Correctional Officer

Correctional Officer

Bob Walsh

Stockton, CA

Male, 60

I worked for the California state system, starting as a Correctional Officer and retiring as a Lieutenant in 2005. I now write for the PacoVilla blog which is concerned with what could broadly be called The Correctional System.

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Last Answer on August 18, 2017

Best Rated

Why do gang formation and racial segregation happen so frequently in prisons?

Asked by >>maestro<< over 4 years ago

Prisoners tend to form groups as do other humans. They tend not to be the most englightened of people, and also have to function in the system they find themselves in. Some groups, like the Texas Syndicate, are largely cross-racial. These groups, however, tend to be both exclusionary as well as inclusionary. Some of it is self-protection, or started that way at least. Others are simply a continuation of street affiliations into the prison system. Some started in prison and moved to the streets. Racial identity groups are, generally speaking, strongest with hispaics, less so with blacks and much less so with whites. What I mean is it is very difficult for a hispanic inmate to remain truly unaffiliated, it is hard for blacks, it is not so hard for whites. If you don't join the Nortenos, they will assume you are a Sureno and make you a target. Same going the other way. That is the way their group-think functions. You get down to it I don't have a why, it's just the way it is.

Are prisoners given access to computers or the internet?

Asked by brett over 4 years ago

generally speaking no, at least not in California. i am sure there are exceptions, but i am not aware of any. (my knowledge is a bit stale, i have been out for over five years, but internet access would allow access to pornography and would present many security issues. of course many inmates have smuggled electronic devices which give them access.)

Were there a lot of suicides in your prison, and what's the most common way prisoners kill themselves?

Asked by Albertross007 over 4 years ago

Depends what you call a lot. Maybe one a year with a base population of about 3,900. Maybe a bit more than one a year. The normal suicide was a hanging. Once in a while you would get a jumper. That was very rare as three tiers isn't tall enough to ensure a good job. Probably some of the ODs were suicides too, it isn't always possible to know for sure. When we were a recepion center the number would go up. When we were mostly GenPop the number would go down. That is also typical.

Is prison cafeteria food terrible? How does it compare to your average school cafeteria? Also, do prison staff eat the same food as the inmates?

Asked by sloppysloppyjoe over 4 years ago

Food quality varies widely. At DVI, the facility I worked at, they still operate a kitchen where they actaully prepare meals. Most newer prisons use flash frozen airline TV dinner food. I was the kitchen Sergeant for a year, though the food manager had control over the meals, I just handled security. For instituional food the food was really fairly good. At the time (I believe it is still true) there had to be a meal sampler report made out for every location at which the meal was served reporting on food temperature, overall quality, etc. The food manger and warden actaully read the reports. Food quality is a huge issue in prisons and riots start over crappy food. I was required to pesonally sample meals and send in reports. If the food was cold and crappy I said so. The food was actually pretty decent, much better than school cafeteria food in my opinion. Staff who were on duty at the time the meal was served could buy a meal off the steam line by presenting a meal ticket. Most of them preferred to purchase a more conventional meal at a significantly higher price price from the staff cafeteria, which was located outside the fence, or buy food from the junk food machines at various places inside the institution. The Grand Jury comes through the prisons in California at least once a year, and one of the things they look at is the meals. Meals really are a big deal in the prison setting.

Wait, how do prisoners MAKE booze?

Asked by Vanessa over 4 years ago

All you need is water, sugar, some yeast (throwing in white bread will take care of that) and something like ketchup or overripe apples or raisins. Even without the extra sugar the fruit will ferment, the sugar helps. You then mash it all up and let it sit someplace warm and it will ferment. In the California system it is called "pruno." Most of it is grotesque and disgusting, but you can get drunk on it. I have seem some homemade applejack that didn't smell too bad actually. I have only seen one actual prison still, but fermentation is no big deal. It is much more straight forward than distillation.

How often did prisoners try to escape, and were they ever successful?

Asked by Gang green over 4 years ago

walkaway escapes by minimum custody prisoners are fairly common. the California system gets a couple dozen of those a year. "inside" escapes, that is escapes from inside the security perimeter, are quite rare. we often went a couple of years without one of those. very rarely do any of these prisoners stay outside very long. that is one thing California is very good at, keeping the inmates in.

What incentives do inmates have to behave well, especially those in for life? Do they care about their quality of life while on the inside knowing that they're not ever getting out?

Asked by ArlinPeters over 4 years ago

life prisoners, especially those doing LWOP (life without parole) have little incentive to behave other than program access. if they screw up enough they are put in segregation, which for most isn't a lot of laughs. inmates get automatic good time in California, which they can lose for disciplinary infractions, but also they can often get that good time back by staying disciplinary free for a period of time. LWOP prisoners, especially young violent gang oriented prisoners, are very serious management problems.