|Like a Paleontologist Watching Jurassic Park|
|By Joe Bouchard|
There is a family story that makes me ponder human nature. I have heard that my great-grandmother frequently directed loud outbursts towards the television. Evidently, that normally wise and controlled person had a special trigger. Classic big time wrestling made her crazy. I am certain that she knew that the matches were not 100% authentic. But why did great-grandma holler at images of feigned fighting?
Before I judge too harshly, I have to consider my own situation. You see, I enjoy watching various shows that center around criminal justice and corrections. Yet, I find myself analyzing rather than enjoying the show. In fact, there are times in which I yell at the screen. Nothing in the show changes from my loud rant. Still, I continue to do rant.
The choices are vast. There is a large sub-genre of corrections television. This wide spectrum ranges from strict facts to outlandish fantasy. In this group, Orange is the New Black and Scared Straight are two of my favorite shows to love (and occasionally hate). The former is a dramedy loosely based on the experiences of a female prisoner. The latter is a documentary series.
Each time I watch anything dealing with corrections, I cannot help but to poke holes in what I consider deviations from reality. In order to minimize my rants tirades while watching any corrections TV, I try to reflect on a few points:
That said, I am working on reading the reactions of those with whom I watch these shows. If there are questions, I will answer them to the best of my ability as reflected in my experiences. If I am not solicited for information, I will try to remain silent. This is the sort of courtesy that I would expect.
Perhaps like the lion’s share of corrections professionals, I am destined to analyze as a part of my vocational experience. In corrections, one’s bovine-scatometer has to be a finely tuned instrument in order to enhance safety. Corrections is a field in which what we see is usually a very small part of the story. If I engage in occasional impatient skepticism while watching corrections shows during my free time, then that is the price I pay to maintain on-the-job skills that contribute to my safety.
Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014”.
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