Friday, 9 January 2015

Guest Blog Piece - Correctional Officers or Corruptional Officers?

Correction or Corruption?

I am very pleased to introduce my first guest blogger, Gem and her post below.

As of the 2012 statistics,there are 2.3 million individuals incarcerated in the United States,more than any other nation in the world.That means that for every 100,000 people, you'll roughly find 700 of them currently behind bars.The infamous American justice system has, for many years now, fascinated, confused, and absolutely terrified me. I have many qualms when it comes to the American justice system as a whole, the death penalty and the frightening, ever climbing number of exonerations (which requires a whole separate Blog itself !!)  then there's the mandatory minimum sentencing, racial discrimination, ahhh the prison slave trade of the 21st century, the devastating effects of long term solitary confinement, the introduction of longer and harsher sentences, the treatment of juveniles, the diabolical living conditions and so on and so fourth, it's a perpetual list that would make the most sane person go crazy with the fuck do they get away with it? I'm still working on that answer!!

 But what I want to talk about today is ..correctional officers. And not the good, job - well done kind!! The corrupt, abusive, immoral type with their warped mentality for harassment and power exploitation and the troubling allegations that are continuously arising in the media today! ((although, I'd like to state at this point, this is in no reference to every C/O, or even the majority for that matter and it is a fundamental point to recognise that there are and continue to be some very respectable, hardworking and decent correctional officers within the system) 

In march 2012, in Lanesboro prison, Polkton N.C an escalating series of events occurred which finally ended in two inmates savagely attacking and stabbing another inmate. It is alleged that the correctional officer working that particular unit opened the cell door to allow the perpetrators to carry out the brutal attack. And sadly this isn't just an isolated incident, it seems to be shockingly common within prison with more and more cases happening.  

In 2014, another inmate, at another facility was approached by a dangerous and some what delusional inmate and in so many words 'offered out'. The victim saw an opportunity to flea through an exiting door, but unfortunately before he could reach it, a correctional officer shut and trapped him in, leaving him caged in to accept and suffer the unprovoked attack, beaten with bare fists within an inch of his life. He sustained severe head injuries that at best will take months to heal from, at worst years or possibly never. Stripped back to the bare basics, left to learn how to write, walk and even talk again. Meanwhile, the families of such victims receive little support, it's an incredible battle just to get even the most minuscule of information on where or how their loved one is, and in some cases the only way to receive information is from the cell mates who have the decency to contact them and keep them informed! Figure that? The ones much of society blanket labels as heartless criminals unfit for society are the ones who show more humanity and compassion than the ones you would expect to. 

And now I sit here and try and comprehend how people are suppose to trust in the integrity of correctional officers for the safe guarding of their loved ones when the very people who are suppose to control and maintain the peace and order within prison are the very ones breaching it and assisting in fostering the prison system's culture of brutality and violence?? And this isn't anything new, nobody (OK maybe some) is under the illusion that the system isn't a breeding ground of opportunity for corruption on both sides of the law. Daily exploitation, abuse of power, smuggling operations of contraband, fraternising and sexual relations, bribes, beatings to name a few. 

It is all too often publicised that correctional officers risk their lives on a daily basis for little reward, and that is true. The average wage for a C/O is documented at between $22,000-$39,000 a year, in places it's one officer to every 100 inmate ratio, if not more. Long shifts, unsociable hours and often known as the lowest, dirtiest step on the criminal justice career ladder. However, none of that makes the corrupt conduct of a correctional officer right, or even OK for that matter!.. How many inmates are going to have to die or be seriously injured mentally...physically at the hands of the system's negligence before change occurs, how many family members are going to have live in fear of not only having to worry about the environment their loved one lives in but over the people who are 'suppose' to protect them? How many more travesties of the American justice system will be swept under the rug and conveniently covered up and forgotten about? It's the stuff nightmares are made of..,It's children being sentenced as adults, it's young men and women being thrown in to the lions den to deal with the most sadistic of people and that's just some of the officers, and they can't always speak out,It's shut up and put up or face more danger, more abuse, more aggression, more retaliation. And then those very same people have to be introduced back in to society upon release after years of torment under the care of officers, bullied in to believing they are less than human, worthless, their confidence, dignity and self perception whittled away, it's sad, heartbreaking. Some serious amendments need to be made in all areas of the system...that's a given, and hopefully one day change will prevail, until then...i will keep talking about it, writing about it, and doing what ever is possible even to make the tiniest of difference. 

I just want to thank you all for taking the time out of your day to read something very important to me.

The American justice system needs change. 


