Article – “Honey Bucket” by Brian Anderson

Hello, fellow MP Vets:

After creating and editing the Scarlet and Gold newsletter for the last 20 years I have acquired a habit of searching for interesting articles to peak our members interest.  As many of you know my wife Norma and I have successfully operated our At the Shore Bed and Breakfast in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast since we departed Richmond in 2004.  Over these years I have enjoyed many visits with our guests.  When a recent guest learned of my service in the RCMP he explained he had a long career with Corrections.   Of course, I had to ask if he had any interesting encounters with inmates.  He then related this story of an incident in the Segregation Wing of The Chilliwack Sentence Management Unit.  I asked if he would provide a written account for our newsletter which he has done.  In the absence of the newsletter I submit it for inclusion on the website.  As a title I mulled over “The Shit Disturber” but yield to his more dignified “Honey Bucket.”

Peter Bond

Honey Bucket by Brian Anderson

In the mid 1970’s, I returned home to Chilliwack after playing semi-pro hockey in the eastern United States for two years. My career was short lived due to being injured during a game one night that tore the cartilage in both my knees. After a botched surgery and rehab in Dayton Ohio, I was sent to the North American League to build up my strength. This was the league that the movie ’Slap Shot’ was based on…and it wasn’t far from the truth. All the ‘has-beens’ and ‘up and coming’ goons were groomed in this league. Although I was considered to be an ‘enforcer’ , my experiences there were out of my comfort zone.

When I got home, I took a couple of months off, then returned to my old job at a shake and shingle mill. One night I was at a family gathering on my wife’s side and chatted with one of her uncles. He worked as a prison guard at the Chilliwack Forest Camps. There were five forest camps in total and a 30 cell maximum security unit attached to a camp called Mount Thurston. He told me that the camps were hiring and, if I was interested, he would put in a good word to the Warden. I was already volunteering as an RCMP auxiliary and thought this would be good training for me if I chose a police-related career. I gave it some thought and that Fall, I put my application in for a job with Corrections. The next week I received a call for an interview on the following Friday. No skill testing questions, no written exam and no physical. They were more interested in discussing my hockey career. They did ask me if I could run a power saw and if I would have a problem taking up to 14 inmates into the forest cutting wood. “No problem,” I told the three of them. The Warden responded with “You have yourself a job”. I was instructed to head over to stores to pick up my uniform and report to Mount Thurston on the following Monday.

After a month or so of on-the-job training and working the odd shift as an auxiliary, I was sent to Oakalla Prison for five weeks of Security Officer Training. After those five weeks, I was so thankful to leave that dingy old prison and get back to the camps in Chilliwack. To this day I can remember the smell. It was a combination of dirty socks, cow manure and cheap citrus multi-use cleaning products. I discovered later that the floor cleaner contained 20% alcohol. The cleaning jobs were sought after by “Rubbies” who were usually doing time under the Habitual Criminal Act, which was better known as “The Bitch Act”. They would mix the orange powdered cleaner with Tang and this would give them a “buzz” for most of the day.

Within a few months I was a permanent staff and assigned to the 30 cell maximum security unit. It was formally known as The Chilliwack Sentence Management Unit, or Mini Max for short. As I was working alot of different shifts, I had to resign as an auxiliary RCMP because it conflicted with my schedule in Corrections.  I loved my job in Corrections and actually ended up spending the next 30 years there.

Around two years into my career, I arrived at work for a day shift with two other staff. We had been briefed about the four new intake from Oakalla a few days earlier. The four inmates were all sentenced in ‘Wardens Court’ to 30 days segregation, with a Director’s review after completing 15 days. These guys were bad dudes. One was a Hell’s Angel named Moore. He stood 6’2” and tipped the scales around 225 lbs. His head was shaved and on the left side of his skull, he had a tattoo of a bullet splatter, surrounded by the words “Eat Shit Pigs”. He apparently had been grazed by a bullet by the  RCMP a few years earlier.

These four were all in the segregation wing, which contained ten, 5 by 8 foot cells.  Each cell consisted of a metal bed which was bolted to the wall, two feet above the cement floor. On one wall, opposite the door, was a small 4 by 10 inch rectangular window made of heavy duty plexi glass. It had a view of a 15 foot fence, topped with concertina wire, then a wall of trees. They had no reading or writing material and received a phone call once they completed the first fifteen days. There was no bathroom or sink, just a 5 gallon bucket with a lid…the Honey Bucket… and a plastic water jug that could be filled once a day. At 10 pm they were given a pillow and a wool blanket.  At 6 am the blanket and pillow were removed and they were given breakfast. Typically it was two hard boiled eggs with a piece of toast and a warm cup of coffee in a tin cup. The next meal was not until 5 pm. The seg inmates were allowed out of their room one at a time to the outside yard to dump their bucket and put a cup of disinfectant in it, which often smelled worse than before it was dumped and rinsed.  There was an officer patrolling the outside perimeter with a guard dog named Harris. As I was trained as a dog handler, I would often be in this role. Harris was a mean 8 year old German Shepherd. He loved to track convicts who escaped from the open work camps and he put on quite a show of force during the capture.

Our first job this particular day was to get an inmate named Blacky packed up and transferred back to Oakalla. He was not suitable for a work camp placement and was being moved because he liked to wrap his feces in toast and store it under his bed. Blacky was a glaring example of why Crease Clinic should not have been closed. He needed far more help than what could be offered to him in jail. Once he was packed up and on his way to Oakalla, it was time to deal with the segregation inmates.

