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Women working in Corrections
By Forum Author - arzkttn
Published: 04/06/2009

Femaleofficer2009apr06 I would like to find information/help on how to cope with being a woman detention officer in an all male facility. Needless to say I have some special concerns and issues that a male officer would not encounter. My co-workers and administrative staff are supportive, but I need to find a way to deal with inmates that think that because I am a woman they don't need to listen to my instructions.....the same instructions that any male officer would give them. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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  15. Kellie on 04/17/2009:

    bippieh "women on the same playing field", "I don't think women have the makeup to deal with stress".......Just being a woman is stressful!!! Women do a very good job in Corrections!!! At one point our command staff was almost all female! Your husband appeared the one that cannot deal with the stress and the vularity and the reality of the job. I do not take the job home, I am not my job!! It is a very stressful job that can be very rewarding! I have done this job since I was 23 years old. I am a better person because of it. You have a right to your opinion. However, you need to research and learn before you attempt to make the women that work in my choosen field in such a negative light!!! I would not do any other job. If I can do the job, I should be afforded the oppportunity to do that job. I am sorry your husband did not know how to deal with the stress of the job. I am sorry your husband choose to bring the negative aspects home to you. I am sorry that you feel that women are lesser players. Understand, you are wrong and should do some research and speak with the women that do the job and have done the job for over 20 years. I thing you will be surprized!

  16. anotherCO on 04/15/2009:

    bippieh....You are not offending me, however, you seem so ignorant about the DOC especially considering you're paying someone to educate yourself!! I have been a CO for 6 yrs, & yes I am all woman. I started at a womens level I & II, and have worked up through their acute unit level V for the criminally insane- not responsible for their own actions. I have since moved and have worked all levels of men, currently in a close custody maximum security, still all men. The prisoner population outnumbers the officers in an overwhelming ratio. We carry no weapons, just cuffs, keys, and a PPD. A panic button, if you will. Yes we are at risk, just as the men are. Again, Just as the men are. Most of the prisoners do not care if you are a guy or girl, I have seen both attacked seriously. In case of a riot, all officers are in danger. Just because a man works in a prison does not make him immortal, and the prisoners have a lot less to lose and if they want to hurt you, trust and believe, they will. I am a facility trainer for prisoner management. I train the officers how to defend themselves and when and how to use force, and how much force to use. I weigh 125 lbs. soak and wet. Don't you dare underestimate what a woman can do, just because you don't see yourself capable to handle the job, and YES.. Correction Officers ARE HEROES! If everyone had your attitude, we would not have a prison system to house the criminals who cannot function in society, and the people like yourself who have been terrorized by rapists and get beaten would have to face that every single day. We work with the rejects of society.

  17. altima08 on 04/09/2009:

    I am a 40 year old female, I work at a correctional facility in New Mexico. I have one year experience in corrections. I also attend a University in New Mexico. I am studying criminal justice and would like to continue working in a correction facility of I get my degree. Maybe the same one I am currently employed in. The only set back would be that my past credit situation would stop me from continuing. I feel that male inmates go as far as the individual permits it. I am very dedicated to my job. I do not let males make me feel disabled. I follow the rules exactly how the policy and procedures for this facility ask for. I do not act like a robocop or try to belittle the inmates. I respect them but If I have to correct them I do. It's all about being fair, firm and consistent when a situations arises. I love my job and feel women are belittled only if they show weakness and get personal with the inmates. Females do not give themselves a chance to be equal with men. I believe women are as strong as men.

