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 October 11, 2017

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Was yours a maximum-security prison?

Asked by brikhaus almost 5 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.

What's the craziest thing you ever saw happen?

Asked by Bob over 4 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.

Where do prisoners get buried?

Asked by Gordo over 4 years ago

None of the prisons in California have operational cemetaries, though both Folsom and San Quentin have very old ones. When a prisoner dies the remains are turned over to the next of kin for burial. If the next of kin do not take them, they are burried at government expense in whatever cemetary the government contracts with. I believe that is handled by the county and not the state, though I am not 100% sure of that.

What's the racial breakdown of the prisoners at your facility?

Asked by jan.oakland over 4 years ago

I have been gone for quite a while, but the last time I checked it was roughly 30% white, 30% black, 30% hispanic with the rest made up other American Indians, Pacific Islanders, S/E Asians, etc. Since California had about an 11% black and 19% hispanic population at that time you can see whites are significantly underrepresented in the prison population and hispanics and blacks are significantly overrepresented. There has been a census since I retired so I am confident those numbers are no longer accurate.

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 4 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.

Do jails read inmate mail? If so, what if a letter is talking about a crime or a prison break?

Asked by dilious over 4 years ago

Don't know about jails. Prisons CAN read inmate mail other than legal mail, but they rarely do. There just isn't the manpower to do it. Where I worked there were six workers who did nothing but open, inspect, sort and deliver inmate mail. If you were to actually have to READ all of it it would require dozens of people. That gets expensive.

Does prior correctional experience help out when applying to CDCR? What does the department look for in applicants? I am currently a C.O at a max with another state, but I would like to go back home to California

Asked by Gevaudan over 4 years ago

Not sure that it helps, but it doesn't hurt.  Quite honestly most higher-ups in CA, people that make hiring decisions, look a LOT of states as flyover country and view experience there as insignificant (or at least did when I was still working).  However, experience anywhere does tend to mean you have time in the environment and won't just walk away becuase you find the venue psychologically uncomfortable.  It is PROBABLY a positive, and is almost certainly not a negative.