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Jimd
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Postby Jimd » Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:06 pm

One of our officers was working the Secure Special Needs Unit (SSNU, where extremely insane people are housed) yesterday, serving the inmates their noon meal. One of the occupants of a cell decided it was time to strike.

As the officer reached toward the open wicket on the cell door, the inmate's hand flicked out - in it he held a razor knife that sliced the officer's forearm open badly. From what I understand, he had to be stitched up.

It was decided that staff had to get the weapon away from him, and the inmate refused to surrender said weapon. So an extraction team was assembled and a forced entry was made.

During the social call, the inmate was decidedly inhospitable, even downright un-cordial. He made known his displeasure at having guests at meal time. Fortunately, our side was skilled in interpersonal communications, and they were able to impart the idea that this is simply not the way to conduct oneself while receiving our room service by relieving the enraged occupant of his lethal toy.

I'm told it was a heartwarming scene, with all of the communication going on and such. It's nice that we can help others to open their minds to new concepts and ways of thinking.
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Postby gac » Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:27 pm

I hope the officer fully recovers.

But, does the inmate - if extremely insane - even understand what is going on when a team rushes in to nab him and pounds on him in the process? Are those guys lucid enough to make a connection between their action and the results?

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Postby tac » Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:39 pm

It's a shame those individuals aren't simply kept tranquilized to the point they're not a threat to the good guys.
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Postby HellHound » Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:39 am

Lol now the only meals that guy will be having (in a straight jacket) will be sucking it threw a straw. :D
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Postby The Deacon » Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:05 am

Hope the CO is ok Jim. As for the inmate, sometimes, the only way to open their minds is by cracking their skulls.
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Postby gac » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:50 am

The Deacon wrote:Hope the CO is ok Jim. As for the inmate, sometimes, the only way to open their minds is by cracking their skulls.
(Emphasis Mine) But do the mentally ill guys get that message? Going in and physically dealing with the offender is part of the rules (written or unwritten) but do prisoners who are really insane understand that?

How far gone are these guys? Would they be in a psych. hospital/prison if the option were available?

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Postby The Deacon » Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:39 pm

gac wrote:(Emphasis Mine) But do the mentally ill guys get that message? Going in and physically dealing with the offender is part of the rules (written or unwritten) but do prisoners who are really insane understand that?

How far gone are these guys? Would they be in a psych. hospital/prison if the option were available?
If you read Jim's post, the inmate was in the mental heath unit of the prison. Am sure it depends on the state, but here in New York, as a general rule, that's where you'd wind up if you were tried, and convicted, then became insane. If you were declared unfit to stand trial, or judged "not guilty due to major mental illness" you'd wind up in a forensic hospital. But in either prison or hospital, the possibility of attacks on staff exists, and have to be dealt with.

Do they "get the message"? Probably only to the point of becoming momentarily passive due to pain, fear, or unconsciousness. But, you can't "reason" with crazy people and, not only can't you just declare them useless and dangerous and euthanize them, you actually have to make at least some feeble attempts at preventing them from killing themselves. In New York (and I'm guessing in most other states) you can't keep them in physical restraints all the time or use chemical restraint without their consent. What else is there?
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Postby Dr. Snubnose » Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:04 pm

Hope the officers heals up quickly Jim....When I worked at the State Hospital here in NY, I worked on the unit for the criminally insane...most of the time they end up hurting themselves...but the risk of attack is always there...all you can do is restrain and wait for help or back-up....there is no amount of reasoning that can be done in these situations when dealing with the insane....there is an old Chinese expression that goes something like this...." In order to speak convincingly of peace it must be done from a position of power"....Doc :D
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Postby The Deacon » Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:31 pm

Dr. Snubnose wrote:Hope the officers heals up quickly Jim....When I worked at the State Hospital here in NY, I worked on the unit for the criminally insane...most of the time they end up hurting themselves...but the risk of attack is always there...all you can do is restrain and wait for help or back-up....there is no amount of reasoning that can be done in these situations when dealing with the insane....there is an old Chinese expression that goes something like this...." In order to speak convincingly of peace it must be done from a position of power"....Doc :D
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Postby gac » Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:05 pm

The Deacon wrote: Do they "get the message"? Probably only to the point of becoming momentarily passive due to pain, fear, or unconsciousness. But, you can't "reason" with crazy people and, not only can't you just declare them useless and dangerous and euthanize them, you actually have to make at least some feeble attempts at preventing them from killing themselves. In New York (and I'm guessing in most other states) you can't keep them in physical restraints all the time or use chemical restraint without their consent. What else is there?
It sounds like a bad situation all the way around. COs already get attacked by the non-insane but at least those guys (presumably) understand they will get punished and may be deterred. But, a validly insane guy cannot understand what is going on and may see anything as a threat. COs are not social workers or psychologists but deal with people who seem to really need that care. That care could result in safer work for the staff.

