old Joe Guerrero is incarcerated at Indian Creek Correctional Center in
Chesapeake, Virginia. He is serving 7½ years for drug charges and still has a
little under 2 years left. He has spent the past 5 years focusing on bettering
his life in which cartooning, caricatures, painting and writing are his main
In prison, there are lists you don’t
want to be on. They include known gang members, tattoo artists and guys who run
gambling operations. But the worst list is the “hot list.”
The hot list is reserved for individuals
who fit one of two criteria or both:
1 The prisoner has previously provided a
urine sample that tested positive for drugs
2 The prisoner has a drug conviction
Being as I have a drug conviction
history, I am on the hot list.
This means that once or twice a month, I
am called to various locations around the facility at any random time to
urinate in a cup. Tests are usually administered by the hardest officers who go
completely by the book and play no games. I have to urinate in front of the
officer. It’s a hell of a lot of pressure, and some prisoners can’t handle it.
I am asked to step into a single-stall
restroom with a male officer, to drop my pants to my knees, to lift my shirt to
my chin, and to hold my penis over a cup. The officer watches closely as the
urine exits my urethra.
Recently, my entire housing unit was
locked down and urine tested. All 82 of us in a chaotic fashion.
It came about because a snitch told on
someone with drugs. In the middle of the night, officers searched a cell and
found the drugs. That prisoner, the entire housing unit and eventually my
housing unit (three days later) were all locked-down.
The first sign of trouble came when we weren’t
allowed to leave the building. The rest of the compound was under normal
operations, but the prisoners in my unit were being sent back from work and
Oh shit, I thought, this isn’t good.
We knew the housing unit in the other
building where all of this started had been urine tested, so most of us had an
idea of what was coming. Yet there were still a few silly guys refusing to accept
“Maybe it’s a surprise pizza party” one
“I’m too young to die! They’re gonna
pump chlorine gas through the ventilation system and kill us!”
A team of officers burst through the
front door with coolers in tow full of urine-test kits. The housing unit
erupted with noise.
Prisoners began drinking loads of water
in the hope it would dilute the drugs and they’d pass the test. Some just to
make sure they could urinate on demand.
Long lines began forming in front of the
restroom. Officers were barking out orders and commands.
Some of the guys who had been drinking
water ended up having to urinate long before they made it to the test. They had
to urinate so badly they ended up peeing in bags in the back corner of the
One guy had to crap so bad, he was
shaking uncontrollably and crying while begging an officer to either let him go
crap next door in the other housing unit or kill him before his intestines
Finally, I lined up, hoping to get it over
with. The line was long and everyone at the front was crowding around the
entrance to the restroom, transfixed on the action taking place inside. At
first, I thought maybe something bad had happen on the inside. I mean, why else
would all these guys be standing around staring in there like that? But nothing
was happening other than the tests being administered. The nosy prisoners just
had to gawk.
I waited for all eternity until finally
it was my turn to enter the restroom.
The first thing I noticed were prisoners
stood behind the wall in the shower area. Unable to urinate, they were mocked
by anyone new entering the area.
“Hey, look at you bunch of sorry
assholes! What’s the matter? Did your dick shrivel up inside your stomachs! You
A prisoner in a wheelchair was parked in
the corner by the urinals. His head was in his hands as if he were having no
easy time of this.
OK, I’ve got this, I thought.
I pulled up to the urinal, took the cup,
dropped my pants to my knees and lifted my shirt to my chin as instructed to
With an officer gazing at my inadequate
man parts, the psychological pressure rose.
Oh my God! I thought. I’m standing here
with my entire ass out for the world to see in front of a bunch of guys staring
I had to pull it together. On one side of me was wheelchair guy and
on the other was a Robocop officer.
I decided to attempt a little small talk
to lighten the load: “Pretty nice weather we’re having wouldn’t you say?” I
said, looking the officer straight in the face.
His eyes never left my penis. “Sir, do
not say anything to me. Just fill the cup.”
Holy shit, I thought. I’m about to lose
With no dignity left and no urine in the
cup, I handed it back to the officer. I told him that I was unable to perform
at the moment and would have to join the reluctant others behind the wall.
Behind the wall, I suddenly had the urge
to crap. With that thought festering, I listened as the other guys discussed
why they couldn’t urinate.
“Dicks too big, one said.
“I can’t do this, man. They’re watching
us piss! Everyone is watching us piss!”
I peeked around the corner (yes, I know,
I’m no better than the rest of the onlookers), and saw the wheelchair guy
standing up, or more so, leaning against a wall in front of the urinal, his back
to me as he tried for what must have been his fourth or fifth attempt to urinate
in front of two officers.
At that moment, he lost it. He threw the
plastic cup at the urinal which clink-tink-tinked as it ricocheted off multiple
surfaces and hit the ground.
“I just can’t do it!” he snapped. “I
just can’t do it! Maybe if I can sit down I can do it!”
“Maybe if I can sit down I can take the
test! I need to sit down to pee!”
“Did you just say you need to sit down
to pee? Sir, you are going to stand and take this test!”
At this point, I once again lost it. It
was too crazy. I came from behind the wall and said, “Hey look, I gotta shit.”
The officers must have forgotten I had
been in there because they acted like I hadn’t.
“What the hell are you doing in here?” one
“You are in violation of the rules! This
is a restricted area!” another shouted.
“Whatever,” I said. “I’m going to take a
I walked out, and went next door to the
other housing unit. They were letting guys crap who really had to go now.
I did it and swaggered back to the restroom
like I owned the place. I cut in front of twenty people including the wheelchair
guy, and said, “Hey officer, give me that freaking cup. Let’s do this thing.”
I took my shirt completely off and threw
it on the ground. I leaned into that cup and squeezed out ten drops. Then I
urinated. I finally did it and passed the test.
As for everyone else, they eventually
produced as well. Some passed. Some failed. For some it was easier. For some it
was harder. For a few it was life altering. They might never be the same again.
The wheelchair guy did just fine. The
guy who had to crap so bad he that was in tears failed and was locked down in
the hole. Another guy took four hours to pee. He passed though. And now every
time he’s in the restroom urinating, he screams at passers-by, “Stop staring at
After all that, it was over. The day
went back to normal operations. Or at least as normal as it could get after
going through something like that.