In an exclusive interview with a few Corrections officers, providing TNN News with the state and the dangers of being a correction officer at Westgate Correctional Facility.
I have been working at the Department of Corrections for a very long time and what’s happening at Westgate and all the other facilities has been going on for as long as I’ve been there and longer. I’m seeing new young officers coming in with little skills and the department hasn’t had a functioning training department for years. But they give a high ranking officer the title of chief of training and a huge monthly paycheck.
Inmates make demands and because there’s so many up there serving life sentences and nothing for them to do they are running things because they have nothing to lose. They find no reason to obey and respect officers. They will carry out threats they make because there are no consequences. The young officers are now having to look after people they went to school with or men old enough to be their fathers. The old school officers who would have been able to handle these guys are all just about gone. And the ones who are left will retire within the next year or two. Inmates haven’t been going to funerals for almost 10 years after one of thems mother made arrangements for a girl to be in a bathroom when they let the inmate attend a relative’s funeral and the inmate went to the bathroom without the officer.
Inmates haven’t been able to use the secure phone system for 4 years. It broke down and fixing it hasn’t been a case of urgency at all. Inmates have to rely on senior officers to give them a call on their office calls or cell phones or the inmates do a good job of getting someone to bring a cellphone in for them which becomes a dangerous item for everyone inside both officers and inmates because we never can tell who they’re calling or plotting to do. Yes, all facilities are in awful condition and some people say that’s what the inmates deserve but what about the officers who work inside there and what about the officers who keep getting sick from the mold throughout all the facilities and bad air down in the units where the inmates live?
We have a POA Executive who has been fighting for proper working conditions and training, for years but government don’t listen. All these things were declining when Lamb left as commissioner. He knew the mess he left behind. Audits and reports that government paid for showed how bad the prisons were while he was in charge. But he has now been rewarded as PS to oveesee the same department he made a mess of. He left and put commissioner Benjamin in the seat and she has zero leadership ability. She doesn’t mingle among staff and she definitely doesn’t go down to the units where the inmates are housed so everything under her is falling apart quickly and the executive continues to fight everything that’s wrong and government keeps covering up and making excuses.
Officers are fed up and quite a few have left for other jobs. Others are just counting paychecks until it’s their turn to leave. Inmates are bored because the woman in charge of making sure they have things to do isn’t doing her job. So that makes it harder for the officers when inmates have idle time. The whole system is a mess and everybody working in it and living in it is fed up. The morale is the worst I’ve ever seen.
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