By Anarchist Prisoner Sean Swain
(Editor’s note: Sean Swain is allegedly currently restricted from interacting with general population due to the MLK Day prison strikes. He’s been placed on “half range” for yard time, and he believes his mail is being withheld).
MLK DAY ON EMERGENCY LOCKDOWN: HOW THE POLICY OF PUTTING PRISON OPERATIONS INTO THE HANDS OF JUST ANY RANDOM, FUCKIN’ MORON LEADS TO CHAOS AND PREDICTABLE, PREVENTABLE VIOLENCE, DEATH, AND SUICIDE
I should begin with a disclaimer: I’m no fan of the prison industrial complex. I’m no bigger fan of the fuckweasels who cannot find real jobs and get stuck operating the prison industrial complex. While I have done everything in my power to get away from them, they have done everything in their power to keep me around, indicating they are much bigger fans of mine than I am of theirs.
Still, all that being said, and with all of my personal biases disclosed, Warren Corruptional Institution is under the control of an absolute and irremediable moron.
Consider, in 2013, I transferred to Ohio’s super-duper-max. When there, I wrote a scathing critique of OSP Physician James Kline for holding me hostage in the medical dungeon but, apart from assigning the warden the nickname “Jay Lowdown,” and apart from making fun of his cheesy moustache (that he soon had the sense to shave), I had no reason to criticize Jay Lowdown. Then, when I transferred to Shitville, a.k.a., Lucasville, I described how some of the corrections staff attended the Klan Lynchfest and Crab-Cake Bake-Off, but I don’t recall so much as even mentioning the name of the warden. I don’t know if I ever even learned his name.
I met him once. Seemed okay, you know, for an official who would have me shot off the fence if I tried to go home, I guess.
My point is: I generally make it a point not to try to skewer the warden of any given prison, particularly when I’m in his direct custody and he can fuck my life in a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree full-spectrum mind-fuck. But I think I gotta make an exception for Chae Harris, a.k.a., Shady Three-Eighty.
Shady Three-Eighty’s absolute ineptitude is going to get people killed.
If nobody else is going to provide a detailed account, it looks like I’m stuck doing it. So, here goes…
First, some background: Warren Corruptional is a level 3 shit-hole, which means it’s between the security classification of maximum (level 4) and medium (level 2). It stands to reason, then, that the prisoners held here are generally less dangerous than maximum security prisoners at Shitville and are more dangerous than prisoners at the wide variety of Level 2 prisons.
Warren opened during the prison boom in the years when Governor George Voinovich gave gravy multi-million-dollar prison construction contracts to his in-laws. Warren, Lorain, Corrections Reception Center, Mansfield, Franklin Medical Center, Trumbull, Richland, Belmont, Noble, and maybe a few more I’ve forgotten were all built within a few years. I think Warren officially opened in 1989.
Folks who come to visit are pleasantly surprised when they look out onto the prison compound. Apart from the bars on the windows, when you look at the sloping hills and the flowers in front of the buildings, or the green park bench out in the expanse of lawn, you might just mistake this place for a campus, you might just mistake the housing blocks for college dorms.
This is not a campus. And these are not college dorms.
Early in its existence, prisoners generally ran everything. Unit sergeants had their prisoner clerks and those clerks ran the business of the prison blocks, including arrangements for cell moves and other daily business. Recreation, library, the chow hall– all run by prisoner clerks. This was to the benefit of both the fuckweasels who were in charge of the prison and to the benefit of the prisoners. The fuckweasels came in to work and drank coffee all day, having to do little to no work at all; prisoners generally took care of matters much better than the staff would, serving better food (and more of it) and keeping the population’s needs generally satisfied.
In the early 1990s, Ohio prison fascists re-invented how to run a prison, certain they had developed ideas that nobody else had possibly considered in the last three hundred years of the history of prison. They instituted a “unit management” model, where unit manager and case manager civilians and other civilians took over the daily management of every aspect of the prison– from life in the blocks to the chow hall to the operation of the quartermaster and commissary. By this new vision, the prison system introduced hundreds of middle-managers who quickly developed methods for doing as little as possible for the prisoners they quickly grew to secretly despise, and prisoners were wholly and completely disempowered, reduced to little more than cattle.
