CO Type

Being in a maximum-security penitentiary with a population of 2,000 inmates, 1,400 of them in general population, we interact daily with quite a few Correctional Officers. Like in most institutions, individuals get comfortable in their assignments and often try to remain there for as long as possible, verses changing to different parts of the prison. Even though the BOP requires officers to change positions quarterly, or every three months; this however, is not fully enforced here in Terre Haute. So commonly, our interactions with guards from day to day remain the same. You have a chance "to get to know" them, and they have a chance to “get to know” you. I’ve learned there are three different personalities types of the CO from day to day. They come from a variety of backgrounds, many were military, or served as officers on the street, yet the majority here seem to be "home grown" Indiana correctional officers. Many of them are country boys that have never done anything else. The three different types I’ve observed are the respectful and engaged officer, the withdrawn or often appear to be afraid officer, and the agitative, or aggressive officer.
The respectful and engaged officer know their inmates by name and will greet them or just respond to them when addressed. They talk to inmates like human beings, not just a number. They joke with and will talk about things like weather, working out, motorcycles, and cars, etc. They do their job, but are not overly overbearing. They have no tolerance for violence, drugs, but they let the little things go, like gambling, tattooing etc. These officers often realize that a lot of their own life decisions could have ended them up in the same place we are and recognize the broken system. I prefer this type of officer over the others.
The withdrawn officer often seems to be "afraid". That isn’t the case with many, but it is with some. They often have an attitude that they are better then the inmates and sometimes that they deserve better than the menial job they perform. They are typically lazy and avoid all inmate contact and interactions. Often when addressing or speaking to these guards they will completely ignore you, like you’re not there, or send you away. They do not typically supervise much and spend the majority of their time in the office watching TV or eating food, or on the phone. As you can imagine, when a unit is staffed with these officers this is typically when the drugs, alcohol, and smoking happens on the units. As inmates know the guards won’t walk around and if they do, they won’t care about what they see. It is also typically when more fights occur or cell beatings happen privately. These guards will typically turn away when they know something is going down to avoid conflict or additional paperwork. These guards don’t care much about the integrity of the system and are just there to get paid and do as little as they can. They see an inmate as a number not as a person.
The last type of guard is the agitative or aggressive guards. These guards typically believe in the system 100% and believe that all inmates are the scum of the earth and deserve the worst treatment and the worst environment. I have not met one of these guards without a notable scar, wound, cut, or another recovering ailment. These guards mock inmates, call names, look up their case and broadcast the charges and details of horrible crimes. These guards typically hate homosexuals, transvestites, and pedophiles or inmates with sexual based crimes. These officers are a bit sadistic in the governing and enjoy chaos, riots, fights, killings, etc. Often they egg them on. These officers are the first to respond when the deuces are called and first to elaborate how horrible it was and what they did to save the day. They glorify some of the most offensive behavior, making joke or light of it. When these guards work mainline in the chow hall and an inmate requests a second tray they will tell the inmate to bunny hop around the cafeteria, chirp like a bird, or other humiliating action or noise before considering their request, and in the end after mocking the inmate will still deny the request (unless the inmate made a total ass of them self and have other inmates laughing at them, then the guard will give them the second tray) They call the inmates not by their name or number but by some curse word, derogatory, racist, sexist, or other offensive slang, as loud as can be, in order to degrade or humiliate the inmate. When these officers are working in the medical department, they make sure whatever pain they inflict on you is worse than the reason you came in to the infirmary in the first place. Some officers have tercets syndrome giving them reason for the crudeness. This institution is under investigation currently because of alleged killings in the SHU (special housing unit), by the FBI. Anyway, it is important to learn who to interact with, how to interact, and who to avoid pretty quickly. This is a key to survival in here.