Behind the walls

Say thank you to the men and women who serve as correctional officers

Once again we find ourselves honoring those who work behind the walls of our county, state and federal institutions. National Correctional Officers Week (May 6-13) gives us an opportunity to say thank you to all those who put their lives on the line each day. It’s a part of law enforcement the public does not see and frankly, if we are doing our job, the public will not hear about us. It is sometimes a thankless job — correctional officers work tirelessly to keep the public safe in an environment not many would ever want to work in. It takes a special person to spend day after day literally locked in with some of the worst society has to offer.

It’s hard to describe why we do this job. We do it for many different reasons. We hope in the short time we are in these peoples live,s we can make a positive impact on them. We feel a sense of pride knowing we can control chaos and protect the community we serve. With only 40 hours of Academy training at the county level, most of an officer’s training is on the job. The greatest tool an officer inside the walls has is their mouth, being able to talk to people. With maybe a canister of pepper spray and a set of handcuffs, they have to confront aggravated individuals having a bad day. Even though we are just the keepers of these individuals and are not the reason they are put there, sometimes they take it out on the officer.

Officers work hard to keep the peace and keep inmates busy. In a county facility, individuals can be sentenced up to one year, any sentence more then a year they would then be moved to a prison. The average stay in a county facility is a few weeks. This makes it hard to have any long-term programing to help inmates better themselves. In the short time they are there we do what we can to provide them with some opportunities to help themselves.

If you get a chance, take a moment to thank these brave individuals and remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice doing this job. We thank and salute all of our brothers and sisters who work behind the walls.

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Maj. Patrick White is the chief jailer at the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office.