|How Did We Get To This?|
|By Bryan Avila, TDCJ Correctional Training Instructor - Sergeant of Correctional Officers|
So last week I am working at my second job when I happen to notice this woman who had a shirt that caught my attention. Her shirt said "Administrative Segregation, Florence, CO". Naturally I said "Supermax!" She replied that she was a retired Warden for FBOP but that she had not worked there.
I informed her that I also work for corrections and she asked me if I had ever thought about FBOP. I told her that I had applied once but that due to a divorce my credit was not great at the time. Now, before I continue here let me make it clear that I understand completely why you should have good credit when working for corrections. The likelihood of accepting a bribe is there if you are financially strapped and by taking the bribe it can get you out of a hole.
Now back to the story. As soon as these words left my mouth I could see her nose go up into the air and as she looked down at me she said "well when you have bad credit YOU will accept a bribe from these offenders."
Let me tell you I had to do everything in my power from going off on her. The arrogance. The smugness. I just wanted to knock the smirk off of her face. Who the hell did she think she was? But since I respect my elders, especially those that were in her position, regardless of how I felt personally about them, I just looked at her and said "yes ma'am".
After I tried calming down for a while, and not succeeding at it, I made a post on a social network that said: “To imply that a person it's a corrupt because of bad credit is the same as implying that a person in the White House is intelligent just because they were elected President.” Take that however you want...it has applied throughout history.
After a while, and back in my happy place, I replayed the conversation. Remember, it how you say something, not what is said. Even though she may not have been singling me out, the way that it was said made it appear that it was directed at me and THAT is what aggravated the ever living crap out of me.
I am positive that throughout her career she has had to deal with many corrupt staff (very unfortunate). However, one thing that I have learned throughout MY career is that credit has nothing to do with the likelihood you will accept a bribe. It's all about integrity. You either have it or you don't. I have walked people off with bad credit and so broke they can't even afford to finance the flu. I have also walked off people who have great credit and more money than they know what to do with it. It all came down to just 2 things: lack of integrity and greed.
I can tell you that for most of my adult life I have not had great credit. Choices made during my college years still haunt me. There was a time in my life that even people with bad credit would say "damn you have bad credit." Doing well financially for me was being able to order off the dollar menu at McDonalds. Doing great was being able to order a happy meal.
However, no matter how bad it was, the thought of brining in contraband never crossed my mind. EVER. I loathed every officer that would stoop to that level and to this day I still do. Has an offender ever tried it on me? YEP! Off to seg they would go. I know I am not the only person that had ever been in this position nor will I be the last.
If you have been working in corrections and you are looking for a job with another correctional facility, maybe the true testament of the individual’s virtue is their work history and the observations from their supervisor, not a credit score. For the most part, we are almost like the government, broke with crappy credit.
It is all about the integrity, not the Benjamin's...
If you have no integrity, get the hell out. We do not need you, nor want you. We have a hard enough job as it is.
Editor's note: Corrections.com author Bryan Avila started working as a Police Officer in 1994 while attending Norwich University in Northfield, VT. In 1999 he began working for the Vermont Dept of Corrections while still working as a Part-Time Police Officer. In 2007 he left public service until 2009 when he began working for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He is currently a Correctional Training Instructor- Sergeant of Correctional Officers, at the TDCJ Region I Training Academy located in Huntsville, TX.
Other articles by Avila:
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