My grandfather was a Correctional officer for 25 years; he worked at New Jersey State prison. Since a child I have had a level of respect for the jobs that Correctional officers do. Here at EMCF the officers are work down, unappreciated and often viewed as predators, it’s wrong and is why many officers have left from Edna and consider quitting.
Many of these officers are human and just like anyone they are capable of mistakes and being stressed the hell out. When these officers arrive to their job they often arrive to chaos and a environment where communication skills are horrible. When NJDOC learned about the pregnancies at Edna Mahan, I was called to special investigation division and asked about officers who failed to do their jobs. Yet, the truth was I made a poor choice and now I have to deal with the consequences, this is not the officers faults nor will I ever blame them.
Just like most businesses, their is upper level management which is responsible for ensuring that the environment for its workers is safe and operating properly. Unfortunately, this administration and others have failed the officers within EMCF. Even as a incarcerated person, yes we often get mad and upset, but it’s often because of the poor policy and lack of structure that everyone is upset. As a advocate, I have to be truthful and honest about what’s going on in here, no one wants to understand how the abuse happens here, but truth is this jail lacks the one thing that everyone courts on in their life, structure and consistency.
The officers, here are not as bad as everyone says they are, there are more good officers than there are bad ones here yet, due to lack of staff, poor policies within, many of these officers are unable to adequately effectively do their jobs. Reform for this prison must start with providing the officers with better tools to help us, yet at this time they have no way to help us. Prison Rape Elimination Act has made officers jobs all too complicated. While PREA was designed with good intentions the truth is that many inmates have learned how to manipulate it; thus, using it as a sword rather than the shield that it was designed to be. There are inmates who know how easy it is to get offers pulled from their post and harassed by investigators all from false PREA complaints. Yes it’s a norm in here, it’s a game and no one understands. Recently the federal monitor noted this issue within her first report.
The impact that false PREA complaints have had on officers has scared some officers from doing their jobs, the officers who use to mentor inmates and help them, have become standoffish and often anti social. As one officer put it to me “things have changed and we often get punished for doing our jobs”. While PREA was designed for prevention and detection of sexual assault the truth is it’s often being abused here at Edna.
Getting past this is not easy, I myself have been PREA’d and all too often it’s because of the fact that some inmates do not like me. The administration allows this process to work, and that is a huge problem, again Edna Mahan and New Jersey Department of Corrections has a administrative problem not a officer problem. These officer deserve a huge thanks!