The Guardian this week published a story about depression and post-traumatic stress disorder within the ranks of corrections officers. According to the article, corrections officers suffer from PTSD at “more than double the rate of military veterans in the U.S.” The Guardian’s numbers are questionable1, but PTSD within prisons and jails has been a largely underreported problem. Below, as a part of our ongoing questionnaire series, we asked a guard to reflect on the benefits and frustrations of the job.
The pay was a lot better than my last job as a customer service rep for T-Mobile.
Yes. My uncle.
Stressful, politics, violence
Chomo [slang for “child molester”], old, punks
I've become a better listener. I can assert my authority more. I have good days and bad days when it comes to mood swings. I can be more manipulative than before.
When I started, having 20 on shift meant that somebody had to stay over. Now we are being forced to run a 1,450-bed facility with 13-16 officers.
That we are adult babysitters. That we are not law enforcement. That we are lazy, no-good dirty cops who are in it for a paycheck.
Take off my boots and uniform and kiss my girlfriend.
Usually minor ones like shirts tucked in, no hats in the chow hall.
I would issue each and every inmate a joint in the morning and in the evening. That would eliminate the black market on the yard, boost canteen sales, and everyone would be too stoned to fight. They would just be in their cells eating Cheetos and watching Spanish soap operas.
I believe it should be used under observation only. Reserve it for mental health evaluations and particularly violent offenders with a history of murdering cellmates.
Every day walking out of briefing with only 14 or 16 officers when we should have 21.
Every day walking out of briefing with only 14 or 16 officers when we should have 21, knowing that no upper management cares that you feel unsafe.
When I saved an offender's life and he thanks me every time I see him.