  18. hoppen on 04/09/2009:

    I encourage you to look at the Desert Waters Correctional Outreach web-site, www.desertwaters.com. They have done some work on a Women in Corrections project and may offer some strategies to incorporate in your work situation and networking opportunities. Hoppen Colorado DOC

  19. bippieh on 04/08/2009:

    This is a heck of a lot of scolding. However I want to address some of the comments.I don't think why me would be appropriate if I were raped which I have been , and I don't think that being beaten makes me a victim ;I have been, I do not let my children run the streets, I care for them and I love them and there are lines in the sand they are not allowed to cross.period. I now have grandchildren and I expect the same from them. I wanted to and did teach my children the clarity between right and wrong. I am not living in Oz. I am 55 years old and came up in a very abusive home. I ended up running away and doing heroin. I was 17 I lived in Cleveland at the time. I have had an abortion, given a child up for adoption and lost a child from drug addiction. I was in an abusive relationship and suffered the insanity of total dysfunction from my first marriage. I am not unaware of life. I deserved to be in prison, but thank God for my Dad. Some are not as fortunate. I had a pre- sentence investigator and he believed in me, I spent 1 year in a hard core reality therapy program in Cols. Ohio. I lived on the street in Crenshaw California that Rodney King got beat on. I know about brutality, hurt and insanity. Thirty years ago I looked in the mirror and said no, no and no again I want to change. I do not want to spend my life in prison or in a grave at the age of 21. I already had a baggage of crap to try and get over I did not want anymore.For me a relationship with Jesus Christ made a real difference in the way I thought and what I wanted. A new perspective. I am writing this to clarify that I do not think I am better or I know more or that I think poorly of you any of you or anyone who works in a prison. ,one more point- I do like to be treated kindly and I do have a husband who takes care of me, but I do the same for him because I love him. We have both worked for years to get our kids through school and buy a house and deal with several deaths of our families and our sons friends who were drunk or high. I know this world is very harsh but my home does not have to be that way. We work at love and I hope all of you do also. I only have your email name and I am going to pray for you, for a hedge of protection, that somehow your life is used to change another person. They see something in you that inspires them. I was wondering. I wonder how I would be able to walk through the line and listen to the filth day in and day out. That's all. Just asking. Don't exalt yourself that you are doing the work no one else wants to do and so you are a hero. It is a job. It pays the bills. I think it takes a lot of tenacity to work as a CO and a lot of strength to not be torn down. My husband worked for one year and his character changed. Not I must say for the better. He became crude and short tempered. CO's have one of the highest divorce rates in a job . I can understand why.I am very sorry if I have offended anyone. I am finishing my associates degree and I am taking criminal justice. I did a paper on prisons. It is staggering the inside of a prison too me! I am bold and probably should work on my communication skills so I do not come across so harshly. I am really sorry.

  20. kmt09 on 04/08/2009:

    I am a female corrections officer at a close max male facility, i have been for three years. I have found that going into that place every day is a lot easier if you don't act like you're going to rule with a iron fist. I have always been "by the book", so when I started I thaught that by being the "Shift b--ch" I would gain more respect, which was not the case. I actually found out that that by being "firm, fair, and consistant" actually made my job easier. I have found that all they need is consistancy, meaning that I try to come in with the same attitude every day and always try to treat them the same. For that they seem to take me more seriously. I never let them know what gets under my skin no matter how p--sed I get, because they see that as a weakness. It always helps to have some one to talk to and know where you're coming from, for instance my mom works for ODRC also so I feel that I can relate to her. As far as those of you that don't feel that women should be in the prison and don't know why we do it. Well some of us have babies to feed and no one to help us, so we do what we have to do. And from experience I can tell you that there is a lot that I have been able to accomplish that my male counterparts could not. At any time anyone can be killed or taken hostage reguardless of their sex. I guess some of us are just a little more narrow minded than the rest!

  21. blondeco on 04/08/2009:

