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Archive for April, 2015

Behind The Fence

About five inmates were standing in a group about 50 feet from the rear sally port. Monk had his football pool sheet writing down names as the inmates made their bets. They were oblivious to the three officers standing in a group about 200 yards away. They already knew that they were rookies and just paid them no mind. Neither did they notice Frank Smith standing behind them looking over their shoulders. He stood there a while and then just reached in and took the football pool sheet out of Monk’s hand.

“Monk you know better than this, and right in front of those new officers.  Get out of here before I lock up every one of you.” Frank said.

They all left but Monk and he waited to the other inmates got far enough away then asked Frank:

“Mr. Smith can I have my paper back please.”

“What paper, get on out of here Monk.” Replied Frank.

“Come on Mr. Smith, all them guys will say they won Ifn I don’t have the pool.” Monk said sheepishly

“You should have thought about that before you disrespected those new officers like that, now get out of here before I lock you up Monk.”

You can’t spend 30 years in the correction system without collecting a gold mine of stories. Some are even funny at times. Life behind the fence is a constant battle fighting boredom. Older Inmates down for the long count find ways to combat that and find a quieter life while the younger ones are always cooking up something. They figure it is their job to beat the system and we know it is our job to catch them. I have worked thousands of inmates in maintenance and construction and have seen many come and go like Monk. He burned his bridges on the outside and therefore received no financial help from family or friends. Gambling became his only source of income.

Now days inmates are not allowed to have paper money on the compound. What money the inmates get from family is in a bank and they are given that much credit at the canteen. That doesn’t stop the gambling though, because they just adapted to the change. But when Monk was running the football pool inmates had cash. Later that day Monk came to Frank again.

“Mr. Smith, would you please give me my paper, I need it bad. You know what these guys will do. I have no proof who gave what.”

“Monk, what paper? I don’t know what you are talking about.”

That afternoon the Lieutenant call Frank and ask Frank what was up with Monk. He said that he just checked in to Administrated Confinement. He said that he was in fear of his life. Frank told him and they had a good laugh. But that was not the end of Monk or his gambling. He became famous betting on his fighting spiders. That was another big deal with the inmates. I can’t tell you how many spider boxes that came out of my maintenance shop over the years. Inmates love their spiders and Monk had his favorite. Frank and I were talking the other day reminiscing about the old days, (we have been together most of my 30 Years with the department), and he was telling me that one time Monk was bragging about a praying mantis that he caught and he was going to let his prize fighting spider fight him. Later when Frank saw him he ask about how the fight went. With tears in his eyes Monk said.

“Mr. Smith that thing ate my spider.”

He lost money that day. But it was just another day trying to relieve the boredom. Gambling caused as much grief in prison as it does on the street. In a society of crooks playing fair could be a liability. However, old Monk was a true enthusiasts and his strategies are still talked about today.

I plan to blog more about “Behind the Fence,” and my next one will be on Krispy Critter king of the “Buck” makers…

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