Memoirs of a Correctional Officer - "Go to Your Cell!"
I was assigned for duty at a Program Unit where offenders who have addiction problems are housed. These inmates live in bi-leveled housing units comprised of dorm-style rooms. Not being the regular officer there, the inmates expected me to do the duties of the prior staff member in the same expeditious manner when it came to passing out their mail. We’re talking about over 100 inmates and an overwhelming number of pieces of mail. Not liking the style in which I sorted their correspondence, the inmates became anxious and just continued to ask me if they had received any mail, to which my answer became repetitive: “It’s not ready yet. When it’s done, I will post up the list.” Even my Sergeant teased me by asking if he got any mail yet in order to make light of the situation after noticing my annoyance.
I tried my best to hold my composure as the inmates tested my patience with the mail situation. They swam around my working station like sharks with their eyes peeping over my pile of envelopes and magazines. Later during the shift, I was counseling an inmate that broke a rule in the dining facility by not taking the meal tray that was the first on the serving line. Such is a rule violation for which they can be issued a conduct report. Instead, I decided on the verbal approach in order to advise the inmate that rules need to be followed to maintain order and formality. In the middle of my conversation with the inmate that broke the rule, another one of his peers, Inmate Stanley, abruptly interrupts us by asking if he could use the telephone, which is a privilege they must ask permission to do beforehand. Taken aback by his blatant rude interruption, I sat back and looked at him in disbelief. He had a defensive look which he accompanied with a “What did I do?!” After explaining to him that his manner of asking to do something was disruptive and disrespectful, he proceeded to elevate his tone and voice combined with excited manual gestures. Taking notice of his deliberate disrespect for my authority, I sent Inmate Stanley to his room. His peers stopped what they were doing in order to stare and listen in to our loud exchanges. There was no way that I could let that get out of control and to expel him from the dayroom was my immediate reaction. As officers, we are always outnumbered and Inmate Stanley’s behavior could’ve incited a mob mentality among the others.
I found it ridiculous having to send a grown man to his room, but his condescending attitude was not one to be tolerated. Otherwise, the others could have no hesitation to address me in the same manner. Not too long after Inmate Stanley was sent to his room, he appears in front of my desk asking for the Sergeant. He felt he did nothing wrong for he which he deserved to be sent to his room when all he wanted was to use the telephone. The Sergeant comes nearby to ask what the matter was. I explained it to him and he backed me up on the inmate being sent to his room. Inmate Stanley murmured a “That’s bulls--t!” in protest as he slowly walked away while keeping his pants up from falling below this rear end.