The Warden (by Guest Blogger Timothy Earl)
Timothy Earl is 42, single, in joint legal and physical custody of two, and writes as Ravenswood Jack from 7200 feet above sea level in a valley between the arms of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming.
I was glad to be meeting Duane – the warden at Wyoming State penitentiary – within a month of my shackled arrival. For weeks, I’d been in double-bunked solitary confinement. The meeting signalled my release into the general population after the evaluation period. I was on my ass in a chair outside Duane’s orange office with some stranger, waiting in line to talk to him like everyone else.
When my turn came, the officer standing nearby took off my cuffs. I’d watched him un-cuff, wait for, and re-cuff two or three before me. It was an astonishing treat to be so trusted with my hands in the presence of the warden. There were administrative workers, not security people, everywhere.
Duane was smiling. He had rolled up short sleeves, and was armed. I was aware without any threat from him that he was capable of kicking my ass. There was no insincerity in his way of looking right into my eyes through his glasses. He was deep-chested, shorter than I, shaved, and wore a heavy watch. His collar was unbuttoned, maybe even one button too low. He was in his early 60's, and in good shape. His handshake was really something.
I was at eye level, both feet on floor, seated across a big 1970's desk with the things he wanted me to think about facing me, and the things he wanted to think about facing him.
“Tim? Do you go by Tim?”
“Yes, sir. I'm Tim.”
“Tim you seem like a pretty nice kid, pretty easy to get along with, right? I got your letter. I'm glad you're here. Don't turn out to be a heavy, Tim. Just don't. I'll send you right back where you came from. Ok?”
“Ok! And thank you.”
“All right now. They'll get you back over there, and you'll be out on the yard getting set up soon. Ok?”
“Ok. Bye, Duane.”
Duane had started there in the mid 70's. All of the staff were important to him. Think of it this way: your cuffs are off, you're brand new there, and if Duane can't be alone in his office with you without handcuffs, you can't really expect to be placed in medium security like I was hoping to be. Duane was man enough to face thousands of convicts alone in his office without handcuffs. I didn't want to stand out, and I didn't.
He never forgot my name. Although I was a convict, he treated me like I was a person named Tim who was in a lot of trouble, and his presence gave me the feeling that things would be okay, and that the security people around me had a reasonable man to answer to.
Welcome to the Wyoming State Penitentiary. I'm Timothy Earl, inmate 15642. Maybe you'd better let me show you around:
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