A corrections officer at California’s Pelican Bay Prison told his story to radio station KALW’s blog The Informant, reports NPR. Asked why anyone would take such a job dealing with some of the most dangerous criminals, the officer, whose name is not given in the piece, says it was a matter of needing a job — fast. “You don’t grow up wanting to be a correctional officer,” he said.
The officer’s original goal of joining the highway patrol was put on hold when his wife became pregnant. It would have taken him six months to finish training for the highway patrol. But the department of corrections’ academy took only six weeks. The officer paints a picture of an emotionally charged environment, where guards are sometimes pelted by balls of feces and other bodily materials, hurled by inmates who may have hepatitis or AIDS. The attack, he says, is called “gassing.” Said the officer: “We’ve probably had more officers lose their mental well being because of a gassing than anything else.”