To quote Paco Villa "Correctional officers do deserve special recognition. They have an important and dangerous job. They are often subjected to all kinds of abuse by prison inmates. During their shifts they are confined to almost the same degree as the inmates they are in charge of. Unfortunately the public does not hold correctional officers in high esteem. They are unappreciated and underpaid. But calling themselves cops does not change any of that." This takes us one step further and declare a fact how grand juries perceive our roles to be.
This controversy on how grand juries seem to always never fail to indict a cop for anything – not for murder, assault or other crimes whether serious or not, brings up the romantic relationship prosecutors have with police officers but not correctional officers. This process of indicting a cop is way different from indicting a correctional officer. There seems to be no parity here whatsoever. In fact, there appears to be a pattern of behavior that is very disturbing for the profession.
The facts are being revealed via the media how prosecutors operate and run a grand jury. It makes you realize how a prosecutor can make this group of citizens “see” what they want them to see. This alone should make you aware that the system is broken somewhere along the line we tow as correctional officers also charged with statutory enforcement within a criminalized society.
How you recognize the difference is in perception, role, culture and connection prosecutors have with cops and not correctional officers is important. How they act in their role to indict or not indict should be a key how they feel about the profession as well as the position correctional officers’ play in the criminal justice system.
Can you see my argument? Are you aware of the difference in professional courtesy and treatment? Justice is served in the eyes of the prosecutor. There should be no uncertainty how the prosecutors view correctional officers. We as a profession are demonized by society, the media and yes, our own law enforcement community. In short, we are the bad guys and bad guys do wrong. We are always guilty based on our role in society’s eyes.
Experts say grand juries can reliably be counted upon to deliver indictments the vast majority of the time, and available numbers seem to back that up. Still, the key to success is the prosecutors and the prosecutors have their own agenda except when it comes to working with cops. They need cops to make their cases, unlike correctional officers who are deemed to be expendable by the system.
The news site FiveThirtyEight.com reported that of 162,000 federal cases in which prosecutors sought indictments in 2010, grand juries failed to deliver an indictment only 11 times. Also worth noting, however, is that when charges against police officers are on the table, indictments are far less certain. Again, this is not the case for correctional officers. They are indicted at higher rates than cops yet they do the same difficult jobs inside a prison. Where is the justice?
Why is that? Correctional officers, like our cops on the street, have the authority to do things ordinary citizens do not, and that can create some shady areas in interpreting potential crimes inside our jails and prisons. The fact is, many are set up by these criminals who are going along for a ride to “burn an officer.”
How can we show these grand jurors of this cultural dynamic and influence different results; they may be more inclined to side with correctional officers in any confrontation with an already convicted felonious criminal if they set the prosecutors’ biases aside.
Little can be done to meaningfully change either of those factors. But there’s also this: Prosecutors themselves can effectively rig the process by not fighting particularly hard for an indictment against a fellow member of law enforcement. They may be playing a political game, trying not to anger police or their supporters in higher places.
However, they do no such efforts for correctional officers left to defend themselves without any aid from the administration who let them go because of potential embarrassment of a conviction among the rank and file. They basically wash their hands the moment the allegation was made.