Maintaining at work


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First off, understand that this is mostly just me mulling things over and trying to figure things out.

I'm having trouble at work. The main reason I have managed to survive so long in a Corrections career has been my desire to help people. The problem is that appears to be changing. I don't know if its life just starting to wear me down, the job finally wearing me down, the situation with our son, or just that I'm getting older and less tolerant of blatant stupidity. I tend to dread going to work anymore. There is little joy in it, not that there was ever a huge amount. I work in a prison after all! But I used to feel like I was making a difference and now feeling like I'm spinning my wheels almost counts as a good day.

I know our son plays a part in this. Seriously, how can I possibly help these people when I cant even help my own son? It doesn't help that the class that I started facilitating last month is a nightmare. The curriculum is poorly written at best and most of the offenders in the class don't want to be there and have no problem vocalizing this. I've gone out of my way not to be the jerk, I could have written dozens of conduct violations, but all I get is more pissing and moaning about having to be in class. I haven't started seeing our son's face on one of the offenders yet but it feels like its only a matter of time. One thing they taught in the academy that has stuck with me and helped greatly over the years is to be a duck. All the crap that happens is water and water rolls off of a ducks back. Problem is, here lately it feels less like being in the rain and more like being pulled under the water.

I just need a change of pace. I told Lil the other day that I was considering trying to transfer to Central Office, still Corrections but the main office so no offenders. On that note, any suggestions how to get through the work day? I know there aren't many on the board who work in corrections but any input is greatly appreciated. Maybe if we start playing more in the SCA that will help as well. Get back in armor and vent some frustrations on my friends with a stick!


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Jabber, I am not in corrections, but I do work with juveniles who have one foot in your door. They have already been in the juvenile corrections system. My job is to teach them problem solving through the use of an antiquated curriculum best suited to the issues the Fonz could relate to on Happy Days. Most days the kids just yawn and go to sleep. I have a kid who sat through similar classes, and we know where he wound up. I go home on the days I work knowing that at best what I am doing is a joke. My saving grace is that this month is my last. I am retiring from my retirement job.

I am surprised that you have not burned out sooner. You have one of the most stressful jobs on the planet. I think for your mental and physical health, a change of assignment is a good idea.


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I am surprised that you have not burned out sooner.

This isn't my first burnout here. When I was a COI at the Maximum security camp I left when my hours were 7 am to 5 pm Monday thru Thursday to take a position with Probation and Parole where my hours were 4 pm to 2:30 am with rotating days off. The burnout had been building for years but the final straw was when a Lieutenant put me on an action plan for spending too much time in the Canteen because his Sergeant girlfriend was angry with the canteen manager but couldn't take it out on him so moved on to me. I was the Canteen/Corridor officer. I put up with it for a bit but finally confronted the MARRIED Lieutenant and informed him that I was going back to doing my job as I saw fit and write me up if you want because I would LOVE to see what a judge would say about you writing me up for being on my assigned post. He couldn't look me in the eye and didn't say anything to that. He wasn't even my supervisor. A few months later I left.

Having been there before I recognize whats coming and am trying to keep it from getting too bad this time. Unfortunately I still have YEARS to go before retiring.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
I have the utmost respect for those who work in corrections. I have seen enough when going to visit my son to know that I could never do it.

I think it's good that you recognize the need for a change. Sometime people ignore their own feelings about their job to the point it literally makes them sick.

I work in accounting for a large company. I wouldn't say I love my job but am more grateful to have a good job. My immediate supervisor is like Jekyll and Hyde. She can be a real B#@&%.

When I'm having a tough day I remember to focus on my breathing and remind myself it's only a job. I'll put in my 8 hours and leave it here when I go home. I have great benefits and that also helps me to "put" up with it.

As for my supervisor, I just feel sad for her that she is such a negative, sad person.

Oh if we could all just win the lottery :tongue:

For now, focus on your and LIl's upcoming trip to Vegas. It's always good to have something to look forward to.

