Since starting to work in the Jail, I have not kept it a secret that I worked 33 years as a police officer in Tipp City. With my great looks, winning personality and witty disposition it would be useless to hide my identity but instead to embrace it. Most of the inmates I deal with understand they are in jail because of choices they made, not because the police are the enemy. In fact many of the inmates talk with me to help understand and work through their personal demons that landed them in their current predicament.
Keeping a helping attitude can at times conflict with The 3 C’s of Corrections, “Care Custody and Control.” Care, Custody and Control is what Ohio demands of its Corrections Officers. Care includes psychological, medical and humane treatment.
The other two C’s are Custody and Control. Custody for the period of time Society wants’ the inmate to spend in lockdown for their deviant behavior. Ohio allows for a lockdown of one day to life in prison and even death.
Finally Control is the idea that when a member of society is deemed to be in need of incarceration, the State must control their behavior and surroundings. This includes safety within the confines of the lockdown facility.
To that end an incarceration facility must provide a temporary holding area for inebriated inmates to “Pass out” or be unable to fend for themselves. Then that inmate must be showered out and given jail appropriate items for their hygiene needs. This includes jail clothing, mattress, sheet, towel, washcloth, cup, spoon, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, jail shoes and a comb. Then the inmate goes to General Population. Gen Pop is where all the inmates are intermingled except for child abusers. They stay in one Gen Pop cell block.
When an inmate becomes anti-social and cannot remain in any of the Gen Pop Cell blocks, the last resort is the hole. That is an area of single cells to prevent the inmate from being attacked or attacking others.
98% of a CO’s time is spent dealing with Custody and Control of the inmates. That leaves a very small portion of time to talk with an inmate on a one to one basis. Even while attempting to counsel an inmate, your head must be on a swivel for inmates fighting, stealing from each other or just trying to see what they can get over on you. Your ears have to be attune for unusual noises and even smells can be detected indicating a problem. A smell may alert the CO to a toilet clogged and flooding by an inmate wanting to create a diversion for a fight in the opposite end of the Pod.
A Pod is an area in which up to sixty inmates are housed with one CO. The Pods create their own set of problems but I believe you now have an idea of what a 12 hour shift for a CO entails. Remember that this is a jail and the CO’s have no weapons other than their brain. Still if an inmate wants to talk, I try to make it happen.
Just this week I got a drawing from an inmate with symbols and phrases indicating he loved me for helping him when he was scared. This inmate separated himself from the Pod and put himself in the hole out of fear he would have a seizure again and nobody would know it. The man with a mind of a little boy was in his cell crying. I went in and held his hand then gave him a paper with a bunch of simple math problem so he could keep his mind occupied. He loves doing math and drawing.
This is the kind of Care I wish I had more time to deal with. But then it is jail and a lot of the people in there are not exactly the kind who cares about another inmate being scared unless there is a way for them to capitalize on it.
So the other day when I came across an inmate who hates police, Tipp City Police in particular I accept that he is not interested in hearing the truth. After speaking with the man who thinks police are stupid, I find that he has an extensive history of being caught in criminal activity by stupid police officers. In dealing with inmates, I win most encounters but then I lose some when they get one over on me. That is when they have “Taught” me and I must learn the lesson. Care, Custody and Control must be the ultimate goal with the proper balance given among the three.