Thursday, November 17, 2011


If you become a Correctional Officer and work in a jail you will see that each day is different from the the last. You have different situations that play out and you will have to work with all types of inmates.

There is a an underlying rule between inmates and deputies that can really go a long way in terms of making the job easier. That rule is: Show respect and you will get respect. It's important to realize that even though these people are criminals, they are still people. Respect goes a long way with anyone but even more with inmates.

Obviously being respectful doesn't prevent every situation from escalating but it definitely helps in the majority of situations. There are still times when you need to move inmates to a maximum security unit, charge them and/or use force but being respectful and communicating your expectations in a way that is not belittling will greatly minimize the need to do these things.

Inmates who feel they have been disrespected by anyone often feel the need to take some kind of action so as not to loose the respect of other inmates they are housed with. This is what can often cause a small situation to turn into a large problem very quickly.

Applying common sense in this area will help significantly. Do you like being reprimanded for doing something wrong in front of a group of people? Or would you prefer to be talked to in private? Do you like to be accused of something or do you prefer to have the opportunity to explain yourself? Do you like when people talk to you in a sarcastic tone? Do you like being mocked? Do you like being yelled at or threatened? It is important that you are careful about what you say, how you say it, and when and where you say it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Suicide Attempts

Suicide attempts in jail are quite common. If you think about people in jail, they are typically people who are at very low points in their life. Whether they are there because they have a drug problem that's spiraling out of control or they got into a fight with their spouse over their failing marriage the people who have come to jail are in bad situations. Even if the reason they landed in a jail cell is nothing major many people are unable to see the big picture. They are so distraught over their current situation that they are unable to look towards the future in any positive way.

I would say there have probably been somewhere around 20 suicide attempts in the jail I work in over the past 3 years. Of those, none have been successful. Some have come quite close however.
The most common ways have been by hanging yourself with a bed sheet or clothing or by jumping off the top tier of a housing unit.

I have been directly involved in both. In one particular incident there was a male who was thinking about killing himself. He had climbed the railing on the top tier and was standing on top of it. This is only about 20 feet at most which is one reason why these suicide attempts fail. He spent several minutes on top of the railing most likely contemplating how he should try to fall in order to kill himself. Luckily this gave us enough time to respond.

When we entered the housing unit several of us ran directly up the stairs. Others stayed on the main level. I happened to be the first one up the stairs and therefore the first to make contact with the inmate. I felt the best choice was just to grab the inmate before he had any more time to think about what he was doing so I did just that. I grabbed the inmate by the waist, spun away from the railing and pulled him with me. As I did this two deputies behind me made contact with us. We all came crashing down on the floor with the inmate underneath us. It was a tense situation that luckily was resolved quickly without anyone being injured.

Most "jumper" situations don't end this way. We've had several inmates jump off the tier. Depending on how they land they almost always break either their legs, feet, arms or heads. As a Correctional Officer you have to be prepared to deal with these things both physically and mentally.

As I mentioned previously the other common method is to attempt to hang yourself. Inmates find a way to tie their bedding or clothing around their necks and to their bunks that they cut off circulation of blood to their brain or cut off air to their lungs. Part of our job is to check on inmates at least once every hour. Inmates that appear or admit to being suicidal are checked on either every 30 minutes, 15 minutes or constantly depending on how suicidal we think they are.

Anyone that attempts to hurt themselves is placed in a padded cell (unless they need to be transported to the hospital). The only clothes they are allowed is a suicide gown and suicide blanket. These are made of special material that is almost impossible to rip or tie making them almost impossible to use to kill yourself. The toilet is basically a hole in the ground.

