Friday, July 27, 2012

A question!

Gentle Reader Jeff Wood asks:

"Would some kind soul explain "Max Pod" to this Brit in Italy?"


First you have to understand that a County jail in Texas is not the same as a prison.

A prison is used to house people who have been adjudicated guilty of committing one or more felonies. In order to be in prison, you have to be both A)found guilty; and B) found guilty of a felony.

A County jail is rather different.

County jails holds: A) anyone (in the case of Toadstomp County) awaiting trial for citations (traffic and otherwise) who cannot -- for whatever reason -- bond out;

B) anyone (in the case of Toadstomp County) who is sitting out time for citations (traffic and otherwise);

C) anyone awaiting trial for misdemeanors other than citations, who cannot -- for whatever reason -- bond out;

D) anyone who has been adjudicated guilty in misdemeanor court and sentenced to serve time (in Texas that can be up to a maximum of one year);

E) anyone awaiting trial for felony crimes who cannot -- for whatever reason -- bond out;

F) anyone who has been adjudicated guilty of felony crimes who is awaiting transport to prison;

G) anyone who has been adjudicated guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony, sentenced to probation, who has screwed the pooch on said probation and is awaiting a decision from the Probation Department and the judge on what to do about the case; and last, but certainly not least

H) anyone who has been released form prison on parole, who has screwed the pooch on their parole and is awaiting a decision from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles about what to do about their case.

As you can see, you can have an eclectic bunch in your standard Texas County jail. However, as my buddy MattG says, "You don't want to throw the puppies in with the wolves" so there has to be some way of separating the "puppies" from the "wolves".

At Toadstomp County we have three classifications of custody: Minimum, Medium and Maximum. Well, six actually. Female inmates can never be housed with males, for obvious reasons.

When someone comes into our tender custody we take a look at what their current arrest is, what their criminal history looks like, take a look at any past behaviour problems during any previous stays with us, and several other factors and come up with an initial classification of Minimum, Medium or Maximum.

Obviously traffic offenders sitting out tickets and non-violent misdemeanors are our Minimum inmates. Non-violent felonies, some and all other misdemeanors are typically Mediums, and assaultive felonies with past violent histories are our Maximums.

What I referred to as a "Pod" is actually a "Housing Area". We have two types (four, counting the females): Minimum (MIN) and Maximum (MAX). Minimum classification inmates are only housed in MIN pods. Maximum classification inmates are only housed in MAX pods.

The art comes in when you find out that anyone classified as a Medium can either go into a MIN pod or a MAX pod -- but that's a post for another time.

So. When I say "Max pod" I'm talking about a housing area that holds inmates who are charged with assaultive felonies, who have past violent histories -- either on their rap sheet or in our custody -- and inmates who have been found guilty of a violent felony who are awaiting transport to prison.

Hope that helps.


Out of curiosity

Of the mass shootings that have taken place in the United States over the last two decades, have any of them been in places that DO NOT expressly forbid the carry of firearms?


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meditations on gun control

I don't work patrol anymore, haven't in a while, truth be told.

These days I work in the Toadstomp County Jail as Semi-Important Knuckle-Dragger and First Assistant Bottle Washer ... most of the time.

Since I work inside the secure perimeter with the inmates, there are rather strict rules about what I can take in there with me -- any sort of weapon is a no-no, as well as anything that can be modified into a weapon: metal buckles on my duty belt, soft-drink cans, that sort of thing.

Guns are a definite no-no, as are knives, clubs, etc., etc.

While there are Less-Lethal tools on-site -- OC spray and TASER -- they are locked away, only to be brought out for certain situations and only by certain officers. Usually me. In addition, just about every part of the facility that it is legally possible to have video surveillance, has 24-hour/7-day recorded video monitoring.

In other words, the Toadstomp County Jail -- and other similar facilities around the State of Texas and the United States as a whole -- is pretty much just as close to the liberal dream of a total gun control Utopia as you can get.

