07 Nov 07

Cell Search

“Attwood,” said a female officer, “step outside of your cell in your shower shoes. You have been chosen to have your cell searched.”
“OK,” I said. I stepped out onto the run and continued to read my book.
Two guards entered my cell: the female and a male.
“Oh,” the female said, nose raised, sniffing the air, “so you’ve been smoking in your cell.”
“I don’t think so,” I said.
“Like I can’t smell the smoke,” she said.
“It comes through the vents,” I said.
“Yeah, right,” she said.
I felt a flush of irritation and thought, No matter what I say I’m just another lying inmate to her, so I’d better say nothing at all.
“When did they move you from D run?”
“The last time I was on D run was on Yard 4.”
“I’m talking about Yard 1. You’re the one always hanging out on D run.”
Here she goes again, I thought. “I think you’ve got me confused,” I said.
“No. I remember seeing you always hanging out on D run. You were over there all of the time.”
“I stay in my cell reading and writing.”
Her face pinched with disbelief. I stayed silent.
“Where’s your TV at?”
“I don’t have one.”
“You don’t have one?”
“No. Like I said, I read and write all day.”
“Aren’t you getting out soon?” the other officer asked.
“Next week,” I said, and immediately the guards looked at each other with the same expression that said, He’s getting out next week so he must have sold his TV.
“So you don’t watch TV, eh?” she said, smiling knowingly.
“No, I don’t. I try not to waste my time,” I said.
“You’ve been down long enough to get a TV.”
“I don’t have one by choice.”
“Hmm,” she said. “It must be inconvenient to have us come along and disrupt your day.”
Why is she provoking me? I thought.
“What, are you tongue-tied now?” she said.
I ignored her. They eventually left my cell. Then, antagonising all of the prisoners and a few guards who knew I didn't have a TV, she had every cell on the yard searched for the TV set of mine.

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood


Anonymous said...

You give us a truly fascinating insight into a different world that helps me realise although we may all live on the same planet, life experiences can be so phenomenally disparate.

I am very much looking forward to buying and reading the book I'm sure you're going to write when you make it home to your parent's.

Good luck Shaun and here's hoping you're winging your way back over the ocean as I write, if not already back!

K.J. said...

I have to wonder about the kind of person who would want to be a prison guard.

Anonymous said...

You'd be surprised, Karen, the majority of ADC staff we met were really courteous and kind. One of the visitation officers was able to explain interesting facts (he caught one to show us) about grasshoppers one time when the desert was full of them and they overflowed into the prison, it was a biblical sight!

It's just the odd one who is a 'jobsworth' - same as everywhere else.
Maricopa County jail staff were a different story.

Anonymous said...

I don't have to wonder about the kind of person who would want to be a prison guard. While they might be courteous to visiting parents, I'd still like to hear the inmates side of it. If anything, guards might just not mess with prisoners out of fear of retaliation. Prison guards strike me as essentially wannabe Cops that couldn't pass the test, most likely not that better tempered than those they lock up. A story like this seems like it would be more the norm than the exception, obviously Shaun would know better than me though.

Anonymous said...

Like any profession, you will find people that love their job, while others might have difficulty understanding that they are there for more than a pay check.
I think being a prison guard is a carreer opportunity if only one can look at it as an ultimate position of making a difference for themselves and others. You can't change the world and the system but small gesture and understanding does. The guard is that person who comes to prison everyday and gets to go back home everyday also. He is in a position of love hate from every angle.
The prison guard needs to redefine his role, who is he serving, what is he doing.
He is a peace keeper. Following up that the rules are applyied to maintain a peaceful and safe environment. Dealing with men and woman who precisely are in prison because in their life was lack of judgement and rule bending.
This particular guard had a preconceived idea that someone without a television was not possible, because majority had a television..Preconcieved ideas dictates a thought process. Just like if you are an adult without a driver's licence people will think it was taken away from you from driving while under the influence...when in fact there might be a philosophy behind that overlooked. It could be by choice ..to ride a bike for exemple.

I would think the prison guard is the person that is happy to have a job to provide for his family. And I'm sure he/she does not wake up and think, let's go piss off an inmate today.

Gledwood said...

stupid cow!

Anonymous said...

The guard tried to antagonize you further after finding out you were leaving soon because she knew that you would not be able to fully make her look stupid at risk to your release. Even so, she felt stupid enough from your responses and ultimate silence that she felt the need to "prove" that she was capable by searching for the magical TV.

Anonymous said...

This guard presents another good example of "The Stanford Experiment".

I believe many people join the DOC, to "get back" at the incarcerated. Police departments generally would not put up with this but inmates are a-okay to mess with.

A. Fool