The most interesting part of my resume is my previous employment as a Correctional Officer. Yes, I was a Correctional Officer for a total of five years. I actually enjoy watching the interviewers facial expression and sudden interest in my diversified employment background. Corrections? Really? My pleasant demeanor and personality confuses the interviewer as to how I fell into such a position. It was just that, I fell into an opportunity. Now that I think of it, I have played many acting roles with the uniforms I worn. None of the uniforms made me, they added pieces and skills to the person I am today. To be honest, the only two uniforms that fit me naturally is being a mom and a writer. Nothing was forced it just came natural. My father, his brothers, my sons father, and many men I knew had fell in the system. Only they were wearing the opposing uniform. If it wasn’t for my son’s father, I would have never went for the job. I was tired of working as a tech for the hospital, and CNA work on my free time. I wanted a career, something to fund my dream. The pay was great for a young woman my age, and so were the benefits. The thing that bothered me was what it represented. Corrections is an action or process of correcting something. As an officer, my job was to lead and correct behavior of grown ass men. Or as my veteran officers would have called it “Adult Babysitting”. I was confused because most of the individuals that were responsible for correcting, needed some corrections themselves.
A black woman in a predominantly white male environment. The ones in orange looked like my father, my sons father, and my fathers brothers. They looked like the friends I made in high school. Out of all the officers there was a total of 5 black staff members. There may have been seven, but a few of them didn’t consider themselves black or not so much while in uniform. The institutions have this idea of minimizing recidivism but embrace the “job security” of the system that sets many for failure. I was pregnant twice working for the jail, and that will be the last time my sons energy will be within that space. Don’t get me wrong there are people that deserved to be there because of the crimes they have committed. Majority of the inmates have mental health issues, which a jail is not the appropriate space for treatment (that’s another topic). Jail to me represented purgatory. The space between heaven and hell. A place where individuals were able to chose light or the dark. The reason I state that jail sets them for failure is because upon release they are released to the same environments. Same negative energies they have surrounded themselves around all their life. Many of them unfortunately don’t know any better because of the generational ignorance. Me, I was their counselor. I gained my respect from being myself. That same personality was exuded to the offenders. I maintained this by not constantly reviewing their files or wrongdoings. Instead I met them for who they were at the point that I met them. I gave them the opportunity to build a rapport with me outside of their wrongdoings. Many of the officers had issues with respect I guess during their youth. They couldn’t wait to put on a uniform to “correct” or become the exact same individual they had issues with. For me I saw both sides. I saw the frustration of the officers with the behavior they dealt with. I also saw that there was a reason behind the inmates doing, one in which we did not understand but was their truth.
Change is required to correct unwanted behaviors. Most importantly corrections should be made with the support of those who lead by example and with positive intentions. The world we live in today is one in which everyone is quick to judge. Quick to find corrections for others but none for themselves. We are all spirits that have a choice to choose between light or the darkness. Sometimes it requires someone to share their light to lead others out of darkness. Darkness in which they may not have known was a choice.