Judging from Jim's previous posts I guess that kind of support won't happen from the state or the administration for a long, long time.

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Postby The Deacon » Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:39 pm

gac wrote:It sounds like a bad situation all the way around. COs already get attacked by the non-insane but at least those guys (presumably) understand they will get punished and may be deterred. But, a validly insane guy cannot understand what is going on and may see anything as a threat. COs are not social workers or psychologists but deal with people who seem to really need that care. That care could result in safer work for the staff.

Judging from Jim's previous posts I guess that kind of support won't happen from the state or the administration for a long, long time.
Again, I can't speak for PA, and even my direct knowledge of the NYS system is somewhat out of date, but prisons here with mental heath units have psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental heath personnel on staff, and the COs who work those units normally receive at least some of the same training as SHTA's (Secure Hospital Treatment Assistants), who are the direct care staff at forensic hospitals. And, even though the staff to client ratio is higher in the hospitals, there are more assaults on and injuries to staff there. You are dealing with people who are insane or MICA and who, unlike the majority of the mentally ill, have a proclivity to violent behavior. As with the "sane" inmates, not all of them are particularly dangerous to staff, but some are very much so.

The really frightening part is that, unlike those committed to forensic hospitals who can be held until they are found to be sane or die, the ones in prison mental heath units are serving determinate sentences and many will, someday, be released.
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Postby Jimd » Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:57 pm

Our mental health units do have psychological staff to care for the inmates.

And that is fine, up to a point. But when the inmate becomes a security risk, security takes precedence over all else.

The cell extraction was not punitive in nature; the inmate possessed a weapon, which made him a danger to himself and others.

They went in and took care of business as was necessary.

Speaking from the experience of being on the receiving end of the blade a couple of times, I can say that the recipient is not concerned about the mental health or care of the individual who is attacking him, the victim is concerning only with survival.
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Postby 2cha » Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:28 pm

tac wrote:It's a shame those individuals aren't simply kept tranquilized to the point they're not a threat to the good guys.
Coupla points.

First, easy to say "those individuals," but what if that "them" is someone close to you? I have two sons who have a greatly increased genetic risk of mental illness, so "those individuals" you refer to could be my kids someday. Plus, about 1% of the population in general has schizophrenia--so chances are that someone you know has a family member who is seriously ill. Flippantly suggesting chemical restraint when you have little or no experience with the disease is pretty insensitive to put it as mildly as I can.

Second, the people in the MH units, unlike many people in prison, quite simply don't have the same capacity for choice as the rest of us. While I'm truly sorry the officer was injured, it's simply not the same thing as an assault in the general population.

Third, while it may be true that the people in the MH unit were found fit for trial, that doesn't mean they weren't sick before their conviction--in all likelihood, they were sick and either hadn't yet manifested their symptoms, weren't so sick that they couldn't stand trial or be convicted, or had poor representation. The rate of major psychosis among the prison population is about 3x that of psychosis in the general population.

Fourth, imagine having your mind tell you that the world is out to get you, and then finding yourself locked in a cell. Sounds like hell on earth. Try having some compassion.

To me, assuming Jimd wasn't be facetious, it sounds like the COs acted appropriately and compassionately even after injury to one of their own. That takes balls and heart. Kudos.

As an aside, I spent 5 years of my life at about 60 hrs. a week working with chronically mentally ill adults and another 6 months with dually diagnosed and/or multi-handicapped youth (I couldn't take it, we did lots of physical restraints) in unlocked facilities. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

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Postby gac » Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:13 am

2cha just explained my thinking on the issue.

