In response to violence against correctional workers

Published 6:30 pm Friday, March 23, 2018

To the Editor:

On May 5, 1984, President Reagan declared that the first week in May is National Correctional Officers Week. While I was a young C/O, I submitted the (following) letter to my local paper. I have since become a prison administrator and am semi-retired. In light of the recent killings at Pasquotank Correctional Institution (The Tank), and other acts of violence against correctional officers, I am submitting the (letter) for your consideration and subsequent printing.

To the Editor:

May 6-12 is National Correctional Officers Week, or more accurately, Correctional Workers Week. Everyone who works in the correctional environment serves as officer, nurse, chaplain, superintendent, programmer and food service supervisor and is responsible for the care, custody and welfare of inmates.

We establish and administer policies equally, regardless of whether the inmate is ruthless or remorseless or a basically good adult who fell in with the wrong crowd or was drawn into crime by the prospect of fast money and prestige offered by drug dealers.

Corrections is an ever-changing profession. The days of huge, musclebound, gravel-voiced, shotgun-toting guards are gone. Corporal punishment is a thing of the past.

Corrections programs and its workers, like law enforcement and like criminals themselves, have become more sophisticated. More than ever before, correctional workers of today are college educated and well trained. They must undergo extensive background investigations to ensure they are of strong moral character.

The N.C. Division of Prisons is designed so all inmates have a positive, credible avenue to the executive staff when they have a complaint or grievance. Inmate medical care, food and educational opportunities are better than ever before. Everything that can be done with the money allotted is done to provide the inmate a safe, orderly and beneficial environment.

Prison is not a warehouse for human beings. You cannot put a prisoner on a shelf until his sentence is completed. Prisoners have needs, mentally and socially, which must be met.

The job of a corrections worker is not prestigious or especially lucrative. It can be thankless, aggravating and dangerous. Hours are often terrible (a holiday is just another workday) and advancement opportunities are only average. Spouses and other loved ones of correctional workers are special to put up with the schedules we work and the work we sometimes bring home with us.

The majority of correction workers do what they because they are concerned about our incarcerated citizens and about recidivism. These people must be encouraged to lead constructive lives, within the guidelines of the law and within the moral beliefs of our community.

Charles Roman Jr.