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I get asked all the time by friends and family (and sometimes strangers):

“What’s your job like?”
“So how is it working in a prison?”
“You’re a correctional officer, what is it you do, exactly?”
“What made you decide that job?”

After telling the person that I wanted a career, not just another job, I find myself pausing for a bit; not because I don’t know what I do. I just tend to think back on everything.

When I first started working at a prison, I had no idea what to expect. In truth, before I got hired I had never been inside a prison before. The whole experience of being a correctional officer was extremely new to me. Exciting in some ways, but I didn’t want to seem to eager, lest I do something stupid. My two months spent as a cadet shadowing officers was spent observing and asking as many questions as I could think to ask. I got a crash course in how a prison was run day to day, and another crash course in how to talk to inmates.

Finally BCOT started. 5 weeks away from the prison, spending time on a college campus. We marched like soldiers, were treated like inmates, learned how to handle ourselves (and in my case, fire a weapon), and somewhere along the way we picked up the skills necessary to do our job effectively at our institutions.

I didn’t want to stand out at BCOT. Having high test scores would have been nice, but it wasn’t my goal. I went into BCOT like I went into the cadet portion of my job; with my eyes and ears wide open, hoping to learn any and everything. I didn’t want awards or recognition, I wanted the skills to be a good officer.

I graduated. It was the first time I had walked with my class to get my certificate. I didn’t even do that when I graduated college (I was in London, but that’s a different story).

I had a moment of panic when I accepted my badge and shift placement from my supervisor right after graduation. Standing there with my fellow officers, I wondered if I would be able to do the job required of me.

Observing how a dorm is run and running a dorm are two different things. Day shift and night shift are two completely different animals when working in a prison. As a cadet I spent 8 hours shadowing an officer; as an officer I spent 12 hours on post. My first two nights were hell, but not because I found the job hard. I wasn’t used to working a night shift job at all ever, let alone for 12 hours.

Five inmate counts a shift, every shift, a total of ten counts a day. Accountability/Count is the most important thing in a prison. If you don’t know where your inmates are when you come on post, you’ve had a bad day. If your accountability is right from the start, everything else falls into place.

I remembered what I saw and experienced as a cadet, which by comparison didn’t seem like enough when you’re handed a clipboard, equipment and a dorm of roughly 100+ female (or male) inmates for the next 12 hours. You quickly learn things BCOT didn’t teach you and no one can really prepare you for.

You’re taught not to judge or ask questions about why they’re incarcerated. You learn to not be nosy. You learn to field personal questions, or give broad answers to not give away personal information. You learn that inmates love to talk, and that if you listen long enough, you’ll learn everything about their life. You learn to judge when you’ve heard enough and when you need to hear more. You learn how to pull an inmate aside without attracting attention, how to talk to your fellow officer without being ear hustled, and how to get information from snitches without them being discovered.

I learned how much paperwork it takes to run a prison. As a cadet you see officers filling it out, but rarely did an officer take the time to show you what forms needed to be done each shift, every shift.

You can’t be prepared for how a dorm will react to seeing you for the first time, and there’s no easy way to describe it. Inmate’s attitudes are different every day; and while they preached being fair, firm, and consistent, it can be difficult. I’ve been hated simply for walking into a dorm, and respected for the exact same reason; and not because of anything I had done, but because I wear the uniform of authority.

They don’t teach you pill call at BCOT, but pill call is an important part of the shift. A dorm of 96 inmates is guaranteed to have 1/3 on some sort of medication(s) that are taken at least once a day. Some are on heavy anti-psychotics. Even if you don’t know half of your inmates by name, you can expect roughly 35 out of your dorm to go to pill call. You can’t be prepared for having to run pill call, either. Nothing can prepare you for what you’ll see when an inmate opens their mouth to show you they took their meds. You learn to not think about it, but somewhere in the back of your mind you know you have a good idea of what meth mouth looks like.

