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BCDC’s Steel Side: 13 Years Later And The Nightmares Still Come

It’s 317 a.m. EST and I am up again, cup of coffee in my hand, and shaking like a Junkie who needs a fix. I slow drag on a frog and wipe the type of my head in a backward motion trying to gain my composure, while starring glassy eyed into the T.V., but it’s not on. Then the Pacing comes. Walking back in forth from one area of the house to the next, and trying to keep my mind occupied. After a little while I get tired again and I climb back into bed. I’m good for the rest of the night. The only problem though, is these sequence of events are ongoing. The result of awakening in the dark of the night with flash backs from some horrifying stories which I am about to share with you. My days working as a Correctional Officer at the Baltimore City Detention Center are still with me as Ghost of the Past remind me of the horrors of life on The Steel Side.

Fast Rewind: J Section First Floor North Building 1995; Population Class Maximum Security

It’s Late Summer and the Steel must be 185 degrees or at least it sure felt like it. The Baltimore City Police Commissioner has implemented a Zero Tolerance Ordinance for the City, in a Campaign to show muscle targeting Violent Crimes, and trying to gain Political Points for upcoming Elections. Everybody in there Mother who gave Cops a hard time that year ended up at Central Booking. The Jail was so overcrowded that Housing Units designed to house 100 Inmates were now Holding 400. As the Population grew the Correctional Staff was cut. You had to pay some serious dues working down there in the hole where all Rookie COs start out. Who ever came up with that idea must have been Mentally Ill. I can’t dramatize it enough for you, but to make it plain, image trying to keep 400 angry, violent, irritated felons locked behind a Steel Cage that had to be open like every other minute. Then try  keeping an accurate count on your Front Gate Sheet (Official Body Count List). Then make your rounds on the tiers (thats right you had to walk among them) to make sure nobody was getting Raped or Shanked to Death. Oops! Wait a minute I have to call a Code 10-16 (Inmate fight) J section, 10-16 J-Section. The Jail Control Center hears my transmission and Radios Jail Wide. All J Units 10-16 J-Section, 10-16 J-Section! All available Units Please Respond.  I step back from the Steel Grille looking into the Hall, then I see them coming (responding Jail Police), and at that time I step back in and unlock the Grille. Those Inmates who know the drill get out of the way, but those who choose to be spectators are met with a rush from a wave of Correctional Staff responding to quell the disturbance. The next thing you hear is the cries, screams, and anxiety of inmates being met with extremely violent force. Some fight back, but their efforts are futile as they are pummeled, kicked, and stomped until their injuries require treatment at the Local Emergency Room. The Building Commander is satisfied his Unit is back under control and puts out a 10-32 (Sufficient Units on the Scene) call to Jail Control. The  Inmates are carried or escorted away, and life goes back to normal like nothing ever happened. It’s Lunch time and now I have to open these Steel Grilles to allow Working Men (Inmates) on to the Section to feed my guys. They could have anything on them from money, drugs, cigarettes, or a shank. So I command them, “On the Wall Gentleman” (Hands on the Wall in preparation for Frisk search) They Buck (refuse), and I call another Code. Code 2 J-Section, Code 2 J-Section, and again Jail Control dispatches additional Jail Units to my Section, but this time the Code is a Call for Assistance from a Correctional Officer. Somebody is about to go to the Hospital (shock Trauma). See a 10-16 is a routine call to break up an Inmate Fight, and the only Officers who responded to those kinds of calls were the Bad Asses who wanted to, and liked to fight. Any kind of Code that gave the slightest impression that a Correctional Officer was in harms way typical drew response from everybody working in the facility that day, even from other buildings. After I called the Code they wanted to comply and began begging for me to call off the dogs. (Booking Dogs. I’ll explain later) It was too late, besides I knew their initial resistance to my request to  search them only meant one thing. They were Dirty (carrying something on their person) and I was in danger anyway. One thing I learned in Corrections, and that is if I have to fight, I want the upper hand. So the Jail Units respond to my section and beat the pure shit out of these guys. Four of them were carried away on stretchers, and in the process of it all, some guys started to mouth off at the Police from behind the Steel Grille. A CO used a Master Key to open the Grille and went on the Tier. A huge fight broke out, and the Lieutenant orders a Lock Down. The Inmates Buck causing the Brass to call off all Jail Units from the Housing Unit. By this time J-1 (the Major) has arrived on the scene. I can say this with complete conviction. J-1 was the most vial, cruddy, and calculated piece of shit that I have ever encountered on the face of the Earth. J-1 Radios to Control to put the entire Complex on MSC (Maximum Security Conditions) which was a complete Lockdown. This meant the only thing moving Inmate wise was escorted by Correctional Staff. Control advises that all Housing Units are now Secure, and J-1 Calls a Code Red (Tactical Situation). Every CO assigned to the Tac Team responded to the Segregation unit to Suit Up (Riot Gear). I hear them coming and I step back out of the way. I really didn’t know what to expect, because I had heard about the Tac Team (a.ka. Booking Dogs) which had guys with nicknames like Pitbull and Satan etc., but I had never seen them in action. J-1 steps to the Grille and announces to the Inmates, “anybody on this housing Unit who don’t want any of this lock in your Cells now”. A few complied, but the general Inmate Code was never show fear to others especially Jail Police, so the majority continued to Buck. J-1 steps back and looks down the Hall and nods his head signaling the Tac Commander indicating he had a Green Light to take back the Section. Now I’m standing there watching this feeling pretty bad, 5 Inmates have already been sent for Medical Treatment all Bloodied up, and this looked like it was about to get even more Brutal. I mean the Working Men situation was one thing, because those guys were completely out of order, but the fight that started this last incident was sparked by Staff. The Inmates were locked behind the Grille and that was a controlled situation. The Police went in there and started some shit with the Inmates. I totally disagree with this Use of Force. So, the Grilles are opened and I will not describe what occurred for obvious reasons, but it was probably one of the most heinous acts of Use of Force that I observed in my entire Tenure at BCDC. I made the decision at that moment that I would never call another Code unless I knew for a fact that I was about to be killed. I never called another Code again while working there.

