|Corrections – A Hard Odyssey – Walking among Snakes|
|By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ|
As a correctional officer you have surely by now learned of the many evils that lurk around you. Working inside a prison is no greater evil as it is likened as working in Hell. You are cooped up all day inside a dark cave and surrounded by evil forces and violence but it is your courage, intelligence and survival skills that allow you to escape these evil walls each day and go home. In this arena, going home is a win.
Realistically there are no leaders to applaud you on or cheer you up; you are reminded you have persevered through the worse but the reality is it doesn’t sound much like a motivational speech nor does it inspire you. Being stuck inside that darkened cave with the mass population of homicidal prisoners and enemies makes your day just that much more badly.
The inspiration has to come from within and remind you of your ability to be resilient and hard as your force is greater than the others but you are worn and in dire need of sleep. Restless, you don’t want to let your companions down so while fatigued you stand your watch creating an attitude that you are made of iron and steel.
Sometimes when you sweat or bleed you are reminded you are human. Not God-like but not like normal humans as you endure and cope with this hellish heat that bears down on you in a furious glow ball of fire. Sometimes you are sucked down under water but somehow you always find the strength and energy to reach up and out so high above you and come up for air that is in the clouds.
Daily you brace your feet and stretch your arms beyond the normal limits of your body and strain to get the work done. Your roots are those around you as you promise to take the six so they are safer than before but not out of reach of perils. In the darkness you find feces, urine and vomit and refuse to keel backwards at the foul smell around you.
You long for peace but find hate; you yearn for kindness but you only find a harsh and toxic inhumane conditions that cause you to rise your alert levels so that you do not walk into a pit of poisonous spirits that surround you daily.
The law is on your side but it does not matter – the arrogance and bedlam around you dominate the environments moods and actions. You are judged and your presence brings you many disputes and ill feelings by young and old wearing chains but claiming innocence of their crimes. You try to laugh as you see at the irony how they act with infected state of minds, unknown to their families and lawyers.
Surrounded by all creatures you have to breathe the polluted air and walk among the demons. These castaways are society’s rejects but to you they are the ones you have sworn to protect from each other. Inside you is the courage granted by the God above you while your knees suffer the endless pounding of the concrete below your feet.
Some days you are blessed and other days you are cursed. You never know what will encounter you nor do you have the knowledge of their will. On a good day, karma and your loving God bestows you blessings and allows you to walk away and go home just to go back to this Hell hole and do it all over again. So you suffer physically and mentally but with perseverance you learn to endure with the endless enduring spirit bestowed upon you not by authority or position but by the courage you demonstrate as you walk these darkened caves one more time.
Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."
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