Incidents at a prison are a dime a dozen. A shift that doesn’t have at least one fight, verbal or otherwise, is considered too good to be true. Inmates will fight over anything and will argue over even less.

They don’t teach about passing out mail, or laundry, or all the forms inmates will ask for. They teach you defensive tactics and how to cuff an inmate, but they don’t prepare you for your first inmate escort. They don’t teach you about everything that can happen that will require a witness statement. (They teach you how to write a witness statement, but until you have to write one, you never knew how to do one properly.)

They tell you about recidivism and the turnover rate of officers. You hear this, but you experience first hand officers resigning or being fired because they were more corrupt than the people they supervised, or because they couldn’t handle the job. Losing fellow officers is hard because 9 times out of 10 you walk into roll call barely able to fill every post. But you suck it up and learn that it is what it is, and if an officer leaves because they were corrupt, it’s better to work short staffed than have a full shift of officers you can’t trust.

Training doesn’t really prepare you for that trust, either. You learn that as you go. You want to look on the officers you went through training with as the ones who have your back first and foremost, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes the one you can depend on the most to help in a situation is the one you least expect.

They don’t teach you how to pack and inventory property at training, yet as an officer it’s part of the job. They don’t teach you how you’ll adapt as an officer, or how you’ll reflect back on when you were a cadet to where you are now, and take stock of what you do and put up with on a daily basis without fear or a second thought.

Not everyone knows what a correctional officer does, and if you ask us, sometimes we can’t form the sort of response you want to hear. This isn’t because we don’t know, we know all too well what we do on a daily basis; but because we do so much in a shift we can’t begin to tell someone who hasn’t worked in our place.

Like I said, all the training in the world can’t prepare you for how you’ll run a dorm of 100+ inmates, and unless you’ve done it, you’ll never be able to imagine it. Everyone wants to know what you’ve seen or been through, but they don’t realize that shift to shift we go through a lot, sometimes before we get our post assignment in roll call and after we’ve handed over our post to the next shift.

I’ve been cursed, called every name under the sun, and been yelled at by disgruntled inmates, just because I came on shift and accepted my post. I’ve had inmates threaten to hang because they weren’t getting their way, and had inmates so needy you couldn’t give them enough to keep them quiet. I’ve had to run to assist fellow officers restrain an aggressive inmate, and strip search inmates going into lockdown or a safe cell. I’ve pat searched kitchen staff, and confiscated all sorts of contraband. I’ve been trained to detect changes in behavior, gained a “6th sense” about situations and my dorm, and had to diffuse verbal altercations I just knew were going to turn violent.

I’ve had inmates test my authority and my ethics to see what I would and would not let them get away with. I’ve had inmates try to get me to pass for them, and had to stand my ground and say no, I’m not that officer. I’ve had inmates try to bend the rules so they could see their girlfriend, or volunteer for a detail so they could stay up past lockdown.

I’ve heard all manner of filth come from an inmate’s mouth, in normal conversation. I’ve had to make sure girlfriends didn’t lag behind everyone else for that extra “together time”, told inmates to “get somewhere”, and caught inmates in middle of their…business, toilet or otherwise. I’ve opened inmate mail and read the filthiest things you can (or can’t) imagine.

I’ve had inmates flood their cell, throw a tantrum that would make a toddler pause and take notes, bang their head, and refuse their medicine and had to assist in force medicating via a shot. I’ve had to put inmates into restraints to curb aggressive and self-injurious behavior.

I’ve heard more gossip than you could find in a high school lunch room, and played counselor to inmates needing to vent. I’ve been disrespected by some and respected by others. I’ve been thanked for listening and been cursed for being too busy. I’ve made more rounds than I can remember and counted my dorm over and over again. I’ve had an inmate be at the end of her life, fall out in her cell and be taken out in an ambulance, only to die in the hospital a few days later. I’ve been yelled at and lectured by fellow officers, made mistakes and learned from them. I’ve been expected to have all the answers or at least find as many answers as I could before my shift was over.

