Derbtown

Where the Men Are

May 02, 2013

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Where the Men Are

My favorite jailhouse sex scene is the one in The Longest Yard. Burt Reynolds is in the Florida state pen. A fellow inmate boasts of his powers as a fixer. “I can get you anything in here! I can get you laid in here!”

Burt is skeptical, so the fixer sets him up on some petty mission to the warden’s office. No one is there but the secretary, Bernadette Peters. She locks the doors and starts undressing Burt.

Burt (at 1:11 here): “You do this very often?”

Bernadette: “I’m just as far from Tallahassee as you are, honey.”

Life’s been imitating art all over recently. The big story here was the one out of Baltimore City Detention Center, where a prisoner named Tavon White, awaiting trial for attempted murder, has allegedly fathered five babies by four female prison guards and had carnal knowledge of at least nine more. Mr. White’s domination of his custodiennes extended well beyond the leg-spreading department: They were reportedly smuggling in contraband for him and helping his business enterprises.

“Speaking as a beta provider with zero inclination to criminality, I find it all depressing.”

The Baltimore story is only one of many. New York cop-killer Ronell Wilson (whose hairstyle seems to be inspired by the Mandelbrot Set) has been having the leg over with one of his guards, Nancy Gonzalez. Ms. Gonzalez gave birth to Wilson’s son a few weeks ago. She named the child Justus. “I took a chance because I was so vulnerable and wanted to be loved, and now I am carrying his child,” explained Ms. Gonzalez prior to delivery. Ahhhhhh.

That story came shortly after a similar case at a maximum-security facility in Fishkill, New York, where corrections office Tyshinia Love Brewster confessed to being six months pregnant with an inmate’s baby.

We of the fogey tendency, always a decade or two behind the times in noticing social changes, are surprised to learn that women are now serving as guards in men’s prisons. I consulted with a journalist friend, a crime reporter who is knowledgeable about these things. He rolled his eyes at my ignorance. “Derb, the average corrections officer in New York nowadays is a 200-pound black woman with a GED.” Good grief! And yes: A 2007 report showed women as 37 percent of adult correctional personnel. In Baltimore it’s over 60 percent.

It’s madness, of course. But it’s no more insane than putting women on submarines or calling homosexual shackups “marriages” or giving settlement rights to twenty-odd million illegal aliens when fifteen percent of citizens are on food stamps. We’ve been going collectively mad for years. After that initial brief surprise at the latest manifestation of lunacy, one sinks quickly back into apathy. Legalized polygamy? Blind air-traffic controllers? Green cards for all the women of Afghanistan? Whatever. Lunacy fatigue has set in.

It’s hard to ignore (though of course you should try) a certain common demographic thread running through these stories of knocked-up prison guards. Is this a black thing?

To some degree it’s bound to be. Black men are way overrepresented in prisons. Black female guards naturally feel racial solidarity with them. Many must have internalized the dominant liberal narrative about these soul brothers being victims of a cruel racist system. Further, most of the guardettes appear to come from black neighborhoods that have been depleted of males by the very fact of so many being locked up. They’re putting out for their caged charges on the Willie Sutton principle: This is where the men are.


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