Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Before I go...

As I have a bit of insider knowledge of what actually goes on in 'The Big House'- one more post before packing my saddlebags.

"...Prison inmates could soon find themselves forced to share a room, as the Corrections Department talks with staff about putting two beds into every standard prison cell..."

Firstly, my concern for the comfort or wishes of inmates is a very small thing. Some might say it does not exist. When in the army, I had to share a room with seven other reprobates, so there is a great lack of sympathy there. It's even worse on ship and this is what law-abiding citizens have to contend with.

However, when a Corrections Officer, I took a more pragmatic view and saw that crims are easier to manage in a single cell and I worked wings that had single or double occupancy. (all cells can hold two) A couple of wings had what were called 'association cells' that took four minimum security types who were together by choice (yes, your suspicions are correct)
One typical management problem is that when contraband is found, they will always plead 'it's not MINE'

That and cellmates tend to fall out of love.

Now- at Crawford, where most cells were double bunked, the inmates all wanted their own cell. This was used as a carrot.

In Rimutaka (the newer high-medium part) it was one to a cell, even though they we fitted out with two bunks (the just-in-case plan)

Guess what? There they wanted to share a cell with heir bro's!

Go figure...

Organising who bunked with who was like planning the seating at a wedding between two seriously dysfunctional families!

Rape in prisons is relatively rare, but it does happen. The last incident I recall was (how cliche) in the showers, so double bunking couldn't be blamed there.

As staff we used to go to great lengths to try and prevent rapes and bashings by shuffling inmates around, managing who was out and who was locked at any one time. Doing things like keeping the man-rapist right next to the guardroom, making sure the transexuals had showers when the rest were in the yard and breaking up associations of troublemakers- if only to have a peaceful shift with the minimum of paperwork!

But with three of us watching thirty, while trying to complete the required daily data entry- well, it's obvious plenty is going to happen without being seen.

But what really needs to happen and is not being addressed is getting the mentally ill OUT of general population and back into secure mental hospitals. That will free up about 1/3 of the prison beds.


If double bunking -or hot-bunking is needed to keep the scraps out of circulation, so be it.

But DO resource the CO's on the floor to deal with the extra workload and DON'T point the finger at the troops on the floor when the inevitable screw-up happens. REMEMBER that most inmates put themselves in prison. And that THEY are the ones that make the prison experience so unpleasant.