Very much like cattle in a cattle operation, in fact.
During this period, Level 3 prisoners at Warren had a great deal of relative freedom. First thing in the morning, cell doors were unlocked and left open until count; after count, doors were left open again through lunch until the next count; then, doors were left open through dinner and until lock-down at 9:00 pm. Prisoners had the run of the day-rooms, the use of the phones, access to the prison compound to go to recreation or to the library.
According to prisoners who were here during that period, there existed very little disruption. The prison ran itself. Apart from the occasional fight– something that is a fixture in prison life –Warren was an easy place to serve time and was a gravy assignment for staff who wanted to do their thirty years and retire.
Fast-forward and Gary Mohr, former chief lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America– a predatory profiteer corporation turning criminals into stock options –became the Director of the Ohio Department of Retribution and Corruption. Mohr, who knows about as much about the social science behind rehabilitating offenders as I know about coaching figure-skating, decided that he too had brilliant ideas never previously pondered in three hundred years of prisons.
Mohr, with great imaginative powers, decided that what prisons lacked was proper punishment, the infliction of necessary consequences for misconduct. If only the prisons were more punitive, if only the deprivations were harsher, the prisons would produce better people.
So, Mohr implemented a program of ideological targeting and mind-control, domestic torture, and a draconian system he called the “Three Tier System.” The Three Tier System essentially rounded up those determined to be the behavior problems at every security level and placed them into even more severe deprivations. But, the most determinative aspect of this– something that Mohr and his experts never contemplated –is that all of those who were determined to be behavior problems would be separated from those who were not and would be housed with all of the other behavior problems.
At Warren Correctional, this led to four of the twelve housing units being dedicated to the 3B prisoners, the behavior problems– all grouped together.
As I predicted when this system was implemented, the Three Tier system would lead to more violence and disruption; rather than distributing prisoners with anger management problems and other triggers evenly throughout the population, the Three Tier system was cramming them together in the same small tuna can, right in each others’ faces. At Warren, this led to more violence, not less. In fact, by the time I arrived here in August 2015, what was supposed to be “normal operations” rarely occurred anymore. Lockdowns were more the norm than anything. Prisoners with gang files were housed in the behavior-problem blocks, forced to be in close proximity to opposing gang members.
Violence sky-rocketed. In response to the violence, Warren Correctional imposed more serious deprivations and punishments, extended the amount of time that behavior-problems had to stay in the behavior-problem blocks… which led to even more violence.
The thing about prison officials like wardens and directors is this: They can never perceive when they themselves are the problem.
Even after the Three Tier system was scrapped, Warren Correctional population’s freedom of movement was far more tightly restricted than it ever was in the relatively calm years of the 1990s. Programs were scrapped, except on paper. Every new change to policy was more restrictive, more punitive.
One of Chae Harris’ first acts as warden was to recommend the banning of ‘Last Act of the Circus Animals’ because, rather than seeing the panther as an example of empowerment, he saw the example of the panther as a threat to his despotic power. He then replaced hundreds of perfectly workable porcelain toilets from the housing units and replaced them with steel toilets that could be wired to electronic flush-timers.
Chae Harris was on such a security trip that he wanted to control prisoners’ bowel movements. Really. He then paid out $6.5 million to put new electronic locking boxes on the outsides of the cells, even though the cell doors came with locks and had worked just fine for nearly thirty years. Last, he replaced all the showers with new systems that also work on a timer, so that you may have to stand around for sixty seconds in between each blast of water before you can get the water to work again.
These are all features you find in segregation at other prisons.
Chae Harris– Shady Three-Eighty –has essentially turned population at Warren Correctional into an open-air segregation unit, clamping down and getting more punitive every time his last clamp-down results in more predictable violence.
And the result of all of this has been more violence.
According to the Corrections Institution Inspection Committee, Warren Correctional is now the second-most violent prison in Ohio– second only to Shitville –which means Warren is more violent than the super-duper-max or any other level 3 prison.
Check out the correlation here: Warren is the most restrictive Level 3 prison, and it is the most violent.
So, the solution, of course, in the mind of Shady Three-Eighty, is to make things more restrictive.
