Life behind bars can be a wide-awake nightmare, and life for prisoners can be unbearable. But they aren’t the only ones suffering in prison. The prison guards are also living in a hostile environment day in and day out, and that can be a very stressful job for them. It’s a prison guard’s responsibility to keep the prisoners in line without ending up dead. They have to deal with the worst that society has to offer — rapists, murders, and hardcore serial killers — and they have to do it while keeping their sanity.
It’s known to be one of the most stressful jobs in the U.S, and some of the guards break under the pressure. Would you be able to stay a good boy or girl if you were part of that system? When all the power is in your hands, would you be able to withstand temptation? Some prison guards are honorable and work hard to keep a corrupt system from blowing up in their faces, while others become different people on the inside — corrupt prison guards who do as they please and take what they want. Some guards have fallen in love with patients, while some have done so much worse than that.
Regardless of what you think about the system, these dirty confessions of a prison guard’s life may open your eyes. If you read on, you’ll enter a disturbing and yet very interesting world of what it means to be the ultimate gatekeeper.
15. Loving Murderers
What do you think possesses a woman to fall in love with a couple of convicted murderers? How do you forget what they’ve done? “Sometimes, you just get played like a fiddle – maybe it’s because you’re desperate and lack the self-esteem (not to mention the self-awareness) needed in order to survive out on your own. This appears to be the case for Joyce Mitchell, a prison tailor-shop supervisor who fell head over heels in love with a convicted murderer named Richard Matt. Mitchell was so in love that she aided Matt and another convicted murderer (David Sweat) with the tools they needed to make their escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. Mitchell was duped by Matt and the other inmate into believing the murderer actually reciprocated her feelings. Mitchell even said she had a relationship with Sweat as well while she was working at the prison tailor shop. The murderers successfully broke out of the prison thanks to Mitchell’s help” (TheTalko).
14. The Smuggler
This prison guard was giving the guard she was in love very special attention. She was smuggling in cell phones, drugs, and even booze. The prisoner would then sell the stuff to other inmates. “Sometimes, you just can’t stop love from slapping you right in the face. This was the case of Hannah Stewart, who fell head over heels in love with an inmate named Andrelle Leedham at the Staffordshire Prison. The pair had actually met in the education department of the prison before he was released. Steward started being intimate with the convict on a normal basis and even started smuggling him in cell phones, liquor, and drugs in order to sell. Of course, like most of these cases, Leedham was just using the prison officer for his own personal gain. Leedham was reportedly extremely charming and had Stewart wrapped around his little pinky. Stewart picked up the supposed contraband from Leeham’s mother the day before she was scheduled to work and would deliver the goods to her boyfriend” (TheTalko).
13. They Laughed at Murderers’ Jokes
It must be hard sometimes to remember that the people that you see day in and day out are sometimes evil people. They seem like normal men, some with families and wives, but deep down, they’re evil men who’ve raped and murdered. In this case, many officers were shocked to find out that a serial killer was actually a pretty funny guy. They had to constantly remind themselves that he was a monster. “I was a prison guard at Winson Green in Birmingham, and the most disturbing thing about Fred West was how jovial he was. Me [sic] and many of the other officers kept forgetting and laughing at his jokes and stuff and then thinking, ‘Erm this guy sexually tortured his own daughter and buried her in concrete'” (Reddit). How horrifying! We couldn’t imagine being around those types of people.
12. Falling in Love
You would think that the last thing that a prison guard would do is to fall in love with an inmate, but surprisingly, it happens more often than you would think. In one correctional facility, a female prison guard fell in love with one of the prisoners while he was getting a cavity search. This prison guard was a little deluded because she felt like his crimes were justified. “’I was standing there with my brother and a close friend, and I looked at her, and we kind of met eyes, and I told those two, ‘That’s gonna be my girl one of these days,’” Robert told Cosmopolitan magazine back in 2014. “They were just looking at me like, ‘You don’t even know her name!’” The two didn’t speak other than professionally at first, even though both were attracted to each other. “‘It didn’t scare me, knowing the person I knew,’ Jenee said of her now-husband’s crimes. ‘I knew when I met him that there had to be a reason for his actions’” (TheTalko).
