Phone Power

cullotta-cover-web.jpgExcerpted from CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness.  

While Frank was working in the psych unit a decision was made to open an inmate phone room in the front end of the prison. The idea was that all inmates would be allowed to make one personal phone call weekly. In addition to correctional staff, the phone room would require inmate workers. Vince had already transferred from the main barber shop to the psych unit barber shop, and at Frank’s recommendation he applied for and got a clerk’s position in the phone room.

This new job was a position of power for Vince. He was responsible for scheduling the phone calls and could make sure his friends got more than one call per week. Other inmates who wanted extra phone time had to pay Vince for that privilege. Some of the prisoners had cash, which Vince gladly accepted. But the most common method of payment was cigarettes, which could be smoked or traded for other items.

 Frank and Vince also cultivated a relationship with one of the guards assigned to the phone room. They had him visit their friends or relatives while off duty and pick up items of clothing or food that they wanted brought into the prison. The guard collected a cash compensation for his services from those sources as well as the contraband.  

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