Inmates Are People, Too

“I have learned some amazing, life-changing thoughts and ideologies from inmates.”

Edited by Thu Nguyen.

Transcript for Inmates Are People, Too

I was a correctional officer here in Indiana for five years and that is a very taxing job emotionally and physically. When you think about a prison environment, there’s all kinds of horrific stuff that happens, you know, trafficking of drugs, trafficking of cell phones, all kinds of unauthorized items, violence, you know, gangs. All kinds of–everything you can possibly think of associated with this demographic of people is what you see on a regular basis. And, if you are not careful about who you are as a person, and kind of are, you know, and based in something that is of a higher circumstance than that, that can consume you. It can eat you up. It’s not something that a person who doesn’t know who they are and isn’t stable can continue to function in.

Believe it or not, inmates are humans, too. I have learned some amazing, life-changing thoughts and ideologies from inmates. I realize it’s not my place to judge them. I could easily have been one of them, which is why I decided to apply to work at the prison, too, because I like to do things to face my fear in anything in life. I did have such a huge preconceived notion of what inmates would be like or what the prison system would be like but once I got there and realized, like, this is not what society has made it to be. And I just take everything as a learning experience and I learned a lot, just as my role of a woman, and a human being, of a person in a place of authority. You know, you have to be humble, you have to treat people as you want to be treated, no matter what because it’s not my job to judge them. It’s my job to ensure security. It’s my job to, you know, do what I’m supposed to do in my capacity as a correctional officer. It is just like you’re told as a child: treat people how you want to be treated. It’s no different in that environment. And I found that my time was easier there because of having a common respect for these group of people. We wore the same type of uniform, to be honest. Mine was just a different color.

But prison is a very difficult place to work. You are hyper-vigilant all the time. The shifts are long, and to be honest with you, I almost hate that I’m saying this, but it wasn’t the inmates that I had to worry about, it was my coworkers. It was a very…harsh climate to operate in. The more integrity you have working in that type of environment, the harder your job is. And so…because integrity is of the utmost importance to me, I couldn’t continue to expose myself to such a harsh environment and stay true to myself. So I had to separate from it so I could maintain who I was.

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