Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Then And Now

I know I complain alot here about the working conditions and the abysmal pay. I probably should be thankful that I have a job at all right now.

But that still doesn't make it right that they treat us like inmates and we have the second lowest pay in the country. I'm not sure who is lowest right now. It varies back and forth. Heck, it might be us again.

But I'm sure as hell glad I didn't start doing this back in the day when the state was new and the first prison was built.

Back in the early 1800's, the state appropriated $25,000 to build the first prison. And that was a hell of a lot of money back then. And even then the officers were the low man on the totem pole. Let me read you an excerpt from a book about the state I found in a drawer somewhere:

"Certainly one of the things they could not afford to cut back on was the already meager salary they were paying guards. The first guards at the Raccoon City Penitentiary were paid $130.00 a year. Thus from the very beginning of the operation of the State Prison, the payment of the guards was a problem. For the next 150 years low salaries for correctional workers generally, and guards specifically, would perhaps be the main reason for the continuously high turnover rate."

And here's a little bit from later on in the 1930's:

"With jobs scarce as they were in the 1930's, men were eager to become prison guards. A 36 year retired corrections officer remembers how excited he was in 1938 upon being told he had landed one of those coveted positions. Folks back home envied his $138 a month salary. Never mind that he was told he would need to buy two of the three pieces of required equipment: a whistle and a blue serge suit ("uniforms" would not come until 1955). The third piece of equipment, a small club, would be made for him by an inmate. Never mind, also, that he would be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for his $138, that he would always work at least a 48 hour week, and often a good deal longer, and never receive overtime pay, sick leave, insurance, or other fringe benefits."

Okay. Screw that. I'm glad I was doing something else for a living back then.

Even though I think we have it rough now, I'm glad I wasn't working here back in those days.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that if you compared the cost of living back then to now, I'm probably taking home the equivalent of that same $138 a month. Maybe if you counted in my insurance it would go up to a whole $140.

As far as I can tell, Bob Barker is the only guy who ever got rich off of the prisons. And he got to play with Carol Whatsername, too.

Man, did I take a wrong turn somewhere, or what?


  1. STILL: On call 24/7__Low wages__Required to purchase part of uniform__Mandatory overtime. Did something change in 100 years¿

  2. Never unionized I'm assuming? (Not that I'm a great fan of unions though.)

  3. Anon- Nope. It's still pretty much the same, from what I can tell. At least we don't have to wear blue serge suits. Hey, I'm trying to be a little positive here...

    Just Plain Tired- Tried a union.. didn't work. They just took all of our money and did nothing. Now we have an "Association" which is amounting to the same thing. Can't strike. That's illegal. Got no pull. And they all still think we're thugs anyway.