    I work in a prison.........and my opinion is: when i walk into that prison daily, I know what I am up against. The freaks, the perverts, the rapist, the murderers. My question to others is: Do you know what you are up against on the streets? Do you know what your neighbor has done or the guy down the street? These inmates come from somewhere and that somewhere is YOUR neighborhood!!! Reality check We are facing the same people in prison that we face on the streets daily. They just all happen to be in the same place. And these are the ones who have been caught. And for everyone of them thats been caught, there are atleast 3/4 that havent been still on the streets. Its not about being on the same playing field as anyone. Its about doing a position that over half of Americans dont want to do and dont want to realize exist. I do my job as I would do any job.......with self respect, with pride and with the right attitude. I face guys daily that have a problem with woman.....women in uniform, women in charge, women period!! But that is their issue not mine. I have been threatened to be raped, and murdered at work. But then, havent most of us had that against us on the streets. My attitude in prison is the same as the streets. I treat everyone the same and I KNOW what can/could happen to me. I like ppl with that attitude that woman dont belong in a prison. They are the same ppl who leave their front doors unlocked, let their kids run around without supervision, dont pay attention and when they become a victim, they wonder "WHY ME". Because they think all the bad ppl are in prisons....... watch the news.........they are in your neighbor hoods, they are all around you Like I said, at work, at home, I am the same. I am observant and notice alot of things. I enjoy my job because I AM keeping those perverts who have been caught away from your children, from you and your family. I am a female corrections officer and very proud of it!

  22. captaindreamer on 04/08/2009:

    As a woman who has worked in this field for 25 fives years, the options become clear when the priority is supporting a family. Working around inmates be they male or female, you have to have the strength, commonsense and training needed to survive the hostility that is bred in a correctional environment. The first 10 years of my career I worked exclusively with male inmates. Being fair, firm and objective not only helped me survive in a male dominated environment but it also protected me as well. Through my observations over the years, I see a tendency for some women to come into the field trying too hard to be in control. When you are secure about yourself and the job and your responsibility to those you supervise, you do not have to come off as the shift B____th. Now, it do take some exceptions when women focus on being overly made up and worried about their vanity instead of focusing on the job at hand. There are many attractive women working in corrections as are men, when women or become so obsessed with staying neat and clean it often takes away from the aspect of getting the job done. As far as stress management and this line of work, I now have the philosophy that I work to enjoy my time off. Once I take my lunch break and get into my personal vehicle at the end of the day, I am no longer "Captain" but plain old me. You have to strike up a healthy balance of both job satisfaction and relaxation on your off time. Finally,the fact that your co-workers are supportive is good. Perhaps you may need to examine your communication skills or conflict resolutions methods. Are there cultural differences with the inmates that you have not addressed? Don't give up.

  23. debmac on 04/08/2009:

    Bippleh, There is a saying that goes "To each his own" obviously from your statements you are someone who wants to be cared for and treated in a kind manner but that is not the reality of life. Women in todays world have to make ends meet and quite often those jobs are in fields that were previously occupied by men. This is mainly due in part that women were not paid what they were worth. Regretfully that still holds true in today's world though we have made strides. You also stated that you would be concerned even in a women's prison due to these individuals having a lack of self-control. Who do you think teaches them self-control? Do you think this is something that automatically happens? Most of these people will get out of prison and return to society. Hopefully they will do so with the skills they need to cope in the real world. Regarding your statement of being overpowered, that can also happen to a male officer and quite often does. This is why officers receive the training they do (or at least should). You are correct in saying that this is not a level playing field and regretfully as long as there are attitudes such as yours towards female officers it never will come close.

  24. bippieh on 04/08/2009:

    I personally do not understand why a woman would even consider working in an all male prison. My husband was a CO and the stories he came home with. The vulgarity, the sexual innuendos the reality that the male could most probably overtake a female if there were a riot. These are just harsh realities that I have a difficult time resonating. Why would a man listen to you? He's in prison, he's a criminal and you are a female who he could most probably take down with a blindfold on. I know this angers women, but we are all allowed to our opinion. I would be concerned even in a female prison. These are people who obviously do not consider self control. And probably have little regard for anyone.I do not understand why it is so important for women to always be on the same plying field as a man. The field is not level, and as much as we would like it to be it is not. I know there are women who pump iron and are very aggressive and could over take, but those are the odds. I am not trying to be unkind to anyone. The stress also is overwhelming. I do not think that a woman has this make up to deal with this stress. I am a female and I like to be a woman and I like to be treated as an equal, but I am trying in this confused world to look at the reality of equal.

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