Recently an inmate suffered a personal tragedy when his wife of over 40 years died. She had been seriously ill and finally succumbed to her ailments. The man found out about his wife’s death when he called home to check on her.
At around 4 p.m. the same day he went to his case manager’s office to tell her about the unfortunate situation at home. He said that his wife had died and that he had found out about it earlier from his daughter when he called home. The case manager’s reply was, “I am off duty. Come back tomorrow.” Not that she was sorry to hear the news of his wife’s death. Not that she was sorry for his loss. Not that she would do whatever she could to help him be there for his family.
Instead, he got the cold, non compassionate, non feeling, I could care less reply: “I am off duty now, come back tomorrow.”
And she certainly did not make any offer to help him. After all, she was off duty.
There are things that can be done in situations like this. One of them is to furlough the prisoner so that he can go home and handle things and be with his family. But furloughs are almost impossible to get around here. The warden and her staff are more concerned with the prisoner not returning from furlough instead of helping the inmate during times like this. This man is a resident of Georgia. The funeral was being held less than 2 hours away from this prison camp. Yet the clowns who run this place could not come up with a plan to help an inmate who desperately needed to be there to make sure the funeral was handled correctly, not to mention comfort his family and be with his loved ones at a time like this.
What did the inmate want from the case manager? After all, the case manager can not resurrect the dead. She could not bring his wife back to life.
What he wanted from her was her help. He wanted to be there for the funeral and with his family. He wanted to say goodbye to his wife of over 40 years. The inmate wanted time to grieve. He wanted to know what he had to do to make sure he could attend the funeral. And he wanted the case manager to lay out what he personally needed to provide the prison so that there would be no delays, mix-ups or foul-ups.
What he got was a case manager who took vacation time. His situation was dumped on others. And between foot dragging and the incompetence of some others involved, he did not get to attend the funeral two days later. He got no help or compassion.
So this inmate grieved the loss of his wife here at this prison. His family handled things on the outside.
The inmate’s case is a common one here at the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp. Mole hills become mountains because of negligent and incompetent employees, red tape or an attitude of indifference.
The only things these simpletons are good at are avoiding work and cashing their paychecks. They do nothing for the prisoners. Most of these case managers and prison officials do not care about the inmates that have been sent here. To them, this is just a job and they only do what the job requires. The only feelings they have are feelings of loathing and contempt.
I listened to some inmates discussing this man’s situation. I heard two great ideas. One said this is a camp. Why didn’t someone confirm the death of the inmate’s wife and find out when and at what time the funeral would be held and then issue the inmate a 24- to 48-hour furlough or pass. That way he could attend the funeral, spend time with his family and return to the prison. Another inmate said they could have at least arranged for someone to drive the inmate to the funeral and return him once it was over.
Both of these solutions require a common sense approach to the situation. That’s the problem: these simpletons do not have common sense. The only skills they have are sitting around doing nothing and cashing paychecks. There is no requirement they do anything to earn their pay.
One good thing did come about, though. A prison official apologized that the prison had not been able to process the inmate’s request to attend the funeral in time. That is a great step. An official actually felt compassion and apologized for failing to be able to get things done. I hope we see more of this and hope that changes are made that will prevent this kind of thing from happening again.
Bernard Addison is serving a sentence for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, after pleading guilty on February 15, 2013 in Knoxville, TN. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.