I can’t accurately tell you what I really do as a correctional officer. Our job description is safety: protecting the general public from the inmates and the inmates from themselves and each other. But that’s just part of it. These things that happen day to day, shift to shift is part of the job. So don’t be surprised if a correctional officer pauses the next time you ask what our job is like. It isn’t because we don’t know, it’s because we’re remembering everything we do and we have too many stories to tell.

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I’m so terrible at keeping a regular blog.  I say something similar to this every time I post.

Anyway, I was going back to college to get a degree in Criminal Justice and focus on a Bachelor’s in Cyber Crime.  Well at the tail-end of August, beginning of September, I landed a job.  I’m now a Correctional Officer in training.  This means that yes, I’ll be working in a prison.  Naturally I’m really excited. I’m also nervous, but I don’t think that’s an overwhelming emotion at the moment. I start tomorrow (October 3), which is perfect because my unemployment is about to run out.

I start my new job on Monday, and Wednesday I’ll be going to a concert in Atlanta.  I’ve been excited for this concert since it was announced in July, and it literally feels like I’ve been waiting forever for the tour to begin.  Well, now it’s here and I couldn’t be more excited.  I’ll be seeing Imperative Reaction, System Syn, and God Module.  I’ve been a fan of Imperative Reaction and System Syn for roughly 5 years now, and I’ll confess I only just started listening to God Module (around the time the tour was announced, but I love everything already), and I’m amped for the chance to see this show.  There’s also going to be online friends I’ve connected with through our mutual love of these bands (and Combichrist), and Lisbeth, wife of Ted (frontman of Imperative Reaction) will be there to sing on stage for a few songs.  My friend and I have VIP passes, so we get to hang out for a little bit before the show.

So, all in all, I think this winter will be much better than my summer (which I posted about).  Now I just need to survive the correctional officer training. 🙂

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I neglect this thing far too much.

I haven’t fully decided if it’s because I wait until things happen in my life that are worth writing about, or if I only write when I try to alleviate my guilt for not putting forth any effort to be the writer I know I can be.  Probably both; although I seemed to have more to say when I was a whiny, angsty teenager complaining in my DeadJournal… O__o

Where to begin?  I suppose the beginning is always the best place, especially if one is catching up.  I suppose I should start in December, after my last post.  That’s where I left off, anyway.

I was living in Newnan with friends, on unemployment still, and fervently trying to look for a job.  Nothing panned out, the new year came and went, we started fighting about money, we had a falling out, I moved back home with my parents.  (There’s the annotated version because the long-winded version plays out like a bad soap opera in my head every time I think about it.  Everything is over and done with, and while I regret losing a best friend for something very stupid, it still happened.  We live and we learn, and truth be told I will never do that again.)

Enter February.  I started a new job as a quality control technician in a plant that’s not far from the house.  Sounds fancy, doesn’t it?  It’s not.  Putting it simply, I inspect parts that are made in the plant.  The plant itself (TI Automotive), makes gas tanks for certain models of BMW, Volkswagon, and Hyundai/Kia cars.  There’s about 8 different lines running in the plant, not to mention all the shipping and receiving that goes on.  It’s loud, crazy, and monotonous work.  Truth be told, I hate it, only I can’t complain because the pay is not bad and I can pay my bills.

I only complain about the job until the “this job is bigger than you” thought crosses my mind.  Then I get set back into my place for a while.  The plant makes gas tanks that will be in cars that people actually drive, and I’m inspecting the parts.  I stop complaining after that.  The job is still boring, though.  I catch myself watching the press near me make a part and the robots do their designed task.  Boring as it in there, it’s fascinating.

Moving on.

Ever since I went to London in 2007, I’ll pine for it every 3-6 months.  I’ve been missing it lately, just thought I’d share.

Lately I’ve gotten this bug about getting things done, and not leaving anything unfinished.  This includes writing, cleaning, whatever I can think of that I’d usually put off.  I started digging through my notebooks trying to find a script for a movie I was working on, only to remember that it was on my external hard drive, which crashed ages ago.  Back to square 1 on that one.

