Racist, misogynistic Instagram site potentially linked to guards at Victorville prison – San Bernardino Sun

Correctional officers at the federal prison complex in Victorville are suspected of creating an Instagram page spouting racist, homophobic and misogynistic memes, causing a stir in the national prison system and catching the attention of officials in Washington, D.C.

The anonymous web posts accuse female Bureau of Prisons employees of trading sex for promotions, joke about sexually assaulting female prisoners and deride Blacks and Mexicans. The Instagram site goes under the name “good verbal.”

“It’s a blemish to the agency,” said Don Shults, former president of the 1,000-member Victorville correctional complex union and now the local’s fair practice coordinator. “It’s unconscionable that people would do this.”

In an online post, the “good verbal” writers defended their memes as dark humor by people with difficult, little appreciated jobs.

“Our humor is not for everyone. This is how we deal with the horrible things we must see to earn money,” said the post. “We are the modern day sin eaters. We try to manage those who are unfit for society.”

Others, however, say the memes themselves are unfit for society.

One post announces the hiring of new females.

“Better get’em early before they belong to the yard,” says the post, meaning that if the male workers don’t act first, the inmates will have their way with the female recruits.

Another meme shows a rainbow-colored, phallic-shaped sex toy, marked to show the job favors that can be earned by using it.

In one reference to the women’s prison in Dublin, California, the meme says: “What’s the point of dating online when you work in a gated Tinder? Swipe right, get a new inmate.”

Then there are the racist posts, such as, “Never trust a Mexican with a mullet.”

Inside jokes

Many of the posts refer to inside jokes, using abbreviations and terminology known mostly to federal correctional officers and employees. Some refer to whistleblowers and other employees having personnel problems with the system.

“A lot of the insults are only for insiders to know,” said one whistleblower, whose name is being withheld by the Southern California News Group for fear of retaliation by staff and prisoners.

A female correctional officer, who asked to remain anonymous, believes she has been the target of some of the offensive memes.

“A lot of people think it is hilarious,” she said, “but a lot feel they are harassed. It’s at the expense of other people’s problems. If you work there, you will know what the (memes) are talking about.”

Because of that inside information, staff and union officials contacted by SCNG say they believe the posts are originating from Victorville Federal Correctional Complex guards.

Feds denounce posts

Bureau of Prisons officials would not confirm suspicions that the memes are linked to the Victorville facility. But they denounced the posts.

“As an agency, we believe the posts by the ‘Good Verbal’ account holder are reprehensible. If this matter is linked to a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) employee, we will fervently pursue all actions in accordance with policy and law,” agency spokesman Emery Nelson said in an email.

“The BOP takes allegations of staff misconduct seriously and, consistent with national policy, refers all allegations for investigation,” Nelson wrote. “Incidents of potential criminal activity or misconduct inside BOP facilities are thoroughly investigated for potential administrative discipline or criminal prosecution.”

The Victorville complex consists of four institutions, including a federal penitentiary housing more than 3,800 medium- and high-security prisoners. This is not the first time the complex has been hit by controversy.

In 2019, the bureau paid $11 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by female staff alleging sexual harassment.

Shults said the workplace environment has improved, but some disagree.

Treatment of women, minorities ‘horrible’

Jermaine Carson, a former case manager at the Victorville complex, left in 2017 for a law enforcement job at the Department of Homeland Security. Carson said he still keeps in touch with friends at the Victorville prison. And he says all is not well there.

“The treatment toward women and minorities there was horrible. Things have not changed as far as I know,” said Carson, who is Black.

During his tenure in Victorville, Carson said correctional officers often made deals to sneak phones and other contraband to inmates for money. Harassment of women was commonplace.

“Do I believe this stuff is still happening? I do,” he said.

Another anonymous male employee added, “The male staff are worse than the male inmates when it comes to crossing the line” with females.

The explosive “good verbal” page has reverberated throughout the Victorville site, causing at least one fistfight among employees in the prison parking lot, Shults said.

“Most of the staff is very professional,” he said. “It’s a few bad apples. But the problem is so egregious, it’s not something to discount.”

Shults added, “Everybody that’s professional is ashamed of the whole situation.”

Controversy over the web page is making an already difficult job of keeping often violent offenders in line even more challenging, he said.

Shults said that with all the Victorville references, he believes the posts are coming from two people there, potentially including a supervisor.

“I can see it going in a very bad direction,” he said. “We need to ID it as soon as humanly possible. We’re trying to hire people and we have this cloud over us.”

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