Tired Mom

I agree with that it might be worth seeing if you can change positions. I work as an accountant in a very large University. Up until June I was working in a department with one of the most evil professors you can imagine. I my mind she is a difficult child with a PhD. It is widely known how verbally abusive this professor is and there have been lawsuits against her but the University defends her because she brings in a lot of grant money. When I was in the thick of it with difficult child I had real difficulty finding any joy in my days between listening to her for hours at a time yelling and belittling people and then coming home to legal/drug problems with difficult child. It was such a dark time for me. At the end of June I was laid off from my job and at the end of August I started a new position in the same University. I can't tell you how much happier I am. it's not perfect but my tolerance for bad work behavior is pretty high after what I went through. My new department appreciates me and is excited about my ideas. Life is so short. I personally am so happy that I don't have to waste one more day of it at my old job.


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The only thing that got us through sometimes was humor and being able to laugh at those guys (and sometimes other employees!). It's probably the same where you work but the majority of the employees were there a year or two years and then they're gone. And then there was us, the core group (including a lot of brass) who had been there 20, 25 or even 30 years. We all went way, way back and knew each so well. We'd all get together at lunch or in the break room and somebody would start telling stories and pretty soon we'd all be laughing so hard, we'd have tears rolling down our faces! And most of these people had pretty much given up on being able to really help the inmates. It's a whole different class of criminals out there now, the gang bangers, the drug dealers and the car jackers. Hard to make much of a difference there. Our loyalty was really more toward each other and just being able to maintain.


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I have heard that, Donna, that the prisoners are so much different than they used to be.

Do you find this to be true where you work, Jabber?

I saw a report recently by the Justice Department (from 2008) saying that as much as 80% of all crime in the US is committed by gang members.

And that they are not just in big cities anymore. Even towns of 25K often have a firmly entrenched gang presence.


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And I don't know if your Central Office is anything like our Central Office but ... I never had a problem with the inmates. You could expect them to act like inmates and they did! It wasn't the inmates that made me decide to retire two years early for less pay than I would have gotten. It was some of the other staff, the back stabbing, the endless office politics, and the extremely poor supervisors that some of us had! And our Central Office is even worse! Biggest bunch of butt-kissing suck-ups I've ever seen. And everyone in the field hated them and saw them as people who made more than we did for doing less and not having to be anywhere near inmates! I couldn't even stand to visit there!


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Sorry, was just too tired last night for coherent thought. Donna, I don't really have that core group to hang out with. There are several others with as much or more time than I have but I don't really know most of them. People tend to bounce from institution to institution for promotions. That and I'm not exactly a social butterfly. I was accused the other day of becoming anti-social. I informed her that I wasn't becoming anti-social, I was perfecting it.

Apple, its hard to say if the inmates are different or not. When I started in the early 90's I worked at a maximum security camp. Yes, there was drugs and violence, but you could earn their respect over time. The old heads tended to keep the youngsters in check. I'm at a minimum security camp now. They have to have less than six years remaining on their sentence in order to be here. I know several of the offenders here from the max security camp and they are fine, but are also limited in what they can do about the youngsters here. They now have a release date that they have to protect so are less likely to "educate" the youngsters on proper etiquette so to speak.

Even a lot of the older inmates are different here. They have never done serious time but instead have done six months here, two years there, and so on so they have never developed the old head mentality. And I've said it before but most inmates are Difficult Child's to begin with.

As far as Central Office goes Donna, I honestly don't know. I left the institution for probation and parole because of staff, not offenders. But here, staff is ok. Not best of buds with everyone but refer back to the whole anti-social thing. I think I could be happy at Central Office if they would just put me in my cubicle, leave me alone, and let me do my job. Especially since our son started acting a fool, my tolerance for stupidity has decreased significantly. Not a good tolerance to lose when working in prison.

Scent of Cedar *

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Jabber, it has more to do with your son than your work, I think. You have been functioning under a stress level impossible to sustain for a very long time. Could you be slipping into a low level depression?



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No Cedar, its not low level depression. More that my tolerance for stupidity is quickly dwindling and prisons seem to be a breeding ground for stupid and not just among the offenders either. This has been building for a while now. I just needed to vent.


