Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hey! Stop touching her!

In prison, one of the first things you learn as a staff member is that there is absolutely no touching allowed. This includes high-fives, shoulder-to-shoulder joint reading of a magazine, holding hands while listening to music, and getting freaky in the stacks. (While I personally have never had to deal with the last one, there are many prison librarians that have. So if that weirds you out, you may want to consider a different line of work. Although I hear that public library patrons sometimes watch porn on the public computers so pick your poison I guess. And kids are sexting all over the place now so even school libraries are not sex-free zones.) The reason for this rule is because there are a lot of sexual predators in prison (imagine that) and sometimes the women who are being touched are not willing girlfriends but victims. The whole saying "There is no consensual sex in prison" is true, and if anyone is caught having sex in prison they may have to register as a sex offender, even if they were just there on some minor drug charges.

The whole no touching rule has been so ingrained in my psyche that I now have a hard time keeping myself from telling people to stop touching when I am in a public place. And if someone touches me, like by brushing my fingers when they are handing me my receipt at the store, it takes a lot of will power to keep myself from saying "Hey, that's not appropriate."

My favorite no touching story from my three years inside is when I saw two women holding hands while they were listening to music. I took them out in the hall (*note to potential prison librarians-it is always a good idea to take confrontations out into the hallway and away from a possible audience) and asked why they were holding hands. The answer? "She is going to be doing my nails later today!" Not on my watch ladies! What happened instead? Their library time got cut short, and they had to go to the clinic for an anatomical exam and they were seperated by pods in their unit, never to have library time together again! Muahahahahahaha!

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