Memoirs of a Correctional Officer - Trying Not to Laugh

There’s no doubt that the incarcerated population is very representative of the community. There are inmates of various socio-economic backgrounds, races, ethnicities and sexual orientations among others. Enter Inmate Holsum; housed in the Segregation Unit. He landed in there after an alleged sexual encounter with another inmate and pending the outcome of an internal investigation into such matter. Assigned to a cell with video surveillance, it was easy to monitor him for more than just his well-being; he’s very flamboyant. Although he’s in observation due to his threat of self-harm, Holsum’s very lively in his behavior.

Being aware of the electronic eye above him, it’s no doubt he enjoys to put on a visual show for us, the officer audience. When not belting out tunes by Beyoncé or Whitney Houston, Inmate Holsum will work on his flexibility and effeminate dance moves. When I walk past his cell door, I sometimes forget that he is a male inmate by the way he calls out to me: “Heeeeeeeey!” Of course, that’s an inappropriate way to address an officer. However, I can’t help but to nod my head and laugh it off inside. I feel a sort of sympathy for him in that despite his status as an offender, he’s still a human being with needs. I’ve done cell searches and have found written requirements in what he looks for in a “men” through his personal effects. That’s right. Not a man, but a “men.” I don’t know if it’s for love or just for a sexual relationship for the stay while in prison.

It’s a bit sad and unfortunate that he’s become the butt of homophobic jokes throughout the institution yet he holds no reservation in his persona and doesn’t hide who he is.

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