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Dispatches From Burnside, Episode Five: Teach your children well

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
"This place is like a war zone, with nothing to do but drugs and violence. Even the most myopic person should be able to comprehend that Burnside is reinforcing anti-social coping mechanisms such as violence and the use of substances. This is 2015, and society's solution to dealing with violent drug addicts is to force them to stay in a place that conditions them to be more violent and more addicted to drugs." [Photo: burnsidenews.com]
"This place is like a war zone, with nothing to do but drugs and violence. Even the most myopic person should be able to comprehend that Burnside is reinforcing anti-social coping mechanisms such as violence and the use of substances. This is 2015, and society's solution to dealing with violent drug addicts is to force them to stay in a place that conditions them to be more violent and more addicted to drugs." [Photo: burnsidenews.com]

Trigger Warning: The following article deals with real life at Burnside Correctional Facility. Instances of drug use, violence and rape are recounted.

By Phoenix

BURNSIDE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Nova Scotia - Let's say your child has an issue with drugs or alcohol and gets in trouble with the law. When he ends up at Burnside for a short stay, here's what he can expect:

After being processed at admitting, he will be put in the lockdown range for the first week or two. The lockdown ranges are not just for new admissions, they are also for the most problematic offenders. So usually the floors are covered in garbage, sprinkler water, human feces, urine, blood, rotting food and milk and random papers. There's rarely a TV on a lockdown range because it gets smashed very quickly. Sometimes the phones are smashed and unusable.

The cells usually stink from shit-bombs going off all the time and are caked in disgusting residue. Nobody has decided to clean them.

On arrival, the most anti-social people on the range will try to manipulate, browbeat and threaten the new guy into popping his sprinkler. This results in sticky black water destroying everything in the cell and coating the occupant with an odorous slime. Also, the facility will charge the offender with mischief and put a $600 lean on his canteen account, automatically.

If the new guy is going through withdrawals, as is often the case, there will be no healthcare for him. Other offenders will offer him help in the form of puked-up methadone or pills that they 'cheeked' earlier. Often times these pills will be laced with cleaning powders or other toxic substances that the inmates have acquired.

Once in a while, the new person will be offered a lethal overdose, unbeknownst to him, thanks to the guy that's being 'helpful'. These cases end up in the newspaper, prompting a facility-wide lockdown. Sometimes he doesn't die though and just ends up with permanent brain damage.

If your son survives all this, then he will likely be called names like: 'sex offender', 'mutt', 'goof', 'rat', or 'diddler'. Usually that prompts someone on the range to shit-bomb him. This is all for the sheer amusement of the other inmates.

If he's not involved with any of the local gangs, he will not be allowed out of his cell to use the shower or the phone. If he ends up pulling the sprinkler or getting shit-bombed, the guards will just leave him in it, for many days, without any clean or dry sheets and no cleaning supplies to deal with the mess.

If someone else pulls the sprinkler, all the cells nearby fill with black water and destroy everything. If all the sprinklers on the range get popped, the whole place fills up with an inch or two of the gross water. If somebody else above you pulls the sprinkler, you will get rained on, wrecking all your clothes and bedding and paperwork.

Inmates control who gets in and out of their cell, and when, and for how long. If the guards try to take control they get assaulted or shit-bombed. The worst-behaved inmate will take control of the anarchy and get out for several hours, while leaving everybody he doesn't like stuck for days or weeks. Usually you have to pay him canteen or pills in order to get in the shower, or to avoid being shit-bombed.

The law requires that inmates get thirty minutes of exercise outside their cell per day and thirty minutes or fresh air per day, but neither of those are even infra-structurally possible at Burnside. The guards are only there to walk around every thirty minutes, push sprinkler water down the drain, and open a cell when the most anti-social offender (the 'top dog') tells them to.

When the guard does his thirty minute walk-through, everybody yells: “Six up!” and the inmates stop talking until he leaves. If you ask a guard to get out of your cell you get shit-bombed. If you tell the guard you got shit-bombed, he ignores you and the other inmates scream at you and shit-bomb you ten more times, while calling you a rat and a piece of shit.

If you put your clothes into the laundry pick-up, they will be cleaned and dumped on the range. Whoever is out at the time will either steal your clothes or shit in them and put them in your cell for you.

After a couple of weeks of this, you may be put on an open range. Open ranges have twenty three inmates, that are over-bunked to thirty two, with many guys sleeping on the floor. There's a TV in one corner of the range and the most violent offender controls it. There's usually one video game on the range as well, as well controlled by the most violent guy.

If you get any medication or methadone, you will usually be forced to give it to somebody under threat of violence. If you have money in your canteen or phone, the same happens with that. The only way this stops is if you lash out with extreme violence.

The same goes for services at the facility. If you have a health issue, you will be ignored if you ask politely about it. If you threaten to cause an incident, you will be immediately seen by medical staff and your problem will be taken care of.

If you refuse to comply with the demands of the other inmates, you will be beaten up and will have to hide your injuries or else you will be beaten up some more and then put on a lockdown range, still a bad situation, for another few months.

In the four years that I have been here, there have only been two rapes that I know of, so you don't need to worry about that. Rapes only happen in the 'protective custody' area of the jail where they put sex offenders. 'Protective custody' areas are the most dangerous parts, and once you check in you can never check back out into the 'general population'.

The guards at admitting try and trick you into checking in to those dangerous areas by asking you: “Do you require protective custody?”

Always answer “No!” to this question.

The two rapes that I know of happened because a scared teenager thought the guards would protect him, and so he ended up bunking on the floor of a dangerous sex offender's cell.

The job of the guards is so boring that the more clever of the bunch will try to instigate problems for their own amusement. Some will accuse the new guy of being a rat or having done something in violation of the jail code, and watch them either get shit-bombed, beat up, and laugh. Some guards will even pay off the guy who did it with an extra meal tray. Some guards seem to see this place as a live 'cock-fight' between Homo Sapiens.

Exciting stuff.

Sometimes it is not clear who is more anti-social, the inmates or the guards. Guards will routinely threaten violence against inmates and carry out those threats in areas without cameras. I wouldn't be surprised if I get the shit beat out of me just for articulating this.

If your loved one makes it through all this to his release date, he will be curtly kicked out the back door with nothing more than a bus ticket and a serious case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Keep in mind that he was only in here because his coping mechanisms involved the use of substances.

This place is like a war zone, with nothing to do but drugs and violence. Even the most myopic person should be able to comprehend that Burnside is reinforcing anti-social coping mechanisms such as violence and the use of substances. This is 2015, and society's solution to dealing with violent drug addicts is to force them to stay in a place that conditions them to be more violent and more addicted to drugs. It should be a crime to support policies like this, and the punishment should be a six month stay at Burnside. It sure won't cure drug addiction, but it might just resolve a bad case of social myopia. Unrealistic faith in humanity is about the only thing that Burnside Corrections can correct.

End Dispatch.


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