Friday, May 21, 2010

A Day In The Life

Is This Call In Reference To An Inmate?

Working in the front lobby of the prison is not hard. (See previous post. HAHAHA!) You process visitors and volunteers. You screen employees coming in for work. You supervise the female inmates who come to clean. You receive packages. You are the first person anyone sees when they come. You are also the first person callers speak to, as it is your job to answer the phones.

Lots of people call the prison. Employees call to check schedules, call in sick, or to speak with other people. Employee families call to speak to their family member. Other prisons call. Other law enforcement agencies call. Businesses call. But most of all, inmate families call.

There is only so much information we can give out over the phone. We don’t really know who is calling. There are laws protecting prisoner personal information. Are you really his mom, or the girlfriend of a rival gang trying to find him and have him whacked?

One day I am sitting there and a woman calls. She is frantic. Her boyfriend, some inmate, hadn’t called her in three days. He calls every day. Apparently, the last time she talked to him he complained of a headache. Since he hadn’t called her in days, obviously he must be in the hospital. Or dead even.

She asked if the institution was on lockdown. I told her no it was not. She asked if he was there. I confirmed he was. She didn’t believe me. She wanted me to tell her if he was sick or anything. That is protected information. I transferred her call, as per our policy, to his case manager. She basically told this woman what I had said and hung up.

Minutes later she called back. I again told her the same thing and transferred the call. Again the case manager told her the same thing and hung up. Then the case manager called me and told me to stop transferring the call. She was asking questions we can’t answer.

But again she called. I told her again, yes the inmate was there, no, we are not locked down. No, I don’t know why he hasn’t called. No you cannot be transferred again. She started yelling and demanded to speak to the warden. No, the warden is unavailable.

She called about a dozen more times that day and many more the next day.

Do you want to know why the inmate wasn’t calling her? He was sent to segregation for having a weapon (a shank). In there you only get to use the phone once a month. The case manager did go over there and tell him to contact his family. He can write all the letters he wants.

I knew that the whole time really. I just couldn’t tell her. It's not allowed.


In The Line Of Duty

18. Merle E. Clutts, Senior Officer Specialist
Killed at USP Marion, October 22, 1983

19. Robert L. Hoffman, Senior Officer Specialist
Killed at USP Marion, October 22, 1983

20. Boyd H. Spikerman, Correctional Officer
Killed at FCI Oxford, January 29, 1984

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