Status update on my one man battle against collective punishment here at TSCI. *chuckle* I received a response to my Informal Grievance (the text of which is in my 27-09-18 post). The response was verbatim the same boilerplate copy I received as to my first grievance over their use of collective punishment:
“Inmate Heist, the microwave is a privilege that has been allowed on the gallery. If the majority of the individuals cannot abide by the policies and procedures the privilege may be revoked. If you have any further comments or concerns continue working with your unit staff.”
That pat response was particularly frustrating given that I had addressed both justifications she gave. Privilege or not, it is still collective punishment which promotes violence and there has NOT been a majority of us in F gallery who have been violating the policies on alcohol, intoxication and/or substance abuse. Unfortunately, the Ombudman’s office also wrote me a letter also stating that the microwave is a privilege and that staff have broad discretion when it comes to safety issues.
Here’s my Step 1 (formal) Grievance. I make it clear that privilege or not, removing the microwave is still collective punishment and decreases safety. I also responded to the Assistant Ombudsman Kay’s letter trying to clarify that the point of my grievance was that staff behavior, using collective punishment, was actually increasing the risk of violence, so broad discretion or not, they are being counter productive.
I also addressed the apparent misinformation he was given about NDCS’s attempt to improve the grievance process. They claim that they are implementing an electronic method of submitting grievances which will solve the number that are lost or unresponded-to. Mr. Kay was happy to inform me of these plans and saw it as the Department acknowledging the problem and making progress. However, within 2 week a new method of contacting NDCS was implemented on the JPay kiosks and even though JPay called is a “grievance” a simultaneous memo was released (by Ms. Spindler, the person who had told Ombudsman Kay about the new electronic grievance process) that clearly stating that the new method of contacting NDCS was “ONLY” for reporting rules violations, basically a snitch email, and did not replace paper grievances. I hope that Mr. Kay is able to get Ms. Spindler to tell him the truth now that I’ve given him her memo. *smile*
I have continued reviewing Inspector General Koebernick’s annual report and created several graphs from data in it and the NDCS Quarterly data sheets that my dad has sent me. I have transcribed them onto acetate sheets to use with the overhead projector when I give my Toastmasters’ research speech on Thursday. I am pretty sure I am going to go over the 7 minute limit but I don’t think the audience will mind as the information is particularly pertinent to them. *grin* I am also preparing a graph to go along with an article for the next issue of the Neb. Criminal Justice Review which I believe is coming out in Dec. I think I will also submit it to the Omaha World-Herald, the Lincoln Journal Star, and NET Radio to see if I can get any wider public attention to the topic of how NDCS is rigging the numbers to hide the actual severity of the overcrowding crisis.
With all of those issues I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing the past few weeks. *chuckle* I’ve also been preparing for my eventual move to LCC even though I don’t know when exactly it will happen. I’ve been downsizing, which is ironic given how little we are allowed to have in here, but when you transfer between facilities you have to carry everything you own to and from the transport so I’ve donated several books to the library and am giving some things away.
After reading the IG’s report I realize I should count myself lucky that I couldn’t stay at NSP. It sounds like it is by far the worst off facility in all of NDCS. Both staff morale and overcrowding are big issues there while TSCI is sort of structurally incapable of being too overcrowded. We run about 104% as opposed to NSP which is at around 187%, mostly due to the multiple dormitories in the back which were added while not expanding the core support facilities and services. LCC is around 156% but at least it’s all cells, not dorms so there’s a limit to how overcrowded it can get too. I’ve had a friend here draw a diagram of the LCC layout so I have some idea what it will be like when I get there. I think I’ll end up in E unit, side 1. The sex-offender program is in E2. The IG’s report also said that the new warden at LCC was hired from out-of-state rather than promoted from within NDCS so she (I think it’s a she) is open to new ideas and changes in how things are done. I’m glad it’s not the old warden because he’s the one that told me I couldn’t do taiji at D&E. Hopefully the new warden won’t take such a hard-line.
I actually hit a new record in my taiji practice this past week. I have been able to get my blind, mirror image long form to take 45 minutes. When you close your eyes and are doing mirror image it takes more concentration so it is easy to slow down. However, when I would do the long form in the regular direction with my eyes open I was running around 38 minutes normally. On Monday I went to the gym in the morning to turn in a new hobby order (I hope it gets here before I move) and I did the long form, regular direction with my eyes open and it took me 47 minutes. I think it’s a good idea to regularly change where you practice. Not only can it be a challenge, like when Roz and I did taiji on a rocky river shore, but it can also help you to pay attention to your movements rather than just doing things by memory. Change is the only constant, so we should embrace it and benefit from it. That is possibly the topic of my next Toastmasters’ speech in Dec. *smile*
Oh, I also earned my Competent Leader certificate from Toastmasters International. Being one of the founding officers made it pretty easy to fulfill most of the leadership requirements. After Thursday I’ll have 2 more speeches to finish my Competent Communicator too. Luckily, you are allowed to deliver up to 2 of your required speeches outside of actual club meetings as long as someone gives a written and verbal evaluation and LCC has a Toastmasters Gavel club. They’re not official Toastmasters International members but I can deliver my speeches there, remain a member here at TSCI and finish my Competent Communicator. *cheer* I just wish I could finish off the Advanced Leader Bronze before I go too. When I sent in the form to complete the Competent Leader cert. there was a place to have Toastmasters International send a letter recognizing your accomplishment to your boss. I had it sent to the parole board. It couldn’t hurt. *smile*
One last observation for the post. You would think that when you go to shower in a men’s prison, anyone else in the shower would studiously avoid any sort of interaction with you. You know, guys respecting each other’s man-space and such. Though that’s been true for some, they’ve been the minority. Most of the time if there’s another guy in the other shower he strikes up a conversation. First, let me explain the shower layout. There is a shower room at the end of each teer, upper and lower, and each room has 3 stalls. The “stalls” are separated by chest high walls to at least give some privacy, but you can look over and see anyone else in another stall. Also, there’s an unstated rule that no one ever uses the middle stalls…part of that respecting each other’s man-space I guess. So, at most there are 2 guys in any shower room at a time, with an empty stall between you. Pretty private given it’s in prison, and that there’s a big glass brick wall facing the dayroom so the guard in the control center (or bubble) can see there is someone in the shower. Ok, so with an empty stall between you, you’d think that everyone would just shower and be done. Nooooo. Most recently, a guy asked me if it was normal to be bleeding after having had a catheter removed. Now that’s not your typical conversation in a public shower. That conversation progressed to my recommending he get his prostate examined even though he’s in his 20s. He apparently has no bladder capacity and I thought it would be wise to make sure he didn’t have an enlarged prostate for whatever reason. Before this I had a conversation with another guy who told me all about his attraction to transexuals. I guess that wasn’t so unexpected as I had just been visited by Vithaya, my ex who has transitioned to female. Still, it seem people are quite comfortable talking about any subject with me…even while in the shower. *chuckle* I guess I should take it as a compliment, right? *smile*