Remember Russ’s roommate during reception phase? I mentioned him in the Letter – 01June2011 post. Turns out, Russ was right, his time in the USDB is going to be long and hard.
During reception phase all newly arrived inmates are kept in a MAX custody unit that, from my understanding, is adjacent to but not merged with the MAX custody unit where violent offenders are housed. Perhaps due to proximity, reception inmates have to clean this high level MAX custody unit. The inmates housed in MAX custody are kept on lock down for 23 to 24 hours a day, so they’ve little else to do but heckle the newbies who come through to clean their “pod.” Russ said that when he was cleaning MAX custody, the inmates told him they wanted him to get up on a table and dance naked while they threw Starburst at him. Russ found this amusing and continued cleaning, no doubt with an image of juicy Starburst raining down on him from the heavens in his head. Were I in his place, I may have considered it if they assured me the Starburst were fresh; I don’t like them when they’ve grown hard and difficult to chew. I think I’m going to get some Starburst…
I’m back! Starburst in hand.
As for the weird roommie…the MAX custody guys may or may not have mentioned fruity candy in their threats, but they did mention raping him. (Perhaps he’s prettier than Russ?) Anyway, the guy got a little freaked out and decided to make a formal complaint to the guards. I don’t know how the guards decided to handle the threat-maker, but he apparently knew he’d been “snitched” on and wasn’t pleased. The guards took Russ’s roommate off the cleaning detail so he wouldn’t be subjected to such threats. But standard operating procedure dictates that reception inmates clean MAX custody, so when Russ’s roommate got out of cleaning, the guards didn’t have anything else readily available for him to do. The other reception inmates discussed the unfairness of this development with the guards – couldn’t they make him do something? All the rest of them had to clean and deal with the taunts in MAX custody. In an effort to make peace, the guards assigned the roommate to a cleaning detail in another housing unit of the prison, the Protective Custody (PC) unit. Now the roommate felt he was being singled out and punished by the guards because no one else in reception had to clean the PC unit. He sent up another complaint – this one about the guards. Any complaint about the guards has to go to the guards’ superior. Understandably, the guards were not pleased.
At this point, he’d not only pissed off the burly inmates of MAX custody, but also the guards whose job it was to protect him from the same. Word spread quickly. The inmate he’d snitched on offered a fellow “lifer” living in general population $50 a month for the foreseeable future if he’d put Russ’s roommate in the hospital…not kill him, just injure him severely enough to ensure a long and painful recovery. We don’t know if the gen-pop lifer took the deal. We do know that Russ’s roommate was the first inmate in recent history (according to a few guys who’ve been there a while) to move directly from reception phase to Protective Custody, a housing unit reserved for inmates who’ve been labeled snitches or are a danger to themselves.
Protective Custody isn’t considered MAX custody, but it’s no playground either. In minimum security where Russ is, and where his roommate would have gone had he not upset half of the inmate population, prisoners are allowed to work, study, and go outside on a regular basis. For every month in the work program that a minimum security inmate completes to standard, five days are shaved off of his sentence which isn’t a bad deal. MIN custody is really the place to be if your choices of places to be are as limited as Russ’s are. His reception phase roommate in Protective Custody won’t get the chance to participate in the work program, carpentry or anything else. He sort of shot himself in the foot with all those complaint forms. He will indeed have a long and painful stint at the USDB.