Recent inmate escape from Alabama
Tonight's post: I thought it would be relevant to comment on the recent inmate escape from Alabama, assisted by a high-ranking Correctional officer.
Many of us predicted how this would likely end tragically: with one or both dead or in custody. And people want to know why...why would a respected Correctional professional with a good job and high rank (#2 in the facility) fall for an inmate with 2 capital charges? As soon as the escape was known, people in the facility commented on their "special relationship," a jailhouse romance. What this is, is evidence of a poorly-run facility. People saw something amiss when she favored him with special treatment, both inmates and staff knew about them and did not speak up. Any time a staff member connects more with those in custody than her colleagues, there is a problem. Her fellow officers missed the signs and did not stand up for one of their own by speaking out about her inappropriately favoring this man. We could conjecture about her likely loneliness; she was a widow with no children. And something allowed her to see this violent offender with a long list of many charges including murder--as a viable option. Offenders can be clever and charming. And mental illness is very real among Correctional staff, and yet it is rarely discussed. Admitting that you're hurting is akin to admitting weakness in this culture; it isn't done. We need to change some of that thinking and watch out for those who provide custody and care for justice-involved individuals, paying attention when an officer's actions are clear signs of errors in judgment that might indicate signs of something more serious. Correctional officers do dangerous work every day, and we need to support their mental wellness by offering regular check-ins and checkups of their mental fitness as well as their physical fitness. A good Sheriff knows her staff and knows when they are not "right." This requires communication skills, emotional intelligence, and the ability to step in when necessary. Asking "Are you okay?" is not a sign of judgment, it's a sign of caring. #KnowYourSheriff