Bad Things Happen Quickly
Author Note: In keeping with correctional department guidelines for privacy purposes, this story is necessarily a composite of multiple events.
It's never a good thing to hear correctional officers running. Like, ever. One generally only hears their boots hit the floor if someone's hurt or about to be hurt.
The reason for this is rather simply rooted in basic human psychology: we're wired for danger. It's a survival instinct that has kept us alive as individuals and as a species for millennia.
“All available officers to Iso!”
This is where guys go when they've been more than a little naughty. It's also called “the hole”.
Any time an inmate gets busted for a major offense, that's where he goes, in cuffs. So the guys in Iso are generally going to be ill-tempered because they're either facing charges or because they've already faced charges and get to stay for a while.
So this inmate, we'll call him LJ, was in the hole while being investigated. LJ got a letter from home saying that he lost a family member to whom he was particularly close, and this was not the first to die while he was in lock up.
LJ lost it. Completely lost control. He flopped on the ground and cried his face off in a puddle.
When you're in prison, there are precious few things over which you have any control.
You're told when to eat, when to go to bed, when to wake up, when to get dressed, when to shave, when to shower, all of that. And there's no way out.
LJ was going to make a way out. He got his bedsheet and braided it up.
Early in the morning, the officer flipped on the lights and started making her rounds up and down the rows of cells in Iso—when she saw him.
“All available, all available, Iso Barracks! Bring Medical!” She'd lost it, too—for good reason.
He was hanging in his cell by his knotted up bedsheet.
An entire cadre of officers came running from throughout the unit, boots hitting the floor in a thunderous herd-like clatter. The medical team positively flew down the hallway in their sneakers.
LJ was cut down quickly from his bedsheet and CPR begun, but the damage had been done. “No pulse, Doc. Pooled blood in the extremities.” The nurse had the unit physician on the phone, giving further details. As is common in cases like this, the doctor pronounced LJ dead over the phone.
The coroner, warden, and chaplain were all called in succession after that.
The chaplain. Me. Yes, I get to call the family when things like this happen. I'm the first person to talk to them when their inmate family member passes away.
Except I wasn't.
There's an extensive black market behind bars where an inmate can get almost anything he wants. Drugs. Hooch. Tobacco. Cell phones.
Yeah, someone called the local news station from an illegal cell phone.
So I was informing the family while they were watching it live on local television.
Just so you know, that's known in chaplain jargon as a Bad Thing.
Thankfully, the family was understanding of the situation, and the local news getting on the scene before even the coroner got there was out of our control.
Proverbs 21:5 reads like this: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
Anything positive, any blessing generally takes a while to manifest. It will build slowly. But it can take a mere instant to wipe away everything, including your very life.
Be blessed, friends
Copyright 2019, Jeff Henig. All Rights Reserved.