Imagine going to spend your day amongst the worst of the worst - murderers, pedophiles and rapists, bank robbers, etc. Now imagine that on top of the 8-12 hours you will spend with these people, you will do it outnumberd by at least 80-100 to 1. You will not be armed with a firearm to protect yourself. If you're lucky, you may have OC (pepper) spray and you may have a stab vest. Maybe. Imagine that you are the voice of authority and it is your responsibility to keep these prisoners peaceful in a confined space, knowing that being locked up in an incarcerated state, some with nothing to lose, can make people act and react differently. Now imagine doing this day after day - essentially locked up for an entire shift with the very people that society deems unsafe; the offenders that society doesn't want to deal with. These offenders were sentenced by a court of law and then basically forgotten about as they were sent "away" - except some people still have to think about them, deal with them, protect YOU from them.
The people that stand between US and the criminals our judicial system has deemed unworthy to live in the open world are Correctional Officers and Workers. And in 1984, President Ronald Reagan admitted that "the important work of correctional Officers often does not receive the recognition from the public it deserves." He then deemed the first full week of May, each year, as National Correctional Officers and Employees Week. This year, it will be May 6th-12th, 2018.
While I may be somewhat biased as I am married to a Correctional Officer, their job is one that we should ALL be concerned with and appreciative of. My husband spends his days supervising men convicted of possession of large amounts of child porn, men who have taken the life of another person, men who have met children and teens for sex, men who have schemed and connived to swindle hardworking people out of their life savings, men who have led corrupt and shameless political lives. While they are still human beings and I'm proud of the way my husband treats them as such, they are also demented and dangerous; unfit to walk alongside the rest of us in the free world. Without Correctional Officers and Workers, these dangerous criminals would put our children, our livlihoods, and our lives at risk. Instead, Correctional Officers put their own lives at risk to keep the rest of us safe.
Mu husband has come home with bruised ribs when an angry inmate didn't like the particulars of his laundry service and attacked him. He has seen a crazed inmate sever his own penis. He has seen men who can no longer take their guilt or their incarceration hang themselves. The sounds and sights he, and others like him, have seen and had to live with are more than most of us can even imagine. Yet when discussing first responders, protectors, sheepdogs, most people never think of Correctional Officers. We send dangerous criminals away, out of sight, out of mind - but don't think about the heroes who put their lives on the line each and every day so that we can feel and be safer without these dangerous people on the loose. We don't think about the things these Officers endure and live with so that we don't have to.
So in the upcoming couple of weeks, particularly May 6th-12th, please think about the men and women who go to work each day in an enclosed, locked down environment; surrounded by the worst our society has to offer, some with nothing to lose; unarmed; knowing their lives are at risk so that their own families and even strangers can sleep better at night, knowing these criminals cannot get to them. Please say a prayer to keep them safe so that they come home unharmed to their loved ones each night. And if you see a Correctional Officer or know one, please tell them Thank You, that you appreciate the work they do to keep us safe.