I was without a gaming console for a few weeks after I applied the January Dashboard update to my Xbox.  My original 360 Elite went through a ton of freezes before it finally red ringed, so I took it apart (my warranty was gone ages ago) and attempted to fix it myself in addition to modding the case.  The fix didn’t work, so now my case mod is useless, especially since I gave up and purchased a newer 360.  X_x  I tried to save it, though.  I really did.  I can game again, but I’m sad I can’t use my Emilie Autumn 360 case mod.  It really is beautiful.

I’ve got a lot of things running through my mind but no clear way as to how I want to convey them.  Maybe that’s why I get so many headaches, too many pressing thoughts. :3

Well, this seems to be a good place as any to leave off.  I feel I’ve bloggored enough today, and I should get to writing something; although it’s more likely I’ll end up playing BioShock 2 until bed, though.

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I haven’t updated because:

I have a tendency to forget that I have a blog; indeed, growing up I had a very hard time keeping a diary or journal.  But as a writer with dreams of grandeur (it should be noted that ‘dreams of grandeur’ mostly involves being published and little else), I have this unnatural obsession of hoarding/collecting journals (and pens).  Most of them are unused, but I have them just in case I need to write something… /tangent

Life update (I suppose):

My last post was about a potential job with the Fayette County Police Department.  I ended up applying to them twice (desperate much?), in addition to putting applications with police departments in Peachtree City, Griffin, and lastly McDonough.  After all these applications (and fully memorizing my license number),  I decided to just say “Fuck it!”, put myself through a police academy myself, and go from there.  Enter the Clayton County Police Academy.

I have been through orientation and have a packet (more like a folder, but I digress) of paperwork.  Applications, applications for my applications, a checklist, an equipment list, waivers, a check-list for a physical, and a layout of a long list of documents; all of which need to be gathered together, completed, signed, sealed, etc. etc. by June 19th.  All of this is just to ensure that I’m in class July 19th.  I’m hardly kidding about all of this.  I’m now in the process of getting all of this together and completed so I don’t have to worry about it anymore.  I know the end game is going to be completely worth it, but it’s still taxing.

Hmmm…Let’s see…Oh!  I went to my first ever Georgia Renaissance Festival this past weekend (May 1st- 2nd).  It was fun and decent, I remember friends in high school that would go every single year and would LARP…

Moving on.

I don’t know if I ever blogged about Shrinkle’s Sugarpill cosmetic line, but since the launch I have loved the eyeshadows I have from her (Love + and Bulletproof).  I use them with some Hi-Fi Cosmetics shadows I have to create a sunfire look.  I recently ordered Midori and Taki from her and my order got switched with another girl’s that ordered right after me, and Amy told us we could keep the mix-ups and shipped out our right orders.  Technically, not for me.  I got to my mom’s house (academy stuff required a paternal visit) and opened the box to find…Love + and Bulletproof, what I ordered from her the first time I ever ordered.  I laughed for about 5 minutes at the whole situation and then emailed Amy to let her know.  She was extremely apologetic and promised to fix it “for real this time”.

Please don’t think that I’m in anyway bitching or complaining about Amy.  I’m not, I’m really not.  I’ve been eyeing her ebay since 2004 or so and am completely in love with her DIY/sewing ability (even though I haven’t been able to order clothes from her yet).  I LOVE Sugarpill and will swear by it for all eternity.  I love the colors and (unless Amy says different) I actually like the idea of having an extra Love + and Bulletproof handy.

I find my particular situation hilarious, and I know it happens.  Amy spent a long time creating and designing her line and putting together a quality product, not to mention all the other stuff she has going on in her life.  I know mix-ups will happen, and I’m particularly grateful that Amy (not to mention the other girls I order from, mainly Veronica and Chelsea) is so sweet.

All that being said, I do eagerly await my Sugarpill order.  Again.  And I will no matter what I order.