11. They Fear for Their Lives
It’s no big surprise that prison guards risk their lives every day that they go to work, which can make for a stressful work environment. But sometimes, even the simplest of orders can bring about danger for a prison guard. “I once denied access to chow five minutes too early and had 70 irate inmates standing in front of me pounding their fists. I called for backup, but at that moment, I feared for my life due to their sheer strength in numbers. Another time, I once was clocking out and was told by my supervisor that there was a riot planned in the block I was working that day and they planned to take a CO hostage. Thanks a lot, boss” (AOL.com). Yikes, that sounds like a nightmare. We wouldn’t want to work there ever; the job sounds insanely dangerous.
10. Sneaking in Drugs
This female prison guard was so enamored with a prisoner that she tried to sneak drugs into prison for him. The prison guard went by the name of Nicole Bartley, and she was charged with assault, and she obviously lost her job because she was in love with the prisoner. You have to wonder what’s wrong with such guards. “A Rikers Island correctional officer by the name of Nicole Bartley was arrested for planning to sneak drugs into the jail in order to give it to the inmate she was in love with and ‘dating.’ ‘I was in love with him,’ Bartley said in her criminal complaint. ‘He used me and played me for a fool. I was intimate with him on one occasion in the jail a few days before January 30.’ Bartley was charged with third-degree assault because inmates can’t legally consent under New York law. Goes to show you, you can never really trust a convict … that you know is a convict because you literally work in the prison where he’s serving time” (TheTalko).
9. They’re Not Even Safe on the Outside
You would think that the guards would be safe once they went home and were away from the prisons that they work at. Unfortunately, that’s not the case; sometimes, the outside can be just as dangerous as in the inside. “My wife and I have a code phrase. If we are out and about and I say ‘time to find socks,’ and quickly walk away — that means I’ve spotted a former inmate that could possibly wish harm on me and my family. The life of my family and my life are threatened every day, followed by ‘I get out in xxx days.’ It only takes one to follow up. He went on to say he’s run into former inmates twice, but they ended ‘without incident.’ He also noted that ‘time to find socks’ was not the actual code he uses” (AOL.com). It’s terrifying to think that your family isn’t safe because of your job.
8. A Prisoner Tried to Blind Him
Plenty of horrifying things can happen while working in a prison, one of which is the risk of being injured or killed. The guard was burned when a prisoner threw boiled piss in his face. “My dad never told me about this, let alone about him working at the prison. Mom told me about the reason why he quit. Dad was getting everyone back to their cells and when passing by one of the cells that had already been checked and filled, his face was splashed by a boiling liquid. He had to be rushed to the hospital for his burns. Turns out the prison gave each cell a hot plate of some sort, and a prisoner had boiled his pee and threw it at my dad’s face. After that, he got out of being a prison guard and began doing blue collar work” (Reddit).
7. The Soap Opera
Falling in love with prisoners is madness, and it does seem like a soap opera at times. “Man, a LOT of crap goes down at Rikers Island when it comes to guards doing the nasty with prison inmates. Talk about intimately starved women. Yolanda Dickinson, who worked at the prison from 1997-2004, called the events that would transpire between guards and the inmates a ‘soap opera.’ ‘There are a lot of lonely single women on the jobs, and you’re surrounded by these cute guys,’ Dickinson explained about her place of work. ‘They’re working out. They’re attractive.’ Um, they’re also hard criminals serving time. Dickinson claims that while she was never intimate with an inmate herself, she witnessed a lot of her co-workers fall for the charms of some of the criminals, and she even started to fall for a former gang member who bragged about killing another criminal. ‘People looked up to him for that. He said he did the world a favor.’ Dickinson said that she started looking at the inmate differently after he told her that and developed a soft spot for him. Yikes” (TheTalko).
6. One Punch Killer
Is it desperation that makes a guard fall in love with a prisoner? We have to wonder. “Earlier this year, a 31-year female prison guard was crucified by her coworkers for forming an illicit relationship with a murderer inmate named Kieran Loveridge in Mid North Coast Correctional Centre in Kempsey. Loveridge, nicknamed ‘One-Punch Killer,’ was serving time for fatally punching another inmate in a different prison before being moved to the prison where he began a relationship with the young female guard. ‘Makes it bad for all officers and especially women,’ one female prison officer commented on Facebook about the recent string of illicit affairs going on between prisoners and guards. Of course, the guard in question apparently smuggled items into Loveridge and communicated with him using aliases during their relationship. JUST GIVE ONLINE DATING A GO, LADIES, JEEZ – YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ‘THAT’ LONELY” (TheTalko).
