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Limon prison memos: A new form of cruel and unusual punishment?

One of the guilty pleasures here at the Crime & Punishment Desk is occasionally visiting the madness on display at The Real Colorado Department of Corrections, an anonymous blog by someone calling himself Thomas Paine. Mr. Paine apparently worked for DOC long enough to acquire a vast trove of unintentionally hilarious official memos.

Paine writes about other matters, too. Corruption in the prison system, wasted money and bad projects, that kind of thing. He's even commented on prison-related topics on The Latest Word, such as this take on prison rape. But it's the memos he's salvaged from his days at the Limon Correctional Facility, one of the most violent prisons in Colorado, that bring home the authentic feel of the bureaucratic mindset in our state's corrections empire.

These communiques, if not damning, are at least a pretty good indication of how grammar, language, and coherent thought have all been put in lockdown and are awaiting execution any day now.

My top five favorite examples:

5. From a memo from a sergeant to other staffers:

"It may appear to some that I was showing favoritism toward inmate M., that is not true if anything I am not mean spirit person and may be compassion should never be used in Correctional sitting. I can however point out several areas where favoritism may be happening in this unit, and it do come from me."

4. Management meeting minutes:

"The Visiting Room will not be staffed on Wednesday, August 23 due to staffing reasons."

3. More management meeting minutes:

"Beginning with the next rotation of donuts, the left over donut holes will be given to units on a rotating basis for the evening meal. "

2. From an incident report written by a sergeant:

"What ever directions I give to H is always taken with doubt that I know what I am talking about, or it is either not done or question, by going to others to see if what I have told her is correct. I believe she and others are attempting to undermine my work environment with this constant enormous attacks."

And a classic head-scratcher, or ass-wiper, or however you want to take it:

1. From a captain's memo to the inmates:

"In a continued effort to reduce the amount of toilet paper usage, rags will now be available for check out from the Sgts. Office. With an ID you can use a clean cloth rag and upon return into the soiled rag container your ID will be returned."

To which Paine adds: "Only in CDOC! Only at LCF!"

Other extremely painful memos can be found here.

More from our News archive: "Catherine Keske, CSU prof, ordered back to jail in parenting dispute over e-mail."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast