February 6th, 2013

Women guards in male prisons: a recipe for trouble

There’s more than one surprising fact in this story, but the most surprising one was not the behavior of the cop killer and the prison guard he impregnated through consensual sex, it’s the fact that female guards are standard in male prisons.

Perhaps you already knew this, and perhaps I should have known it already, too—because, now that I think of it, it shouldn’t have been a surprise for a number of reasons both PC and economic. But I must say I had no idea this was the case, and it’s an extremely disturbing situation (as is the presence of male guards in female prisons).

And yet it’s been going on for decades (see this article, for example). Aside from the obvious PC reasons for it, the less-obvious economic ones are that there are a lot more male prisoners than female, and it’s hard to find enough male guards willing to do the job of guarding them, so females are hired.

With obvious, predictable consequences. Some of it is due to coercion and fear, some to psychological instability, some to proximity and opportunism, some to sociopathy—and maybe somewhere, somehow, some tiny amount of it may be due to what the participants, at least, refer to as love.

The guard offenders are more likely to be women than men—perhaps because there are more female guards in male prisons than male guards in female prisons (mostly because of the aforementioned large disparity between the sexes in the prison population itself):

A Justice Department study shows that cases like Murphy’s are common: Female staff are more often implicated than their male counterparts in prison sexual misconduct. While many cases could be considered consensual, incarceration experts and female prison guards say the problem is much more complicated.

In some cases, the women reported that they couldn’t say no to the inmate out of fear, or were afraid to go to a co-worker out of shame at what had happened. One small mistake often led to something else.

Experts say there is a culture of silence in the prisons that makes it difficult for female guards to come forward with problems before they spin out of control.

Documents detailing the state investigation into Murphy’s liaisons show he persuaded at least five Montana female prison employees to break the rules over several years. He even convinced his therapist to have sex with him, and was able to arrange one-on-one meetings with her even though prison officials knew of his past history with female workers…

Martin Horn, now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said female workers who have sex with inmates are often treated less harshly by officials than male worker who do the same.

“As long as we have a double standard we are going to see these kind of behaviors,” Horn said. “It is a very slippery slope we go down if we say we are not going to hold female officers to the same standard.”

A 2007 U.S. Department of Justice study analyzing the prevalence of sexual assault in state and federal prisons found that 58 percent of staff perpetrators of sexual misconduct were female.

It seems to me that our culture has gone utterly mad. Why would anyone think this was an okay idea?

Yes, yes, I know the answer. As I said before, some of it is PC gender politics, and some of it economics. Somehow, though, in the olden days (in other words, when I was a kid), I believe there were enough male prison guards to take care of the male population. Why is that no longer true? Is it that the prison population has grown so very large relative to the population as a whole? Is it that it has become more out-of-control and difficult in terms of behavior, and the job of guard therefore more onerous? Is the pay proportionately worse than it used to be? Are there more people who consider the job beneath them?

Here’s an article about the training of prison guards that sheds at least a little light on some of these questions. Although it’s almost a decade old, it may still be apropos:

The ACA is trying to address the problem. It has developed its own Internet-based curriculum that leads to certification for corrections officers. But the program, which is less than a year old, so far has only reached about 800 people out of a workforce of more than 750,000. And it’s unclear how much of a dent it can make in a system where state and local authorities operate their own training academies and zealously defend their control over training. This monopoly might not be a bad thing, but state and local governments in many cases have scrimped on training–especially during recent years of fiscal stress. In Maryland, where officers don’t even have to meet a physical fitness requirement, “just the cost of giving each corrections officer a physical would be more than you could get out of the legislature,” says William Sondervan, a former corrections commissioner for Maryland who now serves as director for professional development at ACA.

Such penny-pinching may be self defeating if it undercuts corrections officers’ prospects of success in their jobs. In fact, turnover has become a major problem in the corrections business, averaging over 16 percent a year nationwide and ranging as high as 41 percent (in Louisiana), according to a survey by Workforce Associates Inc. In addition, 72 percent of correctional administrators report having difficulty recruiting officers and 64 percent say they have problems retaining those they have hired. With baby boom retirements looming, some 490,000 corrections positions will become available in this decade, while the pool of 25- to 44-year-olds from which corrections officers are drawn will shrink by more than 4 million people.

Part of the recruitment and retention problems stem from inadequate compensation…

There’s much, much more.

There doesn’t seem to be a problem of inadequate compensation in the state of California, though. Au contraire.

19 Responses to “Women guards in male prisons: a recipe for trouble”

  1. holmes Says:

    So I have a friend who was a prison guard and still works in the prison system. The goal is to get out of being a CO (correctional officer) and onto some other administrative position as soon as possible. Much better pay and you don’t have the risk of working directly with prisoners on a continual basis.

    The prison system is basically a jobs program at this point. It’s a huge special interest group, and enormously expensive, much like the USPS you wrote about earlier today.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “It seems to me that our culture has gone utterly mad. Why would anyone think this was an okay idea?”

