Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tip #3– Guard or Correctional Officer?

Following my lecture at The FBI Academy earlier this year, an agent trainee asked me the following:

“Why do you call them guards, and not correctional officers? And were you friendly with them?”

The reality is there is no correcting taking place in the justice system. I was locked up for nearly 400 days and not once did I see a correctional officer correcting. Rather, they do a lot of guarding, standing around. Hence, my insistence they be called by their appropriate name: guards.

No, I was not friends with the guards nor did I speak to them. If they opened the door for me as I entered the chow hall, I would say thank you. If they opened the door for me as I entered my housing unit, again, I would say thank you. That summed up my correspondence. I saw no reason to converse with those who had no interest in my future, and with those who were holding me captive.  Too many white-collar offenders, most of whom do not consider themselves criminals, fraternize with the guards. Michael Santos wrote, “they identify more with their captors then with whom they share captivity.” Too many prisoners ask guards about their weekend, their favorite movie, and so on. Not only do they look foolish they invite unneeded criticism, rumor.

Prisoners must spend every waking moment preparing for release. Prison affords the opportunity to choose new goals, new values, and to create realistic time lines for achieving them. To not move forward in life is to move backward. And you can only move forward by pursuing values that relate to your ends.  My highest value, my end, was thriving upon release–not wasting time talking to guards about mindless things, like football or baseball or whatever else they love to discuss.

Justin Paperny


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