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The Other Residents of Prison World



What is prison like

I have posted excepts about inmates and correctional officers from my soon to be completed prison memoir. Prisons are not just filled with inmates and guards. The prison world is composed of individuals working in different capacities at any correctional institution. For example, there are administrative staff, medical staff, chaplains, and case managers. The following is a true prison story about my case managers.

In my prison in western Maryland, an inmate was assigned a case manager. It was the role of the case manager to determine what programs and/ or assignments would help the inmate through the correctional system. The case manager  determined your eligibility for your security level, educational programs, vocational programs, work release, and various other options. The case manager  helped you with obtaining records such as birth certificates and social security cards. The case manager reviewed the accuracy of your release date, and other important matters. There is a long list of the duties and responsibilities of case management listed in every prison handbook. In a nutshell, the case manager was supposed to help the inmate.

In reality, there were case managers who would make every effort to help inmates and there were case managers who not only did not care about the inmates, but enjoyed making life more difficult for the incarcerated. When I first arrived at state prison in western Maryland, I was assigned a temporary case manager for orientation. He was a wonderful case manager. He was patient, answered questions, and helped me as much as was possible. Unfortunately, I was then assigned the case manager from hell. He was young, indifferent to my concerns, and did not want to help in any way.

I was trying to have my security classification changed from minimum security to pre-release, so I would be transferred to a pre-release unit. He did not have any interest in helping me and was actually intent on prolonging my stay at this prison. I received a break when he was out on leave and another case manager met with me. This case manager reviewed my history, my nonviolent status, age, no violations of prison rules, and immediately began work to have my status changed to pre-release. This case manager had years of experience, was empathetic, and his sole goal was to help an inmate. I was reclassified to pre-release. When my regular case manager came back, he met with me. He was incensed that my status had changed even though I was eligible for the new classification. He tried to obstruct my change and transfer. When I met with him, I felt I was with a very hostile correctional officer and not my case manager.

My attorney contacted a supervisor and the classification transfer was finally resolved in my favor. At my last meeting with my regular case manager, he was belligerent and said only, “I hope that I never see you again.”

I did not respond to him because I did not want to give him any new reason to object to my transfer. I left his office, smiled in relief, thinking the same thing—I never wanted to see him ever again. He was a nasty nightmare, but if it was not for the help of several other case managers, I would not have received my new security classification and transfer to a pre-release facility.

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