Like most Law Enforcement Agencies, there are Codes of Conduct that Officers are expected to adhere too. The Maryland Inmate Population at that time was roughly 750 Inmates to 1 Correctional Officer Statewide. The general consensus was that if an Inmate committed an act of violence against Jail Police, they were to be sent 911 to Shock Trauma. I even remember J-1 saying this during lineup a few times. The greatest fear by Jail Management was that Staff was so outnumbered by the Inmate Population that such violent measures had to instituted as a deterrent to acts of violence against Jail Employees. I disagreed with that. I never understood the idea of 12-15 COs Kicking and stomping a man. That’s completely unnecessary and excessive force. I defend my position with the fact that in all the years I was Employed there, I never once had to put my hands on an Inmate, and I don’t think it was because Inmates were fearful that they might get beat badly. I think it was because of the way I conducted myself. Just because a man is incarcerated, that doesn’t make him any less of a man. People make mistakes, and if not but for God, there go I. Prisons have been getting away with these kinds of crimes for Centuries, because Society’s outlook on prisoners is that their the dregs of society, and they should be treated badly. I disagree once again. However, I some what empathize with the mindset that some Violent Offenders have committed acts so heinous that Society would benefit by their removal from humanity. Prisons are like a jungle with nothing but caged animals. I am here to also bare witness that many of those so called animals are men and women dressed in Blue Uniforms.

