Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Behind these walls....


“A little.”

“It’s perfectly normal. First day on the job, it’s to be expected. But you’ll do fine. Just follow the protocols, they are in place to provide the best in protection. Got your badge ready?”

Swiping ID badges at the scanner they waited until they were verified and they heard the door buzz that it was able to be opened.

“This first room is our tech center. There isn’t a space in the facility that doesn’t have camera coverage.”

“Even the restrooms?”

“Even the restrooms. But we have a filter in place, here look.”

She looked at a computer screen. The bathroom was divided into quadrants and all areas were visible, however the inside of the stalls was blurry. You could make out a general shape, but no details.

“Safety first. But there is always a way to maintain some privacy. That is a permanent filter, you can’t get a clear image at all, the camera isn’t designed that way.”

She nodded. It would take some getting used to she knew. But at least now maybe she wouldn’t have to try and hold her pee for her entire shift.

“This is a map of all of the areas. The security tightens the deeper you go in to the building. There are checkpoints here,” pointing to the map, “here and here. This last one is your ID card and then a retinal scan. You won’t be working in that area at first.”

She nodded again. If she never had to work that block she would be perfectly fine.

“Now here,” back to looking at the map, “is the biggest area of concern for you right now. This is the outside perimeter, the protest zone. They generally arrive around 8 and stay until sunset. They are allowed to walk this area and this area only. If they wander off the path at all they are subject to detainment. They know this and are generally pretty good about staying in their lane. The hard cores are here every day, it’s the newbies that get overly excited. Either they’ve just discovered this as their cause or something has triggered a renewed interest in the situation. Once the news cycle moves on, so do most of them. But you will still have to pull outside duty at least once a week. Don’t engage with them. Don’t take any fliers. And for goodness sake never take any food or drink from them.”

“Oh my gosh, have they tried poisoning guards before?”

“No, of course not. But it does make an embarrassing picture on-line to look like we are sitting down to a picnic with them.”

“Why are they even protesting us? I mean, I have seen them on the news, but it doesn’t make sense.”

“It doesn’t. Who knows why anyone does what they do? They like the freedom and safety they are afforded out there walking, shaking their signs, living their lives, but they can’t make the leap that it’s what we do in here that gives them the opportunity to do it. Twenty years ago? Not a one of them would have wanted to be around here after dark. What we do here makes a difference, don’t let anyone tell you differently.”

“I won’t. My mother told me how it used to be. The constant fear. Worrying if today was the day something would happen to you. The news showing one story after another of terrible things.” She shook her head. “I’m just glad I was too young to remember what it was like before.”

They left the tech area. “This first block is for processing. It’s fairly empty right now. Our brave officers are always out there doing sweeps but for now we’re pretty clear of new detainees.”

She looked around. There were holding cells lining the walls. Probably 100 in all. Two bunks per cell. Right now there were only 5 cells with inmates in them. She tried not to show any fear as she sized them up. She knew that they would thrive on it and she would be damned if she would allow that.

The cells circled an area that had what looked like small picnic tables bolted to the concrete ground. “This is where their lawyers help them process the paperwork we then use to determine which block will be their more permanent home. You can see the eye bolts under the bench? Lawyers are not allowed in to the room until the prisoners are securely fastened to their chair. We cannot risk even one getting hurt because we weren’t vigilant. Procedure is to use three guards to move one prisoner. One will keep a rifle pointed at his forehead the entire time the other two are shackling him, walking him out and attaching him to the conference table. Originally we allowed them private rooms but there was no way to ensure that nothing secret was going on if we let them have that space. So it was decided that processing wasn’t confidential and was not covered under attorney client privilege and did away with that.”

“Is that what they are protesting when they talk about due process then? That this wasn’t the first process?”

“Not exactly, but that’s close enough.”

They walked to the next check point and scanned their badges.

