Last week while I was chatting with the sergeant in his office, I happened to notice a sheet of paper on his desk, printed with the black and white image of an inmate’s mug shot. What struck me about the photo was that the guy had several tattoos on his face, including a large swastika.
“Why do you have this guy’s photo printed up?” I asked, because I’m always nosy like that. “What did he do?”
“Oh, he’s a new arrival to the yard,” the sergeant said. “I have to call him in. I need to talk to him about a few things.”
I picked up the sheet of paper and looked at the name and ID number. On our yard, clinicians are assigned their patients by the last two digits of the inmate’s ID numbers. This particular inmate’s last two digits fell within my assigned caseload numbers.
“Oh, man,” I said. “He’s going to be on my caseload.”
I’ve interacted with a wide spectrum of personalities among the incarcerated population, from the most polite and mild-mannered guy to the one who stared at me across my desk with such a look of intense hatred that I immediately terminated our interview. I’ve been yelled at and assaulted (with no battery– thankfully, the correctional officer intervened when that particular inmate lunged at me). So I wasn’t afraid to meet this inmate with the swastika on his face; I just wasn’t looking forward to it.
Today when I arrived at work, it was my Monday and I had to catch up on emails. It was through one of those emails that I learned that the new arrival was no longer on my caseload. (Later, I found out more details from custody: The inmate had assaulted and severely battered another inmate on the yard, resulting in immediate transfer to Administrative Segregation, where he’d likely be put up for transfer.)
Sitting at my desk and looking at the email, I was happy with this turn of events for about a moment. Because right after I found out that I had one less patient on my caseload, I opened the next email and learned that I’d just been assigned another new arrival.