Fast Forward:  K Section Recreation Mass Movement

One of the biggest fears in any Correctional Setting is large movements of Inmate Populations from one part of the Institution to the next. Federal Decree says that Inmates are entitled to recreation time by Law. K section is adjacent to J Section and by far 2 of the worst Housing Units in all of the Jail. There is a Court Yard and the MDC (Men’s Detention Center) Gym to provided this Federal Mandated recreation for the Inmates. They alternate using the Facilities, meaning if a Section used the Gym one day, the next Rec would have to be outside in the Courtyard. Jail Control Radios J-45 are you ready for Rec. I acknowledge yes, open both Grilles, and stand back while the 400 Inmates pile out into the halls in route upstairs to the 3rd floor. My eyes are peeled on them watching    diligently as many a people have been killed during Mass Movements. Not only that, but some of the worst Prison Riots in History were the result of Planed attacks on Correctional Staff during Mass Movements of  Violent Inmates. My job is to observe until everyone is off the Housing Unit and in route to Rec. I must then Patrol the section insuring that no one was left behind. Oh shit! I hear a code. 10-16 First Floor North Building. That’s right outside my Section. I run out onto the floor and saw a man down near the Key Post (Station which Controls Traffic Flow). He was bleeding extremely bad. I look closer and I see a large chunk of metal protruding from about his eye. He is screaming as if he was being burned alive, and I was frozen almost to a complete shock. I had never seen anything remotely close to that before. The blood was pouring out the man’s face so bad it looked like a Water Main Break, but only on his face. I hear the radio again, “Control we have a man with a sever puncture womb. He is gonna need to go 911”. I honestly don’t recall anything that happened next. In fact I couldn’t tell you what happened for the next few weeks. I was pretty much numb to all going on around me. I was a Zombie and St Pauli’s Girl Lager was my Medicine of choice to cope with my working reality. I do recall someone mentioning to me later on the day of the incident that the Inmate didn’t make it. No shit! How could he with blood pouring out of his face onto the floor like Niagara Falls. What I learned later on during the Investigative Process is that the Inmate should have never been assigned to my Housing Unit. He was charged with a Sex Crime and the Inmate who perpetrated the attack on him was a relative of the victim. When Defendants who are charged with these kinds of crimes enter the Facility, the Administration typically puts a tag on them. For instance do not House in POP (Population), because certain crimes are extremely heinous even by Inmate Standards. The Inmate was slated to be House in PC ( Protective Custody) and some how at the last minute is Housing Class was altered. The Only person(s) who has the ability to do that is Traffic Officers (Assign and Track Inmate Housing) or a Supervisory Lieutenant and above. Explain that to me. No I’ll explain it. I find it very ironic that not only was this man’s Housing Class changed, but he just happened to end up on the same Unit as the Brother of the Victim listed on his charging documents. Much of the violence in Prisons are spearheaded, condoned, and conspired by Correctional Staff along with Inmates. I got the message early on. Don’t trust anyone, and by all means watch your back.

— To be continued

Next: BCDC’s Steel Side II: Rape Screams In The Dark Of The Night

David Adams

Self proclaimed geek, Advocate for the homeless, Social Change, Crime Blogger, and mobile technology enthusiast. A recognized Journalist and Human Interest Writer championing the plight of the masses whom are without a voice of their own.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle Plus

It’s 317 a.m. EST and I am up again, cup of coffee in my hand, and shaking like a Junkie who needs a fix. I slow drag on a frog and wipe the type of my head in a backward motion trying to gain my composure, while starring glassy eyed into the T.V., but it’s not on. Then the Pacing comes. Walking back in forth from one area of the house to the next, and trying to keep my mind occupied. After a little while I get tired again and I climb back into bed. I’m good for the rest of the night. The only problem though, is these sequence of events are ongoing. The result of awakening in the dark of the night with flash backs from some horrifying stories which I am about to share with you. My days working as a Correctional Officer at the Baltimore City Detention Center are still with me as Ghost of the Past remind me of the horrors of life on The Steel Side.

Fast Rewind: J Section First Floor North Building 1995; Population Class Maximum Security

