Upselling Prison #4

A former inmate sizes up detention products, #4 in a casual series.

Accessories, upgrades, add-ons, telecoms, toilets, and the first responders of the detention supply industry.

It’s a dubious distinction, I know, but I’ve been among the first 75 inmates to populate a brand new prison. The place hadn’t even been “officially” opened and it wasn’t entirely complete; it took months for the technological marvel it was said to be to actually function as designed. But while Where Excuses Go to Die (the book) can tell you a lot more about that story, today we return to those particular design elements and specialized detention products that represent modern mass incarceration in America. Unlike previous editions, this time we’ll look at just one pressing problem: inmates who stop up cell house toilets and the wastewater control systems that swallow every dinner, document, dictionary, and domino thrown at ’em.

You name it, and prison toilets have probably gagged on it. See, when a fella does everything in the immediate vicinity of his toilet, it becomes the most abused, most improperly modified instrument around. It’s even a phone: just scoop out the water, get your face in there, and yell.

Once you’ve gotten over yourself enough to wash your underwear in a cell toilet, a degree in prison plumbing is really just around the corner. I wasn’t personally too keen on shoving an orange down there to make mine a laundry basin (Orange is the New Block), but an extended lockdown with limited laundry service forced me to recalibrate my expectations.

Now, frontline custody personnel are constantly being hounded about vandalism costs, so you definitely won’t want to get caught repurposing your crapper. That means waiting to wash your pillowcase ’till after the badges have completed their rounds is a smart idea. It lets ’em know you’re not one of those bad apples who’d punch a deflated soccer ball down there just to create the kind of godless chaos only 20 clogged commodes can produce.

Being the observant sort, I learned a number of other pro toilet tips and techniques as well, such as how to tie your heroin and stabbing implements to strings just long enough that you can pull ’em up when needed. Given that flushing also occurs between withdrawals and gang retaliations, you do not want to go cheap in obtaining contraband plastic wrap.

And still, strings stretch, snap, and erode, so your imported and handcrafted goods may very well join last night’s beef loaf, along with the other items being impulsively or angrily crammed down the rest of the pinch pipes on your tier.

Understand, too, that we’re talking about 90-100 high-pressure, super-flow toilets per housing unit, all simultaneously “active” with shit and shoes, all leading to lagoons of the frothiest filth imaginable. When an inmate kicks an entire mop head down his toilet in order to interrupt service on his tier and create some sort of planned diversion, the chorus of cursing and screaming that will inevitably occur an hour later could indicate his success. But really, it’s the “chewers” he’s trying to beat – centrifugal pumps that help eliminate plugs and clogs caused by hair, headphones, and Hell. And not all pumps and grinders are created equal.

Sure their internal blades are all designed to shred anything and everything that comes through. Some are just better than others. And it’s not only inmates relying on the fortitude of a given facility’s wastewater system, it’s every swingin’ colon this side of the electric fence. I’ve heard guards say they could hear the shrieking from the highway, at which point they’d u-turn their F-150s for a day off.

It’s almost an art form, toilet killing. Scratch that: in prison, it is an art form. Which is why every single thing behind bars has to be designed and manufactured as though a grunting Minotaur might mount it – or worse.

That’s where the Vaughan® Chopper Pump comes in. This thing looks like such an effective product it’s probably worth every penny of upsell. But don’t take my word for it: Vaughan’s promo video’ll bring it home much better than I can. It’s clearly aimed at prison procurement professionals, but it’s mesmerizing. On the other hand, if the idea of suddenly wanting to buy a big goddamned monster truck unnerves you, definitely don’t watch it.

Next time, inmate spit hoods – elastic or drawstring?
You call the upsell!