Here’s are some things correctional officers must put up with, says the Denver Post: Prisoners fling bodily waste and attack without warning. Psychotic outbursts fill halls with howls. A man who upset the wrong clique had a pencil driven though his ear. Guards say they harden themselves to survive inside prison, but some can’t snap out of it at the end of the day. Some seethe to themselves. Others commit suicide. Depression, alcoholism, domestic violence and heart attacks are common. “You’re not normal anymore,” said Hondray Simmons, 36, an Iraq war veteran working in the Colorado State Penitentiary.
Guard woes are so epidemic in Fremont County, a hub for the booming prison industry, that an enterprising therapist chose this area to launch an emotional-rescue campaign, the nation’s first. Prison guards work in “an unrecognized war zone,” said Caterina Spinaris, 53, who left a lucrative psychological counseling practice in Denver six years ago. Now she counsels brittle men and women at her Desert Waters Correctional Outreach center, a mile from the high security federal “Supermax” prison. From across the nation, 168 correctional officers, including several on the brink of suicide, have called or sent e-mails asking for help, Spinaris said. When she arrived, guards from the 13 area prisons shunned her counseling. Then in 2005, she set up a toll-free “Corrections Ventline” that lets guards anonymously blow off steam before they head home.