Boys will be boys, Right? This would explain the sophomoric behavior of two Missouri Parole Board workers recently. It seems that the two co-workers were rather bored with their job and decided to create a game. Although the game seemed harmless enough, the state of Missouri disagreed. Aside from the obvious, there is something more subtle which is VERY wrong with this misconduct.
Opinion by C J Oakes
The two Parole Board workers, one a Board Member and the other a mere bored employee were apparently known to dress alike while playing their game. The game was simple: Each would attempt to incorporate certain pre-arranged words, phrases, and song titles into their discussions with the potential parolee. For instance, the report cited the word “hootenanny” as one of the words for which they scored points against each other.
In fact, if they managed to get the inmate to use the words or phrase, they earned extra points. Harmless enough, right?
“They are only fucking inmates.”
Did I ever tell you that I once worked in corrections? Yep, tried it, it didn’t take. Part of the problem was the high level of corruption I faced almost daily. I was frequently asked, sometimes told, to falsify official documents. I did not, so I was treated as an outsider. It was not pleasant. After 10 months, I came to the realization that the Supervisors were not to be trusted.
As a former military man, I know that the only leader to follow is the one who is trusted. Because I could no longer trust the vast majority of the leadership in the prison, I left.
The quote above that started this part of the post was the most common phrase I heard while a Correctional Officer. Yep, the common attitude where I worked was, “They are only fucking inmates.”
OK, so maybe that expression is a term of endearment. Maybe, those using the expression are decent people with families. Sure they are. They are our neighbors and friends, they are the men and women we go to church with; they are the folks we chat with in the hardware store, on the lake while fishing, and at the fast food counter where your daughter works. The point is, the people who work at Correctional Facilities and on Parole Boards are the same as anyone else. There are good ones, bad ones, and those who simply do the job, no more, no less.
So, What’s Wrong with Playing Games with Parolees?
It Would Lighten the Situation and Make it more Interesting for the Inmate Who Doesn’t Believe he is going to make Parole anyway. But it is also disrespectful.
When I was a CO, part of the time I worked in a Trusty Camp. Trusty’s were often up for Parole and failed to get it. Some would tell stories about how their PO was insane, not right. Of course, I ignored these stories, thinking them the fertile imaginations of men with too much time on their hands. Now I think that perhaps I should have asked questions.
It may have persuaded me to leave corrections sooner; or, it may have turned me the other way somehow. I know not how, but I know that small things can often make a big difference.
Which brings me to the point: The non-board member was a Parole Analyst. He is quoted as saying the two, “quit doing it because it was not good practice and it was unprofessional.”
And brings me to another point. We can quickly point a finger at these men, but they have the same right to a claim of innocence as anyone. Who knows, maybe their motives were good? Maybe this was an innocent (though clearly ill-conceived) effort to try something new as the other claimed.
And the final point: No part of the Criminal Justice System is immune to the foolish workings of some. This is clearly misconduct, which is a mild form of corruption, though lacking intent necessarily. Regardless of the area of the system in which one is employed, there will be misconduct and corruption. Some handle it well and I applaud them. I preferred to return to research and writing.
I miss the system job at times, but I do not miss the joy of working from home, entertaining and enlightening my readers.