Each day we walk where few people desire
to walk. We pass from an unrestricted world of choices to
a world behind a wall of eight foot fences and razor wire.
We walk among, stand beside, and are surrounded by
murderers, sex offenders, burglars and thieves, joy
riders and car jackers, hot check writers, alcoholics and
drug users, and the list goes on. These men and women
housed in the numerous prison units in the State of Texas.
Inside the fences, we are
the minority. Offenders out number us many times. It is
not uncommon for one corrections officer to provide
security over 80 plus offenders. For this, we are throwed
on, spit on, beat, stabbed and even murdered.
The offenders that are
coming into the penal system are younger, more violent,
and respect no one. They are serving longer sentences
because of recent legislation. Texas is now the largest
penal system in the nation, houses more offenders (163,
190) within its prison walls than any other state, yet
fewer corrections officers are utilized. Another 14,600
offenders are expected to be incarcerated by the summer
of 2005. At present, Texas Corrections Officers are rated
as #44 on the national average for salary. Several county
jails are paying their detention officers a higher salary
with better benefits.
Corrections officers are
quiting because of understaffing, higher assaults rates,
unsafe working conditions, and a lower than average
salary. They are seeking higher paying jobs which offer a
environment. As a result, those of us who remain are
becoming targets for the offenders. They know when we are
short of staff, and they know exactly when to strike.
Seldom do we have enough staff to cover all of our needed
posts. We are working double shifts and remaining on call
to work extra when officers don't show up for regularly
scheduled work days.
Staff assaults are on the
increase. Aggressive behavior towards corrections
officers has taken a sharp rise in Texas. Somewhere
today, an officer, or support person, will be assaulted.
Somewhere today, someone may be taken hostage by one or
more offenders. Somewhere today, a corrections officer
may even be killed. It could be you.
It could be me.
I consider it a good day,
when my fellow officers and I walk from behind the razor
wire at the end of our shift without injury, and go home
to our loved ones.
It is my hope that this
web site will enlighten not only Correction Officers
about what is happening in our work place, but will also
education the public of the conditions and hazards of
performing our duties. It is those duties which help make
their towns, neighborhoods and streets a little safe for
poems that are on page 3 of this web site were written
from an officer's point of view. While some people say
the one entitled Hostage is a little gruesome, the fact
remains, these events could become
very real, very fast.
To my fellow Corrections
Officers.... Be Safe.
song you are listening to is Lean On Me. In the world of
Gray and White, WE are all we have. Take care of each
L. Brown, former COIV