While I can’t speak for other countries, most American prisons today don’t have cells with bars. They’re concrete rooms with a toilet in front of a metal door, and no one outside the cell can see the toilet without looking into the door’s window. Like almost all men in prison, I faced the door when urinating so that my back was to my celly. (I’d hang a bedsheet across the cell before defecating when I was in a maximum-security prison, and after I transferred, my celly could leave our cell when we weren’t on lockdown.) Correctional officers routinely walked by cells to check on inmates and I didn’t always know when they were coming, so occasionally one of them saw me urinating. Many were women and shouldn’t have been looking into what were basically men’s restrooms with beds in them. To “solve” this problem, signs were eventually posted and announcements were made on the intercom to tell inmates what we already knew: female staff were present. One particular female C.O. used this so-called warning as an excuse to write me up for sexual misconduct because I was urinating when she paid me a surprise visit. She accused me of exposing myself to her from inside of a men’s restroom! Women are doing this in several men’s prisons. Not only do they get away with sexual misconduct, some of them blame their victims.
To get an idea of what I experienced when accused of sexual misconduct, imagine you’re in a store’s restroom using a toilet with no privacy walls around it when, without warning, an employee of the opposite sex barges in to clean. Then this creep blames you for the encounter by hatefully shouting at you that it was announced on the intercom that both male and female employees were working that shift. That’s kind of like what that female C.O. did to me, and then a female C.O. of a higher rank read me my conduct violation with a demeanor that told me I was guilty as sin in her eyes. I’m sure she would’ve seen things differently if she had to use a restroom with a window on the door that men routinely looked into. That was no concern of hers. She and my accuser alleged I was supposed to have my back to the door when urinating. In other words, I was told to expose myself to my celly multiple times each and every day because some women made the immoral decision to take a job that required them to look into men’s restrooms. As disgusting as that is, I had already seen so much corruption in prison that I thought I had no chance of beating this injustice. So after I apathetically waived my hearing and pled guilty, I was pleasantly surprised when a caseworker dismissed it.
Only after my violation was dismissed did it occur to me that I would have been exposed from all directions had I been sitting on the toilet with my pants down to take care of another necessity, and I probably would have been written up for that too. My accuser did have the nerve to imply it was a plan of mine to be urinating at the moment she approached my door, unannounced. She stated that as a female, she “should not have to be exposed to this type of behavior.” The reality is that as a female, she had absolutely no business doing what she was in a male institution. I later learned she regularly wrote up inmates for urinating, knowing good and well that for as long as she kept the same inappropriate job, she’d keep seeing it. She was playing Russian roulette with restrooms, and mine was one of the loaded chambers. The officer who read me my violation told me most security checks are done by women, so I shouldn’t forget where I was. What an ignorant statement! These women should have thought about where they were at and asked for a different assignment. There were other things they could have done while working in a men’s prison, yet they chose to look into inmates’ restrooms. I would never do to women what they did to me.
With me being a man, there’s no way I would accept a job that required me to be in areas where I would or could see women exposed in any way. Doing so would be wrong. Period. If I accepted a job that let me see into women’s restrooms or locker rooms while they were occupied, you would have every right to call me a creep. Saying I try not to see anything I shouldn’t would be no excuse. What I experienced while incarcerated doesn’t occur in buildings that aren’t prisons (with the exception of a few perverted places no one is confined to). Maybe you think I didn’t deserve better because I committed a crime. God forbid, what if your daughter, sister or mother made a bad decision that sent her to prison? Would that make it okay for me, or any other man, to look into the restroom she used? I could be an absolute pervert who enjoyed seeing her with her pants down. She would have no choice but to use that toilet, and I could show up whenever I felt like it. I could even prolong the time I looked at her by asking her questions as “part of my job.” A female C.O. once did that to me when I was on the toilet with my pants down. She just kept asking questions that could have waited.
I had someone on the outside call a number to ask why women have the jobs they do in men’s prisons, and the response was it would be discrimination to not allow it. Not letting women work anywhere in a men’s prison is discrimination; not giving them inappropriate assignments is decency. When I worked in a restaurant as a teenager, I didn’t consider it discrimination that I couldn’t clean the women’s restroom whenever I wanted to. I could also be in the men’s room without worrying that a female employee would pay me a surprise visit and accuse me of exposing myself to her. In prison I had no problem with women working on recreation yards, in cafeterias, visiting rooms, etc. Nor did I mind them looking into my cell during count times when I was expecting them. But when it comes to routine security checks, which mean looking into what are essentially restrooms at unannounced times, the sex of the employee definitely matters. Every prison I’ve been in usually had just one C.O. per shift handle all security checks for all wings in a housing unit. (At least in the houses that had cells with toilets in them.) Believe me, there were more than enough male officers to handle this task. That’s the solution to the problem. Inmates should not be expected to face each other when urinating. Not only would that be degrading, it could cause a fight.
It always angered me when a woman looked into my cell as I was urinating, but the one who charged me with sexual misconduct made the situation much worse. She saw me for the first time that night and thought she could foretell my future. This false prophet shouted at me that I would “never amount to anything in life and [would] just keep coming back to prison.” That came from someone who had nothing better to do with her life than sneak around in a men’s prison and “catch” inmates doing what all people must do. She willingly accepted the task of looking into windows with toilets right behind them, then feigned shock and disgust when seeing what she knew she would. I’m no psychologist, but it’s obvious to me that she was a pervert in denial who shifted her guilt onto her victims by accusing them of exposing themselves to her. The more I thought about the twisted game she was playing, the angrier I became. I was the one who had been violated, and then she accused me of sexual misconduct. It reminds me of a similar injustice inflicted on Joseph when he was a servant in Egypt. His master’s wife tried getting him to have an affair with her and then accused him of trying to rape her when he resisted (Gen. 39:1-18). He was also accused of sexual misconduct by a pervert, and in his case he was punished for it (Gen. 39:19, 20).
You’ll see from my conduct violation that my accuser claimed I knew I was supposed to have my back to the door when urinating, but when she demanded to know why I didn’t, all I said was, “I guess I should have.” (Tired and caught off guard, I didn’t know what else to say.) I said nothing more, yet she continued shouting and made the comment about me never amounting to anything in life. That experience instilled in me a desire to do what so many other sexual-misconduct victims have done since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein last year. I’m revealing the identity of someone who violated me, and this one who blamed me for her behavior in the Farmington Correctional Center in Farmington, Mo. is named Rhonda R. Roesch. This move may be controversial, but male or female, no one should be barred from the MeToo movement. If everyone who has been subjected to this sort of abuse in prison did what I’m doing here, these unethical officers would be more reluctant to behave the way they do.
The ignorant C.O. who read me my violation was no better than my accuser and had a mindset similar to that of a radical Muslim who charges rape victims with sexual misconduct. The woman she sided with and others like her are ruthless sexual predators who put themselves in a position they know will cause them to see men exposed. I truly believe they’re sick in the head and get a thrill out of what they do. Why? I’ve been in four prisons where cells had toilets in them, and in all four women routinely looked into them. The smallest housing unit had about 100 cells, and these women looked into every one of these restrooms not once, but several times per shift. I don’t want to hear any nonsense about them not expecting to see a penis. They knew exactly what they were getting themselves into when taking the job, so it infuriates me that some of them play the victim when the inevitable happens. They say they don’t want to see it, yet they keep doing what ensures they will, over and over again. It’s absolutlely a game for them, a game two female officers were caught playing in the prison in Bonne Terre, Mo. I was told about them and one male officer keeping score for violations they wrote, with the women having a clear advantage because they could accuse inmates of exposing themselves. When a paper with points on it was found, they were temporarily assigned to different areas instead of being fired. The trustworthy inmate who informed me of this said he and two others were written up the same night for the same thing by the same woman: Officer Williams. (He thinks her first name is Cynthia, but he’s not 100% sure.)
I’m perfectly aware that there are inmates who decide to urinate only when they know a female C.O. is about to look into their cells, but even in these cases the women have no right to complain. No one is forcing them to look into men’s restrooms. While some of the men are guilty of sexual misconduct, all of the women are guilty of it. I still wish I could go back in time to tell my accuser, “How dare you!” The incident occurred in the middle of the night and I was too tired to argue about it. Also, in my half-asleep mind, I genuinely believed she was upset by what she saw. (I came to my senses when I was fully awake and was told by other inmates, who she woke up when screaming at me, that this was common for her. Two or three weeks later she was screaming at someone else in the middle of the night, probably another urinator.) To be unrealistic, let’s assume every man in prison decided to face his celly when urinating. That wouldn’t change the fact that, as mentioned, there are still times men must sit on the toilet with their pants down. No matter what, women will see men exposed by looking into these cells, and some of them do much worse. On my first day in prison I was one of several men standing naked in a hallway to be sprayed for possible body lice as a female C.O. walked right past us. This was in Fulton, Mo., where I spent one month in 2005 before transferring because part of the prison served as a diagnostic center. I can only imagine what else I would have seen had I been a perm there. One man who was there in the ‘90s said he was one of several men strip-searched in a hallway as female officers walked by and looked directly at the inmates’ genitals. Another man who left there in 2015 was one of about 20 men made to change out of their prison clothes in a sally port where all employees enter the building. Female nurses, officers, you name it. Some of the women tried starting a conversation with the naked men, as if the situation was entirely appropriate.
