The Side of The Prison Guards

Last week the post spoke of a prisoner’s reality. This week, also via The Marshall Project, which specializes on reporting about the criminal justice system, the perspective of prison guards. While a closed group, they attempt to bridge their isolation through social media like Facebook, and a reporter took a look at their unfiltered posts all the while cautioning readers this was representative of only a “subset” of guards, those who used Facebook. She categorized what was culled from those posts into four sections, each representing a main point of view: “Prison administrators turn a blind eye to understaffing, low pay and safety.” “Prisoners, often mentally ill ones manipulate the system and are disrespectful.” “When it comes to punishment prisoners are asking for it.” “People don’t understand how hard the job is, which is why we should stick together.” Each section quotes Facebook entries, which as a whole reinforce our stereotypes of prison guards. They do not, for example, seem to grasp in what way mental illness may affect someone’s behavior, call a Native American’s wanting to keep his long hair manipulative, mock prison conversions, particularly death row ones, show little recognition of their charges as fellow humans. At the same time though it does explain their side, something that is not usually recognized and which is preliminary to hopefully changing their attitude—because one thing that comes across, at least to me, is their lack of compassion for inmates. While we can certainly live without knowing what prison guards feel about inmates, if we care about social justice, then knowing can aid us realize not only the compassion we ought to have for them, but also the hope that compassion represents if they ever are to feel compassion for inmates.