One Graham's View

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The relationship between prisons and parenting

Good morning,

A thought occurred to me this morning that brought my previous career of a prison supervisor screaming back into my face. If you don’t already know, the fundamental job anybody working in security at the prison has is counting. There are several designated count times throughout the day and night, when all inmates have to be accounted for. This gives the staff the earliest notification when anybody has escaped. Well, there are times when that isn’t exactly the case, but times when dummies get passed off are rare. The mantra “count only living, breathing bodies” is a phrase that correctional staff get drilled into them repeatedly concerning proper count procedures.

When count time occurs, all inmate traffic ceases. If the initial count doesn’t tally up correctly, then a recount is called for. When all the convicts are accounted for, a signal is given and an announcement is made that the count is clear.

Counting goes a few steps further throughout the day behind prison walls. The staff supervising outside work crews have running counts of their squads. The work squads have tools they work with and there is accountability and a check-out procedure to allow inmates to use the tools. In the kitchen, where inmates prepare and cook all the food that is served to the inmate population as well as staff, utensils like spatulas and even knives are issued with tight security count procedures to maximize accountability.

Before you go to jumping to the obvious conclusion that I’m now counting the basic 1, 2, 3s with Austin as part of my Daddy Duty, stop for a moment. Give me some credit here. I figure that part was a no-brainer and wouldn’t have mentioned it except to acknowledge that some people would go there first.

No, what struck me this morning was when Mrs. OGV and I were discussing Austin doing crafts with his cousin at their Grammy’s house. The Mrs. told her mother, “Make sure you count how many markers you give them and that you get that many back.” Simple thing there, but it is how you keep the little Picasso from becoming a home decorater. Trust me, it’s already happened and history is a great teacher.

Besides counting markers, I also regularly keep up with things I give the little guy so that we can get things cleaned up. Being I can’t see what he might have laid out on the coffee table, I use the count technique to know when he has cleaned up the right amount of things. I have had him bring me the paper plate or napkin after eating a snack, then had him carry them to the trash because I needed a helper.

Counting is truly a fundamental part of our lives, even more so as parents. I just never thought that I’d make a parallel like this one between prisons and parenting.

Count clear!



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