Typically it took about two hours to finish the Honey Bucket brigade. It was a very methodical process, following the same routine with each inmate. Let them out of their cell and walk to the yard to dump their bucket. Return to the tier where they could shower and shave, put on clean coveralls and fill up their water jug, then back to their cell until the next morning. There were three of us on shift. The supervisor, Tom, was locked in the control office. Stan manned the tier door and I worked on the unit, bringing the inmates out, one at a time. Stan and Tom were both big men in their late 50’s. Winding down in their careers, not much riled either of them up any more. Stan had poor vision in his left eye as he had been stabbed with a pen while breaking up a fight between two inmates a few years earlier. He was a “solid” staff member and I always knew he had my back when he was at the tier door. When I returned to the tier with the second inmate and passed by Stan, I said “2 down, 3 to go”. Inmate Moore was next. When I approached his cell, I looked in through the small port hole. Moore had his coveralls ripped and wrapped around his neck, looped through the heating grate in the ceiling. He was hanging motionless about two feet off the floor, naked, with his back and right side facing the door. Protocol was to not open the door until two staff were present. I turned and hollered to Stan “I need immediate assistance”.  Stan called for Tom to relieve him and Tom called for backup from the nearby camp Mount Thurston. Tom moved to the tier door and opened it for Stan to assist me. Stan came lumbering down the tier and within seconds he was beside me at Moore’s door. He looked in the cell and then at me. No words were spoken, just a nod to each other acknowledging that I could now open the door. I put the skeleton key in the slot, turned it to the left and swung the door open. In a heart beat, Moore released the coverall strips that he was holding with his left hand, landed on the floor and picked up his Honeybucket. It was a direct hit at me and Stan, covering us from our waist to our heads with the contents of his bucket. I immediately charged at Moore, knocking him down onto the cement floor and attempted to put him into a head lock. Stan jumped onto his legs and wrapped his arms around his ankles. We struggled to maintain control as we writhed about in this slimy, slippery, disgusting mess. I repeatedly yelled at Moore to calm down so that nobody got hurt, but he ignored my commands. Just then, Tom was relieved by a staff from Mount Thurston. I could hear big Tom come plodding down the tier and the familiar sound of the handcuffs and leg irons as they bounced off of his hip with every step. Tom entered the cell and quickly realized that Moore was not giving in to our commands. Tom then told us to secure Moore the best we could and stretch  him out flat on his back. Once we had Moore in position, Tom stood over his stomach and gave Moore one last warning to stop resisting.  Moore told Tom to go F–k himself. Without hesitation, Tom jumped up about a foot and landed squarely onto Moore’s stomach, all 250 lbs of him. I could hear Tom’s knees hitting the concrete. This seemed to exhaust all the air out of Moore’s system, allowing him to barely mumble the words “OK, I give up”. Once we had him in cuffs and leg irons, we removed him from the tier and placed him in an open observation cell.

Tom, Stan and I spent the next little while freshening up so we could get on with our shift. Meanwhile, the Director had made a decision that Moore was going to be moved back to Segregation at Oakalla. I was asked if I would work overtime and do the transport. I jumped at the opportunity, knowing how a bit of overtime would pay off on my next paycheque. It was now early evening and darkness was setting in. While the oncoming shift was giving Moore a garden hose shower, I fueled up the security  van and moved it to the front entrance. Moore, who was still naked, hand cuffed and leg ironed (this at the request of Oakalla, was then loaded into the rear cage of the van. I gathered up all Moore’s files and transfer paperwork and hit the road for the two and a half hour drive to Burnaby.

When I approached the grounds of Oakalla, I radioed “Oakalla, this is Chilliwack Transport on grounds”. Oakalla responded, “10-4 Chilliwack Transport. Go directly to Segregation to unload”. Oakalla’s segregation unit was below the cow barns. There was no natural light inside and I believe they used 40 watt bulbs to make it seem darker and more dingy than it really was. As I turned the van around to back in, I noticed two staff at the entrance with shot guns and one staff with a guard dog. I stopped short of the door and got out of my vehicle. The staff with the dog told me to unlock the back door and that two staff from inside would escort Moore to his cell. I did as requested, then was told to stand clear from the back of the van. The staff with the guard dog positioned himself between the rear of the van and the entrance to Segregation. He then gave the command, “Watch Him”, which turned the German Shepherd into “Cujo”, the rabid attack dog. The gates to segregation opened and, out from the inner darkness, two very large staff approached the vehicle. Inmates would refer to these type of staff as “Knuckle Draggers”. They opened the rear door of the van, grabbed Moore at his armpits, and dragged him out of the van.  Moore was air born for about five feet until he finally hit the ground. I handed the paper work to one of the staff and as the gates were slammed shut, someone said. “Have a safe trip back”.  Within seconds, all the staff disappeared and I found myself standing alone in the darkness. For a moment I wondered if I was having a dream or was this just another day on the job.

I left the grounds of Oakalla and as I was nearing the Port Mann Bridge, I found myself reminiscing about my childhood. Me and my three brothers were in the back seat of our station wagon, returning home from one of our hockey games somewhere in Vancouver. When we got to the Port Mann Bridge, my dad would say “Who can hold their breathe from pillar to pillar? There was a time when you could actually accomplish that.  Mom would turn and look at us to make sure no one was cheating. Finally we reached the pillar on the other side and all gasped for air, arguing who had actually won. Soon we would pass by “Charlies Tree” and then, like clock work, we were all fast asleep. Once we reached the Fraser Valley, the four of us would be awakened to the smell of fresh manure being spread on the fields. We knew home was just around the corner.

Oddly enough, about five years later, Moore returned to Mount Thurston and was one of my best workers on the logging crew. The only words he spoke regarding our first encounter was, “You were just doing your job”. Shortly after, I left the logging camp at Mount Thurston and became  an instructor for Non Violent Confrontation and Cell Extraction, while continuing to work as a correctional officer at the Chilliwack Forest Camps.