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it has more to do with your son than your work
I agree with Cedar. I think what we are going through with our kids sucks all of the life and hope out of us. I think we can change that, but first we have to acknowledge it. And then, make a plan.

In my time here on the board which is less than 6 months, I sensed your great pride in your work and your efficacy in it. I agree with Cedar. It is not work. It is life.

I worked in Corrections a long time. I have a sense of what you deal with and what your options might be.

What about parole, where you would not be confined? What about a maximum security prison, Level IV, or Reception Center where the inmates are completely confined, and you are more insulated and in control?
I told Lil the other day that I was considering trying to transfer to Central Office, still Corrections but the main office so no offenders.
I think an administrative job or working with administrators could have its own set of headaches. I hate being with boss-types, but that is me. My favorite shift is weekends when I am alone with an officer.

With Lil's schedule that is not a real option for you, but I am making a point.

As a Case Manager/Correctional Counselor you have a great deal of autonomy and control over the circumstances in which you work, I think. In prisons where I have worked, they go all over the prison and their offices are usually clustered in separate areas away from much oversight.

You may only need a break for awhile, until you get your equilibrium back.

I think we are burnt-out from our lives, not our jobs. You are highly resilient, flexible and professional in your work. I know it. But those attributes do not work at all in our family. Nothing works. For somebody who has always been capable and successful and prides himself or herself in their capacity--feeling as if nothing helps...nothing works...nothing can be feel possibly even, that others judge one or may not a living nightmare. I know.

The shame and fury I felt for years and years was like an infection that I could not get rid of.

There is a concept called displacement. It is when one unconsciously transfers a problem which is in one place into another. Like when a home problem feels as if it is in work. When it is not.
I tend to dread going to work anymore. There is little joy in it, not that there was ever a huge amount.
If I put myself in your shoes what I would feel is that there is no escape from my life. It is to wake up and to go into one more prison, because, for so many years (and still to a large extent) I felt some variation of doom.

You are only human. Of course persistent, unending problem after problem affects one. And in a sense you have been more out there. It was your family that chose to involve themselves. You were in the middle. You have had more at stake than anybody else involved. On both sides, everything seemed as if it might reflect on you even though it had nothing at all in the world to do with you.

You and Lil have been marvelous parents. These things happen to the best of us. (I hope.) You are a loving husband. You are a responsible and protective son. A loving brother.

And despite all of this all hell broke loose. And then it got worse. You could do not one thing to change any of it. And now the problem has shown up in a town 15 minutes away....and you still cannot do anything. And you see your wife now more vulnerable. And you still cannot do one lousy thing to help her or yourself.

Jabber, for a man who sees himself as effective, competent, a problem solver, even powerful, would this not be a recipe for despair (not depression), despair?
Seriously, how can I possibly help these people when I cant even help my own son?
This is the exact problem, Jabber. Our feeling that we have been rendered completely ineffective because of our family life.

This is a feeling. And it is false. I wrote that my boundaries were poor, because the inability of my son to thrive, has to a large extent made me feel, as if I cannot do things. But I know, that I have and I can. Just like you.

This has to be confronted and a remedy found. Because it is not right and not feasible for us to feel that the problem is us. Or our jobs. You have to work.

We have to live.

Do I want to live the rest of my life walking along the road like a half-dead horse? No.

I do not want what is left of my life to be colored with sadness and disappointment and a sense of failure...when my life has been a great success according to anybody's terms...and I want to live fully the years I have left.
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Thank you all for your concern but I'm fine. That's not posturing, its the truth. I was having a bad day when I wrote this post but its over. While the crisis is ongoing, I'm in control of myself again.

I don't think what happened was depression, even a mild depression. It was more a crisis of self. I learned a LONG time ago that the only thing on this planet that I was able to control was myself. I learned it from being a social outcast trying to fit in and failing miserably. My attempts to fit in only made it worse.

I just needed to vent at someone who wasn't my wife so I could help remember what I already knew. That I only control my reactions, nothing else.