I found out that the same prison where I was charged with sexual misconduct used to have showers in plain view of female staff. Each wing had three showers built into the wall, and they had no curtains in the ‘90s. Women still walked around in the wings back then. And in the men’s prison in Moberly, Mo., the showers are completely in the open where women are allowed to work. The place is notorious for female staff standing by and gawking at naked men, whether they’re showering or getting strip-searched in their presence. (Toilets there are also in the open where women see men using them far more than they would if toilets were in cells.) A credible source told me that a female caseworker there, Ashley Bales, wrote up several men she watched masturbating in the shower and in cells when she looked into them. According to the informant, who I knew to be a very honest man, she always watched the men masturbate until they were finished instead of confronting them on the spot. Many of the ones in the shower decided to masturbate only after they noticed her watching them. Several women there do this. A lot of them smile as they watch, then write violations. They’re as twisted as the men who have sex with easy women and then call them sluts afterwards. On second thought, they’re worse because a lot of the men they watch just want to take a shower without being gawked at.
There’s a lot of hypocrisy in how sexual predators are viewed when it comes to gender. Probably most of the men who enjoyed having women watch them shower would have been outraged had men watched their wives, girlfriends or female family members shower. (I’ve heard of women in prison also complaining about men being where they shouldn’t be, but I don’t know the details.) I can’t stand sexual predators, whether they’re child molesters, rapists, peeping Toms or whatever. The gender of the victims or perpetrators makes no difference. An organization called Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was formed to crack down on all types of sexual misconduct in prisons, not just rape. In at least one men’s prison they had women removed from an area where they could see showers in use. I wish they would have done this in every prison for showers and toilets both. They were the ones responsible for announcements that women were present. I had been in prison for 10 years before getting these alleged warnings, and before then I had never heard of a female C.O. writing up anyone for urinating. (I later learned it did happen before then, but not near as often.)
In one of the men’s prisons where toilets aren’t in cells, the Algoa Correctional Center in Jefferson City, Mo., neither are they in plain view as they are in Moberly. But that doesn’t prevent women from seeing them. Another trustworthy inmate told me that two female officers there, Megan Proctor and Melissa Lindsey, regularly walked into an inmate restroom to dump ice from their drinks into a toilet. They did this as inmates used other toilets, which had no privacy walls around them. They were so brazen they also looked right at these men, as they were urinating or defecating, to casually ask them how they were doing. Another thing about this prison is that although shower rooms are sectioned off, officers routinely looked inside them to make sure inmates weren’t engaged in sexual activity. It wasn’t always done by a male officer, and I was told Officer Lindsey did it often. (In case Megan and Melissa are wondering who informed me of their behavior, it was Mr. White. He wants them to know that.)
Right across the street from the minimum-security Algoa Correctional Center is the maximum-security Jefferson City Correctional Center where I spent seven years. With toilets in cells that women looked into, of course there were times women saw me exposed, but something else there disturbed me far more. One day two smiling female officers were standing in my wing, for no apparent reason, as male officers went from one cell to the next strip-searching inmates with the doors wide open. At least incidents that bad weren’t a daily occurrence in any prison I’ve been in. I could have been in the Algoa Correctional Center, the Moberly Correctional Center, or the Boonville Correctional Center in Boonville, Mo. As in Algoa and Moberly, women in Boonville look into restrooms and shower rooms. Some of the women there accuse inmates of playing with themselves when they “shake” after urination to rid themselves of droplets they don’t want on their underwear. They have the audacity to accuse inmates of sexual misconduct when they are the ones who willfully put themselves in highly inappropriate areas. I wish I could say they’re breaking the law, but they aren’t. It’s all the more sickening that what they do is not a crime. Currently, the only difference between them and others who look into opposite-gender restrooms and locker rooms is they’re allowed to do it in a prison. (Officer Roesch should ask herself which one of us would have been in trouble had the restroom I was using not been in a prison. Concerning her other victims, she should also ask herself how many lives she may have damaged if her accusations affected parole hearings and caused rehabilitated inmates to be away from family longer than necessary.)