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Postby tonydahose » Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:42 pm

sorry to hear about the CO Jim, i hope he heals quickly. i always said that the job of a CO is one of the worst i can think of. i know i couldn't do it because i would be out for revenge. i would either get killed or fired with a ton of brutality lawsuits. You assuredly have a special place in heaven waiting for you for the crap you have to put up with Jim, take care.
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Postby stonyman » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:16 pm

Jimid my friend.......I hope the CO heals real soon. This brings back memories of my time as a CO. While serving chow on one of the psych wards, a tray was pushed through the flap on the door. Before I could get it closed, the inmate said ever so slighly, that he dropped the salt packet on the floor and will I grab it for him. Well I ignored him and slammed the flap shut and locked it back. Long story short, he laughed and said "Newcock"(name of a new CO) if you would have bent down to pick the packet up.......I would have slit your throat! He showed the razor blade that was just to the inside of the door! My rudeness saved my life that day.......Jimid, I was also one of the meeting committee who went into remove the contraband! Bro, I salute you guys, you guys do not get enough credit! Take care guys and God Bless!

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Postby *Cho* » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:24 pm

The Deacon wrote: you can't keep them in physical restraints all the time or use chemical restraint without their consent. What else is there?
I can't speak for New York, or any state for that matter, but in Canada if someone is clinically mentally ill and on a mental health ward/unit they are usually pink slipped. Pink slipped means they have been committed by physicians because two or more doctors have decided this person is no longer able to appreciate reality and have become a danger to oneself or others.

Once a person has been pinked (short hand term) they are no longer competant enough to make their own decisions. That means they no longer have the right to refuse medication or treatments. I would imagine the prisoners in this section of the unit would be under similar conditions.

That being said it is one thing to say they do not have the right to refuse medication and it is another to try make a person take medication they do not want to take, one of the many reasons a lot of antipsychotics come in injectable form.

In Canada, again I would think it is similar in the US, we also have a policy of least restraint. That means people can't jump straight to physical restraints without first exhausting other avenues of treatments, such as chemical restraints. You also can't keep a person constantly restrained as it can cause physical damage to that person. If a person is in full restrains they need to be assessed every two hours for signs of physical trauma.

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Postby 2edgesword » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:48 pm

JimD, I hope the officer makes a full recovery from his injuries.

In my opinion, whether we are talking about individuals in general population of in a mental health unit, a primary consideration in operating a facility has to be the safety of the individuals responsible for the security of the facility. If an inmate has a history of violent behavior I don't see any problem with forced medication as a means of controlling that violence. The inmates rights with respect to refusing medication do not trump the right to life of the officers and other staff that are charged with caring for and securing the inmate. There should be protections in place to insure medicating an inmate in this way isn't done haphazardly or arbitrarily but it should be an option in cases where an inmate has a history of violence against himself or staff where other means of control the behavior hasn't been successful.
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Postby tac » Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:33 am

2cha wrote:Coupla points.

...
Well you've certainly staked out the moral high ground here. Forgive me if my compassion is reserved for the victim instead of his attacker.
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Postby HistoricalMan » Sun Jul 25, 2010 2:07 am

2cha wrote:Coupla points.

First, easy to say "those individuals," but what if that "them" is someone close to you? I have two sons who have a greatly increased genetic risk of mental illness, so "those individuals" you refer to could be my kids someday. Plus, about 1% of the population in general has schizophrenia--so chances are that someone you know has a family member who is seriously ill. Flippantly suggesting chemical restraint when you have little or no experience with the disease is pretty insensitive to put it as mildly as I can.

Second, the people in the MH units, unlike many people in prison, quite simply don't have the same capacity for choice as the rest of us. While I'm truly sorry the officer was injured, it's simply not the same thing as an assault in the general population.

Third, while it may be true that the people in the MH unit were found fit for trial, that doesn't mean they weren't sick before their conviction--in all likelihood, they were sick and either hadn't yet manifested their symptoms, weren't so sick that they couldn't stand trial or be convicted, or had poor representation. The rate of major psychosis among the prison population is about 3x that of psychosis in the general population.

Fourth, imagine having your mind tell you that the world is out to get you, and then finding yourself locked in a cell. Sounds like hell on earth. Try having some compassion.

To me, assuming Jimd wasn't be facetious, it sounds like the COs acted appropriately and compassionately even after injury to one of their own. That takes balls and heart. Kudos.

As an aside, I spent 5 years of my life at about 60 hrs. a week working with chronically mentally ill adults and another 6 months with dually diagnosed and/or multi-handicapped youth (I couldn't take it, we did lots of physical restraints) in unlocked facilities. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
This pretty much sums up my views on the subject.

I hope the officer in question is having a speedy recovery.


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