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When my husband told me he'd accepted a position as a correctional officer in our home state, I had no idea what I was in for. We've been through this for nearly seven years. We've been through two different prisons. We've been through two different prison populations. We've been through two different commutes. Multiple shifts, always the same experiences.
When he signed his contract, I had no idea what it would entail. I'd been through the military ringer with him previously. We're high school sweethearts. He was deployed during my senior year of high school for nine months and then on and off again for training and school. I could handle not seeing him, but I figured this would be different.
He started at a women's prison. YUP: ALL WOMEN. He said it was awful for one week each month, and it was worse when I was in sync with them. Poor guy, if you catch my drift. He worked an hour away from home but seemed to enjoy his job. I found out just how gross people can be. I heard the horror stories, and I was clearly disgusted as a teacher hearing what these women were capable of.
When we moved to our new location, he moved to another prison an hour away from home. This one was all male. Also, it housed relatives of my students (awkward). My husband started out, and things were fine, and perhaps nothing really bothered me until this year. So let's just get started on what happened here...
When he signed his contract... he signed his social life away.
The amount of overtime is absolutely, positively ridiculous. He works every single weekend, so forget about weekend plans. Oh, you want a vacation? You need to put in for it MONTHS in advance, AND there's a huge chance it won't be approved. If it's not approved, he has to take it to the higher-ups, and then they make the choice.
Grumpy bear attitude will become a norm. It is a norm in my house. Between the lack of sleep, having to deal with prisoners and be professional, and trying to have a life... it's not easy.
Once you have a shift, you have a shift for six months. No taking it back. NO changing.
I've learned that prisons are just like high schools. The adults have cliques, and it's absurd. They choose who they like and don't like. I mean, I thought being a teacher was bad.
Now, as a wife, I can say that possibly in the future I can stay at home with the kids because we can make things work. It's a great job, great benefits, good money, but there will ALWAYS be sacrifices.
Over the past six months, my husband has worked 2–10 PM. It was fine at first... but then I realized I NEVER see him. It's true. I get up at 6 AM to get ready for school. Where is he? Sleeping. I leave by 7:15 AM. He leaves for work at 12:30 PM and doesn't get home until 11 PM. If he gets up while I'm up, I have an hour to talk to him. We have a virtual relationship because we end up talking on breaks and what not.
The job is a career. The career is a change in how you see things. My husband is in a building with pedophiles, murderers, drug lords, and mob members every single day. He has to protect them. He has to take care of them. He has to help them when needed. He puts away his feelings and puts his duty belt on and makes his way to work.
Believe it or not, they are unsung heroes. They keep us safe. I may not agree with how prisons work or how their workers are treated, but I will say… they deserve the shout-outs because I know I wouldn’t want that job.