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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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No wonder those escapees jumped ship

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

Nuttin’ like a little time in the can to show a con what he’s made of.

And so it was for me. My inner inmate moment of truth came while moseying across the yard of the Geiger Corrections Center the other day.

I gazed at the chain link fences topped with razor wire. I stared into the shifty eyes of shiftless jailbirds.

And then it walloped me like a tire iron in a back alley.

This minimum-to-microscopic-security lockup west of Spokane has logged more walkouts than a Joan Rivers striptease.

And you know what?

If I had to stay here much longer I’d make a break for it, too.

Yessir! Add Convict Clark to the ever-expanding Who’s Who of Unplanned Geiger Departures.

Quite frankly, I’m surprised there haven’t been even more escapes.

Sloth is too much a part of the criminal nature, I guess.

Lucky for me I didn’t have to remain at Geiger long enough to get “L-O-V-E” and “D-O-U-G” tattooed on my knuckles – or form any serious shower room relationships.

I wound up in Geiger via invitation not violation.

Director Leon Long extended the following offer in an e-mail:

“Hey, come out for a tour. I promise I won’t lock you in.”

Lock me in? Har! What a kidder.

Please note that Long’s message was sent June 12 at 3:02 p.m.

At 6:12 p.m. the very same day, a female inmate tossed a jacket over the new razor wire topping one of the alleged security fences. She then scampered over it.

Just another member of that famed Geiger Corrections Circus act:

The Fleeing Felon-das.

The hapless perp was soon nabbed, which is most always the case.

Geiger holds up to 610 inmates. Most are held on charges or convictions for dope or property crimes.

I don’t want to be judgmental. But we’re not talking about a haven of criminal masterminds.

The “getting away” part of the plan is most always the major bugaboo for these Lex Losers.

Me? I’d never risk lacerating my typing fingers by scrambling over barbed wire. The loss to the reading public would simply be too great.

I’m more for furrowing under a fence like an overgrown marmot.

Or perhaps I could recruit a lock-picking accomplice to crack the padlocks on the Geiger gates.

Of course, the honorable thing is for a con to serve his or her time peacefully.

How boring is that?

Director Long seems like a pretty good guy who is saddled with a tough job. Geiger, after all, was never designed to be a prison. It’s basically just a gone-to-seed military barracks with more fencing.

Escapes aside, however, Long claims his prison has made positive strides since he took over late last August.

One advancement, he says, is in getting rid of “The Sacred Dance.”

When Long came on board he discovered this strange New Age ceremony going on. Some women inmates, dressed in gauzy white gowns, would chant and undulate to the soft rhythmic rattle of rain sticks.

The director didn’t think this belonged in a prison.

I’m no penal expert. But staging sacred dances regularly in the open prison yard strikes me as a great way to keep male inmates from bolting.

This just in: While I was writing today’s column, director Long sent me another e-mail.

“Hey, I was talking to one of the federal inmates on Friday and she recognized you …” he wrote. “She came to Geiger in April of 2001 after being convicted of drug distribution and I believe she tortured some of her victims …

“Anyway, she said you wrote a column about her that wasn’t very nice.”

Yet one more reason for a guy like me to never, ever end up in this sinkhole of humanity.

Or make a successful Geiger Getaway when I do.

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