Let’s respect our correctional officers

Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 09:35 AM.

I have read the recent news about the 2012 scalding death of one of our South Florida inmates. As the wife of a state legislator and a person who has spent countless hours volunteering directly with inmates in the prisons, I share the distress over the allegations surrounding this horrific tragedy. I feel compelled to tell “the rest of the story.”

There is another face to corrections that is never presented to the general public. Of the 22,398 employees in the Department of Corrections the vast majority are honorable, caring men and women. I’ve listened to many inmates tell me about officers like Major Duncan, at Lawtey Correctional Institution, who “is firm, but very fair, he treats us like he really cares about us.”

I’ve watched Assistant Warden Jordan and his team at the Florida Women's Reception Center north of Ocala as they’ve gathered up discarded doors and other materials to build a hydroponic garden for their inmates so they can learn a skill and have the satisfaction of working with growing plants inside the stark razor wire and hard concrete buildings.

In the midst of this horrendous news could we also express appreciation and respect for these unsung public servants, the correctional officers who lay their lives on the line daily for long hours and minimal pay while putting their whole hearts into a job, sincerely longing and working to send prisoners back out of prison as productive citizens?

Katherine Van Zant

Keystone Heights

 



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