I took the day off work to go visit Vince before I left for the Middle East, but I never saw him. I was denied a visit because my shirt was too “low cut.” Here I am out in the parking lot after I was ejected, showing off my slutty, low-cut shirt.
The correctional officer, a guy named Volk, told me I would have to go home and change my shirt.
Go home? I live two hours away. Then he suggested I drive into Moose Lake and buy a T-shirt. I protested that my shirt was not low cut; what was the definition of low cut? If there was one he didn’t know what it was. I pointed out that I was not showing cleavage; in fact I was physically incapable of doing so…. I said several times, “I can’t believe I have to say these things to a strange man in a prison. I’m a 55-year-old woman here to visit my son. I am not wearing a low-cut top!” I felt so shamed. Did I look slutty? I doubted my own judgment.
That’s when he said, “Well ma’am, it’s for your own protection. See, if you bent over, then they could see …”
That’s when I blew it–I kind of called him a pervert. OKAY I did call him a pervert. Visit Denied.
I asked to talk to his supervisor. He said she was not working that day. I asked to talk to a supervisor. He said there were none working that day. I laughed, incredulous, “So you are running the whole prison?” I asked for his supervisor’s name and phone number. He said, “You can look it up on the website, lady.”
I started bawling and stumbled out the doors. A female CO was coming in and asked me if I was alright. I managed to blubber out my story and then said, “I think it was all a big power trip!” Of course she couldn’t say anything but the look of complicit agreement on her face was clear.
I asked some visitors coming into the prison to snap a picture of me. I called my sister from my car. A group of officers came up to my door and yelled, “You have to leave! You can not sit here in the parking lot.” I rolled down my window, not understanding what could possibly be the problem. “You have to leave right now!” the closest one barked.
I drove out of the facility and called my sister again from the parking lot of the Dollar Store. “Volk’s brother-in-law probably owns the Dollar Store, conveniently located right outside the prison and handily ready to sell overpriced T-shirts!”
“Well I don’t know about that,” she said, “but he sure was on a power trip. Now drive safely; you’ve got another two-hour drive ahead of you—don’t make things worse by veering off the Interstate.”
Vince called me just as I was about to enter the freeway, and I pulled over to take his call. He had been sitting in the visiting room when he was called to the desk and told he would not have a visit due to a “clothing issue.”
“I couldn’t imagine what the hell that would be—my mom?”
“I feel so ashamed! I’m so sorry! I was so looking forward to seeing you!” I kept repeating. It really felt like it was my fault, like I had been trying to sneak in with my low-cut blouse to show all the inmates.
“Mom, this is what we have to put up with every day. If I had called a C.O. a pervert, I’d be back in solitary right now. We have to suck it up all the time. I’m proud of you, mom!”
I wondered, as I drove home, had the guard picked me out at random? Or did he have a big blue-collar chip on his shoulder toward well-dressed yuppies? Or did he sincerely think like a pervert, because after all, one out of four inmates at Moose Lake is there for sexual assault? Is it his job to see every bit of exposed skin as a potential incident?