Posts Tagged ‘female staff’

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?

men and womenI faced an interesting problem in writing my soon-to-be-released novel, Delaney’s Hope. Delaney hopes to set up a prison camp in Northern Wisconsin that would really change people. Should his prison be for men only, for women only or for both?

“Are you our of your mind?” one of my friends asked me when I suggested the ‘both’ answer. “If you’re talking about a male prison, those places are brutal, killing camps and women don’t belong there.”

My friend is right, if we’re talking about what a prison is today. But think about it, schools and universities are for men and women. Business is integrated as are construction jobs. The army has accepted women for many years now, and soon they will be eligible for dangerous front-line positions. Everything is integrated except prisons.

What if prisons were not the brutal places they are today? What if they were about rehabilitation, instead of punishment? And don’t women help civilize a place?

Of course there would be exceptions. Some men and some women would have to be incarcerated separately.

female guardThe prisons we have now are strange, sterile, unreal, Un-American and Un-Canadian. Most prisons have male and female staff, but the ideas, the ambiance, the programs and the approach to inmates are all male.

Some female guards try to be macho, they take on all the bad featuresmale prison guard of men and ignore the great talents that women have.

What is your opinion?  Should prisons be integrated or should they be separated by sex as they are now?

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