This is something that I thought would have been a bigger issue when coming to prison.
I guess I was judging a book by its cover and I just assumed that the entire prison population is and will always be thieving pieces of trash. But, other than a few isolated incidents, which you are going to have anywhere, theft really isn’t much of a problem.
I just had a new officer the other day ask my roommates and me why we don’t lock our lockers, as if we should be concerned about our fellow inmates. I guess he had the same preconceived notion that I had before coming to prison. I responded that I don’t lock my locker because as far as I see it, the only one that might take anything out is him or one of his co-workers. He smirked and went on his way.
Of course in seven years or so of doing time you are going to have a theft issue, and I was no exception to the rule. The first time was when I was in Milan, Michigan and I lived in this back room with sixteen other inmates. The entire unit was an open dorm setting where there were just a bunch of bunk beds out in the open formed into cubes but all it took was being about 5’6″ tall and you could see into the next bunk, and the next bunk, and…you get the idea.
However, in our unit, there was a room that was once used as a pool hall for playing billiards.
The tables had long since been removed but the signage on the wall had not. It read, “don’t lean pool sticks against the wall,” and “no smoking.” Although I would have loved to shoot some pool, I was still thankful for the additional privacy that we were able to gain by living in this room and not out with the rest of the unit. Some people lived in our unit for months or even years and didn’t know our little piece of heavenly real estate even existed.
We became somewhat of a tight-knit group back there. Most were brothers from Detroit, Chicago, and various cities in Ohio, but I was accepted as their “crazy-ass white boy,” who wasn’t afraid to jump in with their banter. While they were shooting craps I would jump in and start yelling, “4- 5 yam” and “ooh I said Nat up” and the room would erupt with laughter. I still don’t know what either of those sayings meant but it didn’t stop me from saying them to get a rise out of the guys.
I found out that not everyone in the back room viewed me as an equal and that an individual decided to start helping himself to different store items from my locker. I didn’t notice it at first and then I started to think maybe I am going crazy and then a whole bag of granola went missing and I knew it was something else.
I mentioned it to a couple of the other guys in the backroom and they said, “We will handle it” and they did. Within a day the suspected culprit was apprehended and brought to justice. I guess nobody likes a thief because they shamed and moved their homeboy out of the backroom within days. I never had another issue in Milan.
I wish that luck would have continued throughout the rest of my prison time, but all good things must come to an end, or so I hear. My luck ran out one day when I was living down in the drug program unit and all of a sudden my MP3 player went missing. Mine was the second one stolen and about ten more followed after. There are charging stations that are positioned around the unit, so we can charge our MP3 players, in the TV rooms on the back wall, in the study room, and in the computer rooms.
You would think more often people would help themselves to the free merchandise but it’s only a bad apple from time to time that decides to start gutting other people’s MP3s for parts. All of our MP3 players are programmed to our names and prison numbers, it says both when it turns on and officers will check during shakedowns to make sure we only possess our own, and these devices only work on our computers where we have to re-validate every 14 days. So even if someone took someone else’s it would only be of any use for as long as the device is valid. But like I said there are other uses and that is parts.
So, a number of MP3 players went missing and I was unlucky contestant number two. I was pissed, irrational thoughts raced through my head and I wanted nothing more than to catch someone in the act of taking the next one and going back to my old ways and break my right middle knuckle again.
I eventually cooled down and the guy who was responsible eventually checked in and went to the next spot. In case you don’t know what checking in means, it’s asking the staff to remove you from the compound because you feel unsafe, most likely you screwed up somehow and people want to beat your ass. I bought a new MP3 or I should say my family did, “thanks guys” and the show went on.
The institution also installed a series of lockable compartments where you can use your combination lock to secure your device.
So I might not use my lock for what the officers initially asked me about the other day but I certainly make sure to lock up my MP3 player while I am charging it.
Because the last thing I want to do is have to buy another one before I leave.
Thanks for listening,