Rumors had spread in December 2017 that Shady Three-Eighty was looking for an excuse to cut dayroom access in half, essentially limiting day-room time to one period a day– which is half of the day-room time that prisoners at Level 4 at the Ohio State Penitentiary receive. Shady Three-Eighty, running a Level 3 prison, filled with Level 3 prisoners, had already decided that he would have to provide less freedom to Level 3 prisoners than a Level 4 prison provided to Level 4 prisoners.
The implication being, of course, that the Level 3 prisoners at Warren are somehow more dangerous than the Level 4 prisoners at Ohio’s super-max prison.
The first weekend in the New Year, the electricity went out at two in the morning. As a consequence, the perimeter fence sensors also went down and that required a lockdown. By Saturday night, tensions had boiled over and a gang fight involving as many as a dozen prisoners erupted in the middle of the compound while “controlled movement” was happening. This gang violence was the opportunity that Shady Three-Eighty was looking for.
Violence became the excuse to extend the lockdown that had already bred the violence. And the extended lockdown bred more violence. By Monday, outbreaks of sporadic violence in the movements to and from chow were epidemic, as prisoners used the only moments of fresh air out of the cell to expend their pent-up rage.
No one was perplexed at this except for prison administrators.
So, after several days of lockdowns and increasing violence, the prison’s “gang coordinators” got involved and called together the leaders of various prison gangs in an effort to bring about peace.
The irony of course is that prison administrators have, over time, imposed such a complete control system in the illusion that they possess control and can unilaterally dictate to the prisoners how it is going to be… and when the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan, those same prison administrators, powerless to bring the consequences of their own fuck-ups to an end, come and get the prison’s gang leaders in the hopes that those prison gang leaders will bail them out.
This is what happens when those exercising power feel no need to consult those they rule, or to even consider the implications of their own policies. This is easily demonstrated by comparing Warren in the 1990s when violence was minimal and administrators exerted very little control, and Warren now, when administrators exert control even over prisoner bowel movements with million-dollar computerized flush-timers but prison violence is off the charts.
It would seem that Shady Three-Eighty is his own worst enemy.
The day after the administration brought gang leaders to the peace talks and a fragile peace was seemingly established, Shady Three-Eighty took five of those prisoners whose assistance they had just solicited and tossed them on a bus to Level 4. That is, the gang leaders who helped establish a tentative peace had their security raised and were punished by a transfer to higher security, shipped off in twenty-four hours.
No good deeds go unpunished.
The rumored reason for these drastic measures is that those gang leaders had proposed that their members who had been placed in segregation should be released since they did not initiate the violence. These leaders, in loyalty to their members, made the extended peace contingent upon the release of their members back to population, letting by-gones be by-gones. After the administration agreed, Shady and his goons engaged in treachery and tossed the gang leaders onto a bus to Shitville.
Again, these prison fascists with fragile egos saw the gang leaders’ reasonable positions as “demands” and therefore had to crush those gang leaders’ sense of their own power to issue “demands.”
Do I need to tell you what happened next?
We can presume that the groups whose leadership was exiled were thrown into temporary disarray as they re-grouped and re-structured, but in addition, every single gang on the compound was left to wonder if the temporary peace would hold… and the administration itself lost all credibility with every single group that had sat down at that negotiating table. It was clear to everyone involved that when Shady Three-Eighty’s administration calls for negotiation, they really aren’t calling for negotiations at all. It’s their way or the highway.
Shady Three-Eighty’s sense of his unilateral importance is higher priority to him than an end to the violence.
Actions speak louder than words.
It would almost seem that Shady Three-Eighty’s real agenda is to keep the violence going so that he can impose the even-stricter regimen that he had wanted to impose anyway, the stricter regimen that he temporarily imposed when the violence erupted. It would almost seem that Shady Three-Eighty deliberately provoked a tense situation and made it more tense.
In fact, in support of this, after the peace talks and the emergency transfer of those who had helped to establish the peace, the Special Response Team goons– SRTs –never left the compound. The SRT goons, dressed in Vietnam-era olive-drab army-surplus uniforms and sporting plastic paint-ball guns reconfigured to fire pepper-spray pellets, stalked around the compound and congregated in intimidating groups around the chow hall, mean-mugging the population. Their paint-ball guns look like AK-47 replicas and they hold them just like the heroes of the recent war movies they’ve watched on NetFlix. None of these goons wear any identification whatsoever, and for all the prisoners know, they could be members of the French Foreign Legion or some kind of United Nations envoy from Lego Land.
