At about this point my personality began changing a little. I had to let this guy know he had already done some dumb things that could get him into trouble--to do so in a way that showed we were still good friends but that I meant business. So I reminded him of a few past situations. For the first time, he didn’t quite know how to take me. I immediately got nice again. I said, “Ah, come on, it would do us a lot of good to give for once in our lives, you can’t deny a person that kind of inner satisfaction. Any doctor will tell you it’s good therapy. Besides, the penalty for taking a letter out with money in it ain’t no greater than the ones you’ve already taken out. Don’t get me wrong, I would never tell, but I have had some trouble keeping some of these other cats in the unit from telling the sergeant that’s always on your back.
” He was beginning to feel the pressure. The confusion on his face was obvious. He wasn"t sure where I stood.
As I continued talking, I slid the envelope into his inside jacket pocket. “There ain’t no way you’ll be caught. They don’t search cops like they do inmates. Gosh, man, you can’t let little kids starve just ’cause their old man is in the joint. Those kids ain’t done no wrong. There ain’t a con in this place who would understand the deep hurt a person goes through when someone you love gets killed. I thought you were different. You don’t have to worry, we took care of those people who might have snitched to the sarg. No way are we going to let you get in trouble. Besides, I’ll never ask for a favor like this again. It’s just that those kids…” I walked away and left him to think about what I had just said.
I had been my old friendly self for a few days so my duck could become comfortable over taking the letter and
money out. Then I told him some relatives of my friend--the deceased woman’s husband--would be sending a
package to his house. The package would contain nothing but prayer beads for the grieving inmate. “Don’t open the box ’till you get here,” I told him. “we need the address to thank these people, and they were really grateful for that money.” He agreed. When the package came, I told the cop I’d show him the contents later and he said never mind he didn’t want to know. His voice told me I needed to butter him up a little because we both knew he was over the barrel. I had him right where I wanted him. But I still had to develop him more deeper. I knew he was in debt on the streets so I got the training officer’s clerk (an inmate) to add extra time on the dude’s pay records. The cop appreciated the extra money and said nothing. Because I let him know I was responsible for the little favor, he became more friendly, but he was still cautious with me. By this time I was about the only friend the cop had
Sometime back his real friends began telling the guy he was being too friendly with convicts. I couldn’t let that go on, so I started a rumor that this cat was living with an inmate’s wife. He came under investigation. Cops like to go with winners, not losers. This guy was a loser so left him alone. He had to talk to someone, and I was the only person available. I had the guy right where I wanted him, for sure! It took time but you gotta develop a duck carefully if you want it to pay off. Now the guy was ready for the big one. He had to do anything I said or I tossed him to the wolves.
Turning the Duck into a Golden Goose
I had done a lot of time in my life and was tired of prison. I wanted to get out. I’d been thinking about this for a long time now. Getting out had become an obsession with me. My duck and I were about the same size so I got him off to the side and said, “You don’t know it yet, but I’m going on parole, and you’re going to help me get there!” My voice was stern and commanding. He looked confused, but he knew I meant business. “I want you to bring me a cop’s uniform!” We had joked about this kind of thing before and he hoped I was still kidding.
With all the hatred I could muster I shouted, “Look you stupid S.O.B., you ain’t got no choice! Every convict
in this wing will snitch you off. You took out letters, money, you brought in things we still have stored to use as
evidence against you, and you’ve been accepting money from the state under false pretenses. Now you bring in that damn uniform or you’re dead, sucker!” I stood glaring at him and let what I had just said sink in for a moment. Then I handed him a letter from the people who had received the money in the letter he had taken out. It stated they were willing to testify against him. He had no choice. He had to so as I told him. “Listen, you rotten bastard,” I continued, “you bring a shirt tomorrow, trousers the next day and so on until I have the complete uniform. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!”
The duck brought a piece of the uniform each day in his lunch box. As I received them I rolled each new item and neatly placed it in the bottom of the foot locker. Then I told this dumb cop to call me off my job when ever the institution search team came into the wing. “Make some excuse like I didn’t clean my room” I told him. I knew if I were on hand when my room was being searched, I could talk the searcher out of going to far into my locker.
Some cops do their job and look at everything in the room, but most of them don’t like searching and can easily be talked out of looking in places where a lot of work is involved. You know, there’s a psychology behind handling a searcher. One of the first things convicts learn when they first come to a joint is how to beat the search team. Like, if you want to hide a major contraband in your room, then you leave a minor contraband item so it can be discovered. The dude searching will usually abandon the search when he finds the piece you salted, and he leaves feeling he’s done a fine job. You got to be just a little bit smarter than they are to survive in prison.
On the other hand there is that occasional sharp cop who can’t be fooled. When this happens, you’re in trouble. So the way you handle this guy is you get all the cons in the area to complain about how the guy dumps stuff on your floors, tears your bedding, etc. If the complaints keep coming about the guy, joint big shots take the attitude that “where there’s smoke there must be fire,” and they give him a job change. Can you beat that? The dude gets punished because he’s doing a better job that anyone else.
One morning my duck called and said the search team was going to be in his unit. I rushed and stood nonchalantly by my cell door. A cop was already in my room searching. I was polite, joked with him, pointed to an area in my room he failed to search. I even complimented him on his thoroughness. When he came to the foot locker I said, “Man, I’m sorry, it’s going to take you hours to get through all the junk in that box.” By seeding this thought he gets tired just looking at the job. They’ll usually just give the box a once over lightly and quit. I pointed to a master list of things in the footlocker that was taped to the underside of the lid. I said that because the box was so full the list might make the job more bearable; that it was packed military style; and it took me hours to do it. “But you got your job to do,” I emphasized, “and I don’t mind repacking, even though it will take me most of the day--go ahead on.”
The dude was impressed by my politeness and complimentary attitude and he was convincing himself that a con who encourages a thorough search is probably clean. I did ask him, however, that as he took things out of the foot locker to place them on the bed--if he didn’t mind; and that he could glance at the list to see how orderly I kept my things.
By this, I knew two things would take place in his mind: his eyes would check the list as I suggested; when he
consistently found things in order, he’d feel he’s wasting his time; and the old buddy association I was developing would help convince him I was hiding nothing. So I figured after removing a few things he would conclude the search.
It happened just as I thought.. He removed the top row of clothing and about half of the next, then said, “O.K., you’re clear,” and he moved on to the next cell.“Whew.” Breathing a sigh of relief, I decided this searcher came a little close and I had better put my escape plan in action soon. Tomorrow morning, I thought, was as good a time as any.
My duck comes on duty at 7:45 a.m. At 8:00 a.m. the night shift goes home, and at the same time there is a major work release for prisoners: the corridor is always crowded at that time. I figured I had 15 minutes to get out of my room, slip into the broom closet, get into the uniform then melt into the crowd unnoticed. I would go to the exit door next to the control room where a sergeant is supposed to identify everyone leaving and stand with the group of officers waiting to go home.