The Challenges of Guarding Women Prison Inmates

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Television shows such as Orange is the New Black and Oz depict some prison officers as rule-breakers much like the inmates themselves, engaging in inappropriate relationships with prisoners or smuggling drugs inside. The shows also depict the challenges of these jobs: maintaining order among an incarcerated and troubled population, dealing with the ups and downs of prisoners’ emotional well-being, and managing facilities in disrepair and people in need with very limited resources, reports The Atlantic. The vast majority of people—93 percent— in the prison system are men. While women only make up a small part of the overall prison population, they are the fastest-growing group of inmates.

The magazine interviewed Bisera Habibija, a lieutenant at Timpanogos Women’s Correctional Facility near Salt Lake City, about guarding women. She said, “Working with the female population is more straining mentally. [The prisoners] on the male side were more violent, whereas the females are more emotional. For instance, if you give a man a direct order, he’ll just say okay and go do it. If you give a female a direct order, she’ll ask why, how much time she has to do it, and why does she has to do it.” Habibija adds that, “The majority of our female population comes from abusive homes, which helps us understand why they act the way they do.”


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