Edit: I'm getting ready to head to work but if anybody has more questions to ask I'll be here periodically over the day (or the next couple depends on how interested people end up being)
1. What does your job consists of (average day)?
2. Craziest story in your career?
3. Is the pay good? No need for absolute numbers!
1. That really depends on which shift I'm working. If it's 7-3 or 3-11, I make sure the inmates are fed and get any of their prescription medications to them, let them go outside if they ask and haven't been rowdy, and generally make sure they don't kill each other. 11-7 I do my rounds of cells checks once and hour to make sure nobody has committed suicide, attacked their cell mate, or die in their sleep. We're a pretty small office though so I also clean the office on night shift and dispatch when a deputy is on duty.
2. I generally don't have too much crazy happen when I'm on, the inmates tend to respect me so that helps. And I've been told we're on of the nicest counties to be locked up in the area by the inmates and they don't like to mess that up, so that helps too. But to answer your question I think the craziest thing so far was opening the holding cell door to let in an inmate and the inmate saying "I'm not going there." Turns out she thought her cellmate was dead. She'd wrapped a cord around her throat and her face had turned blue, luckily she was still breathing and we got her out of cell and transported to the hospital. Dispatching the craziest would have to be getting a call from 911 (our 911 is in another county they handle our towns local PDs and pretty much everything but our deputies) stating that a female had been shot in the face, but was still alive and then hanging up. No address, nothing else. Luckily I was monitoring the other radio and had heard the PD being dispatched and requesting us so I got our deputy there in time.
3. It's good for the area I live in, if it was a larger more expensive area I'd have complaints but it's not too bad here. I make more than minimum wage, and would definitely make more if I worked for one of the prisons, but I stay here cause I like being close to the people I care about.
Overall are you happy with your career choice?
Extremely happy. My bosses are amazing, it's really not too stressful of a job, and every once in a while I get to help an inmate work through some stuff.
Is it one of those tiny cells that you see in the Sheriff's office on tv?
The cells, but it's a door with a window and a slot not bars. We have 8 cells and the inmates get to be in the day room from 7-11 unless they break a rule in which case they're locked down in their cell for 23 hours of the day for however long the lockdown is. I'd say the day room would be about the size of your average bedroom.
What's the vetting process like to get a gig like that? I'd imagine it'd be fairly tough.
For me it wasn't too bad, the Sheriff and most of the Deputies all knew me growing up. But for anybody else at our office it would be extremely difficult, the Sheriff doesn't bring on anybody he doesn't already know and trust. It might be different for other counties though, I don't really hang out with them too much :P I imagine a bigger county would be a bit more lax. But at a bare minimum I'm sure they'd run you for warrants and check your criminal history along with a drug test.
How many inmates might you have in the jail at any one time, and how many officers are there to control them?
It's a small county so a lot of the time it hovers around only 5 or so, right now we have 17. There's only one jailer per shift and a deputy if he's in the office.
So right now you have triple your 'a lot of the time' numbers then. What happened?
One of our deputies decided to track down all of the felony warrants we have on file and get them brought in, and he's really good at it.
I'm picturing him walking in with a line of people in chains behind him, then just slamming his badge on the desk and "Book 'em".
I'm not American so this is how I expect it must work based on watching Brooklyn 99.
That would make it so much better than what actually happens! Since most of the ones he's going after know they have warrants and have been avoiding coming here for years he mostly just calls a bunch of departments where he thinks they are until he finds them and then does a happy dance around the office.
What are some popular preconceived notions about jails, inmates, and law enforcement that you would like to dispel?
The inmates aren't bad guys, mostly. I say mostly because of the crimes some of them come in for, but as inmates they're not bad, almost always respectful, and the few times they decide to go overboard it gets shut down pretty quick, at least with me because I've established that I can be nice, if you're not making job harder than you have to. 90% of the time I get to be my nice, joking around self so it's not to bad. A lot of time if you're in jail you'll only be there a couple weeks as long as they think you'll actually show up to court. Law enforcement are just guys trying to do their job like everybody else, all the ones I work with are super nice and polite and don't let the power go to their heads. The problem is the few around the entire country that do and make the news, and then make everybody else look bad. And just because somebody is in jail doesn't mean they're guilty, if you're in jail you're waiting for trail, if you're guilty you go to prison (if it's a felony, misdemeanors will be in jail too). While I have a good flow going it's really important if you ever have a friends or a relative in jail to visit them that shit is hard on them, and I really don't want it any harder than it has to be.
Thanks so much for the insight. I love that last sentence, and take it as a gentle reminder to all of us to remember to be human.
I think the most important thing to remember is, these guys are (mostly) just people that fucked up, and then kept fucking up because they're only support system are the people they're locked up with. Their families abandoned them, if they do get visitors 90% of the time it's a mom or dad telling them how much of a fuck up they are. It's not gonna help them out of their situation.
Have you ever had to deal with people attempting to break out or resist violently? What was that like?
We had one guy that was violently resisting, I did a test taze on my tazer to make sure it was working and the sound got him to stop.
the sound got him to stop.
the sound got him to stop.
If videogames are an accurate representation of tazers, then I can totally see why. Those things are terrifying.
It's absolutely terrifying, I don't even like testing it. I'd still rather be tazed than pepper sprayed though.