Everyone knows (or, at least, I hope they do) what “Fishing” is. Fishing involves a hook, a line, a sinker and a water hole, right? Plus a little bait, a little faith and a lot of luck. Include a bit of patience, a bit of repetition and bunch of beers.
The above formula, if you hold your mouth just right and the wind don’t blow and the fish are biting, you might just end up with supper on your stringer.
If you knew some or all of the above, you have a fair idea of what “Fishing” is, but there’s another kind of “Fishing” and I’m not talking about the kind spelled with a ‘Ph’ instead of an ‘F’. There’s another kind of “Fishing” that goes on Behind Bars.
Fishing Behind Bars is a little different from fishing for cold-blooded, scaly creatures that swim in the water and put big smiles on millions of people’s faces every day whenever they show up at the end of a ten pound test mono-filament line. Fishing Behind Bars actually does involve hooks, lines and sinkers, but that is where the similarities to something that Gramps used to do every Sunday except Easter, but the line might be made of a strip of cloth from a bed sheet or an unraveled or braided potato chip bags or a piece of purloined string from the laundry or their job in the field office or some other ingeniously engineered material and the hook is often made of a sock. The sinker can be anything with weight ranging from a rock ripped off from the rec yard, a pencil pilfered from the Law Library to a bottle of hot sauce bought from the commissary.
The offender, sitting in his cell during a shakedown, has little to do other than watch the growing heap of contraband piling up against the wall as the Officers went from cell to cell, searching for contraband (illegal goods, weapons and/or hoarded items). Whenever they saw something they might want or need from the pile, they would hopefully throw out their fishing lines, using the same faith, patience and repetition as Gramps, he might be able to land the item he wants, his ‘fish’, and drag it back to his cell.
There are other forms of ‘fishing’ that go on Behind Bars, depending on the size and shape of the prison unit, itself, and how the Officer’s conduct general shakedown operations, but for the sake of keeping this blog post short, I’m only describing one. I think you get the picture, if not the catch of the day.
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