Sunday, September 28, 2008

Voyeuristic Tendancies

ALERT: YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO READ THIS POST IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH!! NOT SUITABLE FOR PEOPLE UNDER EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE. I was in the bubble again today. I don't really like doing it, but some days I think it would be better for everyone involved if I wasn't down there. I'm not saying I would get anybody hurt, or anything. I'm just saying that I need a break every now and then and short of calling in sick or having myself pulled from the house, this is what I do. But I noticed today that I'm so used to looking at the inmates either through little windows or through cameras. We get them out of their cells all the time; to go to rec, to see the nurse or give them their meds, to go to visits, etc. And I'm used to interacting with the offenders out on the yard when I see them and with the ones who come down for food service or to clean the house. I'm not afraid of them. But I get so used to "looking" at them through something. I think it may be a form of needing to keep myself detached in a way. A permenant mental barrier of some sort so that I am constantly reminded that these are not normal people. These are not the people I meet out on the streets. Even the offenders who are not in my house, I look at them through my "Officer Face", I guess you could call it. When I walk in the gates a barrier slips up over my face like a riot sheild and someone strings yellow tape around me saying "CORRECTIONS OFFICER: STAND CLEAR". If you ever meet one, you might learn rather quickly and maybe a little painfully that sneaking up on a corrections officer and suprising him or invading his personal space without prior warning is NOT a good idea. I think most of us have those barriers. I just hadn't really noticed mine before. I think they are not only for our personal physical safety but our mental safety as well. Unless you are working in a community release center or some other low security type place like "Club Fed" or something, you will probably see and hear and taste and smell and experience things that most people will never see in their entire life. Even if you go to all the Marilyn Manson concerts and see all of the "Saw" movies, you won't have lived through the things we have. And you certainly wouldn't be able to laugh about it as it slides past you and you move on.
Today I was up in the bubble looking at the observation cameras and watched a man.............. (how do I put this delicately?) "imbibing" things that normal people would not countenance putting anywhere near their face, let alone in their mouth. And he seemed to be enjoying it. As a matter of fact, he refused his lunch because he stated he would rather have that instead. Get the picture? ( I did warn you!) And I got on the intercom down to the office where they can also see the cameras and we all said "Eeeeeeeeeww!" and made rude remarks while we watched him. What could we do? Stop him? Slap it out of his hand? That would have been pointless. He could certainly get more in a short span of time. So we laughed about it and rolled on. I wiped some mental bleach on my mental visor and went on to something else. Sometimes all you can do is watch. And we are required to watch. Not necessarily that but watching is what we are there for. It's what we do. We watch and we observe and we act when it becomes necessary. And we keep our sheilds up so no photon torpedos get through.


  1. I wanted to thank you for leaving such a heartfelt comment. I have a brother in corrections, too, but on a jail level. Even so, I know his job is no picnic. I can't even begin to imagine what yours is like. I have great respect for people like you and him,'s definitely not a career for everyone, that's for sure. I'm glad my entry helped you. I hope it will help other victims of the same 'echo' pattern I live in, too.

  2. Let me borrow your soapbox for a minute. Its 4 AM, and I wake up thinking about a guy who refuses a nice cheese sandwich 'cause he'd rather eat s**t instead. Then, he proceeds to fill a cup with pee, right from the tap, and chug it. Even does the little head shake thing at the end, like its got a kick to it. And I laugh, we all laugh. Really though, I think we're all horrified. It brings to mind an episode of M.A.S.H. where they talk about constantly making jokes as way of dealing with the tradgedy they're surrounded with. I think thats what we do to. We see so much wasted life, so many abnormal (read disgusting) behaviors that we joke about them as defense mechanism. A a way to deal with the combat stress if you will. It takes a special kind of person to be a Corrections Officer. Many new hires never get past the first time of having the airlock doors clanking shut behind them, and the realization setting in that they are locked in a city of 2800 or so murderers, rapists, child molesters, nut cases, etc.
    I'll step down, now. Maybe I can go back to sleep.

  3. Amen, brother! You got it exactly right. Hell, I almost panicked myself the first time the doors shut me in and I realized where I was. But then I said to myself "Keep your hands and feet completely inside until the ride comes to a complete stop!" Then I laughed and was able to make it throught that first day. We have the kind of fun you'd expect to find if the four horsemen of the apocalypse had a sense of humor. Go back to sleep, now. It's okay.