: #15 You Can Only Laugh - Part V

Previous articles: # 13 You Can Only Laugh - Part III #12 You Can Only Laugh - Part II #11 You Can Only Laugh - Part I


Picture: josefkubes /

bottom of page