Folsom's 93

The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison's Executed Men


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More Guest Blogger Fun

Folsom's 93

If you get a chance, check out my guest post on Patricia Stoltey’s blog. Pat is a good friend and fellow writer who is the author of two published mysteries. She has a great blog of book reviews, author interviews and everything writerly. 


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Prison Guards and Self Defense by Jason Brick

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Correctional Officers at Folsom prison do not carry guns while on duty. They abandoned this practice around 1915, after #30, Frank Creeks killed a guard and made off with two gatling guns the guard had been bringing inside the prison. 
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#30, Frank Creeks
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When I met with Folsom correctional officers earlier this year, I learned that guards do carry pepper spray and a whistle. Other than that, they have only their wits and quick thinking to rely on. Today, I wanted to bring you another guest post from Jason Brick regarding prison guard self-defense. Take it away, Jason . . .

Self-defense for prison guards centers around setting things up so the guards rarely need to use self-defense.

In the beginning of modern law enforcement, this meant finding large, intimidating, violent guards and making sure they were the only people carrying weapons. That deterrence — combined with what amounted to carte blanche in using the weapons — kept guards reasonably safe by making sure people rarely started a physical confrontation.

As our society became more modern and aware of prisoners’ humanity, training changed its focus — but continued to focus on preventing altercations. Corrections officers received training in joint locks, defensive tactics and weapons common on the tiers — such as batons. In addition, they learned team tactics intended to stop a potential problem before it began. This ranged from how to avoid getting in one another’s way, up to spacing and psychological considerations to keep a prisoner off balance and intimidated.

Modern training incorporates concepts from military combatives, boxing, wrestling, judo and jui jitsu. It’s similar to what you might get in an applied self-defense course, with two major differences.

Focus on prevention — the bulk of corrections combatives focuses on setting up a scenario so you never have to become violent. This can include your positioning, the positioning of other officers, verbal redirection and the construction of a facility to give all advantages to the officers. Every once in a while a prisoner will decide to fight anyway, but this keeps most people in line.

Submission over destruction — aiming to get prisoners to settle down, rather than cause injury. The best example of this is the baton training. If you took a stick or baton class for self-defense, you’d learn to target the elbows, wrist, knees and head — areas that are easy to destroy that can take somebody out. In corrections training, officers learn to hit the upper arms, thighs and the broad planes of the back. These areas hurt, but don’t injure. Submission holds and joint locks take the same focus.

One final note is that the techniques officers learned are for the day-to-day control of prisoners. If a prisoner actively attacks a corrections officer, all bets are off. That officer is — generally — allowed to use whatever techniques he needs to get to safety. Retaliation is never tolerated, but if a prisoner gets injured while trying to injure a guard, that’s not considered the guard’s fault.


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The Fine Art of “Keistering” from Guest Writer, Jason Brick

“You can’t take it with you.” We’ve all heard this phrase when referring to death, but it also pertains to going to prison. But that won’t stop people from trying.

Today, I bring you a great post from  writer, Jason Brick who as you may recall, posted a stupid criminal story earlier. Jason has volunteered in prisons and has taught self-defense to prison guards and  parole officers. He has heard his share of stories and seen plenty. This story, I’d much rather read about, than see.

When you go to jail, they take all your stuff. Sure, they provide you with clothing, toiletry, reasonable access to books and writing implements. But some things — especially drugs, money and weapons — you’re going to have to do without.

Unless you smuggle it in. Criminals are creative and resourceful when it comes to smuggling stuff inside, just as prison staff has become resourceful and thorough about stopping them. One of the more…interesting…ways to bring contraband into jail with you is a practice called “keistering.”

It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. When you keister an object, you insert it into your rectum and push it in far enough that a normal cavity search won’t spot it. Once you have a little privacy, you push it out the same way you do when going number two. Gross, but effective.

However, the annals or criminal anality occasionally bring to light stories of keistering that boggle the mind…

  •  Knives are a commonly keistered item, presumably for self defense. They are usually — but not always — covered with a protective sheathe.
  • Some smuggled knives and drug pipes measure in excess of 7 inches long.
  • In February of 2011, a Sarasota convict was caught keistering objects including a grocery store receipt and a paper coupon.

And sometimes, criminals get overly enthusiastic…

In March of this year, a California man was caught with a keistered contraband cache including a cell phone, MP3 player, headphones, marijuana, tobacco and $140 in cash.

And to think he eventually planned to put that marijuana and tobacco in his mouth.


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Stupid Criminals 1, by guest blogger, Jason Brick

I have the pleasure of bringing you my first guest blogger on Folsom’s 93. Jason Brick is a talented freelance writer and has recently published, Astoria: A Guide to Oregon’s Gate to the Sea. Visit Jason at his blog,brickcommajason to read about his latest projects as well as his great writing advice. Jason has also had experience in the parole and probation fields and has accumulated plenty of “stupid criminal stories” that are always worth passing along. I hope to bring  you several of Jason’s stories in the coming weeks. You can check out my guest post at Jason’s blog: Part 1 and Part 2 of staying on task as a work-from-home writer. Jason also works from home and juggles his career, family and being a ninja warrior. Seriously.

It was almost Christmas and Dan Droper (name changed to protect the guilty) was having a rough week. He’d been laid off, was within a month of foreclosure, and struggling with alcoholism. Worst yet, his wife had left him two nights earlier and he was staring down the barrel of a long weekend with nothing to do and nothing to distract him from his misery.

Dan gave in to temptation, made a collect call to his good pal Johnny Walker. Johnny brought his friends Jim and Jack. They had a party, but the good times turned into a maudlin drunk where the pain of losing his wife ached at Dan like the throbbing of a toothache.

The details of the next several hours don’t need repeating, but at the end of them Dan Droper was standing in the middle of his mother-in-law’s living room, holding a gun to his estranged wife’s head. Dahlia (name also changed) was the only one home, so nobody had called 911. There was no hostage situation, no negotiator outside with a megaphone. Just Don explaining that if she didn’t come back home, he’d end both of their lives right now.

Great Christmas present for his mother-in-law to find. Dahlia opted to go home with Dan. He made her drive to their — his — house. Marched her inside at the end of his gun. Once inside, he locked the door. He put his gun away in the bedroom closet. He cracked a beer, sat on the couch and turned on the TV. Dahlia stared at him and asked “What now?”

“Why don’t you get started on dinner?” Dan said.

Dahlia went into the kitchen and opened the fridge. Then she used the kitchen phone to call 911, and ran out the kitchen door.

Dan spent Christmas in the county lockup, and will be spending several of his next Christmases as a guest of the State.

Some folks are just too dumb for freedom.

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