When I was a Detroit police officer, I never imagined that one day I would be a federally incarcerated inmate with a fresh 220nty month sentence, exiting a prison visiting room for the first time. But there I stood in a cold strip-search area. The Corrections Officer (CO) inside, twirled a black metal flashlight. He looked younger than my son and I became anxious about his instructions. “Take your clothes off,” he screamed. I felt shy and didn’t want everyone there to see my fat. I complied tentatively, hoping he’d stop me before I took off my underwear. Yes, I suppose to the outside observer, it probably looked like I was doing a strip tease. He got impatient. I could tell by his next question. “Didn’t you hear me? I said, take your clothes off. Hurry up already.” A few moments later, my bare feet stood pressed against the cold, certainly germ-filled, tile floor. I watched the gloved CO as he searched my boxers and someone else’s boxers at the same time. My mind anxiously began to explore my knowledge of cross-contamination and I wondered what type of newly introduced bacteria were now in my underwear. Ironically, I was pleased that the CO’s hands were protected from everyone else’s contamination, even though I expected to die of an infection because of him. He then yelled, “Turn around, bend over and spread um.” I complied, but once again, slowly, as he clicked on his light and walked towards my backside. A moment later, some warm flashlight shone where no light had shone before. As I bent over and held the spread, I began thinking about how far I had recently fallen. I was once an honorable police officer picked by the Secret Service to be one of the few officers on the Pope’s security detail while he visited Detroit. I was the officer who ordered the New York Yankees team to enter the dugout when someone threw firecrackers onto the Tiger Stadium outfield. I was the officer who comforted Rosa Parks when someone fired bullets into her home. But now, my rear hung out in the air conditioned air while some person who I didn’t believe was a medical doctor was taking way too long doing an examination. Talk about a tragic turn of events. Sadly, after a few visits, I got accustomed to the post-visit searches. They became bearable, perhaps, even comfortable. Eventually, as soon as I left the visiting room, I began stripping, leaving a fifteen-foot trail of clothing on the floor behind me. The CO never had to tell me anything anymore. I was always ready.
Six years later when I transferred to a minimum security prison camp, it never occurred to me that the strip search procedures may vary between prisons with lower security levels. Following my first camp visit, I entered the strip room and began my old routine. The CO had his back towards me as he wrote in a log book. I wanted to be ready, so I stripped, bent over and spread-um while waiting for the CO. A moment later, he turned and screamed in horror. “What the hell are you doing? Please put your clothes back on.” After I dressed, he politely said, “Thank you.” and allowed me to leave. Not too surprisingly, he seemed leery of me from then on. That had to be my most embarrassing, “butt” funny prison story.
— Donald H.