The Shakedown Artist

C/O Sellefft was a particularly thorough and brutal shakedown artist who derived a giddy thrill out of depriving inmates of their belongings. He has been heard to comment that he doesn’t feel right, doesn’t feel like he has done his job, unless he writes at least one ticket per night. To say that Sellefft was “by the book” would be an insult to the book. Not only did he go way above and beyond what his actual duties called for, but he also gloried in the suffering that he caused. In layman’s terms, he was an unrepentant asshole. What’s worse is that his position of authority and the administration protected him from retribution. Like the quintessential coward, C/O Sellefft lashed out and then hid behind his badge.

yes, that's a prison tv.

yes, that’s a prison tv.

Petty
The first time he was in the building, he spent two hours shaking down a cell. For a daily routine shakedown, ten to thirty minutes is a good general rule of thumb. That amount of time provides the officer plenty of opportunity to have an adequately thorough look through everything and be satisfied that there’s nothing extremely inappropriate or illegal secreted within the cell. The extreme degree to which Sellefft searched was generally reserved only for annual shakedowns instituted prison-wide and conducted by the tac team members. Sellefft, however, went even beyond that by taking inmates’ property items that he had no right or reason to confiscate. In taking these things, Sellefft provoked a confrontation with an inmate in an effort to goad the inmate into doing or saying something out of bounds and worthy of a ticket. The blatant and overt antagonism from Sellefft towards his wards came to a head when he walked out of a cell with a television cradled in his arms.

Confrontation
Sellefft wore a smug smile as he walked to the bubble with the 13-inch TV set, but he didn’t quite make it there before being confronted by Deeno, the rightful owner of the television. “Whoa, Whoa! What’s up? What are you doing? Why are you taking my TV?” Deeno sounded righteously enraged, but was keeping it under control.

“Stop right there!” Sellefft yelled, holding one arm out towards Deeno in a warding off gesture that was a somewhat comical approximation of the Heisman trophy pose with the bulky TV standing in for the football. Sellefft’s tone sounded much more urgent than was necessary, as if Deeno were rushing to tackle him and was almost upon him rather than ten feet away. Deeno slowed down, but continued taking several faltering steps as he spoke.

photo by Stuart Miles www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

photo by Stuart Miles
www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Why are you taking my TV?” he queried once more.
“It’s cracked,” Sellefft replied with confident superiority.
“What?” Deeno asked indignantly. Sellefft ignored him and continued his retreat to the bubble where he secured the appliance before turning to find Deeno standing right there at the door to the bubble. “What do you mean it’s cracked?” he asked.
Sellefft looked suitably flustered, but managed to maintain his air of arrogant authority. “It’s got a crack on the back of it.”
Deeno appeared to be genuinely confused before it finally dawned on him what Sellefft was referring to. “That?”
“Yeah, that.”
“It’s been like that for, like, four years or something.”
The prickish look plastered across Sellefft’s face wavered slightly, and Deeno tried to seize on this as a weakness. “Nobody else has had a problem with it before, it’s just old.” Sellefft recognized what Deeno was trying to do, and the hard ass glare came back to his face.
“No,” he replied. “It’s altered.”
“Altered!?” Deeno exclaimed, his voice raising to a screechy decibel. “It’s old.”
“No, it’s altered.”
“I’ve had that TV for thirteen years!” Deeno was outright screaming by this point which only served to put a smile on Sellefft’s face and made him cross his arms over his puffed-out chest like he was some kind of tough guy who was not to be trifled with.
“I don’t care,” Sellefft said, sounding like it provided him with an enormous amount of satisfaction to give the pronouncement. Angry and frustrated, Deeno looked desperate, like he wanted to lash out at his oppressor.
“I want to see a lieutenant,” he said, his voice carrying a tremor as he tried to keep it under control.
“I don’t give a shit.” Sellefft positively sneered this last, and I thought for sure it would be the final straw for Deeno.

New Tactic
“Alright then,” Deeno responded, his tone much more modulated than it had just been. “I need a crisis team.”

By invoking the crisis team, Deeno was effectively claiming to be in a state of mental or emotional crisis and thinking of hurting himself. This is an extremely serious claim to be made by an inmate, and Sellefft wasn’t qualified to judge the validity or veracity of Deeno’s assertion. If Sellefft had followed proper protocol, he would’ve called the lieutenant followed by the shift commander and informed them that an inmate was in need of a crisis team and then waited in the lieutenant’s office with Deeno. He didn’t do any of that.
“Prove it,” Sellefft said. Deeno appeared to be about as shocked as he would’ve been if Sellefft would’ve just hauled off and smacked him right across the face.
“What?” he managed to inquire. It came out more as a gasp of air rather than a fully formed word.
“Go hang yourself,” Sellefft replied.
“What did you just say to me?” Deeno asked, leaning his considerable frame towards Sellefft, the implied threat obvious in his body language. Sellefft leaned in as well, meeting the challenge head on.
“Go. Hang. Yourself.” Sellefft enunciated each word with exaggerated emphasis, letting them hover in the air between them for a moment before continuing. “Now, back up.”
He slammed the door to the bubble so quickly that it would’ve cracked Deeno in the face if he hadn’t retreated swiftly enough. Deeno stalked off back to his cell, fuming.

White-shirt-and-blue-shirt-officersRepercussions
It wasn’t long before Deeno came rushing back to the bubble where he waited for the lieutenant to make his scheduled rounds through the building. Deeno stood and glared at Sellefft while the offensive and unprofessional C/O blithely smirked his amusement.

As soon as Lieutenant Berg entered the building, Deeno filled his ears with all his woes, pointing an accusatory finger towards Sellefft throughout his tirade, and the loo listened attentively. Deeno reported his interactions with Sellefft as honestly as possible, capturing both his own frustrated anger and outrage as well as Sellefft’s arrogant stubbornness.

Being completely truthful turned out to be Deeno’s downfall, however, because he admitted to claiming that he needed a crisis team. Lieutenant Berg was professional and did his job by taking Deeno’s claims to be in crisis seriously. He was as kind as possible about it, and even let Deeno pack his own belongings, but in the end, Deeno was taken to the naked room to spend some time under observation on suicide watch until he could speak to the psych doctor and convince him that he wasn’t suicidal. C/O Sellefft had a good laugh about it once Deeno was gone.

Bad Luck
Deeno was back in GP in a different building in a week, but it took a month of him filing grievances and talking to every lieutenant, major, and warden he could come across to try to get his television back. Ultimately, he had to enlist his people to call from the world and take up the cause for him before his property was returned.

Sellefft’s reign of terror went on for another month for a total of seventy-eight days during which time every single person in the house was perpetually on edge. When he was replaced by a more reasonable officer, it was cause for celebration by all. Well, all but Deeno. Sellefft had been reassigned to the building where Deeno had been relocated to. Just bad luck I suppose. C/Os like Sellefft aren’t necessarily common, but whenever one does show up, he is a serious nuisance to every convict he encounters.




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