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Gumshoe’s Rehabilitation

Once upon a time, when it was the best of times and the worst of times.  Times that tried men’s souls.  It was a dark and stormy night . . . wait a darn minute!  Belay all of that.

Gumshoe has regressed into a writer’s web of mangled hackneyed and weary-worded topic sentences that were unashamedly pilfered from past tomes.  Out damned spot! Gumshoe cannot use this assortment of word salad to camouflage his past indiscretion . . . Gumshoe was once a “huggie-body, peace and freedom party member social worker”.

There you have it, folks.  Egad! Great Caesar’s Ghost!  Tell me it ain’t so Joe?   Yes, Gumshoe’s personal scarlet letter of “L” for liberal had been branded upon his immortal soul. Definitely Gumshoe’s burden of days of long-gone past but always present.  Curses! Rosebud!

You see kind readers, before Gumshoe became a Gumshoe, he was unemployed but persistent in joining the workforce.   Not a penny of unemployment insurance sought nor received.

Police departments were not hiring at the time but Gumshoe strived to achieve a position somewhere in law enforcement that led him into corrections.   No, nothing like the variety of shotgun-wielding-mirrored-sunglassed chain gang guards from Cool Hand Luke.  No failure to communicate here boss!

Gumshoe was honorably discharged from Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children (USMC) after four years of active Jarhead service. “Urrah! Semper Fi!” opened the door for Gumshoe to be hired under a U. S. veteran program to by the California Youth Authority (CYA) as a Group Supervisor cum Counselor. Gumshoe later learned that CYA really meant “cover your assets”.

CYA was a prison that housed  (euphemistically stated) youthful wayward felons that counted among their sorry ranks, murderers, rapists, robbers, and dedicated hardcore gang bangers all of whom would ultimately graduate to other adult lockups and assorted state and federal death rows.

Gumshoe wore his blond hair at shoulder length; sported wire frame granny glasses; decorated his skinny throat with a puka shell necklace; styling with hip bell-bottom trousers; wore collarless Nehru shirts and walked around platform-heeled shoes.   Which way to Haight-Ashbury via Woodstock? Wear some flowers in your hair.

Gumshoe drove a banana yellow colored van with a purple flowered design on the side panels and it had interior brown curtains with a matching shag carpeted interior. Far out! Peace & Freedom!  Don’t trust anyone over 30!

No, Gumshoe never drank the Kool-Aid nor did Gumshoe ever debut on the drug scene. Gumshoe just wanted to reinvent himself from the high and tight haircuts and the green gyrene uniforms.

Working inside the “joint” is a life-changing experience in every respect.  Gumshoe personally observed a sub-level of existence and survival among the inmates.  Troglodytes are us. Gangs ruled the institution. Gang membership was broken down by race and by neighborhood.  Crips, Bloods, Aryan Brotherhood, and Mexican Mafia just to name a few. Woe to a non-member in the wrong place at the wrong time . . . Clean up in cellblock A!

Inmates labeled and self-identified by tattoos and in the manner in which they wore their prison garb. Inmates self-segregated by choice for their survival and for identity.   Groupthink for sure.  The popular tune “We are family” rang true, forget about the romantic notion of “jailhouse Rock”.

Snitches were shanked (multiple stabbings) and occurred frequently when the inmates distracted the staff that was too few or too afraid.

Weak inmates were segregated for their own safety.  Suicides were not uncommon.  The strong preyed upon them and the law of the jungle prevailed. “Soylent Green are people!”

Gumshoe managed a caseload of between eight to ten inmates.  “Behavior Modification” along with “Transactional Analysis” were the touchstones for inmate treatment.

An inmate had to successfully “program” by enrolling in a trade class or by attending high school classes.  They also had to demonstrate responsible behavior with no major discipline problems. The goal of inmate rehabilitation was to be released on parole.  The goal of the prison staff was to go home every night and to remember that there was a “No hostage policy”.

Gumshoe “programmed” just like the inmates. Gumshoe pretended to counsel and the inmates pretended to listen.  Blah, blah of what the inmate would say of what they knew what you wanted to hear on a non-stop track of lies and misinformation. Sort of a real-life version of “The Manchurian Candidate” with both the inmate as well as a staff member being mutually brainwashed.

Beware of the post-hypnotic trigger card of the Queen of Diamonds folks.