5. Broken Spine
Being a prison guard is a dangerous job, one that can cost you everything. These prison guards risk everything when they go to work. “Van Patten was assaulted when he was helping a nurse give a rectal exam to an inmate suspected of packing drugs. As he was reaching down to grab the inmate’s ankles to flip him over, the inmate came down on Van Patten’s back, dislocating his skull from his spinal vertebrae. Van Patten couldn’t walk for five months, nor could he hold his newborn child. ‘It was a shock,’ he said. ‘You don’t go to work expecting not to walk when you come home’” (TheGuardian). What a horrifying thing to happen to someone who just decided to go to work one day. He’s lucky to even be alive with an injury like that. Being unable to hold his own child would’ve been traumatizing.
4. Twice the Action
In this case, two guards fell for one prisoner, and they were both hooking up with him at one time. They did everything that he asked of them. “Back in 2009, a then 20-year-old Jang-Li Delgado-Galban was arrested and charged with breaking-and-entering and assault in Washington County, Oregon. Then, a couple years later, he reportedly pursued two female prison guards and was able to get them to do his bidding for him in exchange for physical action. One of the women was even the wife of a sheriff’s deputy who was literally caught on video being intimate with Delgado-Galban inside a supply closet at the prison. In a twist of fate, Delgado-Galban ended up filing a lawsuit claiming that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated by the affair he had with the guards. Oregon passed a law over a decade ago that bars any intimate contact between inmates and guards and inmates are unable to actually consent to any and all intimate acts while they’re still a prisoner. Remember, it’s just not worth it, ladies” (TheTalko).
3. They Become Emotionless
Guards are always on edge, and often, in the real world, they’re unsure of how to act. One prison guard asked to switch seats at a restaurant so that he would be able to watch the door. It turned out that it was a common occurrence among guards. “COs say working in prison has significant long-term effects on your personality. Van Patten said the job changed him within six months. He became more cynical, withdrawn, and aggressive. ‘You almost become non-human, robotic, emotionless,’ said Charles Ewlad, the warden at Riverhead correctional facility at the eastern end of New York’s Long Island. When he first started, ‘people came to work hammered every day. That was the deal.’ This is no longer the status quo, though substance abuse is still a widespread coping mechanism” (TheGuardian).
2. Abusing Inmates
Both male and female guards have been guilty of abusing inmates and even coercing them into having sex with them. “It’s not just all male prisons that cover up corruption between inmates and guards – it happens at all female prisons too between female inmates and female guards. This happened to be the case with multiple officers at the Florida Department of Corrections who had been known to abuse inmates. The acts of violence had been going on for years, and inmates claim that the officers treated prisoners with so much disdain, that they couldn’t remain silent any longer. Female guards had been accused of forcing themselves on inmates from 2011 to 2015. The inmates claimed that the act would be forced on them in bathrooms, closets, and even at the officers’ stations. The guards would often use their power over the inmates in order to force them into non-consensual affairs and would yield to the officers’ demands. The corruption got so bad that the warden had to step down and was replaced with Angela Gordon, who claimed that the abuse wasn’t as widespread as the prisoners originally stated” (TheTalko).
1. Their Dreams Are Horrific
Days working in a prison could give anyone nightmares, and many prison guards have had some pretty disturbing dreams. “’I didn’t know how to release the stuff I kept dreaming about. You’re doing tier count, and you’re watching a human being die in front of your eyes because he’s coughing up lungs and screaming with his eyes for help, and there’s nothing you can do,’ Van Patten said. ‘Even though he’s an inmate, he’s still human; you’re still human.’ Another prison guard saw a man getting beaten to death by another prisoner. ‘You see people smashing pumpkins on Halloween. Imagine all of the orange being red. And then all the orange on the outside being white. That’s what it looked like on the first image. That’s a human being'” (TheGuardian). Those images are certainly horrific, and we can see why they haunt the prison guard’s dreams.
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