|Why Security Level Doesn’t Matter|
|By Judith A. Yates|
I was supervisor of the transport detail, taking inmates to and from outside medical appointments. It was a camp level prison, mostly elderly inmates, or with severe medical issues. I was teaching a rookie officer to do a search of the holding cell, where inmates were housed prior to departure. He found a shank made of new razor blades.
Some transport officers had told this rookie not to ever bother with searching the holding cell; they told him it was a camp, medically limited inmates, and anyway, they were old men. The rookie officer learned that day it did not matter if he worked in a camp level prison or a maximum-security penitentiary; searches were imperative and safety paramount. No one wants to be incarcerated and desperate measures could be taken by any of them. An older inmate wielding a deadly weapon is equivalent to a younger inmate: both will have no qualms about hurting you to get what they want.
I was an officer mentor / trainer for both a federal jail, where individuals awaited sentencing. I have also worked in lockup, where men and women waited for that one-hour of recreation after so many hours of sitting in a single cell. There were some obvious dissimilarity in personality and behavior. But there were many similarities: all of them, given the chance, would have escaped. All of the inmates disliked authority. Some officers they respected. Others they did not. They knew who would bend rules and when they had to tow a line.
During our shift, we need to be aware of inmate personality differences and follow the rules, no matter the inmate’s security level. An inmate in her twenties, who is being taken on a medical appointment for the first time, can be a security challenge; so can the 80-year-old man who is in a hospice type program going for his 100th treatment. Security level does not matter here; safety and security is relevant. Do not let anyone tell you, “Ah, he’s safe … he won’t hurt anyone” because you never know. Just ask the rookie who found the shank in the medical holding cell.
Be safe out there.
Corrections.com author, Judith Yates, is a criminologist who has lectured on domestic violence prevention for over 20 years. A former Correctional Officer Specialist and trainer with the Bureau of Prisons, she is now a true crime writer and a trainer available for guest speaking engagements. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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