No Fuss, Even Though It Is Your Stuff

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by Frederick Dew

On some yards, it happens annually. In some prisons, it is done monthly. By some standards, it should be done weekly. In many buildings, it is done daily. They look in the book, and hopefully, you get off the hook. You may be missed from time to time. However, eventually, the dreaded day arrives. This day does not discriminate, it has no bias toward race, gender, or religion, and no matter if you have been incarcerated for 30 mins or 30 years your turn arrives. From the snowy mountains of High Desert to the hot deserted lands of Iron Wood you will be touched and impacted. The intruders arrive in badge shirts, green shirts, and if you really going to be victimized, look for the black shirt. They call it random, but as time goes by, you realize it is mainly targeted. Therefore, when you are the target, “do not fuss, even though it is your stuff’, it is only a cell search.”

There is this moment when your stomach clinches and your heart begins to—race. When you hear the keys coming in your direction.  The jingle gets louder and without hesitation, you immediately get off your bunk to see, what is going on? Then that dreaded moment hits you like a punch in the boxing ring. Your senses alarm began to go off, “Intruder alert, Intruder alert.” They have the papers in hand and that vindictive grin, yet stoic look in their eyes that says, “Bad boy, Bad boy, what you gone do, we coming for you!” They arrive, and the door pops open. The violation and shame began. Squat and cough, hand over all your clothing and shoes, and then go out in your boxers and t-shirt. It does not matter if it is 110 degrees or 30 degrees, the walk of shame and degradation commences.

It could be the one with 25 years or the one with 2 years; they enter in your place of rest and invade, piece by piece, and space by space. Every box that you have beneath your bunk is pulled out. Each item of food is lifted, moved, and inspected to see if there is any contraband. If that was not enough, then they go to the shelf and the same process is done. If you have changed any casings, bottles, or consolidated any products, they can be confiscated or just discarded. This process can last from 10 min to 2 hrs or 3 hrs. No regard to one’s need to eat; take medication, use of the restroom, or discomfort of being almost naked. The icing on this stale cake, the mold on this white bread, and the cottage cheese in this milk is, they leave your resting place looking as though a Tsunami hit it, and the victims should be grateful that it was not worse.

I took the opportunity to ask a fellow incarcerated citizen about their experience with these home invasions. I shared with him my experience to bring comfort to the conversation, and to my surprise, his experience and perspective was very different. He stated, “I appreciate the fact that they do the cell searches, this way people won’t be stocking up weapons, and all kind of unnecessary contraband.” This view was understandable, but it also felt a little outdated. This invasion of one’s privacy and violation of one’s property can be very stressful and overwhelming, which can lead to an environment of hostility and violence. A procedure that is viewed differently by various inmates may never change, so despite the so-called random invasions, each incarcerated citizen must press forward. No matter how this process makes one feel, the bottom line is, “No fuss, even though it is my stuff’!”

About The Author

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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