#11 You Can Only Laugh - Part I
In the course of everyday life, the average person avoids problems with others by application of common sense. Even when dealing with unfamiliar individuals and circumstances, simple deduction can be employed, of the "If I do this, the other person is likely to do that" sort. By use of such logic, outcomes may be predicted, conflict avoided, and life goes on.
This is often not possible in prison. For reasons which will forever remain a mystery to me, as soon as the gates close behind them, those in prison abandon all vestiges of common sense to the outside world. Although this is true to a certain extent of prisoners, it seems especially prevalent among prison staff. While the regular guards may retain some semblance of normality, most administrative level employees can be relied upon to react to many situations in the most illogical, irrational manner possible. Sometimes what they do is so nonsensical as to defy comprehension. It is seldom funny except in retrospect, but sometimes all a person can do is laugh.
In a previous post, I mentioned that, prior to the advent of prisoner oriented social media sites, mail was scarce for most on the inside. It was common during that era for prisoners to sign up on advertising lists, just to have something arrive during the evening delivery. Being no different than anyone else, I had done the same. Camping equipment, car parts, travel packages, clothing, and an innumerable array of other product advertisements were brought to my door and served to alleviate the boredom.
At that time, Ford Motor Company was pushing its SUV, the Ford Escape. Their advertising brochure came in an envelope, printed on the outside in large red letters, which read "Escape Plan Enclosed!"
Any rational person should realize that actual prison escape plans do not arrive bearing a label. Once it was opened and inspected, as all incoming mail is, the fact that it contained only an advertisement for the Ford Escape should have allowed even the dimmest individual to ascertain the truth. But that is not what happened.
Instead, the entire prison was placed in emergency lockdown. A team of guards in black masks and full riot gear arrived at my door. I was hand cuffed, leg shackled and hooded, then carried from my cell. My clothes were cut off with scissors, and I was placed naked in a "dry cell". (This is essentially just an empty room, with no sink or toilet.) In order to be released to a normal cell again, I was required to defecate three separate times into a bucket, while on camera, to prove nothing was hidden inside my body.
All of my possessions were confiscated. The clothes were all ripped apart at the seams, to be sure nothing was concealed there. Shampoo, toothpaste, coffee and anything else in a container was poured, squeezed or dumped out, clock and radio smashed apart, all for the same reason. I was held in total isolation, not allowed to use the phone, to send or receive mail, or be anywhere near other prisoners.
The investigation took 90 days, and even then, I was never cleared. The evidence of an escape attempt was ruled as "inconclusive", so the scraps of my property were returned to me, and I went back to my usual cell. But for the next five years, I was subject to additional searches and scrutiny, as a possible escape suspect. After 15 years, it is still on my record, and still causes problems for me.
For all of this to occur, over a dozen people in the chain of command had to sign off on the fact that a serious security threat had existed. Lieutenants, captains, associate wardens, and the warden himself were involved, yet at no point did anyone have the sense to say "This is only a brochure!"
Such are the decisions these people are paid six figure salaries per year to make.
What can you do but laugh?
Picture: Inked Pixels / Shutterstock.com