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 10, 2022

Best Rated

Have you ever been attacked while on the job?

Asked by Salverado over 9 years ago

Many times, though none of them were "personal." I just happened to be the guy in the uniform when the problem came up. Several of the attackers had serious mental issues. I was lucky and was never hurt badly. Many of my collegues were not so lucky.

What movie or TV show did the most realistic job of portraying life in prison?

Asked by Shawn over 9 years ago

None that I am aware of. Possibly Mariah (TV SHOW) was in the same time zone.

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

Asked by monica over 9 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.

 

Was yours a maximum-security prison?

Asked by brikhaus over 9 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.

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 over 9 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.

 

How come prisoners have access to weightlifting equipment? Why would we give violent people resources to become bigger and stronger?

Asked by yellfire over 9 years ago

Not in California, not for years. They MAYBE still have some in the fire camps where physical conditioning is important, but I think not. The weight piles disappeared from California pens over ten years go.

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 9 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.