Monday, September 04, 2006

McDonough's rule of the DOC: too little too late

James McDonough, new head of the Florida Department of Corrections, where have you been? Youre appointment to clean up the system is too little too late in my opinion. Better yet, where has the State of Florida been while corruption was wreaking havoc in Florida prisons? And I'm not talking just the state run facilities I am talking about the private contracted facilities as well. Those who have never worked in one or been close to someone who has worked in one have no clue. There's shit that goes on there that NEVER gets outside those facilities. If those at the state level only knew...

I read a recent news article where McDonough wrote in a newsletter to corrections employees statewide in his concern about promotions being given to people who did not deserve them:

"In order to carve an ascending career path, you must demonstrate character, education, skill level mastery, depth of experience, a drive for self-improvement and a willingness for self-sacrifice."


Gee what a concept! The system, so concerned with meeting state demands for quotas would rather promote borderline qualified white and black women above caucasian men who have proven themselves to be model employees. And those women who were promoted? Many of them couldn't even get to work on time. Eventually they're let go and the search is on all over again. Officers have to be tested again, interviewed again and go through the process of hopefully promoting when BAM! someone else less qualified gets it. When good officers are up for it time and time again and keep getting passed over because they are the wrong gender and race, something is wrong.

In many institutions, inmates are allowed to run loose, officers have no control, and supervisors do NOT back up their officers. When officers come to work late repeatedly and their supervisors write them up and nothing is done about it at the higher level, what message does that send to those who can't follow the rules? Prisons are dangerous places to work,it's not a game. If you can't get to work, you should be FIRED. PERIOD. Send the message that that kind of shit will not be tolerated. And reward those people who DO make the sacrifice to be there on time and do their job by the book. These hardworking men and women deserve to be paid a decent salary, excellent health and life insurance, time off to preserve their sanity and for God's sake LUNCH BREAKS and BREAKROOMS where they can sleep if they have been overworked. How hard is this concept? You can furnish rec rooms and professional chefs to inmates but you can't furnish a room with some cots for these people to sleep in before driving home?

State and private run facilities have high turnovers. Why do you think that is? It's a friggin' dangerous environment and you think you're going to keep people there for a long period of time offering them $26,000 per year, almost daily double shifts with no breakrooms in which to sleep before driving home, and oh yeah no time for something simple like a lunch break? How about officers who are made to work doubles because others don't show up for work and then tired and weary these people have to make a sometimes hour long trek home (many live in the rural areas far from the prisons they work at) only to be called FOUR hours later to come BACK to work for an emergency?

When your warden is more concerned about how shiny his floors or who brings bottled water into the prison, rather than being concerned with employee morale and employee safety and keeping his officers happy and the inmates in their place, there is a serious problem. When the warden makes office staff who are not even qualified correctional officers shakedown cells and serve lunches to inmates, because he is short on officers to do it, there is a problem.

The whole way the system is run disgusts me. The corruption has been going on so long it'll take a lot more than one man to fix it. Good luck Mr. McDonough you're going to need it.

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