Gumshoe learned that the vast majority of the inmates just wanted to get out and not get caught “the next time”.  They actively taught one another how to be better at their chosen criminal pursuits. Rehabilitation was a myth and elusive as capturing a unicorn or meeting up with Big Foot for a picnic. Anyone by the way see Nessie lately?

Gumshoe lasted almost two years on the inside until Gumshoe escaped to the outside. Gumshoe got a haircut and lost the puka shells and the hippie wardrobe.  The van was painted over in copper penny.  The shag rug remained though. Gumshoe kept the wire-framed spectacles and lateraled transferred to the California State Police.

Note:  Refer to “Ronnie Made Me a Republican” for more details from an earlier Gumshoe tale.

Gumshoe knew that it was better to lock ‘em up rather than live with ‘em.  God bless and protect all correctional staff!

Transactional Analysis and Behavior Modification be damned!  Doctor Benjamin Spock was soooo wrong. “I’m Ok and You are NOT OK! is a truism folks when it comes to recalcitrant misanthropes.

As they say, “the rest was history” as Gumshoe commenced his gypsy police career.

Ahhh, Gumshoe’s past burden has been removed although that “L” scarlet letter left its mark.

In closing folks, always remember to love the ones who love you and even try to love the ones who don’t.

Coram Deo!

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Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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11 CONVERSATIONS

  1. I count it a blessing to have been in the correctional system (33 years). Great career – lots of challenges – met tons of great people along the way. One challenge was not taking it home with me (I did not start out being very good at that, but got better over time). Another challenge was not allowing it to harden my heart. After all, the God calls David (who comitted adultry and murdered, among other things) a ‘man after His own heart. God showed me again and again (and again) that NO ONE is beyond redemption. Not everyone gets to see this side of things in ‘corrections’…….there are plenty of bad stories to go around for sure, but God can reach into the darkest hole and transform a life – he did mine! Great article brother Danny, aka Gumshoe!!

    • Spot on my dear brother Mike. God puts us where He wants us and He equips us. We all have our vocation and our God-centered mission. Additionally, we are actually invulnerable until our life’s mission is completed. The Christ’s greeting: “Welcome my good and faithful servant!” will definitely be wondrous and glorious words to our ears. Thy kingdom come!

  2. Gumshoe you were a hippie before your epiphany? I am not sure that I could have worked in any NYS Correctional Institutions. BTW I could never figure out why they were called “Correctional Institutions” as most(not all) of those sent there came out worse than when they went in. I figured that were there to hone there skills till they were released.
    I always thought that it took a certain kind of individual to work in a Prison especially after the uprising at the Maximum Security Prison Attica in 1971. I was a young rookie on the Syracuse Police Department when that occurred.
    Anyway happy to read that you found your niche in your “gypsy police career”.
    Semper Fi

    • Hard to believe Tom that good old Gumshoe was a late-blooming flower child. You are absolutely correct about the euphemism of “correctional” institution. They were just “holding pens” for the barbarians to be ultimately being released for more mayhem. I readily agree that it took a very special person to work inside the institution. My brother Mike was such an individual who made a difference in countless inmate lives by promoting “Celebrate Recovery”. He was definitely an apostle who shared the gospel.

  3. Yes indeed my friend Vincent, good old Gumshoe had a liberal leaning bleeding heart for the inmates who for the most part the same age of Gumshoe. However, after seeing, hearing and living with them, Gumshoe’s heart hardened and learned not to be so easily manipulated. This was an excellent proving ground for Gumshoe to be a better LEO (law enforcement officer) once Gumshoe exited the institutional gates for good. Gumshoe’s heart learned to bleed for the victims.

  4. I think you gave the impression you were this liberal thought provoking guy, and as far as rehabilitating someone with evil so deep in-bedded in their souls that confinement is best. I do think better conditions might apply but not sure if that will change an evil soul. Enlightening article worth a read.

    • Well my dear Nightingale, it was definitely a learning experience for good old Gumshoe. There were actually several inmates on my case load who actually made individual progress in that they “programmed” successfully and never returned to the institution. The majority of my case load inmates came from broken single parent homes and bonded with their respective gangs. I considered them “walking dead” and they felt the same way by living the gang life and they expected to die young. Gumshoe hated to see the waste. Evil knew no bounds and prevailed by personal choice. God help them!

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