She looked down a long hallway that ended with a guard station. The guard behind the glass gave them a little half salute, half wave to acknowledge their presence. “That’s Garcia. I will introduce when we go by. This is our medium security sector. Behind each one of the closed doors is an inmate. If the cell is empty the door is latched open like this one here. Unless we are at capacity we keep the two cells closest to the door empty. It’s not really necessary, they are extremely secure, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”

She looked in to the empty cell. One bed, one sink, one squat toilet. The bed was on one wall with the toilet on the opposite the sink in-between, they were approximately 3 feet wide. Everything appeared to be molded to the floor or wall.

“One piece construction. They are formed and shaped before installation. That way there are no parts that can be disassembled and formed in to weapons. We know how crafty these guys can be. We don’t want to give them any opportunity to try out their skills.”

As they walked down the corridor she could hear some muffled sounds coming from behind the closed doors. “Who are they talking to?”

“Themselves. Some of them pray but you know they aren’t really true believers in anything but destruction so I prefer to think that no god would listen to them anyway.”

“Do they ever try to talk to you?”

“Some do. Some will definitely try to talk to you. You’re new. You’re young. They will assume they can charm you. Catch you off guard. Maybe engender some sympathy. They’ll try. Don’t let them.”

“Absolutely not. I learned about some of their techniques in my criminal justice studies.”

“There is a difference between reading about them and having them used against you. Keep that in mind. Garcia! Good to see you. This is Smithfield, she’s our newbie. She starts full time tomorrow. Will be training with Stanley for her first rotation.”

“Nice to meet you, welcome to the team. Getting the full tour today?”

“Second tour actually. I was able to come with my class first year to see the back area before it went in to service.”

“Ah, there you go. So you’re an old pro now.” Garcia gave her a wink and then buzzed them through to the next section of the building.

There were open shower areas lining one side of the space and a door on the opposite wall. “This is the commons area for showering. They get one a week whether they want it or not. They stay shackled during their showers so you will never be in any danger. Same procedure as when they are being processed. If they try anything lewd or otherwise inappropriate they know that they will not be returning to their nice comfy cell but will be put in to small holding. They usually don’t go to small holding more than once. The door leads to the kitchen areas. Food is not prepared on site, but delivered through there. We pick up the trays and deliver them to the holding cells. The trays are paper. It’s not as good for the environment as they would be if they were plastic and reusable however they degrade quickly and provide no opportunity to be weaponized. They get no silverware. Everything can and will be eaten with their hands. They get water from the sink to drink. “

She nodded. It was a lot of information to take in. She was the most uncomfortable with the open shower area. They showed many videos while she was in school to try and desensitize them to the naked prisoners but she had never completely gotten over feeling a little embarrassed. She knew it would just take time. One of her professors would say, “Think of them as the animals they are capable of being. Not any different than washing your dog.” She hoped that would help.

“This is the final scanner. You scan your badge first, then this will open,” there was a section of the wall that was slightly different than the rest, “This is the retinal scanner. Once you are clear the door will slide open and you will have 2 second to get through the opening before it closes down again. Move quick.”

She nodded, “Are there many still being held there?”

“Some. Mostly they are dying off now. Some of those from our medium security areas do get moved here occasionally. If they are disruptive. But the majority are from before the sweeps. These are the offenders from before we went to preventative measures. They’ve had the opportunity to follow their nature so we keep them away from the others. Now, the rest are just as dangerous. Don’t ever get complacent. You’ve seen the stats.”

And she had. Before the sweeps were put in place it had been undeniable they were needed. It had just taken awhile for everyone to realize that it was the truth. That dangerous men were going to be dangerous no matter how kind hearted you tried to be. She mentally went down the check lists as she had done in school. No matter how you broke down the statistics, socio-economic, geographical, race, religion, age, it didn’t matter. The majority of crime was committed by men. Seventy-five percent of all crime committed by 50% of the population. And if you adjusted for violent crimes then the number increased to 98%. When the majority of the clear headed women accepted this, when the not all men are criminals crowd was finally drowned out by the rational voices of not all men are criminals but almost all criminals are men. Well then the changes started happening. The internment camps were set up. Then facilities like this one to provide more secure holding areas. Cloning was perfected so even their base need to population was no longer needed. This way was best. Anyone could see that. Crime was down. You couldn’t argue with statistics.

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