No guns allowed, ever. No guns, no knives, no weapons. Full gun control. Period. Full stop. End of story.

I bring this up, because the tragedy in Aurora has brought the Usual Suspects out of the woodwork, circling on the metaphorical thermals as they grunt about the lack of gun control on TeeVee and hiss "common-sense gun-laws" all over the Internet.

I have this terrible urge to snatch up the next numpty whining about the lack of gun control and dump him in SHU for a couple of shifts.

Granted, the Toadstomp County Jail Special Housing Unit isn't the gun control Mecca that, say, San Quentin or Pelican Island are, but one of my officers did get stabbed (non-fatally) with a golf pencil by an inmate in SHU some time ago.

He was stabbed by this inmate, as a point of fact, because he was "The kindest officer" on shift that day. My paw to Freyja, that quote is the absolute truth.

Alternatively, an hour or so in a 40-man Max pod could be instructive. Again, while our Max pods have the same stringent gun control as Attica Correctional or Angola, we're not quite the Gun Control Paradise those places are. Only a hands-full or so of our inmates have needed medical care after inmate-on-inmate violence. This year.

So, I have to ask: if gun control is the panacea these folks think it is, why aren't they clocking in to the safety, peace and quiet of a boring shift at Sing-Sing or ADX Florence? Complete and total gun control means those should be amongst the safest places in the world, right?



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Letter to a victim.

Dear Ms.

I am the officer you spoke to today, when you attempted to visit your husband in the Toadstomp County Jail.

I'd like to take this opportunity to explain myself further, and hope to clear up some things you appear to have some misconceptions about.

First, when it comes to the inmates under my care, custody and control, my word is law. Now, I am neither arbitrary nor capricious, when I make a decision about one of my inmates -- in this instance, whether he gets a visit or not -- there are valid, articulatable reasons why I make my decision.

Which brings us to the second point: Your husband is here because he got caught with his hands wrapped around your throat and his thumbs on your windpipe by a fairly grouchy city officer. The fact that your Pookie was doing so in violation of an Emergency Protective Order signed by a judge to protect you was pretty much just icing on the cake.

I do realize that you are not going to press charges -- your husband's multi-state record of domestic violence arrests with no records of prosecution tell me that you probably have the fine print on the Affidavit of Non-Prosecution form memorized.

How-some-never, your Snookums now has yet another Emergency Protective Order against him on your behalf. That, coupled with the bruises showing quite clearly above the turtle-neck you're wearing in July in Texas is more than enough to convince me that allowing you to visit him in my facility is not in anyone's best interest, much less your own.

Yes, I figure you love him. The fact that you spent thirty minutes attempting to negotiate with me, bargain, plea, cajole, argue and debate your way into changing my mind about your visit tells me that you feel something for him. I also understand that the Emergency Protective Order states that he is only forbidden from communicating with you in a "threatening or harassing manner", and that he's nothing but roses and kittens on the visitation phone. And I do understand that you do not want, need or appreciate my protection --

-- Tough.

I would, however, like to confess to a lie.

At the end of your harangue, when you asked me if I had a shred of human decency or compassion, I told you that I did. I further explained that it was at home, in a jar, in my armoire.

Well, actually I fibbed when I told you that. I told a bit of a lie.

I don't have an armoire.

Nothing but love,


Monday, July 23, 2012

This is my surprised face.

Forbe's Magazine recently published their list of the Top 20 Most Miserable Cities in America.

Out of sense of morbid curiosity, I paged through their presentation, and when I came to the end, the first thing that popped into my mind was: "Yet one more reason for my shadow to never, ever darken the borders of California."

Of the twenty cities listed, eight of them are in California.

Folks, if eight of your cities are among the "Most Miserable" places to live in the United States, that there is what we finely-trained law-enforcement types call "A Clue".

