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Bill Britt: Unsung heroes: The men and women behind bars

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

“We sleep peaceably in our beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf.” This quote has been attributed to George Orwell but has never been found in any of his writings. No matter the origin it is true saying for a free nation. There must be those who willingly and with physical resolved stand between a free people and those who would bring them harm.

There is a group of men and women here in Alabama that everyday put themselves in harms way so that we may be a little safer. These are the men and women of our states prison system. These are those correction officers who daily are the line of defense between us and the worst of society. Rapist, murderers, thieves and all manner of evil are their workaday companions.

Alabama has a prison population that is hovering at around 197 percent of capacity, with a single officer sometimes watching more than one hundred criminals, alone.

Very rarely are these women and men thanked for this work, most often they are ignored in the same way, people ignore prisons. They are part of the world that we had rather not think about. They are rarely talked about at all until something goes wrong. Then the media, the race baiters and liberal attorneys are suddenly aware and all a flutter in their expensive suits, appalled at what goes on inside prison walls.

Liberals and their media cheerleaders, love to talk about the plight of the prisoners but what about the correction officer, the person who walks into prison everyday to keep us safe from the criminals within?

In Alabama it is the officer who is the real prisoner, because of underfunding, overcrowding and understaffing it is the officer who is the real prisoner.

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The starting pay for an officer in Alabama is under $29,000 a year. That is almost less than half what a state legislator is pay. Around the state law enforcement’s starting pay is almost $10,000 a year more than those who protect us from the scum of society. But they are hiring! Need a job in Alabama, apply today at the ADOC they have openings.

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But be prepared, being a prison officer will change you, it will make you old before your time. The average life expectancy of a frontline guard is 59 years old.

Much has been written about the way prison affects prisoners but what about the officers?

These men and women live in a state of heightened anxiety, they are surrounded by evil daily. From hours of monotony to sudden outburst of violence they are placed under constant stress. Theirs is one of the most dangerous jobs on earth and yet, they are not respected at work, they are not respected in the street and they are far to often not respected or rewarded for the work they perform.

These are our state’s frontline warriors. The ones who keep us safe from the lowest form of society. They alone keep in check those who have already proven that they do not deserve to live among decent people, and yet, these are the daily charge of our prison officers.

Often in the last decade and perhaps too often the word hero has been used to acclaim people simply doing their job. I am not one to use that word loosely but I would certainly say that the women and men who stand as prison officers are Alabama’s unsung heroes.

I sleep better knowing they everyday give their lives to keep me and my family safe, I awake on days like today and feel ashamed that we don’t do more to reward them.

Thank you for your service, my God keep you and protect you.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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