It’s Late Summer and the Steel must be 185 degrees or at least it sure felt like it. The Baltimore City Police Commissioner has implemented a Zero Tolerance Ordinance for the City, in a Campaign to show muscle targeting Violent Crimes, and trying to gain Political Points for upcoming Elections. Everybody in there Mother who gave Cops a hard time that year ended up at Central Booking. The Jail was so overcrowded that Housing Units designed to house 100 Inmates were now Holding 400. As the Population grew the Correctional Staff was cut. You had to pay some serious dues working down there in the hole where all Rookie COs start out. Who ever came up with that idea must have been Mentally Ill. I can’t dramatize it enough for you, but to make it plain, image trying to keep 400 angry, violent, irritated felons locked behind a Steel Cage that had to be open like every other minute. Then try  keeping an accurate count on your Front Gate Sheet (Official Body Count List). Then make your rounds on the tiers (thats right you had to walk among them) to make sure nobody was getting Raped or Shanked to Death. Oops! Wait a minute I have to call a Code 10-16 (Inmate fight) J section, 10-16 J-Section. The Jail Control Center hears my transmission and Radios Jail Wide. All J Units 10-16 J-Section, 10-16 J-Section! All available Units Please Respond.  I step back from the Steel Grille looking into the Hall, then I see them coming (responding Jail Police), and at that time I step back in and unlock the Grille. Those Inmates who know the drill get out of the way, but those who choose to be spectators are met with a rush from a wave of Correctional Staff responding to quell the disturbance. The next thing you hear is the cries, screams, and anxiety of inmates being met with extremely violent force. Some fight back, but their efforts are futile as they are pummeled, kicked, and stomped until their injuries require treatment at the Local Emergency Room. The Building Commander is satisfied his Unit is back under control and puts out a 10-32 (Sufficient Units on the Scene) call to Jail Control. The  Inmates are carried or escorted away, and life goes back to normal like nothing ever happened. It’s Lunch time and now I have to open these Steel Grilles to allow Working Men (Inmates) on to the Section to feed my guys. They could have anything on them from money, drugs, cigarettes, or a shank. So I command them, “On the Wall Gentleman” (Hands on the Wall in preparation for Frisk search) They Buck (refuse), and I call another Code. Code 2 J-Section, Code 2 J-Section, and again Jail Control dispatches additional Jail Units to my Section, but this time the Code is a Call for Assistance from a Correctional Officer. Somebody is about to go to the Hospital (shock Trauma). See a 10-16 is a routine call to break up an Inmate Fight, and the only Officers who responded to those kinds of calls were the Bad Asses who wanted to, and liked to fight. Any kind of Code that gave the slightest impression that a Correctional Officer was in harms way typical drew response from everybody working in the facility that day, even from other buildings. After I called the Code they wanted to comply and began begging for me to call off the dogs. (Booking Dogs. I’ll explain later) It was too late, besides I knew their initial resistance to my request to  search them only meant one thing. They were Dirty (carrying something on their person) and I was in danger anyway. One thing I learned in Corrections, and that is if I have to fight, I want the upper hand. So the Jail Units respond to my section and beat the pure shit out of these guys. Four of them were carried away on stretchers, and in the process of it all, some guys started to mouth off at the Police from behind the Steel Grille. A CO used a Master Key to open the Grille and went on the Tier. A huge fight broke out, and the Lieutenant orders a Lock Down. The Inmates Buck causing the Brass to call off all Jail Units from the Housing Unit. By this time J-1 (the Major) has arrived on the scene. I can say this with complete conviction. J-1 was the most vial, cruddy, and calculated piece of shit that I have ever encountered on the face of the Earth. J-1 Radios to Control to put the entire Complex on MSC (Maximum Security Conditions) which was a complete Lockdown. This meant the only thing moving Inmate wise was escorted by Correctional Staff. Control advises that all Housing Units are now Secure, and J-1 Calls a Code Red (Tactical Situation). Every CO assigned to the Tac Team responded to the Segregation unit to Suit Up (Riot Gear). I hear them coming and I step back out of the way. I really didn’t know what to expect, because I had heard about the Tac Team (a.ka. Booking Dogs) which had guys with nicknames like Pitbull and Satan etc., but I had never seen them in action. J-1 steps to the Grille and announces to the Inmates, “anybody on this housing Unit who don’t want any of this lock in your Cells now”. A few complied, but the general Inmate Code was never show fear to others especially Jail Police, so the majority continued to Buck. J-1 steps back and looks down the Hall and nods his head signaling the Tac Commander indicating he had a Green Light to take back the Section. Now I’m standing there watching this feeling pretty bad, 5 Inmates have already been sent for Medical Treatment all Bloodied up, and this looked like it was about to get even more Brutal. I mean the Working Men situation was one thing, because those guys were completely out of order, but the fight that started this last incident was sparked by Staff. The Inmates were locked behind the Grille and that was a controlled situation. The Police went in there and started some shit with the Inmates. I totally disagree with this Use of Force. So, the Grilles are opened and I will not describe what occurred for obvious reasons, but it was probably one of the most heinous acts of Use of Force that I observed in my entire Tenure at BCDC. I made the decision at that moment that I would never call another Code unless I knew for a fact that I was about to be killed. I never called another Code again while working there.

