Friday, May 30, 2008

to release or not to release

I think one of the most challenging things about my job is deciding when to release people from IPDA. When we're not full, it's not an issue. We can give people as long as they need, and longer. If they're sleeping, we'll just let them sleep. It might be the warmest, safest sleep that they've had in weeks. When we're full however, things are a different story.

Weekends and EIA (welfare) cheque days are possibly the worst. Cheque days in particular because they craziness starts earlier. For example, last cheque day there were already 17 when I came in for the night as opposed to the usual 12ish.

When we fill up we have a problem, in that the police want us to have space. If we can't take someone, they wind up having to hold them in their car (keeping them off the street for other things), arrest them, or take them to the hospital. None of which are very good options. Of course, for some people they could just drive them home, but it doesn't work for everyone, particularly if they have no where to go. So when we're full, they start phoning, just itching for us to be empty. The cars start lining up outside the door, stocking us. It's fairly easy to ignore their pressure though, they're outside, we're in.

Unfortunately perhaps, we get pressure on the inside too. Management does not believe we should be filling up, and the shift coordinators are tasked with making sure we don't. That means they're pressuring us from up the stairs to discharge as well. And sometimes, there's just no one you think is quite ready to go. Because you sign your name to that discharge. If they go out and get hit by a car, or get picked up again by cops, you're (apparently) screwed. Some of the staff are obsessively worried about this. That their name will be ruined. They'll make the coordinator sign off on someone who they don't believe is ready to go.

I don't know what I think. I think some of the staff are too cautious. They're leaving people in there upwards of 8 hours. Which I guess in some cases is necessary, but after 6, most people have sobered up enough. Maybe not completely, but enough that they can get themselves home, or up the stairs to the shelter to sleep it off some more. I think it takes talent to still be drunk after 6 hours. Of course it could happen, but still. 8-10 hours is fine when we have room, but we don't always have room.

I usually wind up getting the last IPDA shift of the night. We don't get as many intakes, the bars have been closed for a while, but I get stuck doing massive amounts of discharges, with the coordinator up top asking me how many more I can get done before shift change. And of course with discharges, comes cell cleaning. Fun fun!

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