Honey buns and knuckle sandwiches | Crime | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | July 27, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: July 26, 2017 at 11:28 am
Pastry disputes keep employees at the Colleton County Detention Center busy July 18.
It all began at 12:33 p.m. As a detention center guard was escorting a 19-year-old Maryland man back to his cell, another inmate, a 21-year-old Walterboro man, quickly punched the Maryland man several times in the face.
The attacked prisoner began defending himself and the fight was on. Other guards rushed to the area and separated the combatants.
The Maryland man was taken to the Emergency Department of Colleton Medical Center for treatment. The Walterboro man was checked by medical staff at the detention center and returned to his cell.
The Walterboro man reportedly said he had attacked the other inmate because he refused to repay a debt. He owned nine honey buns.
The Maryland man said he didn’t owe the Walterboro man anything.
He explained that his old cellmate owed another inmate the honey buns. He was told that since his old cellmate had been released from custody, he was now responsible for that man’s debt.
Jail Administrator Capt. Shane Roberts said the Walterboro man will face disciplinary action for the assault; the Maryland man won’t because he was defending himself.
The Walterboro man won’t be charged with assault, Roberts said, the victim has decided not to seek criminal charges. “You see that a lot in here,” Roberts said.
Four minutes later, a honey bun was at the heart of another dispute, this time between an inmate and a guard.
The guard was delivering the inmate, a 58-year-old Walterboro man, his lunch tray.
The inmate said he also wanted the lunch tray that was to be delivered to another inmate who owed him a honey bun.
The guard refused to provide the second tray and Walterboro man became disrespectful. The prisoner then began calling for the drink that would have came with his lunch.
When the guard bought the drink to the man’s cell, he reportedly grabbed it, causing some of the drink to spill onto the cell floor.
Because of the incident and attitude, the inmate will face a loss of his privileges. It will be at least seven days before the man can purchase another honey bun from the detention center’s canteen.
In the world of the Colleton County Detention Center, “honey buns are commerce.” But, don’t blame the honey buns, Roberts said.
In the jailhouse’s commerce, the currency could be ramen noodles or any of the other items available to inmates from the canteen.
Roberts explained that a private company operates the canteen, where inmates can obtain items like food and toiletries.
Prisoners aren’t allowed to have money inside the detention center. Money placed in an account for prisoners by their family and friends is used to pay for the items for sale through the canteen.
Once a week, prisoners who have been abiding by the detention center’s rules can order items from the canteen and the next day the items are delivered to their cell.
The guards’ role is to maintain law and order behind the detention center walls. To maintain civility in a building where that is in short order, “Our guards are very diligent.”
The canteen, he added, is an effort to help the inmates “retain some dignity, some self-respect while incarcerated.”
Retaining, instilling and hopefully building on the prisoner’s self-respect and dignity is also the reason behind educational programs brought to the detention center.
Young inmates, Roberts explained, can work on obtaining their high school diplomas while in jail. Older prisoners can get a jump on obtaining the GEDs. Participation in the programs is voluntary.
“The goal is for the inmates to aim for a better life, to never come back here,” Roberts said.
The canteen is also an attempt to save the county some money, Roberts said.
Toiletries, things like toothpaste and soap, are only provided to indigent inmates; the other prisoners have to provide their own toiletries.
In addition to not being allowed to have money in the detention center, the inmates aren’t allowed to use the items they obtain from the canteen as a different form of currency.
But, the inmates are in custody because they broke the rules of society, Roberts said. It is wishful thinking to believe they would not bring that mindset into the detention center.
“It will keep your mind spinning trying to adapt to that mindset,” Roberts said, to keep on top of “their constant efforts to circumvent the rules.”
For instance, an inmate may receive a book from a visitor, Roberts said. He will offer the book to another inmate — the price three honey buns.
Another inmate might order $50 worth of honey buns from the canteen. A few days later, his account depleted by the honey bun purchase, he will claim to be indigent and try for a free tube of toothpaste.
“You have to stay on your toes for everything,” Roberts said.
Later in the same day as the honey bun episodes, a guard checked on a cell and found one inmate in the midst of giving another inmate a jail house tattoo, using needles and other material apparently smuggled into the detention center.
Roberts has decades of law enforcement experience; he has been a small town police chief, a command officer in the sheriff’s office and conducted law enforcement training overseas. Earlier this year, he became the Colleton County Detention Center administrator.
“This is unlike anything, I have ever done,” he said.