Lip Service

This place is normally too bizarre to adequately describe, as I just can't find the vocabulary. But occasionally we descend into a realm of weirdness that's way beyond our normal. This happened a few weeks ago.

The contraband brought in Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp has expanded exponentially over the last 6 months despite consistent lip service played to its enforcement. We have so many cell phones, I wonder if they can all download movies at the same time. Inmates make no effort to hide their use. Random people drive by the camp in broad daylight and drop off contraband even though there are cameras everywhere. Presto Cookers abound in the bathrooms every weekend cooking steaks, shrimp, and chicken. I haven't heard of any drugs or alcohol, but I wouldn't doubt their existence here.

On the law enforcement side, with some exceptions earlier noted here, the typical Bureau of Prisons employee is not particularly productive or motivated by anything other than the fear of looking bad. So, during the last week of June, the powers that be around here got tired of looking bad and decided to put some legs to the lip service.

Unfortunately, the legs didn't include actually catching many of the 20-30 cell phones. It was the standard BOP mass punishment where they punish everyone, particularly the innocent. The punishment included no visits, no phones, no email, no TV, no commissary, and we were all confined to our bunks for 48 hours. Thankfully, I'm responsible for Freddy, our service dog in training, so I was able to take him out to take care of business. Just to make sure, I took him out every 30 minutes, usually to a look from him that implied, "Seriously? I just went!"

On the second day, most of us were individually interviewed/interrogated. The inquisitor read me a list of questions. 1. Do you have any contraband? 2. Do you know of anyone who has contraband? 3. Have you seen contraband dropped off? I was no help. While I'm not a fan of the knuckleheads who so carelessly break the rules, I'm even less a fan of lip service followed by punishing the innocent. And "nobody likes a snitch!"

At the conclusion of the interview, I was asked if I had anything to add. Now, I'm well aware that most people asking for my input really don't want it. They may want affirmation, but my input is the last thing they want. So I thought, "Why not? They've already taken my visits, my phone, my email, my TV, my commissary, and confined me to my bunk. What else can they do?"

I then offered 2 observations: 1. If they're serious about controlling cell phones, why not spend a few hundred dollars and purchase a device to block all cell phone service in the unit. That seems like a no-brainer, and 2. If they really want help in policing the camp, ask for my help before and not after they take away my visits, my phone, my email, my TV, my commissary, and confine me to my bunk. I'll be more collaborative.

I expected an eye roll, but my taxpayer funded inquisitor took copious notes and nodded in agreement. It was my chance to run the prison, and I felt so good, very empowered, almost collaborative, until I remembered I had no visits, no phone, no email, no....