Community Organizing

Back in my twenties I was a Sheriff’s Deputy assigned to a County jail for a little while.

One day a very rambunctious inmate who’d been caught smuggling items while working as a “trustee” (I know…hilarious) decided losing his privilege of being outside the jail every day wasn’t enough and attempted to stir the pot.

He was one of those guys who’d bullied others his entire life because he was generally larger than the average male…and a lot larger than every female.

Let’s just say this type of guy was one of those guys who, had he been an illegal, would have been released and deported 5 times only to return to hurt Americans and other illegals.

But he was an American so we had him locked up…for a little while.

After all, this took place…in California.

The land of sanctuary cities and strict rights for child molesters and rapists.

The State that keeps building “affordable housing” but not any “affordable water”.

The State that blames the almond farmers for using all the water but ignores the marijuana fields stealing agua on a daily basis.

The State that just had an anti-gun politician incarcerated for…running guns!

Yes this is the State of the Obama and Jerry (Only Flush When) Brown supporter and yes California has the most people (citizens or otherwise) receiving food stamps,  subsidized housing, and “free” medical care in all the land.

Don’t believe the propaganda that uses terms like per capita and then points at Kentucky or West Virginia.

When it comes to a failed debt ridden, public union controlled State that is now letting everything die because of gross mismanagement and over-population…California is the place.

I didn’t even mention the CalPERS State Pension program that is underfunded…while the stock markets are at all time highs.

Get ready for pennies on the dollar State Employees while taxes are being raised on those left in the ever shrinking private sector to pay for those pennies.

But I digress.

The aforementioned inmate was removed from his relatively cushy cell and re-classified into what was called minimum security.  Minimum security was a large room filled with bunk beds that held approximately 50 to 75 inmates at a time.

In comparison Maximum security held two inmates per cell or sometimes just one inmate if the prisoner was dangerous enough.  I remember one time I dealt with an inmate who was covered head to toe with tattoos.

He was in for…I am getting off track.  Maybe another time.

The minimum security inmates were habitual drunk drivers, or multiple misdemeanor criminals like possession of certain drugs, burglary, etc.

Generally no one in this pod had any “arrests” for crimes considered “violent”.

Don’t get me wrong.

First of all I said “arrests”.

Secondly you wouldn’t want any of these pieces of work living in your neighborhood.

But in the “justice system” they were deemed relatively benign.

Classification is very important to a working jail.  If you allow a trouble maker access to a large group of people and that trouble maker is able to get them going in the same direction…well…another word(s) for this is “community organizing”.

As we all know this doesn’t work well…for anyone.

Because the troublesome inmate, let’s call him Tool, was classified incorrectly he had access to over 50 inmates for days that were bored, sleep deprived, and most importantly, belonged to nothing.

Tool decided to use his skills of manipulation, and his willingness to threaten the weaker inmates, into backing him one night.  He’d only been in the pod for a few days but things were quickly getting out of control.  The weaker inmates that didn’t go along were beaten and the rest fell in line.

A radio call went out from the deputy watching over the pod.

“I need backup in B pod.  Having trouble with “Tool”.  Probably need more than one.”

As I mentioned earlier this pod was filled with small time criminals.  I’d walked into the Pod by myself hundreds of times and never felt like I was in any danger.

On the other hand every time I walked into the Max pods I always went in completely aware that any of these guys could be a threat to my life.

As I arrived at B pod, two other deputies were there.  One male, one female.  For those of you who’ve read Late Bird you will recognize the female as “Caitlin”.  (Please no Bruce Jenner jokes.  That was a perfectly wonderful name when I wrote the book and as you will see Caitlin is someone you can count on).

The three of us walked into the pod and Caitlyn told Tool to come on out.  As I looked at him I noticed at least 10 other inmates standing behind him in a show of solidarity and with threatening looks on their faces.

Again, he was told to come on out.

His answer had something to do with having sex with ourselves.

I smiled an unpleasant smile as I watched a couple dozen other members of the pod slowly fan out behind the community organizer.

Now for anyone who’s been in this kind of situation you know order has to be restored.  The inmates literally cannot run the asylum otherwise everyone’s lives are in danger.

The longer the criminals are allowed to be in “power” the worse it is for everyone…this ironically includes those who support this behavior.

Imagine if someone like this ever got to a position of authority where they could do anything they wanted and no one stopped them…well…I guess we don’t have to imagine this.

It’s happening every day.

Now as I stated before I knew this had to be dealt with.  I also knew three on thirty wasn’t going to go very well for the three.

Did we have more deputies on shift?

Yes we had a few but six or seven on thirty or forty still wasn’t going to be pretty…for the six or seven.

