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Posts Tagged ‘corrections officers’

The California Vent

November 23rd, 2009

This is a letter sent our way a few  months ago.  A trusted colleague who also works at California Dept. of C orrections & Rehabilitation said this about it:  This is an absolute factual account of prison life.  The author has done an excellent job of describing the conditions inside of California’s prisons, while pointing out the inequities between felons and working people, with the felons receiving all the benefits, while we work responsibly only to be burdened by paycuts.  Excellently done.

As a California Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) employee, I have had my fill with the statements being made in the media about how the overpaid state employees (prison guards) are draining the state’s budget, and how the poor inmates (convicted FELONS) are dropping like flies due to substandard medical care and brutal living conditions. Allow me to cast some light onto these shadowy areas with my ten plus years of insight behind the walls.

Read more…

Corrections Fatigue ,

Yet Another Staff Suicide

November 2nd, 2009

It hurts my soul that another exemplary correctional worker killed himself yesterday. His suicide blind-sighted & knocked the wind out of all who knew him.  It hurts that he was all alone in his pain to the end,  tormented by what proved for him to be unbearable heartache & hopelessness, yet he didn’t feel safe to confide in any of his corrections “comrades in arms.”

What do you think drove him to pretend everything was manageable & that he was OK? Read more…

Staff Suicide , , ,

From Shut Down to Alive!

October 15th, 2009

The other day my friend Paul, a corrections professional, told me that he once was a tender-hearted, warm person. “Now,” he mused, “after 16 years in corrections, I feel shut down. If somebody really hassled me I might feel some anger. Otherwise I’m a flat line. I can’t feel much inside, either good or bad. In a way it’s easier not to be getting worked up over things, but I know something’s not right!” He added, “Linda keeps complaining that I’m too distant with her and the kids.”

“What do you think happened?” I asked.

Paul’s answer came after a long pause. “I think I just got too used to keeping myself under control in order to remain professional.” Read more…

Smart Living , ,

Comes with the Territory

October 9th, 2009

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) can be of great help to staff who struggle with substance abuse issues. In my counseling practice with Corrections Officers over the past nine years I have noted an additional area of need which crops us frequently with corrections personnel—that of posttraumatic stress. In fact, these two areas of substance abuse and psychological traumatization may well be interrelated. The “dual” (double) diagnosis literature indicates that oftentimes substances, such as alcohol, are the tool people abuse to “muffle” (self-medicate) their posttraumatic symptoms and make them more tolerable for a short while.1

Posttraumatic stress takes a heavy toll on body, soul, and spirit.1 In addition to substance abuse, untreated posttraumatic stress may contribute to high turnover, sick leave, and early disability retirement in corrections. And it may be at least partly responsible for the high suicide rates among Corrections Officers.2

Read more…

PTSD , ,

Shoe-eating & Other Oddities–From CO Wife

September 26th, 2009

I recently suggested that laughing helps us stay sane. Since theory without practice is useless, I decided to post this article submitted to Desert Waters by a CO wife. So read on, and chuckle, chortle and guffaw.

“He ate his shoes!” was what my husband mumbled over and over one evening during his first couple of months on the job in the prison system. What sort of job had he found himself in and what sort of people would eat their shoes? Thus began his life as a corrections officer, dealing with not only shoe-eaters, but inmates that would do just about anything. Read more…

family ,

Seduction’s Slippery Slope

August 28th, 2009

One of the greatest sources of demoralization for corrections and detention staff is “losing” one of their own to inmates. What I am referring to is the crossing of professional boundaries by staff in ways that violate policy and break the law.
Why and how do these violations happen? And what can be done to help render staff immune to them?
A common boundary violation in corrections is staff befriending inmates. This “overfamiliarity” may or may not lead to sexual/romantic involvement, the introduction of contraband into facilities (tobacco and other drugs, weapons, etc.), or staff acting as messengers between inmates and people on the outside.
In discussions of professional boundaries, psychologists talk about the slippery slope, the boundary erosion between therapists and clients. This term refers to ethical or criminal violations which are initially small, but which may eventually progress to major infractions. Read more…

Boundaries ,

Naked Truth

August 19th, 2009

A big part of the mission of Desert Waters Correctional Outreach ( is to draw attention to the high incidence of secondary traumatic stress and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the corrections ranks.

After talking with corrections staff and their family members for over 9 years now, I can say with reasonable certainty that a good number of correctional workers, especially security (custody) personnel, are struggling with symptoms of secondary traumatic stress or PTSD due to their exposure to horrifically violent incidents on the job. Read more…

Corrections Fatigue, PTSD ,

The Power of a Name

August 14th, 2009

Whether you are an agnostic, an atheist or a believer, the email below, sent to me by a veteran CO, is bound to be intriguing. This is not the first time I’ve been approached by corrections staff about their sensing an invisible evil presence at work that made their hair stand up at the back of their necks. If such encounters actually happen, how prepared are COs to deal with that type of force?

I wanted to tell you about an experience I had at work last night. I think I saw a man who was truly possessed by a demon. Read more…

Spiritual Moments

In Harm’s Way

July 28th, 2009

A while back I got a call from a dear friend, a CO. I picked up the phone casually, expecting a run-of-the-mill conversation. What I heard on the other end left me speechless, my heart aching for my friend and his wife, who is also a CO. (I’ll call them Vic and Christine. Even though what I am about to describe is public record, I still feel more comfortable not using people’s real names.)

Vic got to the point right away. “A few days ago I was viciously stabbed—totally unprovoked—by an inmate on my shift. It’s only by the grace of God that I survived.”

Read more…

PTSD , ,

Two Sheets of Music

July 16th, 2009

Recently two correctional workers and I were discussing what helps staff stay “sane.” Without hesitation both said, “Correctional workers must be able to switch their mindset from work to home.” One added, “I learned how to live in two very different worlds and still not lose ‘me’.”

Indeed, corrections personnel live in two worlds. These worlds are like two sheets of music. Daily staff is asked to switch from one tune to the other. These two worlds involve very different assumptions about what is expected, how people must behave, and what constitutes a “good day.”

Read more…

Smart Living , ,