By way of comparison, I give you the Great State of Texas. Not a one of our cities lands on the Top 20 list -- and that's saying something considering there're parts of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and El Paso that I wouldn't venture into without heavy fire-power and a full platoon of Marines for back-up.

California has eight out of the twenty, yet California is still held to be the ideal in certain social and political sectors.

"You should be more like California," they say, "California is enlightened!" "If it's good enough for California to do, it must be mandatory for you!"

Huh. I hadn't ever considered that "Misery" might equal "Enlightenment" but that thought process might explain a great deal.

California is the reason that every bit of fishing tackle I buy has an idiot label on it that says: "This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm" -- even the brass-and-tungsten "no-tox" weights.

If it isn't bad enough that media and social pundits keep extolling the virtues of California, people fleeing California to my Fair State keep trying to make Texas into a carbon-copy of the misery they just left.

Why? Texas: None of the Top 20 Most Miserable Cities. California: majority shareholder in the Top 20 Most Miserable Cities. SO WHY THE HELL DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE TEXAS?!

Now I realize that California liberals fleeing their State couldn't get a clue if they smeared themselves with clue musk and did the clue mating dance in a field full of receptive clues at the height of the clue mating season, but here's to tilting at windmills:

California is doing something wrong. Texas is doing something right. Quit trying to turn Texas into a carbon-copy of California. Leave us the hell alone.



Ask not for what the scarab rolls

We have dung beetles.

As the custodian of three well-fed little furchildren, I'm somewhat of a fan of dung beetles, so when I and the pups stepped into the back-yard this morning I confess to getting a warm feeling from seeing several little balls of ... stuff ... meandering across the yard.

The dogs, on the other paw -- well, let us say that reactions were ... mixed.

Mochi sneezed and wandered off with the air of, "Meh, sometimes poo moves." Chuy, of course, admonished his new little sister that the poo was not, in fact, "moving" but was being moved by a beetle of the family Scarabaeidae. Praline's reaction was true to form: "It's moving?! Poo isn't supposed to move! Kill it with fire!"

I admit to chuckling a bit as I chivvied the dogs off to do their business ... until I noticed that there were two perfect little spheres of what came out of a south-bound pup which had apparently been rolled along the concrete walkway until progress had been halted by the -- also -- concrete back step. Two shiny metallic beetles leaning against their cargo, apparently completely bumfuzzled.

Great, I think to myself, I finally get some dung beetles, but they had to ride the short bus to my house. Just my luck.

This initial impression was not hindered in the slightest by the sight of yet a third ball trundling industriously along to (already mentioned) concrete walkway until it fetched up against the (I think I mentioned this earlier) concrete steps with a fairly authoritative smack.

A mental image of a short little guy in a Haz-Mat suit, gas-mask knocked awry, looking with some puzzlement over his load was abruptly cut short as the other two beetles ceased leaning against their respective balls, scooted over to the new-comer and promptly proceeded to kick the ever-loving whey out of him.

May I say, as a connoisseur of the Art of the Toad-Stomp, that had to be one of the most thorough butt-whippings I have ever borne witness to, ending with Beetle #3 hauling carapace in the general direction of Somewhere Else.

And it finally hit me: the purplish tint of Beetle #1 and #2; the leaning against their work; the general sneer attitude I fancied I could feel directed towards me.

I don't have developmentally-challenged dung beetles.

I have unionized dung beetles. My sodding back-yard is Bugscuffle Local #Whatever of the Scarab Extortionists International Union.



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Miss Mochi

As those Gentle Readers who follow my lady's blog already know, Herself and I have adopted another furball.

Allegedly she is a chiweenie, has received the appellation of Mochi (although to me she seems to be mo' weenie than chi, but there you go), and has settled into our little pack with a minimum of fuss, bother and bleeding.

Since the bleeding was all me, I'm fairly grateful for that.

