Yes, once upon a time, I was a Correctional Officer(CO). I started as a CO right out of college, I was 21 and my career as a CO lasted 7.5 years. So when asked, I did seven and a half years and was released due to good behaviour, LOL, ya right! As a teenager, I really wanted to be a police officer, it turned out however, that I don’t like the dark much and guns sort of suck! Corrections intrigued me, watching the bad guys and making some really good money.
As it turns out, the job truly sucks, PTSD rates are crazy high, divorce rates are nuts, mental illness is strong and yes I am talking about the correctional officers not the inmates. Some folks like to call them guards and some COs are offended, either title was always ok with me. Back in those days, we wore grey flannel pants, white starched shirts, green blazers and lovely polished black “army” boots. The uniform has toned down significantly but the job has gotten worse…MUCH WORSE.
So, I digress, the purpose of this article was to explain what has stayed with me, what appears to always be with me, be it good/bad or ugly. I have a terrible potty mouth. Oh yes, I can swear with the best of them and often do without even knowing I have done so. My oldest friend Moni often tells me I go past “that line”, that perhaps my filter is completely gone. What people need to understand is that 12 hour shifts surrounded by criminals who don’t care, management who care even less and a society that has no idea, is well, unbelievably frustrating.
As COs, we sometimes share things with our work partners that we don’t even share with our loved ones. In a lot of cases other COs are the only ones who understand, who truly, “get it”. Hence the divorce rate….among other things.
After changing careers close to 20 years ago, I still cannot sit at a desk that leaves my back exposed, I am always very cognizant of my surroundings and I lock my doors….always. I have seen what the inmates have to offer and I am not interested….thank you!!
I don’t often talk about my days as a CO, however when people find out, they are not shocked….again with the lack of filter. I worked with an amazing team of people, they had my back, I had theirs. Ask any ex-CO, we still have our partners backs if they need us. It is a family and although they often fight like siblings, they count on each other 24/7/365.
As a Londoner, it has driven me crazy to see my old place of work (EMDC) in the news over the past several years, the injuries, the deaths. But what about the staff…injuries, hostage takings and deaths? I do not want to get on my soapbox but , “hello, why do the inmates have more rights than the folks taking care of them”?
I know that each CO that reads this article will take something different away. I hope it is something positive, I truly hope you realize you are never alone and most of all, I hope you know that life can truly be awesome after Corrections.