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Federal Art Program: Part 4

It's Christmas day.Well,at least it feels like Christmas to us. After 3 months our art supply orders have arrived at the prison warehouse. Boss takes the clerk, who pulls the cart, to pick them up. We are gathered in the art room waiting like anxious kids on Christmas morning.

Boss takes his time. At the warehouse are goodies purchased from the prisoners food budget and diverted to the guards. Boss is busy noshing bacon cheeseburgers with avocado and mushroom. i get lightheaded just thinking about it. When he does return, with the orders, he doesn't feel like distributing the supplies and tells everyone to come back in the evening. Santa is lazy today.

F.M.C. Ft. Worth, while designated as a medical facility, functions as a retirement mill. Staff can work here and pump up their retirement package before leaving the bureau. There are numerous ways to pump up paychecks, such as accompanying sick prisoners on outside medical trips. This may require 2 guards on overtime which seems to work just fine. For much of the staff, this is their primary concern. Policies and programs? Meh! Just sayin'.

"I thought you were going to hand out the art orders this evening, "says me. "Well, now it's tomorrow" he replies. "Everyone is waiting." Boss gets snotty. He's just dying to tell me that i ain't shit, and should have thought of this before i came to prison. I don't bite. I walk out of his office, but not before leaving a silent sulfurous fart.

People are screaming. All is madness. It is 7 A.M. and the klaxons are deafening. I bolt upright, disoriented. What the hell? We dress quickly. Instinctively i grab my radio and i.d. wallet. Not only our building of 350 souls, but the entire prison is emptied into the yard. Every guard, clerk and secretary are there, all barking contradictory orders. We are led to and fro. Eventually, after several locations are tried, our 350 are confined to a fenced area between the medical building and the chow hall. There we will remain for some unknown duration.

Each housing unit is named after a city in Texas. The full staff, now including nurses, marches to Austin unit in order to shake it down.

Our 350 include maybe 50 guys in wheel chairs, several old guys with Alzheimer's, and many with a plethora of other medical problems. There is no place to pee. After a couple of hours, we are individually patted down and searched. This is rather pointless after giving everyone plenty of time to dispose of contraband. Never-the-less, it occurs and we are returned to our unit and confined there.

While a small army is removing cartloads of 'stuff' from Austin unit, a squad of secretaries, medical personnel and clerks descends the ramp to the hobby craft room. These clowns have no idea what is permissible and what is not, but they search and destroy the hobby craft as 'boss' looks on.

From that point on, the hobby craft is closed. A steel door is fabricated and installed at the entrance to the room by order of 'big boss'. 'Big boss' is the recreation supervisor who is a newbie and anxious to prove himself to his superiors. For 30 years, this obstruction had not been necessary, but hey, it's a new sheriff in town. Why? What was found? Did they find drugs? Cell Phones? Weapons? Money? No. They found some personal items, tennis shoes, electric fans. Baseball gloves. This had never before presented a problem, but 'Big boss' decided that personal items were verboten. 'Big boss' had failed to post a memo, but hey, he's the 'big boss'. we are locked out of the hobby craft indefinitely.

So much for my Christmas presents. Wonder if they tossed my new supplies into the trash? Five weeks turns to eight and still no word. Rumors are rife. Group punishment. Petty tyranny.

Now boss has created a new policy. He has not issued a memo either, but this defacto law is a verbal edict, and is ex-post facto. For those of you that are unfamiliar with legalese, ex-post facto means that this new rule applies in the past also. Boss wants to inventory our supplies, every tube, brush and pencil; every oil, medium and cleaner and we must produce an itemized purchase receipt or else he will confiscate.

Boss only recently began keeping receipts at the beginning of his stint in hobby craft. Prior to this there is no itemized record of purchases. We have had numerous regimes which allowed different items. this regime has us at rock bottom minimum number of authorized items and still thinks we have too much. This should be an interesting enterprise. I have been buying supplies for many years . Will boss relent? Will boss confiscate? Will he issue the required confiscation paperwork or will he just steal our supplies and tell us to file an impossibly useless tort claim.

So now i sleep until 9 A.M. ,and i draw all day. Seems like 'Boss' wants to keep the art room closed until his year of hobby craft duty has expired. Makes his job easier ,eh?

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