  1. Very insightful blog. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. On the other hand some of the conditions lead to an easy manipulation of what would be a very good employee.
    In Texas, CO's dismissed and criminally punished for having a heart on Death Row. Some gave these men phones, cell phones that were used to further criminal activity. If the conditions were not so harsh (guards are also exposed to these conditions, albeit limited it still has an effect)_ create the mindset for manipulation.
    That plays hand in hand with all corruption. CO's often look the other way while property is stolen, or repercussion handed to a sex offender for instance. No need to ask why, it has less to do with pay and more to do with the mentality of those subjected to that environment, whether they are incarcerated or employed in the environment.
    Prison is big business, and business needs money to survive. Private prisons pop up everywhere to employ for little pay, and fill as many beds as possible for money. It is part of the downside to a capitalist society for which the capitalist will consume anything to make money.
    I like your blog post.

  2. privatised prisons are springing up all over the country and are financially motivated and contracted to ensure that all beds are filled to capacity for maximum profit. Even a handful of judges have been accused of accepting money in return for imposing harsher sentences of juveniles and absurd convictions on the most minimal charges, all to increase the number of incarcerated within those facilities. its definitely true that there are a number of reasons why correctional officers are aligning themselves with inmates, I guess some are scared due to staff shortages and being unarmed on the job, others have it in their mentality and are by nature aggressive and abusive, lack of training and monitoring and the environment, circumstances and lack of benefits undoubtedly generates bitterness, either way it is not acceptable and shouldn't be made so easy for dealings, abuse and incidents to occur or to be covered up time and again. It is disturbing. Allegations of constant violence and corruption is becoming increasingly frequent with more and more C/O'S being caught and convicted and it is unfathomable why measurements are not being put in place to protect vulnerable inmates as well as minimising the chances of individuals coming in to correctional positions from turning to the dark side

  3. I am so happy Gem's post is encouraging discussion, considering she is new to writing and blogging she has written a powerful post highlighting a very real problem.

    We have corrupt correctional officers here in the UK. They provide drugs, phones, turn a blind eye to beatings and sexual assault. I was shocked at how much the average wage is, considering there is a huge risk involved it is shockingly low. I researched the average wage for a C/O here in the UK and it is just as bad, 16,000 pounds for a 40+ hour week. Wow! This is why some turn to the dark side, making extra cash through providing drugs etc. The bad eggs usually align themselves with the 'Top Dogs' in the prison, making them twice as powerful.

    Organised chaos is right, there should be measurements in place to protect the vulnerable. And a background check and maybe even a psych test would surely weed out anyone with the potential to go rogue. The saddest thing about is, when a corrupt officer is found and details of what they have done emerge, the general public often think oh well it is only criminals, they broke the law, they deserve it. This is a terrible way to look at it, yes inmates broke the law and they are paying for their crime in prison. They don't deserve to be beaten, sexually assaulted, forced to take drugs and be stripped of every last shred of their dignity by the very people paid to protect them.

    It is a controversial subject and one I doubt will ever be fully resolved. Whether it is the police, prison officers, solicitors, doctors etc, there will always be one bad apple rotting the barrel.

  4. It would be one thing if these were isolated incidents, but they're not. In prisons all over this country (I am from the U.S.) these stories are happening. COs use their power to take out their work frustrations on the men and women they're in charge of through violence and rape. The low pay guarantees many will turn to contraband smuggling and criminal activity to make ends meet. And, witj the mentality in this country that prisoners are subhuman, it's a recipe for disaster. A perfect storm of absolute tragedy and bullshit. Ultimately, it creates an environment of resentment that makes it even more dangerous for everyone. An officer was brutally attacked in a private prison in a privatized Florida prison over the holidays, but it's a direct result of the us vs. them mentality that's encouraged in prisons. We need reforms badly.

    Good job on this!!!

  5. It's far to dangerous for inmates to speak out over these kind of abuses and incidents too, rarely anything gets done, like mentioned..coated over by bullshit from prison officals,and then inmates are still in the same place, around the same dangers,inmates and officers that when unite together become an explosive force. Inmates that do end up on the recieving end of the bullshit have to keep quiet and pretend like it never happened just for a easy abuse free life, which is sad in itself that Corrupt abusive behaviour is becoming a 'norm' instead of safety procedures being in place for inmates to be able to make grievances and it be taken seriously and professionally instead C/O's cover their tracks and know they will get away with it and can exploit their position and inmates know this too so hold back on reporting such matters through fear of attracting more violence and also like previously pointed out inmates are demonised through out society and considered deserving of such treatment because they have been convicted of crimes but for one, that is wrong in itself, every body has rights and doesn't deserve to be subjected to such abuse and secondly people are being sentenced for the most trivial charges such as having small amounts of cannabis which really doesn't equal the worst of the worst. Most people don't truly understand the ins and outs of how seriously horrific it can be in some prison environments