Like most Law Enforcement Agencies, there are Codes of Conduct that Officers are expected to adhere too. The Maryland Inmate Population at that time was roughly 750 Inmates to 1 Correctional Officer Statewide. The general consensus was that if an Inmate committed an act of violence against Jail Police, they were to be sent 911 to Shock Trauma. I even remember J-1 saying this during lineup a few times. The greatest fear by Jail Management was that Staff was so outnumbered by the Inmate Population that such violent measures had to instituted as a deterrent to acts of violence against Jail Employees. I disagreed with that. I never understood the idea of 12-15 COs Kicking and stomping a man. That’s completely unnecessary and excessive force. I defend my position with the fact that in all the years I was Employed there, I never once had to put my hands on an Inmate, and I don’t think it was because Inmates were fearful that they might get beat badly. I think it was because of the way I conducted myself. Just because a man is incarcerated, that doesn’t make him any less of a man. People make mistakes, and if not but for God, there go I. Prisons have been getting away with these kinds of crimes for Centuries, because Society’s outlook on prisoners is that their the dregs of society, and they should be treated badly. I disagree once again. However, I some what empathize with the mindset that some Violent Offenders have committed acts so heinous that Society would benefit by their removal from humanity. Prisons are like a jungle with nothing but caged animals. I am here to also bare witness that many of those so called animals are men and women dressed in Blue Uniforms.

Fast Forward:  K Section Recreation Mass Movement

One of the biggest fears in any Correctional Setting is large movements of Inmate Populations from one part of the Institution to the next. Federal Decree says that Inmates are entitled to recreation time by Law. K section is adjacent to J Section and by far 2 of the worst Housing Units in all of the Jail. There is a Court Yard and the MDC (Men’s Detention Center) Gym to provided this Federal Mandated recreation for the Inmates. They alternate using the Facilities, meaning if a Section used the Gym one day, the next Rec would have to be outside in the Courtyard. Jail Control Radios J-45 are you ready for Rec. I acknowledge yes, open both Grilles, and stand back while the 400 Inmates pile out into the halls in route upstairs to the 3rd floor. My eyes are peeled on them watching    diligently as many a people have been killed during Mass Movements. Not only that, but some of the worst Prison Riots in History were the result of Planed attacks on Correctional Staff during Mass Movements of  Violent Inmates. My job is to observe until everyone is off the Housing Unit and in route to Rec. I must then Patrol the section insuring that no one was left behind. Oh shit! I hear a code. 10-16 First Floor North Building. That’s right outside my Section. I run out onto the floor and saw a man down near the Key Post (Station which Controls Traffic Flow). He was bleeding extremely bad. I look closer and I see a large chunk of metal protruding from about his eye. He is screaming as if he was being burned alive, and I was frozen almost to a complete shock. I had never seen anything remotely close to that before. The blood was pouring out the man’s face so bad it looked like a Water Main Break, but only on his face. I hear the radio again, “Control we have a man with a sever puncture womb. He is gonna need to go 911”. I honestly don’t recall anything that happened next. In fact I couldn’t tell you what happened for the next few weeks. I was pretty much numb to all going on around me. I was a Zombie and St Pauli’s Girl Lager was my Medicine of choice to cope with my working reality. I do recall someone mentioning to me later on the day of the incident that the Inmate didn’t make it. No shit! How could he with blood pouring out of his face onto the floor like Niagara Falls. What I learned later on during the Investigative Process is that the Inmate should have never been assigned to my Housing Unit. He was charged with a Sex Crime and the Inmate who perpetrated the attack on him was a relative of the victim. When Defendants who are charged with these kinds of crimes enter the Facility, the Administration typically puts a tag on them. For instance do not House in POP (Population), because certain crimes are extremely heinous even by Inmate Standards. The Inmate was slated to be House in PC ( Protective Custody) and some how at the last minute is Housing Class was altered. The Only person(s) who has the ability to do that is Traffic Officers (Assign and Track Inmate Housing) or a Supervisory Lieutenant and above. Explain that to me. No I’ll explain it. I find it very ironic that not only was this man’s Housing Class changed, but he just happened to end up on the same Unit as the Brother of the Victim listed on his charging documents. Much of the violence in Prisons are spearheaded, condoned, and conspired by Correctional Staff along with Inmates. I got the message early on. Don’t trust anyone, and by all means watch your back.

— To be continued

Next: BCDC’s Steel Side II: Rape Screams In The Dark Of The Night

David Adams

Self proclaimed geek, Advocate for the homeless, Social Change, Crime Blogger, and mobile technology enthusiast. A recognized Journalist and Human Interest Writer championing the plight of the masses whom are without a voice of their own.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle Plus

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4 Responses to “BCDC’s Steel Side: 13 Years Later And The Nightmares Still Come”

  1. Los Windsor says:

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    od shyt I enjoyed reading.

  2. BCDC says:

    Israel Verderame

    I found a great…

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