I worked in a max security juvenile institution for several years. It takes a certain type of temperment to be able to work in a place like that. You've got to be confident, cool-headed, and not get bored easily. You have to make sure not to take your work home with you, and avoid letting the work affect you personality. (i.e. become paranoid, or start trying to act tough all of the time.)
Diesel's summary pretty much goes with my experience, but here's my shift breakdown..
Night shift- wretty much what diesel said. Do head counts, cleanup the control room, check in with other staff members if working front control room, finish any paperwork for the unit.
Morning shift- Head count, wake them up, feed them, exercise them, strip rooms, supervise meds distributions, supervise classroom instruction.
Afternoon shift- Head count, dinner, showers, recreation time, possibly another exercise session, supervise meds.
All shifts - Strip kids whenever they've come into contact with anyone from the outside. Break up fights. Fights usually occurred at the start of the day (catch the other guy waking up), right at a shift change, or in the courtyard. Make sure kids aren't punking each other for food, etc. Make sure the kids have clean clothes, bedding, etc. Look for contraband.
In reality the job was kind of a cross between counselor/bouncer/janitor/sevice provider.
I moved on to something else because dealing with criminals all day was getting old.
Another point that a senior staff member told me early on that was really helpful.
Don't be a dick, and treat them with respect. But make sure it's clear you have the authority. If you have to restrain someone, take them down hard.
Once you've established yourself as a fair staff member who is not someone to be fucked with, you have a lot less trouble.
You know what? I have a co worker whose husband works in a prison. It is awesome, and the pay is ridiculously high. Being a medical person in a prison rocks considering how tough it can be to work in a regular hospital.
Originally Posted by Ryan423
I have a friend who works in a prison in a medical capacity as well. The institution is broken and the hours are weird, but a regular hospital is probably worse! He used to be a cop as well.
EDIT: forgot to specify that they are all nurses, not guards.
Oh, yeah! The nurses I talked to were all very happy to be working there rather than in a hospital.
Let me tell you, I am consistiently horrifed by what I see going on in hospitals! A nurse is far better off working in prison. I remember during the healthcare reform debates people kept alluding to "the best healthcare system in the world", and I was like, "holy **** you have never stayed in a hospital for a major health problem have you?"
Originally Posted by diesel_tke
Yeah, everyone I know that works in hospitals have a great fear of MRSA. One told me that they start people on antibiotics early, because they figure you will probably get MRSA, so they might as well start treating it!!!
The nurses in the prison were pretty cool. Most of them don't put up with a lot of BS. And they will get your back in a heart beat!
Sorry for the necro-post, but I'd like to contribute.
I was a NY state CO at "Sing-Sing" for a real short time before I went back to dealing with psych patients. Seriously, I'd rather deal with the criminally insane than convicts. Dealing with convicts/corrections is much more complex and infinitely more stressful.
As a CO I had a tier that ranged anywhere from 80-100 inmates and your by yourself. On a ward you'd have to contend with at most 30 patients and you got 3 to watch your back. CO's have to be watching constantly and stay on your feet. I barely sat down on the tiers and ate at the foot of my office peeking out the door between mouthfuls. I had to sneak my cell phone in everyday just to keep contact with the outside world, because sometimes your relief comes and sometime they don't. No warning, no courtesy call you just realize after an hour your stuck for another seven hours. And, very often you got to get on the phone and let the Sgt know you've been there for 16 hrs.
On my first day there I was told to go get a locker from an open locker. After telling the Sgt there are no empty lockers, he just looked at me and said, "It sucks to be you then." My Spidey sense kicked in and I knew something was wrong.
Everything they taught me at the academy was pure, utter bullshit. They tried to be hard like Marines. What I went through at Paris Island more than prepared for a weak-sauce corrections academy. They vomit out this talk about the "brotherhood" that all CO's are a part of and it makes me laugh.
After I got back to the psych hospital I made myself available to talk to anybody that wanted to transfer to corrections to NOT do it. If you need a job then you need a job. But if you got options? No fucking way. I'd rather flip burgers/Best Buy than be a CO.
I worked for the California Department of Corrections for 4 1/2 years and I hated it. I worked with a bunch of idiots that could not get hired by a police agency. I only took the job because after I got out the Corps I was working for Office Depot.
I quit corrections and went to work for a sheriff's department where it was a lot different. Being a correctional officer is boring but then again after being in the Corps everything is boring. However working corrections I did learn a lot about street and prison gangs so that was a plus when I got to the streets.