Behind the Story: Germs, Guns and Jails


Spending the day with community corrections officers was quite an experience. If you’ve seen the story, you know that they wear many hats in their line of work.

Attempting to keep in line some of society’s most hardened criminals can’t be easy. And there are definitely some quirks to their line of work. Among them I found that:

  • Surprisingly, most of those monitored by corrections officials don’t come out of a state corrections prison. If felony sentences are less than a year, offenders do their time in county jails. That means DOC is less acclimated to the offender, and the offender in turn has not likely been geared toward any plan for their lives on the outside. In a state prison, there are more resources for job training and counseling than at county jails.
  • The economy’s nosedive hasn’t helped those with criminal records get jobs, leading to increased homelessness. “And the bottom line is if you don’t have a place to stay, how are you going to follow the conditions?” Marcus Miller, one of the officers I followed around, said.
  • If offenders are living without a “stable home life” — including staying at a motel — they must check in once a week.
  • They keep hand sanitizer in their car. Viruses rampantly circulate the DOC office as offenders come and go.
  • Both Miller and and his partner on the day, Denise Posey, carry guns. Though it is optional, one thing about the job isn’t: “100 percent of the time, you’re dealing with felons,” Miller said.

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