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 February 23, 2021

Best Rated

You prison is not a good place if you are shy. That made me ponder strip searches. I know they happen on intake/exit. Beyond that how common are they for inmates, is it embarrassing for them, how to CO's feel about that aspect of their job.

Asked by KennyB almost 8 years ago

Very common.  When an inmate comes back into the security perimeter they are skin-searched, more formally known as an unclothed both search.  For some jobs inmates are stripp-searched when the get off work.  When there is a distrubance and we are looking for weapons we will skin-serach everybody in the area. 

As far as the cops feel, they know it comes with the territory.  You want to talk about gross, you talk about "potty watch."  That is waiting for some guy to take a dump so you can search through the feces for contraband, usually drugs.

 

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 about 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.

Are inmates allowed to keep pets of any kind? Even goldfish, birds, that kinda thing.

Asked by monica almost 8 years ago

Not in California, though it happens unofficially.  Feral cats, mice, that sort of thing.  There are prisons where inmates do animal care, horses and service dogs, but they are not "pets" per se.

The infamous Birdman of Alcatraz never had any birds at Alcatraz, and lost permission to have the birds at Leavenworth when he was caught with a still to turn the seed into booze.  He was also a vicious homosexual pimp who wrote reams of homosexual pornography using prison staff as characters.  Also he didn't look anything like Burt Lancaster.

 

Now that you're retired, do you miss the job at all?

Asked by Jack Sr. about 8 years ago

I miss some of the people. Not so much the job. The job is not what it was when I retired.

What's the craziest thing you ever saw happen?

Asked by Bob about 8 years ago

Thats hard to say. I do remember that twice, when I was running the Reception Center, we got in prisoners who said, "You've got the wrong guy, I shouldn't be here." They were both right, the county had sent the wrong prisoner, same name but wrong guy. Also the dept. had a prisoner extradited from out of state, Oklahoma I think, and it turned out his parole had run out and we had no right to haul him in. Paperwork screwup, happens every year or two.

Was yours a maximum-security prison?

Asked by brikhaus about 8 years ago

The facility I worked at was primarily a medium security institution, with a modest (144 bed) high security area and a somewhat larger (250 bed) minimum security area.

Are for-profit prisons big business in the US?

Asked by statham about 8 years ago

moderately, yes. there are a couple of large private prison operators that have contracts with many states and the federal government. i believe there are also some local jails that are operated by private operators. many more have outsourced their inmate helath care to private operators.