This was a habitual problem at this particular jail.

Poor leadership and grossly understaffed shifts.  My verbalization of these issues to my supervisors, including the Sheriff, was one of the reasons I was eventually invited to leave…permanently.

It’s all in the book.

Tool and I engaged in some back and forth.  I will spare you the verbiage.  It wasn’t a bunch of niceties to say the least.  But even though this situation had to be handled it couldn’t be handled in the middle of the room.  Too many others would fall into the gang or pack mentality if I or one of the other deputies went down.

So we pretended to back down while returning to a safer location.  I, Caitlin, and the other deputy slowly walked back to the pod door while engaging Tool in conversation.

His side was a bunch of threats towards me and the other deputies.

Now…this is a crime.

But back then and in today’s society we aren’t willing to deal with anything proactively.

We’d rather wait until a young woman gets murdered on a pier taking pictures with her dad by an illegal alien.

Our side of the chat was getting the three of us back to the door while making the required extraction in the safest possible manner.

He’d been instructed to come out.

Come out he must.

Tool was really feeling his oats that day.

I don’t know if he’d been cheeking his meds and took them all at once, or got his hands on some wicked Pruno, but he was running his mouth like there was no tomorrow telling us what he was going to do to us, how he was going to do it, and naming body parts.

As we retreated to the door he and his group kept coming forward.  His confidence was growing as he thought he smelled weakness.  As I stood right inside the door he was about a step away from me.

Caitlin was outside the door with the other deputy and two more that had arrived.

I looked at Tool and counted at least thirty inmates spread out behind him in a lackadaisical pattern.  It reminded me of a time in my life where a line of kids spread out in front of me with different balls in their hands waiting for a command to fire from a much larger and older bully I was having a problem with because I’d testified in court against his step-dad about a crime he’d committed.

Just like the kids most of the inmates didn’t want to be there but their fear of the bully/community organizer was greater than the unknown so the tension kept building and the one thing we know about convicts is they have no impulse control.

I knew I couldn’t let this happen inside the pod but I also knew order had to be restored.

“Play time is over.  Time to come out.  The longer this takes the harder it’s going to go on your time here,” Caitlin told him.

She was right.

Tool was an out of county transplant.  We were getting paid to house him.  What this really meant was his original county PAID to get him out of their jail.

He could be sent back and have extra time added to his sentence or even be sent to prison.

Let’s just say his retort wasn’t appropriate.  His mixture of incorrect grammar, poor usage of verbs, and lack of auditory punctuation was astounding…and this was before Common Core.

Tool wasn’t the best communicator and definitely not the sharpest in the shed.

After he finished his attempt at sentence structure he threw one of his hands up in the air.

Out of instinct my left arm went up in defense of my face to block his potential strike.

Tool freaked out and threw a lazy right that I stepped under while I grabbed him in a bear hug and lifted him right out of the pod.

It happened so fast his “community” just stood there in shock as I put him up against the wall to hand cuff him.

Unfortunately Tool wasn’t having any of it.

He started flailing around and trying to hit me and the other deputies who were trying to restrain and hand cuff him.  Tool was not a small guy and I knew if I let go of him things were going to get a lot worse.  But before we could control his arms he started kicking the inside of my right knee with his right leg.  His foot missed me the first time but not the second.  I knew I couldn’t let him do that again or he’d bust my knee.  As I tried to get some leverage and protect my knee he kicked me in the other knee.  As all this was happening I could hear the screaming of inmates rushing towards the door.  The air was getting hot as the screams got louder.  Everything in me was telling me to turn around as my back was a wide open target.  In the blink of an eye I will never forget the sound of the woman who stepped into the fray and literally covered my back.   Caitlyn stood in front of me, and the door, screaming at them to get back and for the deputy in the pod to “close the f*&cking slider!!!”

Now that was an appropriate usage of profanity.

I’ve thanked you over the years a few times “Caitlyn” but God bless you sister.

That would have been ugly.

“Tool” was still kicking me on the inside of both knees so I took him to the ground for his safety and mine.  He ended up with a knot on his head (from the floor) and I ended up with a messed up shoulder that to this day will sometimes act up.  Of course baseball could also have been the culprit.  I did throw my body all over the diamond.  Nevertheless two cortisone shots over the years in my Tool/baseball shoulder gets me through the day.

Tool the Community Organizer was re-classified and stuck in Maximum security where he got into more trouble and was shipped back to his home county.

If I had to place a bet I’d put my money on him being in prison or dead.

Ah the life of the Community Organizer.

Locked down…or six feet under.

Jason Kraus



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