Dream of grandeur:

I’ve been staying with my cousin while all this crazy-ness for the academy has begun, and while watching them and their marriage bickering has led me to the ultimate conclusion to never get married, I’ve also found an obsessive love for their Comcast On Demand.  I’ve been re-discovering shows I hadn’t watched in forever (BBC Top Gear, Intervention), and simply discovering shows I never thought I’d love (True Blood).

Top Gear has led to my dream of grandeur; a car that I desperately love but will never, ever get to own in a million years.

Let me segway into this by saying that there’s a fair few number of mechanics in my family.  My mother is a certified mechanic and worked at an auto parts chain for 9 years, my step-dad is a mechanic and to this day is still working for the same auto parts chain that employed my mother.  My cousin has his own transmission shop.  I also have a close friend that is a manic fan of Top Gear and loves cars.  Basically: I love cars.

That being said, enter my dream car:

The Lexus LFA super car.

This is the wallpaper on my phone 🙂

Simply put: this car is a beast.  An amazing, highly expensive, super fast beast.  It houses a 4.8 liter v10 engine and has been carefully designed to be light, aerodynamic, and fierce.  The entire car is made of carbon fiber to capitalize on the “light and super fast” bits.

As the specs of this car and Top Gear’s overview and test drive of this car made me melt into a pool of desire, the financial specifications of this piece of road art brought me back to earth pretty quickly.  I will never, ever, EVER own this car, even if I wanted to.  This is why it’s my dream of grandeur.

Thanks to Autoblog, I was able to get an accurate dollar-by-dollar break down of WHY this car is my unattainable pipe dream. (Hey, when I dream, I tend to dream BIG…)

Those ugly dollar amounts:

First off: Lexus is only making 500 LFA’s.  That a pretty limited number, but could be understandable, considering of how much detail went into designing this car.  But it’s still a limited market.  The market is limited even more at the price: MSRP $375,000.

That’s right. $375,000.  Even IF you have that kind of money to throw down on this baby, you can’t just out-right OWN it.  You can lease the LFA.  For $12, 400 a month (for 24 months) and $298,000 due at signing.  So basically you can drive the LFA for 2 years and still not own the car, unless you want to pay an extra $93,000 when the lease ends.  Those that have the money can’t just lease the LFA all willy-nilly.  Lexus chooses who leases, the you pay a $10,000 deposit, go through a credit check, pay an additional $50,000 deposit (that’s $60,000 in deposits for those with basic maths skills), and go through a second credit check.  If you’ve survived these hoops, you pay the full amount of the lease using the Lexus 1Pay Lease ($298,00 for the kiddies paying attention), $700 in fees (not including the deposits, tax, tag, or title).

I’m sorry, that’s just WAY too much money.  Even though this car is brilliantly designed and quite obviously an amazing achievement, it will forever remain my unrealistic dream of grandeur.

That seems to do it for this post, I don’t have much more to talk about.  So for now, I take my leave.

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Until recently my job searches have been proving fruitless at best. Everywhere I sent my resume or tried to contact never came through. In this economy, it’s understandable, albeit highly frustrating.

The day before yesterday I was searching the Job Bank on the Georgia Department of Labor website (again), hoping I could find something, anything to picque my interest. By this point, I wasn’t even searching a specific job category, just choosing different Georgia locations and scanning the job listings.

Then I saw it. Fayette County, Deputy Sheriff. I looked over the minimum qualifications (minus the fact there’s training and testing to undergo), and have applied. Hopefully something comes through. If all else I could go through the police academy. I don’t know what it is, but I would really love to be in law enforcement. I can’t describe it, I can barely explain it, I just know I would absolutely love to be in that career field.

I’m crossing my fingers and hoping against hope that I get the opportunity to at least fulfill one of my dreams before I die. Not to sound morbid or anything. We all have a bucket list, or a career dream list. While the job title of “cop” isn’t on that list, it is a step in the right direction to where I want to go. The means to an end for all of this is simple: Eventually, I would really love to work for the FBI.

