The Sun magazine, Charlotte, North Carolina, published a clip I sent in response to an article in Readers Write.
That was a decade or so ago. In the published clip, I shared about the experience I wrote about in response to the Quora question: Is it true that people get sprayed with water in prison when they first get there?
No, not during any of my experiences. However, this did happen:
In the Georgia prison system, at the Georgia Diagnostics and Classification Center, in Jackson, new arrivals were sat in a chair and then asked, “How do you want it cut?” referring to the hair on our heads.
After a moment of appearing to listen (for the effect of the joke), the inmate Barber would smile before using hair clippers to cut it down to the scalp. “Oops, I got a little too close,” he might say, a smirk on his face.
Then came the degrading and humiliating part:
All prisoners were stripped of all clothing, and then sprayed with bug poison under the arms and testicles, before the “Turn around and bend over and cock ’em.”
We would have to turn around, bend over and spread the cheeks to be sprayed with the bug poison.
Upon completion of the licing process, then followed a group shower, another aspect of Prison Life I didn’t find enjoyable, but no one ever knew that because I wore my Bullet Proof, Tough Guy Mask.
Prisoners shout various Early Warning Codes to forewarn others. I recently learned that at some Georgia prisons, the Early Warning Code is “Twelve,” which I learned on Quora.com. At one prison, other men used Top Rock or Bottom Rock to indicate where the staff member walked (top or bottom tier).
The reason an inmate may shout that (12) is because, for instance, that a correctional officer or staff member enters a living area at the “12 O’clock” position, or that “12” is just one of the many “Early Warning Codes” used.
Staff may exhibit the same behavior, after getting used to prisoners using the Early Warning Code to let others know they’re on the prowl.
In the early Eighties I was at the Georgia State Prison (GSP) in Reidsville (The Great White Elephant), where the first version of “The Longest Yard” was filmed that starred Burt Reynolds. We used “Fire in the Hole” as our Early Warning Code to forewarn others that a correctional officer or staff member was entering the cellblock/living area.
Several staff members would walk in the door and shout, “Fire in the Hole.”
That may be because, in 1982, a federal monitor said that the Federal government had declared the prison as the most dangerous prison in the United States. Vincent N., the Federal Monitor appointed to monitor the prison for compliance with a Federal lawsuit (Guthrie v. Evans), made the claim of which I still challenge as factually incorrect.
I was an inmate representative in reformation process, voted in by my peers to represent the Whites for mediation during racial and legal disputes (to help resolve issues without killing each other and to help get the prison in compliance with the court orders).
I said, “How can we be the most violent prison when more people got killed in the New Mexico prison?”
“That was during a time of riot,” he said. “We’re talking about a time of non-riot. During a general run of the prison, y’all had thirty-five inmate-to-officer attacks, fifty inmate-to-inmate attacks, and six-murders.”
I suspect that because of the extreme level of violence, most staff members did not want to walk up on prisoners doing something illegal or unauthorized, which would require an un-favored response that may result in another staff assault.
In the past, one correctional officer had been robbed and killed by prisoners. One prisoner removed a watch from his arm as he lay dying on the floor from a heart attack.
During my four-year stay at GSP, a male correctional officer was raped by a prisoner, of whom the prisoner had put a knife to his throat and pulled him into the cell, where the unthinkable happened.
The era of violence at that prison ended. Reorganization resulted in the reduced violence, as the more dangerous prisoners are more closely monitored and controlled.
But I am sure there are still those who will shout whatever the trending “Early Warning” signal may be for a staff member entering the area.