Song Pick: “Piece of your action” by Motley Crue
As much as I can write about the corruption and bureaucratocracy (yeah, I just made the word up, so what) of the DOC, I can also write about the hard-working, responsible, respectful and respectable correctional officers upon whose backs the prisons operate (and DOC administration eats from).
For every manipulative, paper-pushing administration staff, there’s a group of correctional officers on the front line having to deal with the pissed-off prisoner whom the manipulative paper-pusher just cheated out of something. For every DOC Secretary that gets caught cheating on his wife with hookers on company time, there’s numerous dedicated blue-suits working 40+ hours a week to support their family and pay their bills. For every embezzling prison Superintendent stealing from the Inmate Betterment Fund to buy their office furniture, there’s multiple correctional officers making rounds, handing out shitwipes, and making sure the prisoners have soap and paper towels stocked in the restrooms.
A lot of prisoners have only the “us-versus-them” mentality of interacting with prison staff, and as the correctional officers are both the daily interactors with the prisoners AND the low man (and woman) on the prison-staff totem pole, they get the brunt of the shit from both sides. That is to say, on one side they get orders and instructions from their brass about daily prison operations which affect prisoners’ lives, and on the other side they get the backlash of complaints and bad attitudes from the prisoners whose life they’re instructed to affect. Whereas prisoners are perpetually under the oppressiveness of DOC administration, the correctional officers are perpetually caught in between the prisoners and the DOC administration. Not an enviable position.
And the next day, they come to work and do it again. And put up with it, again. Day in and day out. Week after week. Through it all they grin (or growl) and bear it and honorably demonstrate the epitome of what public service actually means. And what do they receive in return for their hard work (besides a paycheck, medical/dental, union, paid vacation, and retirement)? AB-SO-FUCKING-LUTELY NOTHING!! From the prisoners they get cussed at, and get lied to, and get manipulated, and get chastised, and get berated, and get grieved, and get sued, and–on occasion–even get assaulted. From administrative DOC fat-asses sitting in chairs in central heated/air conditioned offices at Olympia (and who’ve never even seen the inside of a prison) they get told (incorrectly) how to run their units, and get used, and get reprimanded, and get disciplined, and get investigated, and get lied to, and get manipulated.
Whether I agree with the prison guard profession or not, I have tremendous respect for the majority whom carry the yoke of public servitude with dignity and humanity. While there are more than a few correctional officers which are just mean, negative, unprofessional, rude, conniving pieces of shit, those ones should not be construed to represent the categorical whole of ALL correctional officers. Many correctional officers are blue collar, hardworking, industrious members of society who are earning a living by taking care of your convicted-felon friends, family, and loved ones in Washington’s prisons. Please remember this not only when you read my writings about correctional officers, but also for all time. They’ve earned that respect.
Categories: Brian Matthews