The Nobility of Corrections 

Why Corrections is so noble, and why I feel reentry starts behind the wall…

As a Corrections Officer and as a man of faith, I take pride in the profession I work in and the cause in which I serve. Corrections plays such a vital role in the realm of law enforcement as the final step of the criminal justice process. We have been entrusted by the law to uphold the law behind the wall. It’s much more than being a guard or jailer, which is often what we are referred to as. We are not JUST Corrections Officers, WE ARE Corrections Officers, and we are proud of that title. It should never be labeled as a stepping stone job to law enforcement, or a job for washed out cops, rather be recognized for the noble professional it is. Understaffed, overpopulated, outnumbered, and managing just under 100 inmates without the reliance of a firearm. It’s you, the inmates and your ability as a leader to manage them through the power of influence, wisdom, respect and effective communication. It’s no easy task, but it’s necessary and takes a special character and unique skill set to do the job. Our job isn’t to punish, that’s for the courts to do. Rather the role of a Corrections Officer is one of many hats. We are the first responder to every kind of crisis. We are at times the fill in mental health provider, and the only medical staff on site. While we are at times disciplinarians, we are also teachers, role models and counselors. A very noble profession, and one that has, and continues to evolve. Our roles also continue to change. Our training and skillset have to continue to adapt to these changes. The rise in mentally ill inmates has risen to 64% in our jails across the nation and 53% in our prisons. The heroin epidemic and addiction has created a revolving door to our jails, and now we’re facing a synthetic drug rise that is bringing officer safety to a whole new level. Everything we do in the glass house we work in is scrutinized by the public. But as a CO who believes in perpetual optimism and values that are unwavering, I will continue to remember the purpose in which I serve, and operate in a way that is legal, professional and safe. I will train to win as a warrior of a noble cause, and all strength will be applied with good purpose. I will continue to watch over and care for all who have been kicked out of society, to include the most manipulative, dangerous and violent. I will protect their rights, and protect them from each other and protect our communities from these same damaging members of society. I will do so because I believe in accountability, and that people who commit crime should be held accountable for their actions. While there are a percentage that are truly evil, majority are not. And most people that walk through our intake doors are at the lowest points of their lives. Struggling addicts making stupid decisions. But they are still people. Sometimes people we know and love. I think there are things in the system that could be much better, and be more efficient and productive. And one thing I have learned is that respect is vital and knowing the (why) behind the purpose in which we serve something bigger than ourselves is everything. The minute we demonize a person and bring our ego through the door, we place ourselves in a dangerous position. We must treat people as human beings out of respect, not because we have to respect what they have done, but because we respect our self, our values, our beliefs, the situation, the profession and purpose we serve. With most of the inmates we deal with, respect is everything they have, and most of the time they have none. So how can a person give what they don’t have. And how can we expect what we don’t give. What motivates a person is everything, and when that is found through respect, change and influence occurs. This is the first step of reentry, and Corrections really is the beginning of Reentry. This is the fix I feel the system really needs. A stronger focus on reentry programs for offenders who have served their time and are ready for a fresh new start. Jobs, support systems, education and resources, but ultimately it starts with the person behind the badge. A little dignity and respect to a person at the lowest point in their life, dealing with addiction, mental health issues, or both, just may just be the shift in (reentry) to helping them become productive members of society once again. Again, this doesn’t mean being soft and naive nor hard and arrogant. This means being knowledgeable and wise, having discretion and discernment to know when we are dealing with violent, hardened, manipulative and evil criminals, versus those who just made a stupid decision or have made poor decisions their whole life. In jail, probably around 80 – 90% fall in the second category of a series of bad decisions. And I understand that many aren’t going to change. However, without hope or optimism we too are only part of the problem. That is where faith in knowing I serve something greater than myself comes in to play. We are the leaders, the role models, the teachers, the counselors to many who have lacked that kind of figure in their life. Again, not just guards. We are Guardians. Defenders, protectors and keepers, and not to forget warriors who are tactically sound and equipped at all times to always win every fight for good cause. It’s courage and nobility at a whole new level. And we have to remember that as leaders of influence, each and every interaction has an impact and makes a difference. Its either a positive one or negative one. One interaction can damage the entire profession and discredit all we do. But one simple interaction can also make positive difference and impact the profession as a whole, helping us restore the trust and confidence that has been lost from the communities we serve. We have to be resilient and be mindful, taking each interaction one conversation at a time. We have to be curious, confident and tactically sound without getting that confused with being judgmental and egotistical. Even if we reach one person out of a hundred, and help change their life, we are making a difference, making our communities a better place and moving our profession in the right direction. Empathy, dignity and respect go a long way. Not only does it make operations safer and more efficient, but it reminds offenders that their past and current situation does not have to define who they are. Rather it’s a necessary step to remind them of what they’ve done. The power of influence is an incredible thing, and the most powerful tool we have. I have made it a daily goal to leave someone better off than the way I found them, and I never want to miss a moment to make a difference and impact a life. This is the heartset of many CO’s. An under recognized, yet unconditional act of service. I can say I am proud to be a Corrections Officer. Life is all about making a difference, and that just so happens to be what Corrections is all about. No kid ever grows up wanting to be a Corrections Officer, but almost every kid grows wanting to make a difference. There are CO’s out there making a difference every day. And this is why I feel reentry truly starts with Corrections.

Brandon Anderson

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