Female Staff in a Male Prison

Posted: February 9, 2014 by Ed Griffin in Prison, Reform
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’d like to write a column about this, but I’m not qualified. All I can do is relay my own experience and hope that a reader will provide more background.

Lynette, an attractive woman in her thirties, is a teacher of fundamental English and Math in prison. She works for a private company that pays her $20,000 less a year than a public school teacher. She never flirts and discourages anyone who tries to flirt with her.

Lynette uses praise to advance her students. She puts me in mind of a good mother who raises her children by letting them know when they do well.

Christie, also an attractive woman, has a master’s degree and is in charge of a large department in the prison. Her management style is that of a roman emperor, “my way or the highway,” or more specifically, to staff she says, “My way or you won’t get a raise,” or to an inmate she says, “My way or a year added to your sentence.”

She has a reputation among the inmates of saying one thing, but doing another.

Lynette makes me glad women work in a man’s prison. In my opinion, she is the essence of the ‘female influence.’ She will help male inmates have a good view of women

Christie on the other hand, has adopted the worse things that man have been doing for years in prison, lying to inmates, adding time to their sentences and treating them as slime.

Unfortunately it seems that women who are like Christie advance in the prison bureaucracy, even to the level of warden or assistant warden. Do these women operate from fear, that if they let their guard down for a moment, they will lose the respect of the inmates? Or are they motivated by a need to punish people?

Women like Lynette have a great impact on male inmates. They help overcome the negative images male inmates often have of women. These teachers, guards and officials strike me as not afraid of the inmates or of themselves. They act in the best tradition of women.

A woman like Christie ends up worse than the worst male staff in the prison.

This is an important subject. What is your opinion?

  1. Regarding your post about Lynette, the “good” prison teacher, and Christie, the “bad” one…there is a story in my book about how desperately Rob wanted a female guard to simply look him in the eye, or smile at him. It was one of the worst periods of his life, with threats of assault coming at him; and not one person engaged him in friendly conversation. The guard knew he was autistic and knew what was going on; she laughed and joked with the inmates who threatened Rob but ignored him. You are so right, if only the guards knew or cared…and especially females, they have so much “power” to bless or to curse an inmate with only a smile. I’m sure there are others lilke “Lynette,” but I’ve met just one female who was kind to everyone. Rob loved her even though he’d never spoken to her. Dixie Miller Stewart

  2. Anyone who behaves like Christie should have been fired years ago. CSC seems incapable (as in every other aspect of their work other than keeping people in cells) of recruiting, training, and evaluating staff.

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