Sometimes, I think some of the correctional officers (COs) are lightweight sadists because they use their power to please or thrill themselves. It’s a perfect example of someone abusing their authoritative power. Society thinks prisons are the best place to reform an individual, but when people mismanage their authority, it just makes an inmate more prone to negative emotions, thoughts and actions.
Every day in prison camp, COs have to count the inmates. We call it count time. COs are supposed to count the inmates to make sure no one has escaped. This requires all inmates to stand up, even if we are in a dead sleep. At Herlong Prison Camp, count time was around 10:15 pm. It could also be changed to 10:30 pm, 10:45 pm or later. It’s an absolute pain when you have to get up for work at 7:00 am and count time is late. I can’t understand why they couldn’t just let us sleep.
The difficult part of count time is that it could also happen at any point throughout the day. The COs would call for count and then walk up and down the rows of inmates to count us. This process could take fifteen minutes or forty-five minutes. It all depends upon the CO for that day. Counts included the neighboring Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) too.
The problem with that is the COs would count at the FCI first and then come to the camp to count. There was a late count and of course, we were woken up out of our sleep and made to stand up for count. The Warden slowly worked on changing this. He did mention the issue in his two memos (this memo and this memo). His memos discuss his attempts to get the count started on time, however, the COs only started on time for two weeks.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about 10 pm count:
- Stand up the whole time! As soon as the CO said “Count Time,” you had to stand up.
- You must have BOTH FEET ON THE GROUND. Please don’t be the idiot who stands on his bed trying to be funny.
- Don’t leave your square or cell for any reason. Not even to go to the restroom. If you have an emergency, hold it or try to go before count.
- Don’t talk! Most COs like it silent during count.
- Don’t cook or go into your locker. Keep your locker closed and your food out of the way.
- You can read a magazine, check out the TV or listen to your headphones.
- Don’t harass the COs. Someone once told a CO “Can you count, damn?” He got sent to the hole.
Remember any violation during count will get you sent to the hole quickly. Some campers would violate these simple rules, which made the CO recount. Recounts could happen as many times as the COs needed it. If all went smoothly, counting at the camp would only take a few minutes.
Although I feel count times are extremely important, I also feel that the prison and the COs could do a much better job at counting without disrupting the sleeping patterns of inmates that are just trying to make it through their punishing sentences.