A recent news story about the abuse of inmates in some U.S. jails and prisons reminded me of a conversation I once had with a former federal prisoner, a person we refer to as Mr. X.
Mr. X is a former business professional who committed a crime that landed him in federal prison. He’s out now and has shared a few of his prison experiences with the readers of The Graveyard Shift. I contacted Mr. X to see if he’d seen or experienced abuse of any kind at the hand of corrections officers. Here’s what he had to say.
Mr X: I have heard many horror stories of CO’s beating and torturing inmates, but I’ve never seen it. Of course I was locked up in low security facilities my entire time in the system. Things march to a different tune at the higher levels.
But abuse and abusers come in many forms. What devastates one person may be like water on a duck’s back to another. I say this because I’m about to describe some things that happened to me and I’m sure they’ll seem trivial to you, but to me the events were humiliating. Yes, I considered this as abuse. Abuse with no way to stop it.
My abuser was a female CO with jet black hair, a face full of acne scars, and a torso like a tree trunk, complete with arms and legs as limbs. She wore shiny black combat boots and she wore her uniform shirts with the sleeves rolled up to mid forearm. A crude tattoo of a giant scorpion sat halfway between the elbow and wrist of her right arm.
Living quarters in the camp was set up dormitory style. My dorm housed just over 200 men, all in one big room with six-foot-high cinder block walls dividing our two-man cubicles. We all used a common restroom and showers. Both the shower and toilet stalls had individual doors (this was odd because most prisons don’t install doors in restrooms to help prevent hidden activity).
This particular officer, the abuser, made it a point to be in the restroom at the end of the work day when most of the guys were showering. She watched as we removed our clothing or towels. Then she’d walk to each shower door and just stand there gawking. When we turned our backs to the doors she’d order us to face her.
It wasn’t long before she seemed to zero in on me, and that included when I was in a toilet stall. She’d order me to unlatch the door and then she’d hold it open and stand there looking at me until I was done. She was not one bit shy.
I vividly recall staring at her boots, which were only two or three feet away from my feet, while she was there. The toes were incredibly shiny, and slick. I remember thinking about how much time and energy she must have put into getting them that shiny. I thought she must have a military background.
I complained about her to sergeants and her other superiors but they said she was doing her job, watching inmate activity at all times. Funny thing about this was that not one male officer ever, not ever, did either of the things she did. They’d make their rounds, of course. And they’d look to see that all was well and as it should be. But they wouldn’t walk up to your stall and stand there staring at your privates. This woman was downright creepy.
An older prisoner who everyone knew had heart trouble, collapsed on his way to the dining hall. Several inmates ran over to help (there were a couple of medical doctors incarcerated in the camp) but Officer Creepy walked up and ordered the inmates to move away. She announced, “He’s faking so he can get out of work. He can lay there all day for all I care.” And she left him there. An inmate finally ran to the medical department to see if a nurse would help. She did not. A sergeant walked up and Officer Creepy repeated the “faking it” story. He walked on. Eventually an ambulance crew showed up (well over two hours later) and took the man away. He never returned. We later heard that he was DOA when the ambulance crew arrived at the camp to pick him up.
One night I woke up with an excruciating toothache. I spoke to the CO working our building, but he said I’d have to fill out a sick slip to request an appointment to see the dentist, who only visited the camp one day per week. When my appointment finally rolled around, I was sitting in the chair with my mouth wide open, overhead light shining inside, and with the dentist preparing to dig in, when in walks Officer Creepy. She was assigned to guard the medical offices that day. So she comes chair-side and begins to talk to the dentist about how degrading it must be to work on the teeth of a piece-of-s*** prisoner.
The dentist, a retiree and an extremely nice man who treated everyone as people, not animals, told her that he loved his job and he enjoyed helping others who really aren’t in a position to help themselves. For some reason that really set her off. She told him I was faking. He contradicted her saying his exam proved otherwise. She then ordered me to open my mouth really wide. And then, and I couldn’t believe it, she jammed her bare, who-knows-where-it’s-been index finger into my mouth and started forcefully jabbing at my teeth, saying, “Does that hurt? Does it? Well, does it?”
The doctor protested meekly, but she continued her tirade. Clearly she intimidated the frail dentist, and he did nothing to stop her.
When she finished poking around she placed her hand on the side of my face and pushed my head to the side. She ordered me back to the dorm. The dentist pleaded my case to her and she finally consented to let him finish the filling.
One night the officer working our dorm told me to mop and buff the hallway floors in the administrative section of the building. It’s the part of the building where the counselors’ and ranking CO’s office’s are located. There’s no one back there at night. I grabbed the tools and supplies and the CO let me inside. He told me to knock when I was ready to come out. Each of the office areas were securely locked and there was nowhere else to go so it was not unusual for them to lock us inside the hallway to work.
As I was getting ready to begin, an office door opened around the corner. I turned just in time to see Officer Creepy and another female guard come out. Both were adjusting their uniforms and securing buttons. Creepy kissed the other officer on the cheek and turned to head back to the dorm. That’s when she saw me and I prepared myself for a trip to “the hole.” I was certain that she would come up with something that would land me in solitary for a long, long time, just to save her own skin.
