Commentary: The Insecurity of the Secured


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By D. Razor Babb

We’re locked down, again. This time for some phantom electrical issue that’s supposed to have the power off for the next 3 days. Except, an hour into the outage, the power came back on. No complaints there, the loss of hot pots for coffee and cooking, TVs, fans, canteen, yard, etc. — conveniences that make prison living more tolerable is a major issue. But this time, we were warned about the shutdown, thus more mentally prepared for the situation. It’s not always like that.

More times than not it comes as a surprise to learn that due to a shortage of staff, staff training, some unknown obscure holiday, fog or inclimate weather, a disturbance in the rotation of the earth, or some other anomaly,  program will be shut down — meaning, go to your cells and lock it up.

No “real” reason is usually provided, after all, who do we think we are, anyway? Real people? Human beings deserving of some modicum of decency? Yeah, right.

It’s not without notice that ever since the decision to require body cameras to be worn by custody staff there has been a sudden increase in program shut downs. Ever wonder what its like to be pawns in a game of custody chaos? There are over 100,000 prisoners in California’s penal institutions who can tell you.

Those with mental and emotional health issues are the most adversely affected. And it is those with the most severe mental and emotional issues who are so overcome by distorted thinking patterns, childhood abuse and trauma, cognitive dysfunction, and anti social development patterns  are those who end up in these cages and human lock boxes.

Here, locked in our little cages, apathy and exposure to more emotional and psychological strain (and trauma) is imposed …

If you lock a dog in a cage, treat it poorly, abuse it, kick it when it’s already been subjected to a lifetime of trauma, how do you think that dog will act when it’s let out of the cage?


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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