Being a corrections officer is one of the strangest jobs imaginable -- you're stuck in a big concrete and iron box for eight-plus hours per day, surrounded by some of society's most loathed humans, who are likely armed with rusty shanks and contempt for authority.
One anonymous corrections officer who works at one of Florida's state-run prisons has taken his stories from inside the big house to the internet, hosting a thread in the "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) section of the online community Reddit.
He's offered his insight on the working conditions, prison privatization attempts, how a murder suspect saved his life when he worked at a county jail, and, of course, prison rape.
The first question he received was about Florida's drug laws (the phrase /trees refers to Reddit's marijuana forum) and prison privatization. Here's what our online CO had to say:
It really depends on the drug. We have officers who are pro /trees and against it. But most all other drugs... you need help not jail. Now dealers on the other hand... GO TO JAIL! Florida has a lot of draconian laws about a bunch of stupid things. You get behind on your child support you go to jail 6 months. When you get out they give you like 90 days to make up what you owe. YOU WERE JUST IN JAIL 6 months without getting paid... Florida sends you back to jail for being behind on child support ..... A lot of prisons are run by private corporations right now anyways. Look at Corrections Corporation of America. From my experience there, they are about the same as any state run facility.
Fair enough. Let's get to the part where he almost died.
He says he's been beaten and stabbed before, but one time at a county jail, he says he was thrown over a third-story tier by inmates but managed to hang on and remained hanging there until a pair of inmates helped him up. One of the men who helped him was awaiting trial for either murder or attempted murder.
Of course, there's a lesson to be learned.
"You are there to be a Guard, not judge them or beat them or humiliate them," he says. "Do your job, treat them like people and they will have a lot more respect for you. This wont apply to all inmates but... it could save your life."
Here's how our CO would run things if he were the boss:
Wow...thats sort of a hard question because if i could change alot of the reasons people get to jail I would do that first. Like get caught with weed, get a ticket, not go to jail. The state would make more money that way. And i would treat prison more like prison and not some community campground. Inmates get treated better than working people. They get cable, coffee pots, microwaves, 3 hot meals a day, rent free, do almost anything they want. They need to want to not go back to jail. Alot of them dont sweat going back, alot of places its easy time.
As promised, here's anonymous CO's rundown of prison rape:
Most rapes are willing, they just dont want to say they are gay. Other than that it happens but not as often as the movies.
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Click here to go to the Reddit AMA thread.