A noun, “jail” can be turned into a verb, “to jail” or “jailing,” which means knowing how to navigate your environment while incarcerated. Those skilled in “jailing” rarely have a problem with C.O.s (corrections officers) since they know the rules — both those that are written down and those that have come to be accepted practice — and know how to stay within the boundaries of what is considered acceptable behavior. It’s not that they might not break the rules, but if they do they know how to do so without getting caught.
One thing is for sure about incarceration at any level: It ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun.
Some C.O.s are without a doubt the scum of the earth. They were that way when they got hired. Others turned into pieces of shit after being in a corrections environment for too long. Throughout history, more thoughtful philosophers have cautioned against giving some people power over the lives of other people. It can turn them into monsters.
The situation is of course exacerbated by the mental conditions and physical illnesses of prisoners. These are not folks most of us would care to invite over for dinner. Take the case of Chantelle Glass, who says that she thought she was going to die the Cuyahoga County jail, where she was being detained over an unpaid traffic ticket.
Her “request” to make a phone call after she was booked into the jail last year set off a series of events that are now causing her to file a lawsuit against the county and the jailers. Two of the C.O.s involved in the incident was recently charged with violating Glass’ civil rights so it will be up to the judicial system to sort out the truth of the encounter. Prosecutors allege the C.O.s strapped her to a restraint chair, punched her and shot pepper spray in her face.
Glass, a mother of three children, suffers from asthma and could barely breathe during the two hours the officers left her tied to the chair in a small, isolated cell as the pepper spray burned her lungs.
How did Glass end up in that chair? Well, she got arrested on an outstanding warrant when police were called by her mother to intervene in a fight between Glass and her sister. That must have been some fight. So when the warrant popped up, she was arrested.
I won’t pretend that I could know Ms. Glass’ state of mind at the time of her arrest, but a fight that was so violent that the cops had to be called provides some indication. The mother probably should have called the cops on herself, considering the obviously poor job she did as a parent. Chantelle Glass obviously has no respect for the law; otherwise, she would not have had an outstanding warrant. And just as obviously, she had to be in a high state of agitation after the fight with her sister. The C.O.s probably should have isolated her until she calmed down, but seemingly they tried that and she kept banging on the walls demanding to make a phone call.
True, C.O.s are supposed to allow a person to make a phone call, but I’m not sure if there’s a hard and fast time frame for that to occur. Some prisoners indeed feel that guards are little more than concierges, but they’re not. They are not going to jump and do something because a prisoner is upset, and neither would you. Should the C.O.s have handled the situation differently? Of course. But that goes for Chantelle Glass also.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.