However, she surprised me by walking past without saying a word. Nothing. Not even eye contact.
The night passed and nothing happened. I didn’t see her again for at least a week. Then nothing. I never saw her at the camp again. I don’t know if she quit, or what. All I know is that it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. No more “visits” from her.
Like I said, to some these incidents probably seem minor. As far as I’m concerned, though, Officer Creepy was a bully and a sex offender. Sadly, the system supports her type of behavior.
I wish I could say that Castle’s play-date costume was atypical of police work, but it’s not. Good detectives absolutely must know how to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk,” in whatever situation they encounter. They must be
good great actors, complete with a wardrobe that’s appropriate for the mission, and Castle really hit the nail on the head this week when he “suited up” and dove head first into a pit of untamed kid-monsters. Good timing, too, considering the horror stories in the news this week about kids attacking their teachers. How, though, did the rest of the show measure up? Was it as good as Castle’s classroom/fairy princess scene?
Let’s see what Melanie has to say about it. Melanie, the stage is all yours…
Another classic Castle episode. Yay! I loved it and believe it was the best of the season so far, although I would’ve enjoyed a little more PDA between Kate and Rick. The stellar writing kept my attention for the entire hour. Kate, of course, lost her gun twice in one fight, but even Lanie stayed on track with her lines. I can’t wait to find out what Lee thought about what she had to say.
I loved the family scene at the beginning. Gave us great insight into the dynamic in the Castle household these days and let us know Alexis was having a problem dealing with her dad’s disappearance. Her hovering kind of irked me, but I understood it.
Unlike last week, the case grabbed me from the beginning… thanks to great writing and attention to detail. The blood spatter on the cabinet and the smear on the inside of the cabinet door were nice touches that made the story seem real. I love it when writers “get it right”. Kudos to Robert Hanning for doing his research.
Loved the parts involving the class of second graders, too. Rick was a natural with them once the teacher got a handle on the chaos. Crawling in the grass, playing army, and having a tea party like he probably used to do with Alexis. The child who played Emily, his tea party partner in the classroom, was an excellent little actress, as were the other kids with speaking parts. Great job! Rick totally rocked the fairy wings and tiara. And the marbles… ouch! Too funny.
One of my favorite parts was when Emily introduced herself to Kate, and Kate said she was Castle’s “friend.” Then Emily asked Kate if she liked to play “princess” with Rick. So funny and awkward. I laughed out loud.
Leave it to Rick to get kicked out of the school. The seamless writing made it seem so natural, I forgot all about the search for the key witness until he pulled the picture of the ice cream truck out of his pocket. Were you surprised to learn the victim’s boss was Jason’s sister… and that she was the witness they’d been searching for all along? I was, only because I’d forgotten about her. The rest of the show was just that good. I did, however, peg the kid with the camera as having an important role. Not only was he front and center in the classroom, but who carries a Polaroid camera around these days? Talk about a blatant clue.
Still, all in all, I believe this episode was season seven’s best yet. Great little family moments, lots of humor, and a gripping case. Can’t wait for next week’s show!
There’s really not a lot of police fact/fiction to pick apart this week. Overall, the show was pretty darn good. In fact, even Lanie’s lines were good, and they were fairly accurate. Her comment about the gunshot residue/stippling on the victim’s shirt was believable, in spite of the makeup overkill.
The same overkill with makeup showed up inside the ice cream truck. This time in the form of blood stain patterns and spatter. The amount of spatter inside the truck was a bit much and the pattern was far too broad considering the small amount space between the victim, shooter, and the cabinet doors where the spatter landed.
The spatter pattern on the cabinet doors was also slightly wrong for the angle of impact, unless the victim was seated or kneeling on the floor when he was shot. Blood droplets would present as elongated if they’d struck the cabinet at an angle, as if from a height greater than the cabinet—the victim’s chest/back. These, however, appeared to have struck the doors almost head on.
In other words, low cabinet height + head-on spatter = victim seated or kneeling. Of course, we must also consider how the shooter was positioned—standing or kneeling/seated.
Had the victim been standing the spatter would have landed higher up on the wall. UNLESS, the shooter was standing on a ladder. Of course, the angle of the droplets is all wrong for that particular scenario.
However, the droplet sizes were fairly accurate for those caused by high velocity impacts such as gunshots and explosions. High velocity droplets often range from small to a fine mist.
Still, this scene was far better than some from previous episodes where it looked like someone used a paint roller to apply “blood” to various surfaces.
Another nice touch was the evidence bag that had been sealed with evidence tape. I, like every other detective out there, have used miles of the stuff.
I enjoyed this episode. There was a nice balance between “the case” and the loving couple. It was fun, funny, and a great mix of fiction and realism all at once.
The icing on the cake was that it looks as if they’re finally on the right track as far as the police stuff goes. They still have a ways to go, though, like having Beckett stick with using the term BOLO (Be On The Lookout) as opposed to dropping the outdated APB (All Points Bulletin) bomb every now and again. She’s constantly back and forth between the two.
And, of course, the shoes…
Warning – Image is NSFPW (not suitable for police work)