We Don’t Need the Short Leash

On January 12th, at 10:28 pm, most of the the cells on the second tier of A unit at WSR opened. The doors were not closed again until roughly 10:40 pm when c/o’s went cell to cell with keys to manually close the doors. I know this because I live in cell A-338 and the cells that opened are directly below me. I heard the doors rack open and saw a couple people standing in open doorways reflected in the widows across from our cells.

What makes this newsworthy is from 8:45pm each night till 6:30am each morning the only reason cell doors are supposed to open is for an emergency, like someone having a medical issue or a fire.

This is important because everyone simply stayed in their cells after poking their heads out to try an figure out what was going on. When there was no apparent danger, they simply returned to bed, reading, watching TV, or whatever it was they happened to be doing before the doors opened.

The Wa DOC likes to pretend that the only thing standing between us “evil offenders” and chaos is their employees, when the truth is it is the employees of the Wa DOC who cause more harm and chaos that any of the people incarcerated in Washington state. Those doors didn’t “just open by themselves” through some mystical computer error. They opened because the booth officer was dinkin’ around on the computer and hit the wrong button.

The most common reason we, as incarcerated people, are told that we can’t have something or do something is due to “safety and security.” The list of things we are not allowed to do is mind bogglingly foolish and petty. Here’s some examples of things which are disallowed due to “safety and security”:

  • No writing people who are incarcerated in other prisons including people incarcerated in places outside the US
  • No owning construction paper in the following colors: red, green, light blue, or pink.
  • No receiving used books, including used books from a school, church, or charity.
  • No purchasing property or religious items from any business other than Union Supply.
  • No purchasing curio supplies from somewhere other than the very short list of approved vendors, with 2-3 vendors per curio and the only curios are: drawing/painting, macrame/knitting, beading, sewing, and music. Meaning I can’t use my drawing curio to buy school supplies from Office Depot.
  • No internet access, or modern technology. Everything we can get is at least 10-20 years out of date. As in, even if the a laptop has a clear plastic case, key-logger, security software out the wazoo, and has had its networking card physically removed, I still can’t have it.
  • No giving property to other incarcerated folks, even if it is one’s release date or if it is bequeathed in a will.
  • No sharing food or cooking together.
  • No speaking to someone that is an outside volunteer at the prison after release without the Wa DOC’s express permission.
  • No talking on the phone instead of going to a meal.
  • No hugging, holding hands, or showing affection towards another person, regardless of if they are incarcerated or an outside volunteer.
  • No jackets to be warn to meals, even when the chow hall is 7 degrees Centigrade (45 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • No having meetings of any sort without an outside volunteer to babysit.

All of these things are “officially” disallowed for reasons of “safety and security” when the real reason they are disallowed is because the Wa DOC is scared that left to our own devices we might end up rehabilitating ourselves and really show the world just how pointless their jobs really are. And they can’t have that. The suicide rate for c/o’s after retirement is way too high to allow them to accept that all the harms they cause serves no purpose. That in the middle of the night when no one is watching, incarcerated people have the ability to do the right thing on our own without anyone telling us what that is.

Amazing, isn’t it? Its almost as if we’re human beings or something, as opposed to the animals the Wa DOC claims we are.


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