This is something I never thought I would want to do, but there you have it. I want to be an agent. Like I said, eventually. As the cliche goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Now I just wait and see what happens.

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Well, it’s official

I have lost my job at WNEG-TV.  I enjoyed my year there, and I will miss everyone.  Even with the craziness and whatnot, I’m still sad that it’s actually over.

But looking ahead, I think I want to go back to school for Criminal Justice.  I’d like to focus on Forensics, in the hopes of becoming a CSI.  My long-term goal in this is to work for the FBI.  Strange, maybe, but there it is.

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Anyone not living in barren wastelands (or under a rock, as the cliche goes) knows the United States’ economy is terrible.  Since this past summer things have looked bleak; the housing market crashed, millions lost their jobs around the country, and everyone’s keeping a wary eye on the stock market.  Add in the credit/bank bailouts, and the overall money-grubbing and corruption in that area, and the U.S. ceases to be a world power, and starts to look more like a failing steam engine now on the brink of utter disaster.

Okay, perhaps it’s not so bad.  President Obama is taking steps to ensure we don’t fail, and states have seen slight drops in unemployment as the NYSE has finally rallied back from the brink of a crash.  But everything is still terrible on the workforce front.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor site, unemployment was still high around the nation for the month of October (please forgive this, those were the only recent numbers I could find for the nation as a whole).

My home state of Georgia, while not the top state for highest unemployment numbers (U.S. DoL numbers for October rank Michigan in the top spot), still reached a new unemployment record high in July with 10.3 percent.  Since then the numbers have fluctuated very little, especially in the north east portion of the state (where I live).  The rural parts of the state (and the country) are being hit harder than most people realize.

While it’s unfortunate that city businesses are cutting jobs to make up for losses, the money crunch felt around the nation is making the biggest impact on the small business owner in the rural regions.  Home growers, local farmers, and the small towns that revolve around and thrive on these even smaller businesses are facing the very real reality that they won’t be able to make it.  In areas of the state (and the country) where suburban or metropolitan areas are miles away, and outsourcing business to China to save money is not an option, the fight to stay afloat in today’s economy has become one of the toughest fights my generation has had to face.

Essentially, if President Obama’s other bailout plans and plans to grow jobs doesn’t come through in time, the breakdown of the country will start in the rural areas of the nation and then radiate outward.  This rings true in Georgia, where roughly 29 percent of the state is used for farming (40,000 farms across the whole state).

The small towns I keep mentioning need more help than perhaps Washington realizes.  I may sound biased in this, but I can’t help it.  I live in a small town in north east Georgia and I see first-hand how the unemployment rate is affecting people.  Around the area I love, more people are unemployed than employed, and come January 2010, I will be among them.  Having been told a week ago that I was losing my job, I am now faced with the same issue so many other Georgians are facing: finding a job.

Coupling the unemployment with the news that state officials are appealing for more money to keep paying unemployment benefits, and the situation goes from bad to worse.

I had originally thought about doing nothing more than bitching about the fact that I’m losing my job in January, how my soon-to-be former employers could have avoided this, blah blah blah, but that’s not really what I’m trying to do here.  Yes, it is true that the layoffs at my job could have been avoided; and avoided very easily, but that’ s no longer the point.  Bitching about my looming situation will do nothing to change the unemployment numbers either, especially seeing as how I will be adding to the numbers soon enough.

The point is that it’s not just my job, or my town, or my state.  It’s the entire country.  It’s everyone’s job, everyone’s town, everyone’s state.  I’m not alone in this, and stating that fact definitely hasn’t made anything suck less; and it certainly hasn’t made the job hunt any less detestable for me.  I’m one of several hundreds of thousands of people in the same boat, and although I had this mindset before my job “ran out” on me, I say now with definite clarity along with the other disgruntled voices of the nation:

Something needs to be done about this. Quick.

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