Prison guards have to maintain order and are responsible for the supervision, safety, and security of the prisoners in their care. We've all heard tales of terrible corrections officers, and while they do exist, there are quite a few out there doing what they can to make sure that prisoners' lives maintain some level of dignity.
After Redditor CowWarrior2 asked the online community, "Dear prison Guards of Reddit, was there ever a prisoner that you felt bad for? Why?" many came forward to share their stories.
Warning: Sensitive subject matter ahead.
"Most of us..."
I currently work as a correctional officer.
There's one inmate in particular I think about all the time, and it breaks my heart.
Most of us don't usually get involved with charges or how they got there, we just do our job and look at everyone equally.
This guy was about 50+, balding and skinnier looking. He was on a suicide watch, which is when they have to be checked in every 10 minutes. The cell he was in was across from our desk. We usually keep higher-risk people here. I came in to relieve the day shift and took over. Naturally he sits in the staff's eyesight at all times.
All night, he was reading a book watching tv and minding his own business. Whenever we ask how he was doing, he would nod and continue reading his book until he went to sleep.
In the morning about an hour before shift change, he started crying on his bunk. The soft crying turned to all out sobbing, and he was also grabbing his head and squeezing it. We asked if he was ok but wouldn't even acknowledge us. We kept a close eye on him and I decided to look into his history a bit.
Turns out this guy murdered his wife with a knife, and the niece who was staying with them temporarily saw the whole thing. The reports said he was compliant with police and correctional staff. It was odd, so I did a bit of research.
The guy used to be a plump, jolly dude and was loved in the community, owns a bakery, wife is the baker and family runs it. Not a mean bone in his body. It was a shock to look at a photo of him months before compared to now.
After reading that the guy starts seizing.
We took him into the hospital and I was with him again that night. He was talking and doing ok at this point, but was delusional. He would say things like "have you met my wife? She's a fantastic baker! You would love her apple fritters, swing by the bakery and I'll give you guys one on the house!".
Turns out the guy had multiple cancerous brain tumours and was in the last stages. His mind started to go and one night he snapped and stabbed his wife. He has no idea where he is most of the time, but Every now and then, he would snap back to reality and realize where he was and what he'd done, and he would break down, only to forget everything minutes later.
His family would come visit him at the hospital while I was working and I would talk with them. They explained the whole story and I let them know he was in good hands with us. They even brought him and us a doughnut from their bakery (we don't let inmates have anything from the outside unless it's searched and approved by management, but in this guys case I let it slide) the family of his wife even say it wasn't his fault and they still love him.
"My county was pretty progressive..."
I worked in a jail as a deputy for a little under two years.
My county was pretty progressive and the jail was pretty nice, all things considered. Most inmates had come to terms with why they were there and life wasn't too bad, just boring. I don't know of any inmates who maintained that they were innocent, or that they didn't belong in jail. There were plenty of people that seemed like good people that had just done a bad thing, and plenty of people that seemed like they were actively trying to improve themselves. I know a lot that got GEDs while in jail.
There were a few times that I really felt sorry for any of them. Once when a repeat offender got a much longer sentence than he expected (because he was a repeat offender). The thing was, he had actually misunderstood the judge. He was sentenced to I think 9 years, with 4 suspended (so 5 total) and didn't really understand what that meant. So he was walking around all morose, he got kinda happy when I got to knock 4 years off his sentence!
The other circumstance was whenever I would have to notify an inmate that a close family member had died. I had to do this a total of five times, for some reason it always happened on my shift. Often they weren't able to go to the funeral service because they were incarcerated.
Being in jail, those guys had to act like they were tough, try not to cry when hearing that their mom or brother passed away, but of course that's always emotional. It was always hard to keep myself from crying. I pretty much have those guys the key to the city, unlimited phone use, extra food if they wanted it, unlimited rec time, and I'd let them have a friend or two out on rec with them so they had someone to talk to, chaplain on speed dial. I can't imagine having to go through that under those circumstances.
One killed his niece's rapist. And yes, it was proven that the niece was raped by the "victim"...it's just my inmate got to him before the police. He has been released though, a year or two ago. After doing 20+ years.
The second guy was an inmate who was the getaway driver for three other dudes. He was 16 iirc at the time of the crime. He never flipped on the other three and ended up doing 40~ yrs before finally being paroled about 2-3 years ago. He literally grew up in prison. He has an amazing support system though, thankfully, and he stayed local to the facility, so a few of my coworkers have seen him on the outside and caught up with him. He's doing great. It just amazed and saddened me that it took so long. His accomplices had been in and out of the system multiple times, they kept getting those chances, and he didn't. Pissed a lot of us COs off too that it took so long.
The third one...he was a(n) Hasidic Jew, from NYS. I think 18-19 yrs old when we got him. Very high up on the Hasidic Jew totem pole. He threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of another HJ's house. No casualties, I believe just an arson charge, and he got a flat 8 yr bid. Now, the reason I felt bad for him...in these communities, grooming runs rampant, and no one talks about it, and certainly no one steps up to accuse an abuser a lot of the times. At the age of 12, the inmate was sent to live with the "grand poobah" of rabbis, to be like his house boy or whatever.
The victim was a dude who wouldn't go to temple where grand poobah rabbi held services, choosing to pray with old folks at the adult home, or hospitals, etc. This didn't sit well with GPR. Then this kid, who was pretty much sheltered (and I believe groomed) all of a sudden shows up with a Molotov cocktail, and now he's in prison? I truly believe he was coerced/forced into doing this to send a msg to the victim and every higher up washes their hands of it and let him take the blame. I even said as much to the inmate, and his response was a half grin as he walked away. I can't remember the kid's name, but with the info given, I'm sure you can find the articles. I read the articles and it just screamed "THIS KID WAS GROOMED AND FORCED INTO THIS".
We have a couple prisons and we respond to them. One is a max prison. Got a call there for a 21 year old having seizures. He's in segregation (literally what they call it), which is pretty much a room by himself. No one can tell us how long he's been seizing. Straight up in status epilepticus - a seizure without any breaks. It's so bad that his airway is going and I was ventilating him on the way to the hospital.
He shares the same birthday as my younger brother. He was admitted to the hospital and in the ICU for over a month. Thankfully he made a recovery but never found out the cause of his seizure.
I looked up what he did.
Possession of Marijuana.