THE BURDEN OF UNDERSTANDING CRIME
If there is a profession which is most stressful in the entire hierarchy of criminal justice administration, it is on the lap of correctional officers where it is felt most. As a matter of fact, it is on their shoulders where the weight of responsibility is lumped on.
Criminal Justice System
The police acting on a complaint or on the occasion of crime would just jump on the accused and after a series of investigation would pass on the burden to prosecution. The prosecutor on the other hand after weighing testimonies and evidences would forward the same for the courts to rule. After a series of trial, the judge hands over the verdict and promulgates his decision.
Thereupon, the convict is shipped to the penitentiary to serve time as penalty. And this would oftentimes mean years in the prison camp. The entire fulcrum of custody, of administration, of managing the affairs of convicts, perpetrators of offenses, is up on the neck of the correctional officer.
Offenders are pictured as villains. And rightly so according to the estimation and judgment of the courts. The offenders are declared as the scums and dregs of society. They are hated and abhorred. They prey on normal times and would exploit and turn their targets into hopeless objects. If judicial judgement is to be understood to the letter, these people have no conscience at all and they are bereft of any decent bones in their bodies.
Government through the courts would rather bury these personalities, let them dry and painfully lament under the glaring difficulty of communal life in prison.
The Prison Environment
This is the milieu of the correctional officer. This is his environment, the work place, the field on which his career is formed. This is where his profession and principles are tested. This is where his future is formulated.
He must be sensitive to his wards. He must be vigilant and responsive to his superiors and peers. He must be resources and yet cautious. He cannot afford to be biased and yet he must also be subjective to survive. There is treachery in every direction; there is betrayal in every corner. He may be recognized one day but he may be distrusted another day. He cannot draw and earn respect by being respectful. He must be practical and considerate, sympathetic and at the same time firm. At the end of the day, there is only one valuable effect in his immersion and that is to keep him alive and well.
The Communal Facility
The prison community is infected with every temptation and enticement. There is contagion everywhere, positive and negative, psychological and pathological. Values are nowhere estimated as advantageous. Exposure in this zone is a defining moment. While people are wary to meet crime along their path, correctional officers are right within the sphere where the so called criminals are concentrated.
Realization of Truth
Much as they intend to strictly accept reality, there lies a contradiction along the way. Suddenly, they would be tasked to assist and escort one who has stayed for years and has eventually accepted fate towards the door of freedom. They know fairly well that not all of those they are watching are guilty. There are still innocents in their midst. It is a regular feature of his realization that somewhere, somehow justice would still manifest although belatedly.
This is one emotional burden the correctional officer must squarely deal.