Smoking in the Boys Room

Posted: August 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m at the Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I really need to get myself together.  I very near caused irreparable damage to my future today.  Ms. Prince had office hours from 2-4 pm today.  It was my intent to see her today to obtain the paperwork to appeal my placement for ERP at Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF).  I got to the guard desk in my unit to ask to go see her.  The guard snapped fiercely at me that she was gone after I asked.  I immediately had to resist the white hot flash of rage that swept over me, mostly fueled by the perceived disrespect from the guard.  I went back to my cell and for the next half hour paced the floor of my cell, working myself into a frenzy of how I wanted to go back there and fire back at that guard for daring to act that way towards me.  I waited until 3 pm then went back to that guard station and again asked to see Ms. Prince.  This time, with an exasperated look on his face, he told me she had left.  I replied that her office hours were 2-4 pm on Thursday, how could this be?  The guard threw his hands up in frustration and said he didn’t know.  Another inmate standing nearby commented to me that Ms. Prince had told another inmate he’d have to come back another time earlier that day.  The pieces started to come together.  That guard had dealt with repeated requests to see Ms. Prince prior to seeing me, having to tell them all she was gone, which was the reason he reacted to my request the way he did.  And this wasn’t the first time Ms. Prince hadn’t been there when her office hours for our unit was scheduled when I had gone to see her.  I was ready to explode without knowing all the facts.  And what a costly explosion it would have been.  I’m better than this.  I know better than this.  No harm done – this time.  But I’ve got to learn to control that initial impulse better.  Especially considering I could  have talked to Ms. Prince on Monday just as well, if she keeps to her hours this time.  I didn’t have to do it today.  Actions based on incomplete facts are a fools errand.  Will I ever learn?

Some inmates are upset for an entirely different reason.  Guards have pails stationed around the facility so that those that smoke cigarettes have someplace to put the butts.  As I’m told, this is an issue that catches fire every once in awhile around here.  This time, it’s the indoor smoking ban that has got it going again (it took effect in Wisconsin July 5th).  It doesn’t really apply as they are smoking outside.  But I guess Wisconsin has laws regarding smoking on state property.  It’s said the guards claim their contract allows them to smoke.  I’m no lawyer but a contract that allows illegal activity is usually invalid on its face.  But I don’t really care.  This is an issue that inmates are always filing complaints about.  Their motives aren’t concern for the law but a desire  to stick it to “the police” as they’re called.  It’s kind of an interesting dynamic.  Us inmates all have to act like we despise the guards in front of other inmates and guards have to act like they despise us in front of other guards.  Yet I know for fact for the most part, if you got one of us and one of them alone together, neither guard nor inmate would act in such a manner.  It’s conformity to a stereotype which in this case provides a necessary barrier so this place can function.  Anyway, like I said, I don’t care if they smoke.  One of the positives of me going to prison is it broke my addiction to cigarettes.  When the wind blows just right and I catch a whiff of a cigarette, it makes me sick but I also catch myself wishing I had one.  Due to health issues, I’d be a fool to smoke again when I get out, not to mention it’s gotten so expensive.  I fool with the idea of having just one when I get out.  I’m betting that’s not a good idea. 

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