When I became incarcerated, I vowed that I would bring to light misconceptions about the criminal justice system as well as incarceration. Once, I came home I joined different groups and follow different people on social media to become even more aware. It’s obvious that as I watch and listen, that many are FED UP! People are starting to realize that regardless of whatever crime you committed that you’re still a human being. You can be punished for a crime and still be treated humanely. One of my guilty pleasures is watching Tik Tok. I came across a vlogger recently @djwhatchusaid360. What caught my attention was that he was employed at the Beaver County Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania. He was a Corrections Officer who while employed there, tried numerous times to report abuse, neglect, corruption by staff to no avail. The result of his persistence let to his dismissal from his job because he was unwilling to “play by their rules”. The way he explained it was that staff fit into categories. You cared but didn’t want to bring attention to yourself because you had a family and needed the job, or you were just holding on until retirement so you could cash in on your pension. You could also be one of the ones that neither cared one way or another and got off on being given the “authority” to do whatever you wanted to inmates because there would be no consequences for doing it. Who was going to tell? Admittingly, the cameras didn’t record. The only “eyes in the sky” was another officer who sat in the control booth, who could look away when necessary. Regardless of how someone might feel about an individual for a crime they committed doesn’t give us permission as society to allow the mistreatment of them at will. We can’t be in shock in awe on one side, but then consider it to be ok on this end. How doesn’t that even make sense? Have we lost all of our compassion or care for life in general? One of the things that was also shocking to me when I became incarcerated was the amount of people with mental disabilities being housed there. Many mental hospitals were closed many years ago because the abuse, neglect and illegal testing done on the patients. This left those needing special housing to go into group homes, back to family or if they were criminally insane-they’d be locked up in a prison. I can tell you that a prison facility has no care or ability to correctly care for these patients. Most of the time they can’t live with others because of safety concerns. Certain medications cannot be prescribed because of the risk of the meds leaking out into the prison population. Staff is not properly trained to handle these inmates. Many times, these inmates end up in the hole because of acting out or not being compliant. Even, those who aren’t a danger and can live with general population struggle. Their needs are different than other inmates. Unfortunately, they end up getting stuck there because they are viewed as a problem inmate. They aren’t so much as a “problem” as they aren’t able to cope or understand so they act out. They aren’t medicated properly, nor receiving the right care. Ironically, the men’s facilities in PA have specific prisons for those with mental disabilities. The women’s facilities have specific “units” for those needing different housing. While this might look good on the surface, I again assure you that it’s just for show. I applaud this gentleman for speaking his truth. There are many good corrections officer’s out there who realize that they can make a difference. They realize that part of their job is to be a mentor and to encourage those incarcerated to do better. They can either help or be part of the problem. Like I mentioned in my last post, what’s done in the dark does come to the light. People are fed up and speaking out, I pray the right people listen.
Photo by Anna Shvets: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-people-holding-hands-4672719/