Every jail and prison has different methods of dealing with suicidal inmates but if you go into corrections you will deal with similar situations one way or another.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Jail Death

About 1 year ago we had an inmate get sick. He hadn't had a bowel movement in nearly a week. He was housed in medical due to his condition. While in medical the inmate suddenly lost control of his bowels. It went everywhere. He then died. The deputies and nurses that were on shift did CPR on him until the paramedics got there. I was lucky enough to be coming in late that evening so I did not have to be there. I believe he was pronounced dead right around 9:00pm and I got there at 10:00pm the smell in the jail was awful. By the time they stopped doing CPR on him his chest was completely sunken in. I'm sure most of his ribs were broken.

This may seem like a tragedy but the reality is this inmate was a child molester. He had victimized several small children and no doubt would have done it again if he was given the chance. As heartless as it sounds nearly everyone said something to the effect of "he got what he deserved" I can only recall one deputy who was visibly shaken by the incident.

This is one of two deaths that have occurred at the jail since I have been there. The other was an older man who had cancer.

These incidents don't happen often but if you become a Correctional Officer you will no doubt deal with death in one capacity or another.


Each morning inmates are given the opportunity to get a razor to shave their face. They are a cheap single bladed razor. They are given approximately one hour to use it then they are collected and checked to make sure the blade has not been removed or tampered with.

About a year ago one of the deputies was unable to account for one razor. Anytime this happens the entire crew of deputies enters the housing unit and searches the entire dayroom and all the cells. The dayroom is a large room with tables, a tv, showers and is connected to all the cells. This is were an inmate spends the majority of this time. As many as 64 inmates can be in a dayroom at a time. I was assigned to do strip searches in one of the showers. Before I started I searched the shower. I found not one but two shanks slid between the small gap in the divider of the two showers. One was made of plastic and appeared to be from the end of a toilet scrubber. The other was made of a brass handle. We believe it was made out of a drawer handle.

Inmates can be very clever in the ways of both making weapons and hiding them. After all they have all day to think about it and plan. This incident serves as a constant reminder to me that there are always weapons in the jail and that I need to be on guard at all times. Because I found these shanks in a common area no one got in trouble for it. This one of the reasons they hide these things in common areas.

The razor that we were looking for was never found. It may still be in there or it may have been flushed down a toilet.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Raping in Prison

Just recently we had an inmate who was forced into giving another inmate oral sex. The victim in this incident was a young guy (18 or 19) who shows signs of being mentally slow. I don't know if he really is but you get that impression fairly quickly when talking with him. It's also obvious that he has no self esteem or self worth. He appears small and week. I have no doubt these are some of the reasons he was preyed upon.

The aggressor is a sexual predator. Although he is not big and has not been violent in the jail, he is in the jail for other sex crimes. The good news is this incident was actually reported and the aggressor now has new felony criminal charges to deal with. He is also being housed in our maximum security facility. He is locked down for 23hrs a day. He has no access to tv, phone, radio or people.

Things like this rarely seem to get reported because anyone who tells on another inmate for doing anything is considered a "rat". This is one of the worst things that you can be considered in the jail. In fact, if you get labeled as a rat your well being will absolutely be in jeopardy. Most likely you will have to be housed in a unit that is considered "protective custody". Unfortunately inmates in these types of units are typically locked in a cell for 23 hrs a day.

Correctional Officer

I decided to create this blog to help people who are thinking about becoming Correctional Officers get an idea of what the job really entails. Although I really enjoy my job I consider myself to be very lucky. When I applied to become a Correctional Officer I really had no idea what I was getting into. I feel lucky because I can see why many people wouldn't like this job but it just happened to fit well with my personality and lifestyle.

I plan to post the many crazy, weird, disgusting,  and unbelievable things that go on in a correctional facility. Not to impress you but to give you a reality check about the kind of things that you may deal with. I will tell you about current events as well as some events that have already happened. I will also write about some of the day to day stuff that goes on that is not so impressive. After all this will give you the best idea of what a day in the life a Correctional Officer truly is.

This blog isn't just to help those considering the profession, it is also great for anyone who wants to truly understand the world that we live in. This job has truly opened my eyes. I consider my former self to be naive and I would venture to say that unless you have spent time in a jail, prison, or mental institution then you might be too.