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It Ain’t So Funny When the Rabbit Has the Gun

by Boston Woodard (c/o allianceeditor [at]
In Boston Woodard’s latest article from inside the Prison Industrial Complex, he looks at the issue of how contraband gets into prisons. Hint: Who has access to come and go as they like? Who is arrogant, greedy, and stupid? You will have to read the article below to find out.
It Ain’t So Funny When the Rabbit Has the Gun
By: Boston Woodard

Last April 2008, Solano State Prison in Vacaville California, went on lock-down after prison official’s claim of a Zip-Gun* being on prison grounds. The source of the information was a “note” found in a prison staff restroom; one that prisoners do not have access to. As a result, the entire prison was subjected to a massive Shake-Down** concluding with negative results for a zip-gun or anything resembling one.

It is understood by prisoners that a shake-down/search (in any prison) can occur in an instant. Many searches are a result of spur-of-the-moment bouts of rage by a single guard whose ego was popped, or whose penchant for complete control was perceived to be challenged. What comes next is almost always a given. Not only is the personal bed area of the subject (prisoner) shredded, the entire dormitory or cellblock is also turned inside out. This type of mass punishment happens by prison staff throughout the state prison system; go to any prison, ask any prisoner. Because wardens and some prison administrators allow these mass punishments to happen, the staff perpetrators continue to do it with impunity. One guard calls it “necessary action” while another calls it “mandatory peer pressure.” Whichever they call it, this action is illegal and retaliatory.

Some searches uncover contraband items that can only be smuggled past security by “outside” sources. Prison officials (especially public information officers) hold fast with determination to put the blame on the prisoners when any contraband is discovered, even when they know that it is impossible for a prisoner to bring anything into the prison. Someone has to give it to them. Truth be known, it is no secret that prison guards and other so-called “free staff” are responsible for almost all contraband behind prison walls. This phenomenon is ubiquitous throughout the California prison system.

Recently, local television and print media have been reporting for example that “thousands” of cell phones have been found inside many of California’s 33 state prisons. It was also reported that more contraband cell phones were found in Solano State Prison than any other prison in the state. One Sacramento TV news station put the number at nearly 700 cell phones. Prison officials continue to blurt that “inmate visitors” bring the phones in, and that “inmates are clever” and find ways to get contraband into the prison. To date, only prison guards and staff have been busted smuggling in the phones.

According to the Tax Payers for Improving Public Safety (TIPS) July 2008 newsletter, “Ranging in price from $500.00 to $700.00 per phone staff were in some cases making as much as $100,000 smuggling in the devices. These offenses may qualify for prosecution under the RICO Act.” The newsletter continues.... “From phone-sniffing dogs (no joke), to manual searches and special metal detectors, the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) has rolled out OPERATION DISCONNECT to remove mobile phones from inside California prisons.”

Because of the severe smuggling by Solano State Prison staff, an unprecedented event was secretly carried out (in early July ‘08) catching all guards and staff completely off guard (no pun intended). As staff arrived for their early morning shift at the prison’s gate-house they were informed by a huge, covert security force, that they were all going to be searched. Their person, bags, vehicles, everything was searched.

According to witnesses, the look on many of the guards faces was of shear terror and surprise. “Their faces went pale” said one witness. Others attempted to “turn and head back to their vehicles” in the prison parking lot. They were stopped by security forces and escorted to a designated area in the prison to be further searched. Everyone was ordered to turn all their pockets out and empty the contents of their large, suitcase-like lunch carriers (some with wheels) for further inspection. Also, prison staff were again warned that the personal newspapers, magazines, crossword and Soduko game books can no longer be brought into the prison as they are a distraction to their duties.

CDCR protocol keeps secret all the contraband that was uncovered and confiscated by the stealth search team, Colloquial mumblings among prison staff was that “cell phones, tobacco, cigarette lighters, various unauthorized weapons (knives etc.), and other contraband” were found secreted in various locations by staff. All of these are extreme forbidden items of which staff were fully aware of before they decided to break the law.

Tens of thousands of hard working Californians had their income reduced to peanuts and jobs were terminated after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order. This order was signed in an attempt to cover his own government’s mismanagement by not passing a state budget. Many people will now suffer because of their incompetence. But, because the job terminations and pay reductions did not affect prison guards, and in light of the fact that they have an approximate annual base pay of $75,000 with every benefit imaginable (including overtime), it’s hard (even for a prisoner) to understand why prison staff would stoop to the levels they do. The yield from their illegal activities (smuggling contraband) alone is more than what the governor expects those affected by his executive order to live on. And what about those state workers who lost their jobs all together? How ridiculous is that?

Greed, stupidity and arrogance are the elements driving these rogue prison guards and staff.. Why else would they pursue such nefarious activities such as smuggling contraband behind the security lines of a state prison. Rather than take responsibility for their actions (something they demand of prisoners), prison staff will always come up with creative ways to put all the blame on the convict; “prisoners are clever” or “prisoners are manipulative” or anything that diverts the attention from the real criminal smugglers; prison staff. Their actions will continue, everyone knows it, but no one will do anything about it. They have a badge, they will laugh it off, and continue the present program.

Because prison guards and other prison staff had free reign to come and go unimpeded in and out of these penitentiaries, they believed they were indomitable to outside forces. Now that they are subjected to daily searches, having to go through some of the same procedures convicts have to endure before they come to work, will this make a difference? It ain’t so funny when the rabbit has the gun!




Boston Woodard wrote for The San Quentin News, The Soledad Star and edited The Communicator.

Boston Woodard, B-88207
CSP-Solano 13-F-8-L
P.O. Box 4000
Vacaville, CA. 95696-4000
Add Your Comments
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Toni Sevchuk
Mon, Apr 20, 2009 8:09PM
chris williams ( former solano inmate)
Thu, Sep 4, 2008 11:43AM
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