When you read about violent crimes, with remarkable regularity they turn out to have been committed by felons on parole. Wanna know how parole boards can be stupid enough to let dangerous people out to kill someone else? Over and over? All across the country? Here’s a hint.
There is a book called “Games Criminals Play,” by Bud Allen and Diana Bosta. (Rae John Publishers, ISBN 0-9605226-0-3) They have both worked in prisons for years, and wrote the book for prison guards, not for the general public. It deals with the scams and cons that inmates work on those who work in prisons. The prologue is an example:
A relatively new guard, Joe, was stabbed by in inmate. The guard’s wife was shocked. The wound wasn’t serious. The wife went to the emergency room, where she met her husband’s boss, and said something to him about how Joe would soon be back to work. The boss was evasive. She wondered why.
Joe in fact didn’t go back to work, and finally told her why. He had been caught taking marijuana to the inmate who had stabbed him. The wife couldn’t believe it. Joe had always wanted to be a corrections officer. He would never have destroyed his career in such a way. Except that he had. Why?
Answer: The inmate had gotten friendly with Joe, been a hard worker, seemed to be moving toward rehabilitation. In fact, Joe had somehow managed to lose a set of security keys, and the inmate, at great risk of being caught with the keys and punished, had returned them to Joe. Joe was grateful.
Then it turned out that the inmate’s wife was going to divorce him. The inmate was distraught. Letters from his wife indicated that she still loved him, so he couldn’t understand the divorce. He loved his child and didn’t want to lose him.
The inmate asked whether Joe would visit the wife and tell her how hard the inmate was working to rehabilitate himself. Joe owed the man a favor. He went.
The inmate’s wife cried, and told Joe how much she loved her husband, but the kid was sick and she thought that if she remarried she could have the child cared for. (Isn’t this heart-breaking?) Joe, being such an extraordinarily good-hearted guy, gave her a small check for medication. Several other times he went by, also contributing small amounts.
One night he went by again, and found her in a bathrobe. She fainted, the bathrobe falling partly off. Joe carried her to her bed, covered her, and called a doctor. The doctor said she was OK, just exhausted.
Joe was no end surprised when the inmate later showed him photostats of the checks Joe had given the wife and a photo of Joe holding the half-naked woman in his arms. As we say in the news trade, Oops. The inmate, no gentleman it suddenly seemed, also had a letter to the prison’s superintendent charging Joe with paying his wife for sexual favors — not a career-enhancing move in prisons. Henceforth, the inmate explained, Joe was going to bring drugs into the prison, unless he wanted that letter sent to the Super. The inmate was right. Joe did as told.
It seems that Joe, eventually realizing that he was going to get caught, refused to play any longer, whereupon the inmate stabbed him. Joe now both didn’t have a job, but did have a hole in his chest.
Whether exactly this case occurred, or whether the authors are giving a manufactured example, isn’t clear. But the whole book is about similar and actual scams, how they occur, how prisoners will take many long months to set up a (typically new) guard, win his confidence over time, and slam-dunk him. Prisoners are not long on morals or shame. They lie, lie, lie, without the usual giveaway uneasiness with it that you and I have. They know what buttons to push. Is a guard an ugly woman? The inmate slowly comes to realize how wonderful she is, how much he needs her, oh sure.
I’ve listened to these guys in several hoosegows. They lie magnificently. A congressman sounds as though he is lying. A three-time loser doesn’t. It is truly worth seeing.
Now, take an appointed, not-very-bright parole board, quite possibly composed of nice people, perhaps religiously disposed to believe in betterment, rehabilitation, and forgiveness, who themselves aren’t and who don’t know any absolutely remorseless and cynical liars, and — bingo. Like Joe’s inmate, these guys have seen the error of their ways, know they did wrong, have quite likely just found Jesus, and want to contribute to society.
Yeah. With a butcher knife. But out they go.