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?
About a year and a half ago I was able to see Jamie. My daughter was with me. They told her that her pants were too tight. They gave her a paper gown to put on. Different states, different rules I guess.
I hours I’m not overstepping my bound here. In looking at your blog your and your tags are backwards. You seen to have a blanket list you use. Email me and ill give you a few tips on tagging. I also have a section of links were I list other prison blogs and I’m going to list you there.
Anne, I hope you will follow up with a supervisor. A friend of mine did and they took her concerns very seriously. -Cyndi
Cyndi, I did follow up with a supervisor, with the result that I was banned from visiting for 6 months. I appealed the ban but that was denied. I contacted the ACLU and they said that corrections personnel have almost total discretion and impunity. It just depends on who you get, on what day, and what mood they’re in. Anne
It’s heart breaking. The system will do anything they feel. I’m so sorry you had to go through this Anne.