Of Course I Took It
Inmates use toothpaste for all kinds of stuff, besides just oral hygiene. They use it to stick pictures up on the wall, stick light covers and vent covers and even use them to plug vents. All of those things which are, of course, against the rules.
Every now and again, generally when there is an inspection coming up, this toothpaste has to be cleaned off. In the special housing unit, where toothpaste use runs rampant, we can not give the inmates the tools to do it themselves. We use scrapers and screwdrivers to remove the toothpaste. Four other officers and I go from cell to cell cleaning. We cuff up the inmates, we pull them out and one of use watches them while the rest of us scrape and poke and then sweep up the debris. Then the inmates are put back, and we move on the next cell.
We had been doing this for awhile. We were about four cells passed the handicapped cell. The inmate that occupies that cell was out at recreation while we were cleaning. He returned and saw what we were doing. He flipped out. Before he was even back into his cell, he starts screaming and hollering that we took his stuff. We didn't take anything except dried toothpaste. But he was freaking out anyway. The lieutenant came and asked the inmate what exactly we took.
He didn't know. But he was sure we took something that was rightfully his.
I didn't know how important that dried toothpaste was.