Trusty, Trustee, and Tier Rep’s    by    Ruth Utnage

In Viktor Frankl’s “Man Search For Meaning” he talks about the German SS appointing prisoner representative’s as a means of controlling the prisoners with less manpower, they could send more SS to the front lines instead. The point was the trustee’s could manage their respective groups or “tier’s” and when the SS had news that needed to be broke to the masses they had “one of their own” to deliver it.

In the American prison system there was this prisoner position called a “Trusty” which you can get a rich and wonderfully detailed account of through Shane Bauer’s book “American Prison” where he went undercover as a corrections officer and then wrote about his experiences but also intertwines a fantastic history lesson. Trusty’s were Lifer’s who guarded the perimeter of the prison with rifles and were let free of they shot a prisoner dead attempting to escape.

The terms Trustee and Trusty are antiquated at best and while some places have stopped using them altogether, by that name, they have largely been revamped into a modern version known as the “Tier Rep”. Like the Trustee’s of German SS concentration camp’s and the Trusty’s of the American prison system (which were actively used until the early 1900’s) Tier Rep’s are used to deliver bad news to the populace. However, if you asked many they would say their main function is to represent the inmate population to the administration. But like their predecessors they are being exploited to deliver the news of harsher conditions so that our keepers don’t have to tell us themselves.

Tier reps naively go into these meetings with the requests of a few still believing souls and do the best they can to articulate the needs of the majority but when they come back with official minutes it’s dripping with changes or answers that negatively impact us. Here’s one such change as an example:

Amazon has been banned as a mail service which means when our families order books for us they have to go through an approved delivery service like USPS, FedEx, or UPS. This limits our ability to get literature when we do not have access to a library at all, even a limited one. It is illegal for us to trade books, now our families cannot order us books from basically the only approved book vendor in the country and now we cannot use that book vendors delivery service and now must pay additional fees during a time of crises.

And guess who was told to tell us? Our ‘trustee’ Tier Rep’s.

I rarely talk negatively about prison but this has gone on long enough!

With Love
Ruth Utnage

Feel free to contact me, a little human contact is always welcome

Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-601-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage