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Dear Matthew Alice:

Please activate your criminal mind to answer this: What if I am deaf, blind, and in a wheelchair and for some reason I end up getting 10 to 20 at Sing Sing. Can I take my guide dog? Are there ramps for the handicapped? Since I can't see, hear, or run, how do I keep from becoming someone's bitch or worse, getting shanked in the shower? I asked my boss, the attorney, but he says he specializes in taxes. I haven't seen this handled on Law and Order.

-- Blind Justice, downtown

No connection between tax law and the slammer? What dream world is your boss living in? And unless your guide dog was driving the getaway car, he'll get a pass. To end up in Sing Sing, you'd have to move to New York. You can launch a perfectly reasonable criminal career in CA, so let's consider the local system.

Actually, there are plenty of prison inmates in wheelchairs, either permanently or temporarily. Shot by gangsters, cops, their victims, angry girlfriends. Or someone breaks a leg in a prison fight or playing basketball. If you have no other medical needs, you are treated pretty much like any other inmate. There are deaf prisoners, and blind. Again, you'll probably be out there on the yard with everyone else. You protect yourself the traditional way: get someone to watch your back. Attitude and a pal are your best safety tips.

Prisons have hospital units for inmates with special medical needs and high-security yards for people who require continuous protection from the main population (snitches, child molesters, law enforcers gone wrong). And unless you have a street rep as a major bad guy, every new inmate is as vulnerable as any other. Of course, depending on where you are and who you're with, a handicap might make you less likely to be a victim. But don't count on it. If you're planning a criminal career, my advice is stay healthy, develop good reflexes.

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