Jail can be one of the most dangerous places to serve time
| THINGS PRISONERS WILL DO IN JAIL
Some people who are incarcerated in jail as prisoners are known to exhibit normal, odd, strange or violent behaviors. No prisoner should be trusted. During my career working as a detention officer, I learned a world of information about human behavior. People are unpredictable and will do just about anything to escape or for getting their way while incarcerated.
I will attempt to share some true stories about what I have experienced when supervising prisoners. These prisoners and their names will not be given for confidentiality reasons. A detention officer confronts many challenges and danger in their career. I will now show you what a detention officer, prisoner or visitor can experience in a jail facility. There is hardly a day that goes by that a prisoner isn’t involved in a fight, flooding or fire in a long-term jail facility. Visitors to a jail may experience a fight between prisoners during prisoner visitation. These actions can be attributed to jail overcrowding, being locked up, anger, sexual predators, dangerous and violent prisoners, limited jail staff, training, or prisoner living conditions.
Prisoner Paul Johnson was a jail trusty who only had three days to complete County jail time before being released for time served. The jail was located on the upper ninth (9th), tenth (10th) and eleventh (11th) floor of the County building. On one evening, he talked another prisoner trusty into helping him to escape. The plan was to hide out in the fan room that was located in the kitchen on the ninth (9th) floor, and to wait until all prisoner operations and activities were completed for the day, and after all of the areas of the jail were locked down. Mr. Johnson had tied numerous bed sheets together making for a strong rope.
At approximately 8:30 that evening, all areas of the jail were locked down. He and his accomplice began to squeeze their bodies into the fan area where there was a window that led to the outside of the jail. They threw the rope of sheets out the window and climbed out onto the side of the building, slowly beginning their decent down the building nine (9) floors above the street below. As they continued down the building to about the seventh (7th) floor, something went wrong. They didn’t tie enough sheets together and were now hanging in limbo before tiring and falling to a fifth (5th) floor walkway that stretched across the street below. These prisoners lived but received severe injuries to their legs and pelvis area. They were immediately apprehended and returned to the jail for medical care. Mr. Johnson was given extra time to do for his attempted escape.
John Kelly wasn’t going to stay in jail for another minute and thought of a plan to escape. While seated on a lower bunk, he talked another prisoner into climbing on a top bunk above him while he stretched his arm out to a nearby jail bar. He then told his friend to jump directly on his arm from the upper bunk. His friend did as he said, breaking John’s arm severely. The prisoners began yelling for a detention officer’s attention so that they could report the injury. A detention officer arrived shortly with additional officers and removed John from his cell. John was taken upstairs for medical care. The nurse examined John’s arm and determined that his arm was indeed broken and needed to be sent to the hospital. What John didn’t plan on was the fact that he would be belly chained, his ankles chained in case he tried to run, and handcuffed for transport. He remained chained up throughout the transport and medical treatment. John’s idea to escape was foiled by alert detention officers who suspected John would try to escape once sent to the hospital.
Ronnie Prague was depressed and exhibited some psychological problems. One day, a loud banging noise was coming from a nearby cell. The detention officer walked over to the cell where the banging was coming from. Upon observation, he could see splatters of blood on the jail cell door, and a prisoner standing directly at the door. The detention officer called for assistance and removed the bleeding prisoner from his cell. It was then that the officer observed two number #2 pencils impaled in Prague’s lower chin area and into the roof of his mouth. Prague’s throat appeared to have been cut too. How this prisoner was able to stand up after his injuries and losing so much blood was amazing. Later, after the prisoners in his cell were questioned as well as Prague himself, it was determined that Prague had inflicted these injuries on himself, To this day, I still question Prague’s incident. I believe he had some help.
One prisoner used a home-made shank to slice the femoral artery in his leg, his privates area, his throat from ear to ear, and his wrists. He was found the next morning in a blood-saturated mattress. His wounds were ruled suicide.
These are just a few incidents that had occurred. Jails are the most dangerous places a prisoner can go to serve time or for an officer to work.
Jim Heitmeyer . Author . Writer