Thursday, January 22, 2009

Double, double toil and trouble...

So it looks as if I may go up for disciplinary at work.

It's been a busy last few cycles at Connally. We're all gearing up for our big ACA audit. All the while though, I've been doing my best to crack down on contraband in the medium and high security wings to which I am assigned.

With all the big football games going on, our offenders have really been stepping up the production of their homemade alcoholic beverages. It's called hooch, or sometimes chalk, and it's more or less a wine, made from pilfered fruit. They let it ferment (or cook) in big plastic bags (also stolen from supply), storing it in their cells and bringing it out in discrete containers during their dayroom time.

Well, needless to say, drunk offenders are generally more dangerous than sober ones, so we'd really prefer they stay sober.

I've been finding a LOT of hooch lately in the course of my cell searches. I confiscate it, they cry, I write them up on contraband charges, and life goes on. One day this past cycle (either Sat or Sun) I was working in closed custody (G5 offenders, max custody, mostly real hard cases). We were feeding them in the dayroom (they do not eat in the chow hall with the other varmints). As I walked by a cell on 3 row I caught the scent of alcohol (one of my Sgts has started calling me the hooch hound, a nickname I'm REALLY hoping does not stick). I had the picket officer roll the door and I stepped into the doorway. I immediately noticed 2 things: first there was still an offender in the cell, laying curled up on the top bunk of the darkened cell, and second there was DEFINITELY hooch there. I ordered the offender to leave the cell and head down to the dayroom. He got off the bunk, but refused to leave. He was very agitated, insisting he wasn't doing anything wrong. I restated my my order, and asked him why he was getting upset. He adamantly refused to leave, instead stood beside the cell toilet, just out of easy reach. I glanced down into the dayroom, caught the building sergeant's eye, and motioned for him to get up to my position. As I looked back into the cell my eyes fell on the clear plastic bag of hooch, likely around 3 or 4 gallons of it. The offender saw me notice it and decided to act. He lunged forward, pushing me back with one hand as he grabbed the bag with the other. He thrust the bag into the toilet and began trying to pop the bag. I grabbed his arm, pulled him away from the toilet and wrestled him to the ground. Unfortunately much of the hooch came with us. As quickly as I could I switched from my arm lock to a restraining hold, turning him onto his stomach and keeping his hands away from me. At that point the sergeant arrived, assisted me in restraining the slippery little guy, and I applied hand restraints.

He was taken to medical for a physical, then off to PHD(pre-hearing detention). I went to medical, received my own physical, and realized sourly I was about half covered in hooch. Oh, and this was not even halfway through the 12 hour shift.

So much paperwork and review later, I was back to my duties. I was informed that we don't fight with offenders over alcohol, and that I miay face disciplinary due to committing an unsafe act or substandard performance (engaging in an unnecessary Use of Force). I understand their reason regarding not engaging in a Use of Force over hooch. We don't really need the hooch itself to charge them. At the time however, I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking about preserving evidence. This is apparently one of those unwritten (and up until my Use of Force, unspoken) rules.

Here's how it apparently breaks down-
alcohol: don't engage in a Use of Force
tobacco: don't engage in a Use of Force (although it happens)
marijuana: maybe engage in a Use of Force
shank(knife): engage at a distance, ie, use chemical agents (this is a Use of Force)
cell phone: engage in a Use of Force

Clear enough?


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