    Ideology trumps all other considerations. Something is only true if it supports the narrative and agenda.

    Perhaps a larger consideration and question is the parallels between the sexual connotations of females guarding males and mixing women and men in front line combat positions.

    An inconvenient truth is that human nature trumps politically correct ideology.

    But that’s irrelevant if the leftist Obama administration is merely using feminist ideologues to purposely weaken the American military.

  3. DNW Says:

    “It seems to me that our culture has gone utterly mad. Why would anyone think this was an okay idea?”

    Because the conditioning premise is not that bad or ridiculous consequences are unacceptable if avoidable, but, that you must get used to experiencing and even underwriting avoidable ills in the name of a more socially important goal.

    A goal which doesn’t happen to necessarily include your particular well being or best interests.

  4. DNW Says:

    Geoffrey Britain Says:
    February 6th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    “It seems to me that our culture has gone utterly mad. Why would anyone think this was an okay idea?”

    Ideology trumps all other considerations. Something is only true if it supports the narrative and agenda. …”

    Great minds think alike it appears, and virtually simultaneously. LOL

  5. vanderleun Says:

    Then there are the other horrors:

    MONROE, Wash. – A female corrections officer was strangled to death Saturday night at the Monroe Correctional Complex, and an inmate serving a life term for rape is the key suspect, officials said.


    But it’s all OKAY! because equality trumps everything.

  6. Lizzy Says:

    That infamous, well-documented night of prisoner abuse at Abu Garib happened under the leadership of (female) General Janis Karpinski and included Lyndie England. Chalk this up to women being no better than men, eh?

    On a side note, the cousin of an ex was (and may still be?) the warden at a prison for the criminally insane. She’s one tough cookie (kind like Janet Napolitano, IYKWIMAITYD), and she had no problem with the idea of being shot should she be taken hostage by an inmate.

  7. holmes Says:

    We’re the same nation now sending women into combat. As a marine combat officer wrote (on some blog, I can’t recall), “Who sends women out to maim and kill? What kind of a society does that? “

  8. expat Says:

    It would be interesting to know the marital status of the guards. Do more men do this job as a way to feed their families? Do youngish women go into the job with the idea of saving the prisoners? I am thinking of all the women who write to prisoners.

  9. artfldgr Says:

    Like the jobs americans wont do????
    Thousands show ip for a few jobs and you claim they cant find enought men. Bs!!!! The landscape is dotted with yons of that kind of lie we keep repeating over n over…. they can find too many but cant have all male or it would leadt to an endless parade of women lawsuits… duh… nit any different than the stupidity of them as court cops, firemen or police, and especially military…. meanwhile no babies is a huge problem…. sowell gives a huge eye opener on tbat one!!!!

  10. artfldgr Says:

    It seems to me that our culture has gone utterly mad. Why would anyone think this was an okay idea?

    I dont know…. but us men been prohibited from any kind of break in women think…. without anyone allowed to say you ladies are nuts genetically…. and the lunatics patting each other for coming up with rejected ideas as great… u get wackloone as normal

    If u thing that is bad check out the school where five year olds had sex and women looked the other way (almost no males in dducation)

    Wait fifteen more years of women in charge and see where we go… no limits otherwise they r being oppressed…
    Personnaly since ghere is nithing anyone but they can do something… its a new form of reality based entertainment…. where they put up very pretty wack jobs as entertainment!!!!! And they will be copied.

    The sad part is that its completely predictable if u reize all the good sane ideas existed in prior merit…. so to avoid the old whiye guys from being right… every wacky idea they rejected as did the culture… had to be tried..
    Good thing most sterilized themselves!!!!! Imagine that stuff spreading

  11. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    holmes asks,
    a marine combat officer wrote (on some blog, I can’t recall), “Who sends women out to maim and kill? What kind of a society does that? “

    A society which condones and ignores incontrovertible evidence that a candidate for the Presidency voted three times against the prevention of infanticide, when babies survive a botched abortion. A society whose President’s science adviser argues, in writing, that a baby isn’t really a human being until its reached 2-3 years of age. A society which increasingly abjures the right to self-defense.

    I’m sure that others can provide plenty of other illustrative examples, those are just the most egregious that immediately came to mind.

  12. southpaw Says:

    I wouldn’t want the job. I’ve known a couple of people who were guards, and nothing about it sounded like something I’d want to do unless I had to. The dangerous aspect is just one part; the daily abuse, confrontations, testing limits, etc would get old pretty fast. You’re not dealing with obedient, cooperative types.
    From what I heard, you’d have a hard time retaining people who had other options – those guys were both going to night school to get the hell away from it.

  13. parker Says:


    Madness. I trust my wife and daughter to aim small, miss small; but I do not want women on the front lines of combat or as prison guards in a male prison.

  14. Don Carlos Says:

    I’d put all women prison guards on Tamoxifen as a condition of employment. It’ll prevent some breast cancers too.