I’ve only covered a fraction of what goes on in Missouri prisons, and this problem is rampant all over the U.S. I want it to sink in just how wrong it is. What if a restaurant’s employees regularly walked into opposite-gender restrooms, or the same occurred in a gym’s locker rooms? The place would lose the business of customers who don’t want to be subjected to that perversion. In prison, however, inmates are forced to deal with it, as though their sentence was meant to include sexual abuse. I was really disgusted by what I experienced in prison. Women could be where they had no business being to get the same kind of entertainment they would in a strip club, while announcements at the start of each shift that female staff were present did nothing but encourage some of them to accuse their victims. There was no announcement when they entered the wing, which inmates had a limited view of from their cell-door windows. All we knew was they could show up at any moment, 24/7. Then these creeps could use an unwritten rule to accuse us of violating them.
Laws need to change so that it’s a crime for correctional officers to be in all inappropriate areas of a prison for inmates of the opposite sex. I’ll go so far as to say I’d like for them and their superiors who assigned them to inappropriate areas to be prosecuted for what they did before it was illegal. Although the American justice system doesn’t work that way and I wouldn’t want it to, I’d be pleased if a legal loophole was found so that they could be charged with a crime after the fact. It would be perfectly just to punish them for doing what every sane person knows is wrong. They can’t claim they didn’t know better. I would have no doubt what to do if I was a C.O. in a women’s prison and in the same situation. I’d refuse to work near toilets or showers, and I certainly wouldn’t walk through a hallway with naked women lined up against a wall, as a female C.O. did to a group of men including myself the day we arrived in prison. Legal or not, I would deserve punishment for doing these things, and the officers I’m referring to deserve to be punished. I know they’ll never be punished for what they’ve done, but more than that I just want them to confess that they’ve done wrong and put their behavior behind them. (Or they could answer to God for their actions, and I assure you, the first option would be much better for them.)
In my post called Forgetting the Past, I made a distinction between unforgiveness and justice. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean not holding the person accountable. In that post I mentioned sexual misconduct and how Donald Trump had gone into the dressing room for contestants of his Miss USA pageant. He had authority there and bragged he could use the excuse that he was “inspecting.” Similarly, correctional officers have authority in opposite-gender prisons and get to see unclothed inmates by using the excuse that they’re “maintaining security.” I don’t want them deemed perverts for life if they’ve changed, but neither do I want them to suffer no consequences. They should still be held accountable for their actions. And for the ones who have not changed, they need serious pressure put on them. I would love it if someone put up a website that listed the names and locations of all correctional officers who work in inappropriate areas of an opposite-gender prison. It would be a database of should-be sex offenders. What they do isn’t much better than what peeping Toms do. Sure, not all of these officers take these assignments hoping to see someone of the opposite sex exposed, but it will happen and they know it. People have had to register as sex offenders for far less. Most of the ones who’ve registered for public urination didn’t hope to be seen, yet they still had their names added to a list of perverts. Whatever excuses these correctional officers may have are unacceptable. I don’t care if they were unable to find any other job. It’s still wrong and it sickens me that they would do this sort of thing to anyone, free or imprisoned, for a paycheck. Shame on them!
I didn’t reveal the identity of the ignorant female who sided with the creep who violated me, because I don’t know whether or not she also puts herself in positions where she’ll see men exposed. I must say, however, I’m very suspicious of her. After the fact I learned she was alleged to be having an affair with a coworker before her husband shot and killed her suspected boyfriend and then shot himself in the prison’s parking lot. That concerns me because if her sexual urges led her to commit adultery, how can she be trusted to work in a place where she can get away with looking at men’s sexual parts? I was more disturbed when being told she worked as a stripper before getting hired at the prison. If this seems irrelevant, think about what gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar did to his female patients, and then ask yourself if you would be comfortable with another male doctor in his place who cheats on his wife and spends a good portion of his time in a strip club. Now ask yourself if it’s comforting to know that a woman with the credentials to work in a whore house took a job in a male institution where she has free reign to behave like a peeping Tom. I’m not trying to be funny here. This is a very serious issue.
I wish I didn’t have to blog about this issue, but I don’t know what else to do. I filed a complaint with PREA while I was still incarcerated, but nothing came of it. I next contacted some media outlets, hoping they would bring attention to what’s going on. I never heard back from any of them. Now I feel that blogging about it is my best option. Who knows, maybe this post will lead to a new kind of MeToo movement for people who’ve been sexually violated by staff in prison. Although none of the behaviors I’ve mentioned here are illegal at present, that doesn’t make them right. In far too many prisons opposite-gender staff are allowed in areas where they see inmates showering, using toilets or being strip-searched. There are even prisons where opposite-gender staff perform strip searches themselves. Some of the women who work where they shouldn’t in men’s prisons will actually say one of the perks of the job is getting to see men naked. Never mind that the ones they gawk at have no say in the matter. I don’t care what the inmates did to go to prison. They shouldn’t be exploited to satisfy the sexual desires of staff members.
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