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From the trenches
By an anonymous CO
Published: 11/10/2008

Wheels Editor’s note: This story is being shared with us by Desert Waters Correctional Outreach. The non-profit organization and its newsletter, Correctional Oasis, are dedicated to the well being of correctional staff and their families.

I work at a maximum security prison. It is an understatement to say that it can be a very unsafe place.

Today was the perfect example of what I mean. At 8:05 a.m. a staff member was standing by a door monitoring inmates as they came into the area.

One inmate approached with his shirt unbuttoned and untucked. It is one of the rules that all inmates between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. will be in complete uniform, buttoned up, and tucked in. It is a constant battle.

This staff member let the door to the area close as the inmate approached and reminded the inmate to tuck in his shirt before coming into the department. The inmate seemed to comply and started to tuck in his shirt.

Right in the middle of this the inmate reached up and grabbed the door and pulled back on it, striking the staff member on the shoulder with the handle. All the inmate had to say after this was, "That is what you get for standing in front of the door."

The staff member proceeded to apply hand restraints to the inmate and other staff escorted the individual to the Lieutenant's Office and ultimately Special Housing. The incident is under investigation.

The staff member was not hurt and the situation did not intensify. The staff member and another employee standing next to him during the incident completed memos for the "simple assault."

The staff member also had to go to medical to get a medical assessment, where medical staff check out injuries and assist the staff if injured.

I remind you the staff was unhurt and claimed it felt more like getting a charley-horse, where the hand goes numb, and then all gets better in about an hour. At least everything but the adrenaline.

During this incident, there was no increased violence or retaliation. Just action to control the situation and bring it to a conclusion with as little injury as possible.

It sounds to me like the staff’s response was successful. It could have been much worse, and has been in similar situations all over the U.S.

Prisons are not the safest places to work. Of course the staff member was told later he could have gotten away with a more physical reaction. If that would have occurred, he would have been under investigation for a while.

And I am not sure it was necessary to do more, when less took care of the situation. The rest of the day was like any other with nothing major happening. Tasks completed as planned.

I pass all of this on to ask for positive thoughts and prayers for those of us who choose this line of work. Most of us do the best we can and hope/pray on a daily basis to get home to family and friends.

All else is out of our control. So we keep plodding along, hoping and praying.

We have keys, a radio, and not much else as we monitor and manage murderers, bank robbers, gang members, and the like. I still have not heard of one group of kids playing correctional officers and inmates while growing up.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into the day of the life of a correctional worker. On that day we all walked out of the prison in good shape with no one being seriously hurt. Sounds like a good day to me.

And for those of you wondering, I was that staff member who was subjected to the "simple assault." Not my idea of a good time, and certainly not the way to start the day.

For that matter, there is nothing simple about any day in prison. Praise to the Lord above for keeping us all safe. And may He continue to do so!


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