My actual job with the state was not located inside a prison. I was in an office in the Department of Education building in downtown Baltimore. My office was right down the hall from the Secretary of Education. This was not fun because it meant that I had to dress much nicer than needed to look good for the important people wandering around. I can’t really remember my first actual day on the job, but I do remember the first day they sent me off to prison.
At this time, the Maryland Penitentiary was still a maximum security state prison and the location of the Maryland death chamber. At arrival, I was greeted by an officer in a small guard tower and was told to put my ID in a bucket(or something similar. My memory is fuzzy) and a pulley system was used to raise it up to the officer. The officer was very irritated when he saw my license had my first name listed as a different name than what he was given. He finally allowed me in after I explained that if he looked at the middle name, he would see the other name. Once in I was given a wristband. It was explained that this wristband was my ticket out of the prison. I was to make sure not to lose the wristband because it was the one thing assuring I would be allowed to leave the prison. This was not a pleasant way to begin.
After this I then made my way to the library. The way to the library was via the recreation yard. It was not an empty recreation yard. It was a recreation yard being fully used my many maximum security inmates. If you had told me just a few months before that I would be walking through a maximum security prison’s recreation yard soon I would never have believed you. I just wasn’t that guy. I was short, quiet and looked like I was just out of my teens. This is not a place I should be. I made it through the yard, went to the library and met an inmate who either was still in death row or had just has his sentence commuted to life without parole. That was a nice topper to the experience.
In reality, the day was not that exciting. It seemed a little scary at the time, but it really was just another library visit. I didn’t run screaming from the building. I didn’t quit my job. I went back to work the next day and somehow in a short few months would be the guy arguing about a parking space while a correctional officer pointed a gun at me.
4 thoughts on “My Life as a Jailbrarian: A Trip to the Big House”
Amazing! Do you still work in the prison? You have to have the material for a really good book there . . . 🙂
I was in correctional libraries for 20 years. I’ve since moved on to a public library.
So what you mean is “yes”.
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Holy cliffhanger batman
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