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 15, 2021

Best Rated

Can prisoners earn money while in prison?

Asked by Brooks over 8 years ago

Yes. Many work for prison industries, and those with minimal custody levels who can work odd shifts or multiple shifts. Some earn in exess of $200 per month. Also there are some public-private partnerships that employ prisoners for work at the prisons for private employers.

So with your front row seat, do you believe in inmate reformation? Does incarceration have any effect on a person's likelihood of re-offending once released?

Asked by dan79 over 8 years ago

I do believe in the redemption of the self, but realize that it happens seldom. With the exception of family murderers (i.e. husband killing cheating wife) virtually all state felony prisoners have lengthy criminal records by the time they actually get sentenced to prison. The only reliable rehabilitators are age and infirmity. Incarceration has, IMHO, minimal effect on the vast majority of prisoners likelyhood to reoffend.

Did you ever believe that a prisoner was actually innocent? And do your observations of prisoners play into the decisions of whether to let someone out early for good behavior?

Asked by Raj over 8 years ago

As a Lieutenant I would have no say in the matter. I have read literally THOUSANDS of inmate Central Files. With the exception of two murderers and one kidnapper they all had EXTENSIVE criminal histories and there is no question that the two murderers and the kidnapper were in fact guilty. With over 133,000 inmates in custody it seems likely that a handful did not commit the crime of which they were convicted. That doesn't mean they didn't do something they deserved to be in prison for.

TV and movies make it seem like inmates can still get a hold of booze, drugs, weapons, and other contraband. Is that realistic?

Asked by 51/50 over 8 years ago

pretty much. booze they can make easily enough. drugs are small and easy to smuggle, especially with the search policies and the practice of NOT using drug dogs on visitors. shanks are easy enough to make. firearms inside prisons are very rare indeed, at least in California prisons. in third world holes they are quite common.

Did you ever feel sorry for certain prisoners? Like, the ones who made a mistake out of desperation and are now locked up alongside truly evil / violent criminals?

Asked by DuFresne over 8 years ago

There is I grant you a difference between a hard core gang member who robs and maims and kills and a chronic repeat drunk driver or someone who snaps and kills his spouse who is about to divorce him. The impact on the victims is however the same. Also, it is not the job of the prison staff to differentiate between prisoners. They are all supposed to be kept in prison for the period prescribed by law, and they are all entitled to the same level of care. That is what being a professional is all about.

What's one "luxury" the inmates get that would surprise the public? (I saw a documentary the other day about a Cali prison where some of the inmates had TVs in their individual cells, much to my amazement.)

Asked by Bellicosa over 8 years ago

It is hard for me to answer an open ended question like that. About two years back a death row inmate got a heart transplant, cost the state well over $1 million. inmates do not GET TVs, but are allowed to buy them. the electrical drain becomes significant in the older prisoners that were never set up for this purpose. they can also have fans, inmate housing units except hospital units are not air conditioned. My prison, DVI, used to have a pool but that has been shut down and filled in for years. Inmate medical care in California is absolutely top drawer, name-brand pharmaceuticals, usuall see specialists in 2-3 days.

Hi Bob! 1) Do new prisoners get hazed ("fish")? 2) Do prisoners divide up based on race with lots of tension between groups, as depicted in movies? 3) Are ex-cops or rapists treated with extra disdain?

Asked by ronmexico over 8 years ago

New cops get more hazing than new prisoners. Remember prison prisoners have done time in county jails, and most have done youthful offender time also. In the California system, and as far as I know virtually all other system, the prisoners divide themselves up, primarily althought not exclusively along racial lines. Staff have to work with and acknowledge those divisions because they are real. There are further divisions within the groups, I.E. blacks in California tend to go with Crips (blues) or Bloods (reds). Hispanic can be either Nortenos or Surenos. Rapists don't get nearly the heat they used to get, though most groups still don't much like child molesters. Ex-cops tend to land together in PC (protective custody) units. I understand there is a unit at Ione that is nothing but former cops, firefighters, public officials and the like.