  15. Sergey Says:

    It seems that this job is sutable mostly for sadists: only they can enjoy it on daily basis. They also are the most efficient correction officers. Nothing wrong with it, every society has some percent of sadists and needs to use them in the most socially favorable fashion. Other way, they will turn criminals themselves. But what for we need use women in slots most appropriate for practicing sadism? As history shows, sadistic women are much, much worse in degree of moral depravity than even sadistic men.

  16. Ymarsakar Says:

    PC gender policies is just another term for sexual slavery. It’s not surprising that this often ends up as the result, because it was the goal all along.

    Hypnosis, coercion, interrogation, and other verbal methods of violence and force are standard techniques in the human repertoire. Some are used by criminals. Others by those holding the highest political office in the land. All are sanctioned, in one way or another.

  17. DonS Says:

    One one forum this was discussed, and one contributer mentioned that he worked as a guard, and that a female guard was known to have altered her pants with velcro so she could back up to the bars and have sex with inmates. She later became a cop.

  18. DonS Says:

    I meant “On one forum . . . “

  19. Ymarsakar Says:

    I recall that the author of Meditations on Violence, Rory Miller, left home as a teenager and somehow ended up as a corrections officer, CO, at 18 or 20. Weighing in at like 140 pounds even.

    Such habitual growing up with violence and defense in mind, tends to produce either PTSD wrecks or supreme warriors. If you survive with your soul and body in tact, you are already superior than 95% of the world population in violence.

    Many prison guards seem to put a shield and block over their emotions, so as to avoid psychological attacks launched by the crims against the guards, a sort of passive aggressive defense of those with no real power to change their circumstances in prison. This is done expressly because the prisoners know that at the end of the day, they will still be in prison, but the guards will have to carry their psychological problems back home to the wife. Which often causes a divorce because the guards can’t drop their psychological defense mechanisms, which make them unfeeling and insensitivity to human empathy. This is a survival mechanism designed to reject mental attacks because being attacked mentally or physically is part of your job.

    However, people such as from Target Focus Training, have been working hard to retrain individuals so that they can survive in such environments without taking such drastic mental or physical damage.

    The foundation essentially comes from training individuals in how to drop their social rules and limits, the behaviors they do because of the law, or society, or because their family tells them it is right. Instead, they are taught to adopt a survival instinct mechanism instead, where they decide in the moment what is right or wrong, what is life or death. By dropping the social and emotional parts of the brain, and turning on a different consciousness, one setups an impenetrable defense. The lioness, for example, does not particularly care who you are or what your social status is or who is going to punish her, when she is hungry and wants to eat you. To survive in the urban or prison jungle, you must thus become a predator when necessarily. Unlike normal sociopaths and mass murderers, however, you get to turn it off and turn back on the normal socialized awareness normal people have. The fact that people become habituated to having this tool, lets them become calmer, less violent, less emotionally vulnerable, and confident that they have backup plan in case everybody riots and tries to kill, rape, and murderize the guards, or even each other.

    There is a significant mental shift in a CO’s mind when they start to realize that they are the most dangerous predators in prison, that the bars are to keep the inmates safe from them, not the guards safe from the inmates. That the only thing keeping that power leashed is the will of one’s mind. The inmates also detect this awareness indirectly by watching the body language of the guards. Even if you don’t speak to prisoners, they know who is weak and who is strong, who is confident and who is dangerous. They wouldn’t have survived for long as criminals if they kept statistically picking dangerous people to attack on the streets. Even lazy mass murderers like the Newtown guy knew to pick the defenseless, and not a neighborhood armed with heavy assault weapons to attack. Even they knew that.

    The type of training I describe is accessible to both men and women, since it doesn’t teach women to become men, or men to become women. It just teaches people to access their survival instincts, which everyone has. It didn’t really matter to the sabretooth if you were a human man, woman, or child. Many people’s first experience with that deep subconscious part of their minds comes with gut feelings, when they look at someone on the street and feel a bad vibe. As in what happens before they attack you. Many people attempt to ignore this, because they think it is rude and impolite to stare or assume some black guy there is out to get them. They have no way to defend themselves, other than to keep with social morality and ignore strangers on the streets. The ones that end up being attacked even when they do such, are often called “mugged by reality”. That instinct, that instinctual awareness of people about to do bad things to you, is only a whisper of that power inherent in every human. Most people refuse to power down their logic and emotions, and turn up their brain’s hidden survival mechanisms.

    Those that have read stories of people trapped on mountains know of what people are capable of. Splinting a complex fracture of their own leg, without anesthesia, while surviving until rescue. Dying of hypothermia while going out to look for help for their family. Eating the human dead in order to not to starve. No law, no social morality, nobody persuading them with the con, can equal that level of conviction.

    Being a corrections officer is a very good job if you are interested in studying human psychology, evil, and how weak people react to the strong and vice a versa. It’s not a very good job, however, if you are afraid of being alone in a room with a serial killer or rapist, however. Something of a stressful mental issue for some.

    It’s also a particularly good way to practice one’s hand to hand skills without necessarily being brought on charges for murder. Since prison riots, sometimes happen and sometimes don’t happen.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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