She is a puppy -- less than six months old -- and it's been long enough since I was around a puppy that it's almost like learning all over again. The gnawing upon any and everything handy was a bit of a shock, truth be told.

Mochi seems to have four settings: "Sleep"; "Snuggle"; "Investigate!"; and "I'm Gonna Kick Yer Arse!", and I honestly can't figure out if this is another puppy trait I'm just not remembering, or it's a doxie thing, or if just all Miss Mochi -- but she simply will not back down from a fight. Even if the opposition masses over three times her body-weight.

I think the desperate desire for snuggling is probably the result of having been taken from her mother and chained to a post in a trailer-park back-yard to be ignored except for dumping some food into her bowl every so often -- a rant for another time -- but I could be wrong.

She has a bit of an over-bite -- not as bad as some I've seen -- but she's doesn't know she's any different, and certainly doesn't let it slow her down; and she's a bit puzzled about this whole "house-training" thing.

All-in-all, an absolute darling little dog, and I think we're lucky to have her.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

That one's going to leave a mark

I ran across this video whilst banging about the Internet:



Monday, July 09, 2012

Requiscat in pacem

Ermes Effron Borgnino, born in Connecticut in 1917, died yesterday in California with his wife and children by his side.

The son of Italian emigrants, Ermes spent several years of his childhood in Italy, before moving back to the United States and graduating high school in New Haven, Connecticut.

He then joined the US Navy, racking up ten years of service -- including World War 2 -- on a destroyer, achieving the rate of Gunner's Mate, 1st Class.

An active Republican, Freemason, and 30-year Grand Clown in Milwaukee's Great Circus parade, Mr Borgnino also did a bit of work in Hollywood, under the name Ernest Borgnine.

Rest in peace, sir.


Friday, July 06, 2012

FNH USA Question

During my trip to the NRA convention, I wandered over to the FNH USA booth and had a bit of a chin-wag with the nice folks over there.

Our talk got around to the Less Lethal goodies that FNH had on display, and I wound up going back to the office with a couple of their inert .68 calibre 303 projectiles to show my Chief Deputy.

Fast forward a couple of months and we've had a couple of incidents that have the Sheriff and the Chief Deputy looking to expand our Less Lethal options -- the first option that came up was the FNH 303 series.

I've had a bit of a look about the web, and the most I have come up with is that poor girl who got killed in Boston, and some miscellaneous training videos, but not a whole lot else.

Have any of my Gentle Readers had any experience with the FN 303 -- either the pistol version or the rifle?

I've got business cards from FNH for Sales and Training, but I'm interested in some kind of general overview before I give the folks at FNH a call.


Sunday, July 01, 2012


As part of my regimen for getting my right paw back up to scratch, I have acquired a "therapy ball" which appears to be a balloon full of what is referred to as "granulated pelletised silica" and then stuffed into another balloon.

Were I to guess, I'd say that "granulated pelletised silica" is probably a fancy term for "sand", but there you go.

Anyhoo, it seems to be working a treat.

Unfortunately, Miss Praline has apparently decided that it is, as a matter-of-fact, the very stress ball used by Abdul Alhazred during the penning of his last tome, and there-fore Must Be Destroyed. Utterly. It's for our own good. The Fate of The World, and all that.

I've never before had a Jack Russell Terrier, and the amount of sheer, single-minded focused determination is ... awe-inspiring. This is a level of concentration on one single task that Zen Masters work life-times to achieve -- without success.

There is nothing, not dinner, not her (formerly) favourite toy, not the new puppy, nothing capable of distracting her from her self-appointed goal of destroying the menace that is my therapy ball.

Whole bunch of folks ought to be thanking their various and sundry gods that no-one saw fit to give Miss Praline thumbs, because -- near as I can tell -- the lack of opposable thumbs is about the only thing preventing the Reign of (Mostly) Benevolent Dictatrix Praline.

Which -- come to think -- might not be all that bad compared to what we currently have.

Ah, well.