Given everything this administration did to sabotage it, do I have to tell you that the peace didn’t last?
It didn’t last.
It wasn’t supposed to last.
It was supposed to fail.
Another dynamic to consider in all of this, a dynamic that would give prison officials pause if they had my social science degree and my bona fide qualifications for their jobs (not that I would ever take their jobs if offered), is this: When the administration imposes the half-range restrictive regimen every time violence breaks out, they create a situation where being in population here is really not so different from being in segregation or being at Level 4. In fact, segregation gets more access to communications and Level 4 at OSP is less restrictive than here. So, acting out– engaging in the violence that Shady Three-Eighty pretends he wants to stop –gets rewarded.
As anyone with the social science degrees (that these prison mismanagers don’t have) can tell you, any time you decrease the differences between the punishment and the reward, you increase the likelihood of deviance. Any time you create greater difference between the reward and the punishment, you decrease the likelihood of deviance. Here, with the so-called “punishment” level not so much worse than being in population (and, in some regards, actually being better), Shady Three-Eighty has essentially rewarded violence.
And, given that anyone who assists in establishing peace gets tossed on a bus to Shitville, Shady Three-Eighty has burned his bridges and has essentially guaranteed that gang leaders with any sense will do nothing more than sit down and tell his goons what they want to hear… while continuing the ongoing conflicts.
This means that the escalating and continuing violence has been shaped and honed into something inevitable, not by the prisoners, but by the prison mismanagers– Shady
Three-Eighty and company.
This violence that they have made inevitable then justifies their more-punitive and restrictive regimen, a regimen where the prisoner spend more time trapped in their cells than the Level 4 prisoners at OSP. This is done under the pretext that such restrictions are necessary to “prevent the violence.” Of course, this is probably the opposite of what will actually happen.
Consider, the new restrictive regimen that Shady Three-Eighty is working so hard to impose is not so different than the segregation regimen at Mansfield that led to a rash of suicides, or the regimen at Level 5 at OSP that led to large numbers of suicides, as prisoners cannot so easily adjust to the lack of social interaction. What I am predicting is that, by provoking unnecessary violence and sabotaging the chances for peace, Shady Three-Eighty is ushering in a restrictive program that will predictably lead to an inordinate increase in suicides.
Further, and predictably, the violence will not decrease. The violence will continue, as prisoners will be forced to share a cell-space the size of a bathroom for as many as twenty hours per day. Consider, prisoners are not provided the luxury of picking cell-mates. Cells are assigned at random draw and the prison is essentially at two hundred percent capacity, with two prisoners to each cell that were designed for single occupancy.
At Toledo, when single cells were doubled up and Level 3 prisoners were forced to spend large amounts of time locked down, the rate of violence was off the charts. Toledo broke the state’s record for the number of murders in a single year… and then prison mismanagers came to the conclusion that Toledo needed its population reduced to single-man cells again… and the level of violence again decreased.
If only prison mismanagers had my social science degree and knew what I know, all those prisoners at Toledo would not have had to get beaten to death in order to determine that double-celling would drastically increase the rate of violence there. In fact, I predicted what would happen before it happened.
And I make a prediction now, based on what is already obvious to everyone using their heads for something other than hat-racks: Shady Three-Eighty is going to sabotage peace and continue to provoke violence until he can justify his new, punitive, restrictive regimen; and that new regimen will lead to drastic increases in suicides and in prisoners assaulting and killing their cellmates. The “solution” to the “problem” will be far worse than the problem.
Who knows? With Shady Three-Eighty at the helm, Warren Correctional may even surpass Shitville to become the single-most violent prison in all of Ohio. He might kill more of his captives through ineptitude than anyone else in the history of ineptitude.
Want to stop Shady Three-Eighty’s reign of incompetence?
Share your concerns with the office of ODRC Director Gary Mohr: (614) 752-1164
Governor Kasich: (614) 466-3555 or (614) 466-9354
Corrections Institution Inspection Committee (614) 466-6649
Representative Hearcel Craig (614) 466-8010
Representative Doug Green (614) 644-6034